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Visiting St. Mary, Montana: Outstanding Reasons Why Montana Excels Its Reputation

Updated on April 9, 2019
State flag of Montana
State flag of Montana | Source
Aerial view of east part of Saint Mary Lake and Lower Saint Mary Lake, Glacier National Park, Montana, U.S
Aerial view of east part of Saint Mary Lake and Lower Saint Mary Lake, Glacier National Park, Montana, U.S | Source
 Lower Saint Mary Lake, looking into the Saint Mary Valley in Glacier National Park, Montana
Lower Saint Mary Lake, looking into the Saint Mary Valley in Glacier National Park, Montana | Source
St Mary Visitor Center entrance starion, Glacier National Park, Montana
St Mary Visitor Center entrance starion, Glacier National Park, Montana | Source

Deserves to be better known

In this very special US State of Montana, St Mary may actually refer to a lake, a river and a village (1).

On the edge of the village of St Mary is the Visitor Center an entrance to Glacier National Park. Together with Waterton Park in adjoining Alberta, Canada, these two areas form Glacier-Waterton International Peace Park. (Visitors should note that entry to the visitor center is via a toll booth, where the toll paid is also good for the Park itself.)

The village of St Mary is also a location for hotels and restaurants. There are also campgrounds. Various hiking trails begin at St. Mary. When my wife and I visited we were impressed at the lack of crowds (we were there in May). Part of the village of St Mary is on a hill, from which there are awe-inspiring views of St Mary Lake and the mountains, and where the air is so self-evidently clean and pure.

Interestingly, a US post office was opened in St Mary in 1898; it closed in 1915.

Leading from St. Mary across Glacier Park is the quaintly — but aptly — named Going-to-the-Sun Road, which, it should be noted, is not passable year-round.

In the other direction, nearby Chief Mountain seems to act as a silent, imposing sentinel to the US-Canada border (2).

I think St. Mary, Montana, with its waters, and snow-capped mountains, must be on a par with outstanding locations such as Milford Sound and Mitre Peak in New Zealand, and the lakes and peaks of the Swiss Alps. I am wondering whether the fact that St Mary is not better known is linked to St. Mary's status as an unincorporated community. Montana has relatively high direct taxes, by US standards, making up for the state's absence of sales tax — which so attracts Canadian shoppers; I do wonder whether local resistance to the prospect of even higher taxes in this isolated community has something to do with its lack of incorporation: this lack possibly being seen thus as an advantage.

Montana is certainly well known as one of the largest US states, and St Mary undoubtedly be described as the quintessence of big skies and wide open spaces (3).

July 24, 2014


(1) Link to Travel Montana website for St Mary Montana Travel Information:


(3) In this respect, some of the densely populated Northeastern states of the United States which a number of my other hubpages describe stand in great contrast.

Map location of East Glacier Park, Montana
Map location of East Glacier Park, Montana | Source

Also worth seeing

Waterton, Alberta, Canada (distance: 38.6 miles / 62.2 kilometres; the lakeside village at the Canadian end of the Glacier-Waterton International Peace Park has a spectacular setting, overlooked by the historic Prince of Wales Hotel.

Great Falls,
Montana (distance: 154.6 miles / 248.8 kilometres); visitor attractions include: the Great Falls of the Missouri River, the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, the C M Russell Museum; Gibson Park; Native Montana Art Gallery and Gift; the Great Falls Symphony Association holds regular concerts at the Mansfield Center for the Performing Arts; the Great Falls Historic Trolley gives local tours from the Visitor Information Center; the Malmstrom Air Force Base Museum and Air Park; the Montana Museum of Railroad History; and many others.

Ulm, Montana (distance: 163 miles / 262.4 kilometres); the First Peoples' Buffalo Jump State Park contains an historic, mile-long cliff used for 600 years.


How to get there: Delta Airlines flies to Great Falls International Airport, Montana (distance from St. Mary: 154.6 miles / 248.8 kilometres) with wide North American connections, from where car rental is available. Some facilities may be withdrawn without notice. For up to date information, please check with the airline or your travel agent. Please refer to appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.


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