10 Best Places to Visit in Montana

Martina Rosado
Written by
Last update:

Great Falls

Located along the Missouri River in south-central Montana, Great Falls is the second largest city in the state. It is a major hub for sending goods and serving travelers as well as a center for business, culture and religion.

The city’s economy was almost entirely reliant on the manufacturing of goods until the early 1900s when the city began to develop recreational opportunities. While the city is best known for the fact that it sits where the hypnotic Missouri River meets the prairie, there is more to Great Falls than just its scenic beauty.

Massive hanging bridges, wide boulevards and family friendly attractions are just a few of the attractions that set Great Falls apart from other cities.

Since Great Falls is within the direct path for the Sunset Scenic Byway, a trip to this city can be easily arranged with the help of the Great Falls Chamber of Commerce.

Getting around the city can be done by transit, on foot, or by car. This is a great city to explore on foot while visiting other attractions within the city.

The cultural fabric of the city continues to be a major element of its identity. Popular museums like the Great Falls Historical Society and the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History, as well as live theatre and a symphony orchestra all help to showcase the rich history of the city. The Metropolitan Arts Council and many other organizations do great work to bring art to the city as well.

Missoula

Along the banks of the scenic Clark Fork River is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise, with plenty to offer from hiking, biking, and fishing to skiing and rafting. Added bonus: Montana has the best brews in the country, most notably the porter, a watery American take on the English classic.

Think Last Call

Not totally a fair market comparison, but Montana’s capital city (population 40,000) is known for its wild nightlife, much of which is centered around the University of Missoula. The most popular nightlife destinations are the Campus Corner neighborhood and The Hub.

A Real Life Big Sky

Just east of Missoula is one of Montana’s biggest attractions. The aptly named Big Sky resort is home to some of the state’s best skiing, as well as a variety of summer activities, from boating and hiking in the trails of the Bitterroot Valley to fishing and hunting in the Sapphire and Bitterroot mountains.

Rendezvous with Beasts

Blackfeet County, along the Bitterroot River, is a popular place to watch wolves and bears and other animals that roam the area. The biggest attraction is the Great Bear Wilderness. Pack footpaws and grizzlies are native to the area, and the most famous resident is the enormous 340-pound bear named Gus.

Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park

Miles City, MT.

Unless you have ever seen a cave that went all the way to the surface, you may not be afraid of them. What if I told you that there was a cave that started on the surface and ended in the middle of the earth? That is exactly what lies at the bottom of Montana’s Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park.

This cave is actually a limestone cave. Limestone caves are the most common type of cave. They are formed from the millions and millions of years of pressure that limestone gets from groundwater.

This one is special because you can actually snorkel through some parts of it that end in the water!

Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park is located in Miles City. Miles City was founded in 1887, and its economy is still based on agriculture, coal, oil, and natural gas extraction. Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park has many activities for people to do, such as cave tours and cave swimming.

Cave Trees

The largest cave trees at Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park are actually located on the ceiling of the cave! These cave trees only grow to about 4 inches in diameter. They are just a few inches tall, and are thought to be the same kind that Lewis and Clark encountered during their expedition in 1805.

Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument

Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument is near Crow Agency, Montana. It honors the site of the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876. The battle was one of the most significant conflicts of the American Indian Wars, the U.S.’s conflict with tribes in the 18th century over control of North America.

The Battle of the Little Bighorn officially began in June 1876, and ended in September. It was a series of battles between a group of Lakota, Cheyenne, and Arapaho Native American Indians and a group of U.S. soldiers, cavalry, and Indian police.

The battle was fought on land in the present day Montana and part of South Dakota and was named by the Lakota as Wounded Knee. The site where the battle was fought is now part of Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument.

The Battle of the Little Bighorn was the last major conflict in American Indian Wars. The Native American population in the United States diminished rapidly with direct competition from European-American settlers. This led to the mass destruction of Native American tribes as they were forced to move to reservations.

The battle is significant because it marked the end of the Indian Wars in the west.

The battlefield was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1966 because of its historical significance. This designation helped it become a National Historic Landmark.

Helena

Helena is home to six state parks. It’s surrounded by fifty miles of trout streams, hunting camps, and wineries. It has museums and art galleries, a Victorian heritage area, and much more. It has a historic downtown that features restored old buildings. The town has a population of just over 90,000 and is considered the county seat of Lewis and Clark county. It is also known as the “City of Lights” because of the beautiful lighting on Main Street at night.

The City of Lights is centrally located in the most populous area in Montana. It is approximately two hours from both Bozeman and Missoula.

When planning to visit the City of Lights, consider stopping by Mount Sentinel, one of the most popular hiking destinations for locals. The site lies at 1,745 feet where you can take in the view of the valley and watch sunrises and sunsets.

Another popular attraction in Helena is the Helena Historic Town Square. The square, with a festive park, is home to numerous antique stores and galleries.

The square is a popular destination for Alaskan cruise ships. The square serves as the base for the annual Montana Queen riverboat, a popular tourist attraction.

Other sites worth noting are the world’s Largest Montana rock and the historic Sabrina Tavern.

Whitefish

Lake Whitefish is a 1,600-acre alpine lake in Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. During the 19th century, the lake was a hot spot among the mining-boom gold seekers.

During the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps made the lake popular with activities. It is now a part of the National Kite Museum, where visitors learn about the history of kite flying.

Here’s how to find the lake:

  • From Glacier National Park, drive northeast of the park. Turn north onto Whitefish Lake Road. Driving time from the park is about an hour.
  • At the junction with Deadwood Road, turn left (south).
  • Follow the road to the lake.
  • From the north, take Whitefish Lake Road from West Glacier. Driving time from West Glacier is about an hour.
  • At the junction with Deadwood Road, turn right (north). The road winds up steeply, so drive carefully.
  • Follow the road to the lake.
  • Anywhere in the park, it’s what you make it.
  • Canoe or kayak in the area.
  • Bike the Flathead Valley Scenic Byway.
  • Hike.
  • Go fishing.
  • Horseback riding is allowed.

Flathead Lake

Flathead Lake in Montana is a mountain lake located in the northwest United States. Flathead Lake is 50 miles long and entirely within the boundaries of Glacier National Park.

It equals Lake Tahoe in size — at 6,249 feet deep — but it's much narrower than the public's favorite vacation destination.

Alternatively, it's like a long, narrow lake.

Flathead Lake (especially in the summer months), is a great place to go to relax, fish, take a boat ride, or even take a self-guided tour through the Flathead National Forest. The Flathead are the natives of the land. In 1960, the high-tech company, Intel, found a place in this isolated valley to ease development.

Montana’s Flathead Lake is a perfect example of a place where technology meets nature. A famous place where you can take a cruise on Flathead Lake is on a R.V. or a boat rental.

The best place to take a flight in Montana is Flathead Lake. It is one of the best places to visit in Montana. In Flathead Lake there is Four Bear Casino; jet skis; Pilothouse Grill & Marina; St. John’s Lutheran Church and Cemetery; Sheridan Sports Center and Resort; United Methodist Church; Waits Phillips Park; and West Glacier Public Square.

West Yellowstone

West Yellowstone is a small town of just 4,000 people, but it has a reputation as the gateway to Yellowstone National Park. People flock to the area to see large herds of elk feeding on the meadows and take wildlife photographs in its boundaries.

One place to go for wildlife watching is Hebgen Lake, with its wildlife boardwalk leading the way along the water’s edge. There, you can observe a variety of wildlife, including a herd of 300 elk in the park.

West Yellowstone is also a great place to go hiking and horseback riding, and to go snowmobiling in the winter. It’s also the right place to go sky-diving on a tandem skydive and fly a single-engine plane.

You can also take a guided horseback ride by an experienced rider along the historic Snake River. The ride offers a chance to see the river from the horseback riding perspective, as well as many trout streams that are close to the river.

When you drive through the small downtown area of West Yellowstone, you’ll notice an Amish-made building…it’s the New Life Mercantile. The building was built in 1912 and hosts an antiques store and a few other shops.

Bozeman

Glacier National Park

The Glacier National Park is the most visited national park in the United States. It is a stunning landscape of ice and water carved into landscapes often reminiscent of castles.

This National Park is protected land and is home to some of the most interesting species of plants, animals and birds. It protects the Great Lakes region, which is one of the most beautiful and lush places in the world.

Glacier is a complicated landscape with multiple glaciers, forests, lakes, streams, flowers, and trees that all work together to form an amazing experience.

Even though Glacier is a National Park, there are some hotels inside of it where you can refuel and rejuvenate.

Those who enjoy camping can also book into some campsites that lie just adjacent to the National park.