|The Real America Region: Montana
From the eastern plains to the western mountains, Montana’s sky sets
a stage of dramatic proportions. Jagged peaks, soothing prairies and open space
form an unforgettable landscape.
Glacier National Park, located in the northwest corner of the state, is the
“Crown of the North American Continent.” To hikers, it is the United
States’ foremost trail park. To wildlife watchers, it provides privileged
views of mountain goats and bighorn sheep, grizzly bears and gray wolves. To
everyone who visits, it is a place of natural beauty and majesty.
Similarly, Yellowstone National Park is a globally unique environment. Geysers
hiss and mudpots boil in an otherwise peaceful kingdom that sustains elk and
buffalo, trumpeter swans, and wild cutthroat and rainbow trout. Between these
two world treasures lie national wildlife refuges, recreation areas, battlefields,
gold camps, ghost towns and state parks that feature Montana’s natural,
historic and recreational attractions.
Montana’s outdoor recreation opportunities are unrivaled. Nearly 6.9
million hectares of national forest, 1.2 million hectares of pristine wilderness,
two national parks, seven national wildlife refuges, hundreds of state parks,
recreation areas and fishing access sites, 16 downhill ski areas and thousands
of miles of cross-country ski and snowmobile trails make Montana the first choice
of people who love the outdoors.
Montana is a refuge for both wildlife and wildlife watchers. The spacious,
unspoiled environment supports species as rare as the grizzly bear and bald
eagle, along with an abundance of elk, deer, moose, mountain goats, bighorn
sheep, waterfowl and songbirds. Look for wildlife in their natural habitat.
Veer off the beaten path between Glacier and Yellowstone National parks and
discover Freezeout Lake Wildlife Management Area, where some 200,000 snow geese
gather in the spring, or visit the Rocky Mountain Front, a natural haven for
golden eagles. Montana’s national forests, wilderness areas, wildlife
refuges and state parks are windows to the natural world.
Montana is a young state. Only 115 years old, Montana’s history is easily
accessible. Discover it in the gold camps of Virginia City and Bannack State
Park or the mansions and miners’ union halls of Butte.
Walk among the graves or visit the new Indian Memorial at the Little Bighorn
National Battlefield near Billings, and view the paintings of America’s
beloved cowboy artist Charlie Russell in Great Falls and Helena. Follow the
Missouri River, highway of the historic 1804-1806 Lewis and Clark Expedition.
Montana’s history is celebrated at rodeos, ethnic festivals and Indian
powwows across the state. It is preserved in major collections at the Museum
of the Plains Indian in Browning, the Russell Museum in Great Falls, the Museum
of the Rockies in Bozeman, the Western Heritage Center in Billings, Montana
Historical Society in Helena, and the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center
in Great Falls.
The West is alive in Montana and working hard at action-packed rodeos like
Wolf Point’s Wildhorse Stampede and the Miles City Bucking Horse Sale,
and at Indian powwows and pageants, where traditional dancing, drumming and
dress celebrate ancient rituals.
Many of Montana’s most popular getaways are working ranches, where guests
become part of the crew and learn what it’s like to live off the land.
These ranch vacations offer a variety of activities ranging from horseback riding
and square dancing to fossil hunting, fly fishing, hiking and mountain biking.
In Montana, you can greet the day with buckwheat cakes and bacon on a breakfast
trail ride and end it with roast pheasant and Beaujolais in an elegant dining
room. You can shop specialty galleries, golf 18 holes against a spectacular
mountain backdrop, or test your mettle on an extended trek or bicycle tour.
Whether you prefer a high-rise hotel or a hot springs resort, Montana offers
comfort and quality at affordable prices.
You will find an infectious love for the land and the western lifestyle in
Montana. There aren’t very many Montanans—not even a million—spread
over 37.6 million hectares of mountains and high plains.
Getting to Montana is easy
Airlines serving Montana’s major cities and towns are: Northwest, United,
Delta, Horizon, Big Sky and SkyWest. AMTRAK parallels US Highway 2 across northern
Montana, linking Seattle to Minneapolis.
Rental car agencies are located where you need them and buses travel to every
corner of the state.
Because of its northern location, some newcomers expect Montana’s weather
to be harsh and cool; however, most are pleasantly surprised by its mildness.
The beauty of Montana weather is its low humidity. Whether hot or cold, the
state is dry and comfortable.
Summer in Montana is generally warm and dry with refreshing, cool evenings.
But Montana’s weather is changeable, so visitors should bring a variety
of clothing. In summer, shorts and lightweight slacks, sundresses and cotton
shirts are the rule. A jacket or sweater is a good idea for evening wear.
In spring and fall, Montana is seldom consistently hot or cold, and wardrobes
run from shorts and tee shirts to wool pants and flannel shirts. Winter visitors
are often surprised by weather that is milder than its reputation! While the
winter months are cold and snowy, cold weather is tempered by a dry climate
and lots of sunshine.
Regardless of weather, Montana is a casual, fun-loving state, so bring comfortable
clothing and be prepared to relax and enjoy yourself.
Take Time To Explore
Montana is a big state with a wide variety of natural and one-of-a-kind attractions.
To help you get the most out of your trip, the Montana Tourism Division has
divided the state into six distinctive vacation regions, each large enough to
be a European country. Montana’s own “countries” are named
Glacier, Russell, Custer, Missouri River, Yellowstone and Gold West.
Glacier Country is Montana’s northwest corner, a spectacular mix of wildlife
and wilderness, sparkling lakes and pine forests, resorts and art galleries.
Explore the soaring beauty of Glacier National Park, play championship golf
courses, enjoy the solitude of the back country, and discover rivers that are
perfect for fishing and rafting.
Gold West Country
Goldngest Country is Montana’s historic southwest corner, a beautiful
region of lofty mountains, broad valleys and fabled rivers. Explore restored
gold mining camps, the historic Big Hole Battlefield, backcountry trails, hot
springs resorts, and prized trout streams that draw anglers from throughout
Russell Country is northcentral Montana as the famed western artist Charles
M. Russell loved it, a dramatic expanse of land and sky. Float the Wild and
Scenic Missouri River, follow the trail of Lewis and Clark, observe a great
variety of wildlife in a natural setting and explore the Rocky Mountain Front,
where the Rockies meet the Great Plains.
Yellowstone Country is Montana’s southcentral region, an unforgettable
land of wildlife and majestic peaks, scenic drives and blue ribbon trout streams.
Visit Yellowstone National Park, drive the Beartooth Highway, get a new slant
on life at a dude ranch, or challenge yourself with a trek through the wilderness.
Missouri River Country
Missouri River Country is Montana’s expansive northeast corner, a fascinating
land of high plains and badlands, vast farms and ranches, and the mighty Missouri.
Visit a million-acre wildlife refuge and watch thousands of waterfowl take to
the Big Sky from prairie ponds and lakes. Launch a boat on immense Fort Peck
Lake, one of the nation’s best walleye fisheries.
Custer Country is Montana’s southeast corner, a historic landscape of
Indian reservations and cattle ranches, broad rivers, rolling hills and rugged
canyons. Tour the grassy hilltop that was the site of the Battle of the Little
Bighorn. Fish for trout, walleye and small-mouth bass in some of Montana’s
finest lakes and streams. Enjoy the ancient landscape of Bighorn Canyon National
For comprehensive travel and recreation information, check out Travel Montana’s
Web site at www.visitmt.com. In addition, Travel Montana hosts a number of other
sites containing specific information:
Kids/family-friendly information: www.montanakids.com
Lewis and Clark information: www.lewisandclark.state.mt.us
Montana Winter Site: www.wintermt.com
Group Tours: www.montanagroups.com
Meeting Planners: www.montanameetings.com
A pair of binoculars will come in handy as you discover the pleasures of one
of Montana’s most popular pastimes—wildlife watching. Elk, deer
and antelope roam freely across Montana’s vast countryside. Hundreds of
different bird species, including bald eagles, hawks and great blue herons,
are frequently spotted. Montana is home to bison, mountain goats, bighorn sheep
and the last remaining grizzly bear population in the lower 48 states. Look