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Things to do in Montana

326 contributors

The top 121 attractions in Montana

Nature Reserves in West Glacier
Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park in Montana obviously if full of glaciers, but they've slipped from 150 to 27 in the past 100 years or so. However, there are still lots valleys carved by ancient glaciers that left unique shapes in the mountains of the park. The highest peaks rise to just over 3000m and the park has an area of ​​over 4000 square kilometers full of lakes and vast coniferous forests. This is a great place for activities such as fishing, hiking, and camping in remote valleys. There are "rangers" the information center will brief you about possible meetings with Grizzlies or even cougars! Personally, I found my encounter with the white mountain goats much more reassuring!
Shops in West Yellowstone
Smith & Chandler General Mercantile
The Smith & Chandler General Mercantile is a shop located on the main street of West Yellowstone, Montana. It has been open since 1971, and inside you'll find plenty of country & western goods, as well as Yellowstone National Park souvenirs.
Gardens in West Yellowstone
Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center
The Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center is located in West Yellowstone, Montana takes in and cares for wounded or orphaned bears and wolves before releasing them once their grown and healthy. At set times, you can see these beautiful creatures as they eat or play with each other.
Of Cultural Interest in West Yellowstone
Yellowstone Visitors Center
The Visitor Center in question is located in the center of West Yellowstone, Montana. Here you can find all types of information about the city and Yellowstone National Park, which is located just a few kilometers away. You can also purchase books and souvenirs.
Lakes in West Glacier
St Mary Lake
At an altitude of almost 1400 m, St. Mary Lake is the second largest lake in Glacier National Park, spanning more than 15 square kilometers. Its clear, cold waters rarely exceed 10 ° C and contain different varieties of trout. It is one of the park's 300 lakes (only 130 are named). Some are accessible by car, while others can only be reached after several days of walking. The third photo shows Lake McDonald. Around the lakes in the park, and with a little luck, it is possible to observe the national icon of the United States: the bald eagle.
Football Fields in Missoula
Washington-Grizzly Stadium
The football stadium at the University of Montana in Missoula was built in 1985, funded by a grant of a million dollars from a wealthy Montana industrialist. At first it could hold 12,500 spectators, but after several extentions the number has doubled to 25,000. It is the home of the Montana Grizzlies, national champions in 1995 and 2001, and has also been used to host concerts, like the Rolling Stones on their sold out "A Bigger Bang Tour".
Nature Reserves in Lolo
Lolo Pass
When Lewis and Clark were making their push from their winter quarters in Oregon back to the United States, Native Americans in what is now north-central Idaho told the explorers the route they needed to follow over Lolo Pass would still be clogged by snow well into the spring. Lewis and Clark pressed on anyway, only to return after seeing indeed how deep the snow was. Today, this pass at about a mile above sea level, still sees those deep snows – by late winter U.S. 12 over the Montana-Idaho border is usually tunneled through deep drifts. A beautiful national forest visitors center now greets visitors; it’s staffed with helpful rangers, has a gift shop and exhibits, and offers by-donation coffee and cocoa. Starting around mid-November, there is a small fee to park at the visitor center, but for that visitors gain access to miles of groomed cross-country ski trails, as well as snowmobile, snowshoe, and bac-kcountry ski trails. The groomed XC ski trails are generally gentle and suitable for a mellow afternoon of kick and gliding for beginners. Note that dogs are not allowed on groomed ski trails.
Nature Reserves in Columbia
Hiking in Parque Nacional Glacier
Highline Trail
I've hiked, skied, and paddled across a lot of Glacier National Park, yet somehow have avoided a visit to likely the park’s top attraction – the Highline Trail. What makes the trail special? Well, it starts at Logan Pass, which already is poplar. It gives a birds-eye view of much of the western half of the park. The first half-mile or so has been chipped into vertical rock – with hose-wrapped chains bolted to the rock to offer help. At the end of the trail is the spectacularly-sited and atmospheric Granite Park Chalet, where you can grab a drink or spend the night. Oh – and unlike most other trails in the park, this one is nearly flat for 7 miles then downhill for 4! Since the trail is popular it’s unlikely you’ll have it to yourself, but crowds do space out and solitude is not impossible to find. I started the hike under sunny skies that soon clouded and then downpoured. With a girl I huddled under a rock outcrop while the most intense showers passed. When the rain stopped fog set in, and I made it to the chalet before another storm began. The chalet was steamy and full of hikers escaping the rain, so soon I left and headed downhill, arrived back at the Going-to-the-Sun Road, and caught a free shuttle back to Logan Pass. Home a few hours later I turned the camera on and looked at the photos. Already it was hard to imagine such beautiful places exist.
Nature Reserves in Montana City
West Entrance Station
Lovely view of a really amazing glacier.
Hiking in Huson
This is smooth, fun, totally empty single track just 30 minutes from downtown Misosula! Lolo National Forest has marked and mapped bike routes north of the historic Ninemile Ranger Station on a combination of little-used single track and mostly quiet dirt roads. Though the routes are not marked on the Lolo's web page, they do appear on a mountain bike booklet the forest has published and which is available in bike shops in Missoula. Park at the Ninemile Ranger Station then head north and west toward Kreis Pond, then west toward Butler Creek, and finally south and east along the main Ninemile Valley road, looking for diamond-shaped bike signs along the way. Plan on a 19-mile loop with a bit more than 2,000 vertical feet of total climbing -- pretty mellow for these parts. The single track is smooth and non-technical, and winds through rarely-seen forests, some of which have been selectively logged. On a hot day you can cool off in Kreis Pond or in swimming holes along the Ninemile road.
Hiking in Missoula
Mt. Sentinel
Sentinel is indeed the sentinel for Missoula – a stark open peak rising 2,000 feet of the valley floor, a backdrop for most photos of the city and a much-loved open space and recreation area. This is where Missoulians come to mountain bike in the morning, hike in the afternoon, and star-gaze at night. The peak itself is accessible by trails which start from the campus of the University of Montana, at the east end of South Avenue, from the Kim Williams Trail along the Clark Fork, and from two trailheads in Pattee Canyon. Yes – it’s steep. Plan on a heart-pounding hike, but in reality most trails get you to the top in just about an hour. Allow a few minutes on top and bring your camera to catch the afternoon views.
Hiking in Missoula
The M Trail
If you only take one hike while in Missoula, this will probably be it – and if you've just moved here, chances are you’ll be on this trail before your bags are unpacked. The “M” Trail climbs a series of switchbacks from the campus of the University of Montana to the M – the white painted concrete insignia of the university. The trail climbs nearly 700 vertical feet and has been the scene of much huffing and puffing, but all the same don’t be surprised at how many people pass you while they are jogging. The “M” itself has a storied local history, and plaques at the base of the trail describe it and also tell you how many calories you can expect to burn. You can continue past the M to climb Mt. Sentinel; note that just above the M is the high-water mark of Lake Missoula, which filled the valley and much of the Inland Northwest during the last ice age.
Lakes in Missoula
Holland Lake
When people in Missoula say they are headed “to the lake”, a lot of the time they are referring to this mountain gem in the Swan Valley. Holland Lake has been a gathering point for ages, due in part to its spectacular setting at the base of a line of jagged mountains, and due also to its campgrounds, trailheads, waterfall, and rustic lodge. The lodge offers food and rooms, while the campground offers both forested sites and several larger group sites. There is also a picnicking area and swimming beach with boat put in. Summer homes dot the south side of the lake. The one-hour hike to the waterfall is the most popular destination: to find the trailhead, drive around the north side of the lake to the end of the road. Partway down the lakeside trail, a trail climbs up to the left into the mountains; the waterfall hike is mostly gentle and stays lower. Also on the south side of the lake is a popular trailhead which offers primary access into the Bob Marshall Wilderness. This trailhead is also open in the winter for skiers. There is a modest fee for camping. Picnicking and boating are free, though the Forest Service has plans to implement a small day use fee.
Skiing in Missoula
Snowbowl Ski and Summer Resort
Don’t go to Snowbowl looking for groomed cruisers, fancy slopeside lodging, or on-mountain “cuisine”. That’s not what this place is all about. Instead, do go to Snowbowl for thigh-crushing steep fall-line descents, well-spaced trees, and a laid-back funky vibe. This mountain, just 20 minutes from Missoula, is the very definition of a “local hill”. The chairs are slow and creaky, the tickets are rock-bottom cheap, and most people know each other. On powder days, expect a good line for first chair, but then also expect the mountain to empty noon as everyone heads back to work. On (rare) stretches when there has been no new snow for a while, expect character-building conditions and no lines. Under all conditions, take care on the gravel access road, which claims carelessly-driven cars with some frequency, and also tag along with a local or check in with ski patrol before leaving the ski area boundary for wilderness turns to the east and north, as skiers get lost and spend the night in the woods with similar frequency. Snowbowl has been approved for a large expansion plan, which will add significant terrain and several new chairs.
Skiing in Whitefish
Whitefish Mountain Resort
This was one of our favorite ski areas before we moved to Montana and remains so even today. Whitefish seems always to be fun, relaxed, wide-open, and full of fluffy snow. The ski area is one of the older ones in Montana but has grown steadily; today it's a world-class mountain with plenty of room to roam and superb views -- especially to the east, where the high peaks of Glacier National Park stand out. What's more, it's a relatively affordable destination, as standard hotel rooms can be easily found 30 minutes away in Kalispell and it's not hard to find discounts on lift tickets (hint: Costco). Just below the base village is a free cross-country ski track, and the mountain is also open in the summer with zip lines, toboggan rides, and lift-accessed mountain biking and hiking.
Skiing in Anaconda
Discovery Ski Corporation
If you are a skier and you live outside of Montana, chances are good you've never heard of Discovery ski area – but that is slowly changing. Skiers inside Montana, meanwhile, know that Discovery is the real deal, a cheap ski-till-you-drop mountain with something for everyone. Don’t be surprised to see dogs in the parking lot and families brown-bagging in the lodge, and also don’t be surprised to see super-wide cruisers and gulp-inducing steeps. “Disco” – as most know it by – has been growing steadily and is currently working to build a road that will access the west side of the ski area from Philipsburg; when that’s done, the drive time from Missoula will be cut by 20 minutes or more. Pssst – want a local’s tip? Save your lift ticket at the end of the day and take it to the gas station in Philipsburg, where it’s good for a free fountain drink.
Skiing in Sula
Lost Trail Ski Area
Lost Trail straddles the Montana-Idaho border, where it picks up steady dumps of snow but quickly sheds the small crowds that make it up the pass. The area is normally open just four days a week, and there are no motel rooms in sight. With just five creaky chairlifts and a Spartan base, the area boasts $40 adult day lift tickets – figure in the 1800 acres and an 1,800-foot vertical drop, and Lost Trail is one of the best deals in America. When I worked in nearby Hamilton, our office shared a season pass, and it was a bit of a juggle to make it up to the mountain for a few runs before dashing back to work; after I quit that job I kept coming back, this time using the $5-off coupons that regularly show up in the mail. Great spot.
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