If you are in the region of Montana looking for outdoor adventure or some of the most scenic views the Big Sky state has to offer, it’s highly likely that you’ll end up somewhere in the mountain regions. Montana is certainly not short on either mountains or mountain towns. And some of the best mountain towns in Montana may well have you feeling like you don’t want to leave them.
Montana has so many mountain towns it’s possible that you have never heard of some of them. Certainly, all of these places have much to offer by way of adventure, scenery, and even a spot of history. During the winter months, some of these Montana mountain towns offer world-class skiing and snowboarding. The summer months bring hiking, rafting, mountain biking opportunities, and more.
Finding a charming mountain town in Montana isn’t that much of a challenge to be fair. But it is a little more difficult to decide which is the best one. So here are a few options when it comes to some of the best mountain towns in Montana.
Ten Best Mountain Towns in Montana
Whitefish is a prime Montana mountain town with arguably the best skiing resort in the state. It is small enough to have an authentic feel to it but large enough to have all the amenities anyone could wish for.
The town is a real focal point of winter sports in Montana during the colder months, and the soaring and dramatic-looking snow-capped peaks of the Whitefish Range is a powerful presence in the background.
Whitefish is a popular stop-off point for anyone who ventures into Glacier National Park, which is little more than half an hour away from this town in the mountains of Montana.
Here you will encounter breathtaking views and endless exciting nature trails running through forested areas and around Whitefish Lake. The shores of City beach around the lake are a popular spot in the warmer months, making the town something of a year-round destination.
Bozeman is a popular mountain location in Montana that is actually classified as more of a city. It has one of the larger populations of the mountain regions at around 50,000, and it is another place with easy access to Yellowstone National park.
Although Bozeman is somewhat larger than many of the other mountain towns in Montana, it does still manage to retain something of a charming small-town feel.
Downtown Bozeman has some of the best restaurants, bars, shops, galleries, and other amenities associated with a more developed region. But it is still a laid-back, pedestrian-friendly place, and is also home to Montana State University’s Museum of the Rockies.
Kalispell is another one of the slightly larger populated mountain regions, and it is also classified as a city even though the population is only half that of Bozeman.
Nevertheless, Kalispell is a place with free-flowing rivers and surrounding mountains that rise high above the valley floor.
Similar to Bozeman, this place also has something of a historic feel and a storybook-like charm that comes from being located in a region of such impressive and awe-inspiring landscapes.
This is an authentic and vibrant mountain-dwelling that is often described as a town, and it is developed enough to offer a broad range of charming accommodation, locally-owned shops, breweries, and restaurants with a farm-to-table approach.
Kalispell is within easy reach of both Glacier National Park and Flathead Lake, which makes it an ideal place to base any Montana vacation from.
Libby is located in northwest Montana, and it’s a lesser-known mountain town in Montana. It has a population of less than 3,000 and comes complete with friendly locals and stunning surrounding areas in the region of the Kootenai River.
You can find over 2 million acres of public land for exploration Libby and the surrounding Kootenai National Forest has hundreds of miles of hiking and biking trails.
This is a truly picturesque region, with high mountain lakes and streams. The area is popular for hunting and fishing, and the town has a small downhill ski area along with miles of backcountry roads for skiing and snowmobiling.
Choteau is an authentic and scenic small Montana town with an agricultural background. It is surrounded by national forests and a Native American reservation, and has something of an old town feel to it.
The white, Rocky Mountain peaks and rolling green hills that surround the town make the word charming suitably apt, as does the local history which is closely linked to both the Old West and dinosaurs. The downtown Old Trail Museum is evidence of this, as is the fact that the town is featured on the Montana Dinosaur Trail.
Furthermore, you can find the picturesque wildlife hotspot Freezeout Lake nearby, along with other popular attractions of this region of Montana; Flathead National Forest, Lewis and Clark National Forest, and Glacier National Park.
6. Big Timber
The small mountain town of Big Timber is rife with impressive mountain views and a sense of the Old West that goes back to the days of the Northern Pacific Railway in Montana. Located 60 miles east of Bozeman in an area where the Rocky Mountains meet with the plains.
This town is surrounded on three sides by both the Crazy Mountains and the Absaroka Beartooths and is regarded as something of a gateway to the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness which provides some amazing outdoor recreational opportunities, with fishing being one of the prime attractions for much of this area.
You can also get a spot of rafting, horseback riding, and golfing if you fancy, and there are a few other interesting activities in the town like rodeos and other types of horse competitions, as well as a water slide.
Big Timber has a small range of accommodation by way of B&Bs, hotels, and motels with some of them actually have been in business since the late 1800s. The town also has a decent range of eateries from local-style, hometown cooking to fine dining. And don’t forget a trip to Big Timber’s old-fashioned soda fountain.
There is certainly an abundance of things to do in Big Timber, making it one of the top choice mountain towns in Montana for those who like a quiet life but with the chance for a big adventure.
The town is something of a cowboy town, and is surrounded by some impressively high mountain backdrops by way of the three ranges of Madison, Gravelly, and Tobacco Root.
Ennis is known for both its fly fishing and its outdoor art that is somewhat unique to the region and represents aspects of Montana culture. The town has more than a touch of the historic about it which is evident from the Ennis Railroad and Cultural Heritage Museum, where you can get some deeper insights into the town’s past.
Gardiner is a small southwest Montana town situated between the Absaroka Beartooth and the Gallatin Mountain Ranges. It is in proximity to Yellowstone National Park’s northern gate, and the town exhibits the typical Montana charm that one would expect in a location like this.
Gardiner is surrounded by mountainous natural terrain, and the area is an abundant wildlife haven. It also has a sense of the historic about it and was indeed a hot spot for all manner of mountain types such as miners, hunters, and trappers that are truly representative of the Old West that Montana’s past is so connected to.
The town also has access to Montana’s longest free-flowing river by way of the Yellowstone River, and the small town with its population of less than 1,000 has everything you need to make any stay there comfortable, except for any large-chain outfits.
This means that everything has an authentic local feel to it, which only adds to the charm and claim to being one of the best mountain towns in Montana.
9. Hungry Horse
If you are interested in really quaint little mountain towns in Montana then consider checking out Hungry Horse, an unincorporated community of less than 1,000, although the catchment area includes the residents in the little town of Coram, located three minutes up the road northwards.
The name comes from the dam, and the town was initially nothing more than a spot where those involved in its construction set up camp. The dam covers the water needs in the region and provides some fantastic recreational activities including guided tours.
In the town, you’ll find local stores including such delights as a junk shop and a mountain arts store, and lodgings can be found along with an abundance of huckleberry delicacies.
10. Cut Bank
You’ll find this small mountain town amidst a Rocky Mountains backdrop in Glacier Country, less than an hour from the national park. Local culture and history abound in this town as well as a plethora of Western-style adventures and of course, endless opportunities for outdoor pursuits.
With a population of around 3,000, Cut Bank has long been an integral part of the region’s oil and gas industry, which started in the 1920s when the first well was unearthed. The name comes from its location, which looks pretty much like a bank cut out of a river, east of Cut Bank Creek.