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Exploring Montana

Updated on May 7, 2014

Vacation in Montana for the Thrill of Your Life

Montana - The Newest Vacation Spot

The new, most popular vacation spot is the diverse state of Montana in the northwestern region of the USA. A vacation in Montana offers a wide range of things to do and see. For tourists from "back East," it's a whole new world of western culture, art and Native American life. Montana is beautiful in any season of the year.

In winter, Montana becomes a skier and ice fisherman's delight. In summer, the sparkling lakes and pristine mountain streams cool and refresh. The most colorful Montana seasons are spring and fall.

Montana's Rocky Mountains are a graceful chain that traverses the state east to west into Canada. The real treasure is vacationing in Montana with an itinerary that takes tourists off the beaten path.

Fly into Montana's Billings, Bozeman, Butte, Great Falls, Helena, Kalispell or Missoula's uncrowded, uncongested airports. If you fly into Great Falls, you'll want to spend a day or two here. Don't miss the Great Falls for which the city has been named. It's a powerful view that rests high above the city. There are several great accommodations in Great Falls that are comfortable, "homey" and offer delicious breakfasts at very reasonable prices.

Before heading out of Great Falls, be sure to see the Charles Russell museum. It's quite large and offers a short, historical film. The art of Charles Russell is as breathtaking as it is hypnotic and eye-appealing. For art lovers, this is a popular Montana site. Photographers love to shoot photos of the unusual Great Falls train station and the nearby park and bridge that spans the mighty Missouri River in town.

Getting Around Montana

For the uninitiated, getting around Montana will require a rental vehicle. If the mountainous High Line is on the itinerary, consider a four-wheel drive vehicle for the steeply inclined mountain roads.

The cities like Whitefish, Kalispell, Butte and Bozeman are exciting and a shopper's dream. Each of these larger Montana cities have plenty of night life and some of the best restaurants in western USA. Missoula is a college town with a upscale flair. In Missoula, shoppers are treated to an enclosed mall with shops large and small that sell their massive variety of wares. If you're a rail fan, you'll want to see the Anaconda steam train at the Fort Missoula Historical Museum.

Helena, Montana - The State Capital

Helena is Montana's state capital and it's no surprise that it's also one of the most popular tourist sites in the state. With good reason. Helena retains that 1800's quaint feeling without compromising modernity. Helena has preserved its historical value in the most unique way. Much of the architecture remains to remind tourists of the early days of copper mining and the businesses that thrived in and around Helena. Several of the mansions are over one hundred years old and have a Victorian appeal thanks to wealthy magnates who settled the town. For tourists, Helena needs a day or two of vacation time to see the town in its truest history. Plan a stay at one of the impeccable accommodations and enjoy a sumptuous meal. In Montana, there's plenty of genuine Montana cuisine to enjoy. One word of caution, portions can be large. Not to worry, any excessive calories are worked off with a tour of the town's most interesting sites. One secret feature of Helena's cuisine is the most amazing tomato bisque served piping hot. There's plenty of Black Angus beef on menus throughout Montana. Just be sure to try other menu items of a more eclectic style. You won't be disappointed.

Off the Beaten Path

If you're the kind of tourist who likes to be in command of your own vacation destinations, plan a Montana vacation with no holds barred. Hop in your rental vehicle and check out the Blackfoot Tribal town of Browning. Fort Benton was voted the prettiest town in the US with good reason. The layout of Fort Benton is along the Missouri River and the oldest building are an architectural delight. Spend a day in Fort Benton and walk the streets where Jesse James and legendary Wild West shoot outs were made famous in movies and documentaries.

Off the beaten path, there are several towns with the most amazing history. Cut Bank in northern Montana is one of these. The eerie thing about Cut Bank is the constant swirling high winds that go unnoticed by townsfolk. Then, you go to the Cut Bank library and you find Cut Bank was the site of a Piegan Indian massacre.

When you stay in any of the hotels or inns along the main highway in Cut Bank, you just might mistake those howling night winds for the screaming of the spirits of those massacred in the late 1800s . The Marias River cuts a deep swath into Cut Bank accounting for its name.

Up, Up and Away in the High Line

In Montana, the mountain region is referred to as "the High Line." There's a distinct difference in temperatures once you cross the High Line. In Missoula or Bozeman, the sun may be shining at the same time snow is falling above the High Line. This is a truly unusual sight to see.

Sportmen love Cascade for the great fishing in pristine lakes and streams. It's not unusual to see ice fishing as early as November. Further north, there are plenty of hunting lodges with wide open hunting spaces to enjoy. By the way, nothing tastes as fresh as freshly caught Pike, Sturgeon or Cutthroat trout. Few wonder why avid fishermen make a beeline for Montana. For hunting lodges try Alder or Paradise Valley, near Yellowstone. These hunting lodges offer maximum convenience to guest hunters.

Higher up the High Line there are off the beaten smaller towns that offer the adventurous vacationers a chance to see Montana history close up and personal. As your vehicle strains up the mountain road to St. Mary in Glacier County along Route 89, you are in Glacier National Park territory. St. Mary is part of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation like East and West Glacier. There are plenty of hiking and camping ground here for the rugged outdoor types.

In East Glacier, you can ride a bright red tour bus through Glacier National Park. It's the most breathtaking view of this region. South of Glacier National Park is the fun exciting town of White Sulphur Springs. There's the annual Red Ants Pants Music Festival to enjoy and a host of western rodeo activities as well as skiing and snowmobiling in winter.

Snowmobiling is a popular winter sport in Montana and there are lots of venues for avid snowmobile sports.

One other "must see" Montana town is Ovando in Powell County. It's located centrally in the western part of the state. What's unusual about Ovando? The population. In Ovando, there are less than 100 people living in this small village town that lies at the foot of the Rockies. There's one small cafe that serves the freshest foods and best coffee you'll find. The greatest feature of Ovando is the lush mountain scenery and the peaceful, quiet environment that's charming and endearing.

A vacation in Montana is an opportunity to experience the thrill of your life. Do your homework before you plan an itinerary. Or, go bohemian, fly into one of Montana's airports and let your senses be your travel guide.

Great Falls in Montana and Missoula Steam Train
Great Falls in Montana and Missoula Steam Train
Great Falls Montana Train Station
Great Falls Montana Train Station
Helena, Seat of Montana Government
Helena, Seat of Montana Government


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    • Ewent profile imageAUTHOR

      Eleanore Ferranti Whitaker 

      2 years ago from Old Bridge, New Jersey

      I'm from NJ (Central) and I visited Montana in October 2004 and again in June 2005. I was actually house hunting at that time. I agree about Glacier. We stayed in a cabin in East Glacier. We visited Shelby and Conrad. The photos I took were in Cascade, Chinook, Helena and Sweet Grass. We also stopped at Flathead Lake, Kalispell and stayed at Ruth's in Missoula's. After we headed to Bozeman and north again to Whitefish. When we headed north we visited the Native American museum in Browning. I flew into Great Falls Airport which is where that unusual train station is in the photo. I considered buying in Cut Bank but the winds were just amazing there. I think my favorite Montana place was Ovando. It's a tiny little haven at the foot of the Rockies. Amazing.

    • lions44 profile image

      CJ Kelly 

      2 years ago from Auburn, WA

      Great hub. Been to Montana several times. My wife is from Shelby. It is like another world for someone like me (Bronx native). When you leave town, you actually leave town. Glacier is spectacular. If you get back there, try staying at Flathead Lake. Shared.


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