8 Interesting Facts About Montana

Will Beck
Last Updated: February 2nd, 2024

Fondly nicknamed the Big Sky Country, the western US state of Montana is the perfect spot for a tropical getaway!

From the wide expanse of the Great Plains to the rugged Rockies, the state has beautiful topography; think parks, mountains, forests, rivers, and valleys – Montana truly has it all. 

From road trips to extensive tours, Montana is a great place to indulge the traveler in you. 

Apart from scenic splendor, the state is also known for its wildlife. It is not just home to the largest migratory elk herd in all of the US, but there are more cattle in the state than people!

Now, there’s an interesting fact about Montana that I bet you didn’t know – so read on for another 8 interesting facts about Montana!

Montana has a long and storied past. 

From its rugged landscapes and Native American and colonial history to its present-day status as a camping and outdoor destination renowned all around the world, Montana is an engaging and exciting place with something for everyone.

But beyond the things you already know – the fishing and hiking, the Rocky Mountains and ski resorts – there are a lot of facts and unique stories from Montana you’re probably not yet aware of. 

This article exists to share some of the lesser-known facts about Montana so you can be better informed and inspired on your next visit

1. Montana is often referred to as “Big Sky Country” due to its vast, open landscapes

the beartooth mountains

“Big Sky Country” is a nickname that refers to the sheer vastness of some of many of Montana’s natural landscapes, and particularly the way that the sky in these open vistas appears to really dominate the space. 

“Big Sky Country” was devised in 1962 by the Montana State Highway Department and based on the novel Big Sky by Alfred Bertram Guthrie Jr. The nickname has stuck ever since!

2. Glacier National Park spans over a million acres and boasts diverse ecosystems  

glacier national park

Glacier National Park is a huge draw for tourists from all over the state, county, and the world. 

While you can probably guess that Glacier National Park earns its name from the over 25 glaciers throughout the area, there are a range of different and unique ecosystems. 

Alpine forests and meadows are home to grizzly bears, lynx, mountain goats, elk, and deer. 

Waterways are home to otters and a range of native fish, and ospreys, falcons, and eagles take the “big sky” of the National Park.

Glacier National Park is home to two subranges of the Rocky Mountains, over 130 named lakes, and borders Canada’s Waterson Lake National Park.

3. Montana shares a border with Yellowstone National Park, known for its geothermal wonders

yellowstone national park

Montana and Colorado share similar ecosystems and landscapes closer to the Rocky Mountains, and the two most famous national parks in the area (Yellowstone and Glacier Nation Park) are right next door to one another. 

A true experience of everything the Rocky Mountains has to offer must include a trip to the geothermal wonders of Yellowstone! With hot springs, geysers, and mud spots, Yellowstone is a truly unique environment to behold. 

4. Montana played a pivotal role in the Lewis and Clark Expedition, shaping its historical significance

During their famous transcontinental expedition, Lewis and Clark were the first Europeans to ever set foot in or indeed see Montana. 

While Native American tribes like the Blackfoot had lived in the area for many generations, Lewis and Clark were the first Europeans to officially describe the wilderness of the state when they first entered in 1804.

5. Montana has a rich Native American cultural history that continues to influence the state today

Many Native American nations have called Montana home for tens of thousands of years including Blackfoot, Crow, Sioux, and Lakota – just to name a few. 

Today, the Blackfoot Nation resides on a Montana reservation called Blackfoot Reservation, one of seven Native American reservations in Montana alongside Flathead Reservation, Fort Belknap Reservation, and the Northern Cheyenne Reservation.

Native American culture is strongly intertwined with Montana’s own culture as a state. This is proudly displayed at the Museum of the Plains Indian and The Blackfeet Heritage Center, which showcases rich and beautiful artifacts of Native American history. 

What makes Native American influence so unique to Montana is that each of the 12 nations that call Montana home has its own unique cultures, traditions, languages, and customs that influence the areas in which they live! 

6. The Gold Rush had a significant impact on Montana’s development and shaped its destiny

history of gold panning
Image: mazaletel

In 1862, John White hit gold at Grasshopper Creek – and soon after that, people from all over the United States and the world were traveling to the area in the hopes of striking it lucky!

The Montana gold rush lasted until the dawn of the 20th century and saw the establishment of many rowdy and lawless towns like Bannack or Butte, which only added to the historical mystique of the period.

Today, the remnants of the gold rush can be seen in the ghost towns that were soon abandoned after the gold was mined, and though some mines still operate today on the hunt for gold and copper, the wealth generated by the original gold rush helped establish Montana’s urban centers and infrastructure. 

7. Montana is home to a diverse range of wildlife species, including grizzly bears and wolves

bison paradise in yellowstone national park

Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, lynx, and a range of other majestic creatures of the continental United States call Montana home!

With over 1 million acres of pristine wilderness in Glacier National Park, there are plenty of opportunities for these animals to live their lives as they have done for a thousand years.

There are plenty of opportunities to take chartered trips to photograph and observe them in their natural habitats. 

8. Montana is known for its world-class fly-fishing opportunities

the best fly fishing in montana
Image: Latham Jenkins

From June to September, keen anglers descend on Montana to take part in one of the most spectacular fly fishing seasons in America. 

With pristine waterways like Bighorn, Gallatin, Missouri, and Madison rivers running through the state, there are countless locations for a chance to catch Montana’s many trout varieties, including the brown trout, cutthroat, and rainbow. 

9. The state’s rugged terrain includes the spectacular Beartooth Highway, often referred to as “the most beautiful drive in America”

While driving around everywhere can be a pain, there is no more perfect and enjoyable drive than Montana’s Beartooth Highway. 

Based on the route taken by Civil War General Philip Sheridan, Beartooth Highway was opened in 1936 and serves as a stunning showcase of Montana’s natural beauty!

At just a hair over 68 miles long, there is plenty of opportunity to soak in the natural beauty as to travel between Red Lodge and Cooke City. 

10. Montana has a unique cowboy heritage

montana cowboy horse horseback

As a rugged state home to cattle ranchers, Montana has a long history of the cowboy way of life. 

Because of the sheer distances traveled and the size of land claims, horseback riding, roving, and outdoor living became fundamental to all those who worked in managing and running ranches. 

To this day, the history of cowboys is celebrated all over Montana, and many ranchers still live lives akin to the way their forebears lived over a hundred years ago. 

11. Montana is one of the least populated states in the U.S.

Montana is the 43rd least populated state in the union, with just 1.2 million residents. 

It is so sparsely populated that is has a density of 7.09/sq mile! This is a far cry from a place like New York, with nearly 20 million residents. 

12. Montana is home to some of the darkest skies in the country

Because of the space between cities and the relatively small size of the cities and towns that dot the Montana landscape, light pollution is incredibly low. 

This makes it a stunning place for stargazing, and brings a whole new meaning to the moniker “Big Sky Country”.

13. Montana Provides Ample opportunities for outdoor activities

recreational activities along the drive

If there’s one thing Montana is known for, it’s outdoor activities! 

You can go hiking, visit national parks, stargaze, fly fish, take great drives, horseback ride, and ski – and that’s barely scratching the surface. 

A trip to Montana is always about the outdoor experiences that you can enjoy!

Related Articles

About The Author

Will Beck

Will is a true digital nomad, taking his work on the road at every opportunity. His first love is coffee, with travel a close 2nd. He loves nothing more than hitting the road in his self-build campervan and visiting off-the-beaten-path places, away from popular tourist destinations.

Leave a Comment