If there’s any state in the U.S.A. that could be called the Mecca of nature lovers, Montana is it. Montana is sometimes referred to as Big Sky country for its vast blue skies framed by jagged snow-capped mountains, but what lays beneath the sky is what really makes Montana special.
Montana is home to two of North America’s most spectacular National Parks, stunning rock formations dating to millions of years ago, and abundant wildlife. From its wide sweeping plains in the east to the Rocky Mountains in the west, Montana’s dramatic scenery makes it one of the country’s most popular destinations.
Glacier National Park
In the far north of Montana you’ll find the one million acre Glacier National Park a majestic landscape that sweeps through Alberta and British Columbia, Canada, into the United States. The park is made up of two mountain ranges, over 130 lakes, and thousands of plants and animal species.
Visitors to Glacier National Park can engage in all types of recreational activities or hop aboard a tour bus. Hiking and camping are popular in the park. Fly fishing is popular in the park and fisherman come from all around to test their luck.
Missouri Breaks National Monument
This monument, often called “The Breaks” is a collection of badlands known for their rocky outcroppings, sheer bluffs, and grassy plains. The almost 500,000 acres of the Missouri Breaks were often a model for the paintings of famous artist Charles M. Russell. The area has been historically significant as both a home to Native American Tribes and for the Lewis and Clark Expeditions passing, noting the first European sighting of bighorn sheep on the continent. The Breaks is home to 60 or more mammal species and birds.
Museum of the Rockies
In the popular town of Bozeman, visitors can tour the Smithsonian Institution, Museum of the Rockies. The museum has an extensive paleontological collection and it houses the United States’ largest collection of dinosaur remains including the largest Tyrannosaurus skull discovered in the world. Throughout the museum visitors can learn about the people and animals that have lived in the Rocky Mountains throughout history from 500 million years ago to World War II.
Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument
One of the most famous battles in American history was fought near Crow Agency, Montana where today the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument preserves the site and memorializes those who fought and died.The battlefield was the site of the death of General Custer and his original burial site in the Custer National Cemetery, as well as many Native American warriors who are remembered with gravestones today.
This All-American Road has often been called the most beautiful drive in America due to its dark towering mountains and snowy vistas seen from the winding road below. The highway passes from Red Lodge to Cooke City, Montana, zigzagging along the Wyoming border to reach a 10,947 foot high Beartooth Pass. This drive is a popular route for visitors but the road, even during the summer, can be snow-covered.
Top Things to Do in Montana
Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park
These caverns which the Lewis and Clark Expedition camped near in 1805, giving it the name, have long been a part of local Native American tribe’s lives. In 1882, the caverns were discovered by non-Native Americans and were eventually explored after which tours were led from 1900 onward. Visitors to the caves can tour the caverns, or enjoy any number of outdoor activities and entertainment options at the nearby campground.
Yellowstone National Park
Although most of this legendary park is located within the state of Wyoming, the corner of Yellowstone located in Montana is definitely worth a visit. Visitors to the park can explore wide open spaces filled with wild animals and breathtaking landscapes. Inside the park several historic lodges operate hotels and there are also campgrounds throughout the park. Whether you want to stick to the Montana border or explore all of Yellowstone, a visit to this phenomenal park is a once in a lifetime experience.
Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area
In 1966 the Bighorn River, nothing more than a stream, was turned into a vast lake with the construction of the Yellowtail Dam. Now, the national recreation area encompasses Bighorn Lake and the surrounding canyon. Within the park hiking, camping, and fishing are popular pastimes. Visitors interested in experiencing the wild side of Montana can visit the four historical ranches within the park’s boundaries.
Pompey’s Pillar National Monument
This spectacular rock formation in southern Montana is made up of just 51 acres, but the most intriguing part is the single acre of stunning sandstone bluffs. The “pillar” stands at 150 feet above the river below and is believed to date from 76 to 65 million years ago. The pillar is covered in Native American petroglyphs and the signature of William Clark, leader of the Lewis and Clark expedition, who gave the pillar its name.
Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail
Stretching from Missouri to the Oregon Coast, the Lewis and Clark National Historical Tail passes through many states and is the second longest National Scenic and Historic Trail in the country. In Montana, visitors can learn about this amazing expedition at the Lewis and Clark National Historic Interpretive Center in Great Falls. The center features exhibits about the trail and the expedition as well as the Native American tribes of the Plains and Pacific Northwest.
Things to Do in Montana
Montana is the country’s 4th largest state, but it is one of the least populated places in the U.S. Montana offers is an excitement that will fill your lungs with fresh air, soothe your soul with wild beauty, and leave you wanting to come back time and again.