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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

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 the world.

Russell Country

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

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

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 Recreation Area.

Web Sites

For comprehensive travel and recreation information, check out Travel Montana’s Web site at In addition, Travel Montana hosts a number of other sites containing specific information:

Kids/family-friendly information:

Lewis and Clark information:

Montana Winter Site:

Group Tours:

Meeting Planners:

Watchable Wildlife

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






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