By Independence Day high season is in full swing, which means national and state parks become crowded, and trains, flights, and roads into Montana are choked with tourists.
While the weather is incredible throughout the state this time of year, it’s not without a price: imagine limited availability of water sports equipment and rental cars, higher prices everywhere, and vacancies at hotels and lodges can shrink to zero.
Most of these drawbacks can be alleviated by simply planning ahead. Reserving tours, park permits, and accommodations a month or two in advance should make your trip flow smoothly, and being a bit flexible will quell any disappointment that may arise from any plans that fall through.
But in July in Montana, it’s easy to have a backup plan because there’s so much to do. With good weather comes festivals that celebrate everything from music to the arts, and the most iconic of them are held outdoors.
This is the perfect time for hiking, mountain biking, and rock climbing, as well as anything in the state’s many lakes and rivers that requires a swimsuit.
What’s The Weather In Montana Like In July?
Put simply: Montana is hot in July. Even at altitude, temperatures can approach as high as 80º, while in town and east of the divide it can be even hotter. But in the evening, especially in the west and in higher elevations, it can get chilly so be sure to be prepared with a couple of layers.
You can probably get away without rain gear or galoshes as there are usually only a few days of rain in July. A swimsuit will do you much more good this time of year.
Travel To Montana in July
Unsurprisingly, flights from Denver continue to dominate in July, with sub-$200 flights into Missoula and Glacier. While flights from the west coast can be exorbitantly priced this time of year, flying in from Newark and Boston can be downright reasonable. You may even find the occasional deal from the south, especially from Atlanta, Dallas, or Miami.
As the high season gets into full swing, state and national parks in Montana can become legitimately crowded, and parking can be tight, especially at RV campgrounds. Popular attractions like Old Faithful and Lake McDonald don’t always have enough parking to accommodate everyone who wants to visit, so this is a great time to eschew renting a car and schedule a tour instead.
While you’ll find attractions are busier in the middle of the day when the tour busses arrive, you won’t have to be disappointed when you can’t find parking.
Events in Montana in July
The first weekend in July in Livingston is the Depot Festival of the Arts, a juried art competition that doubles as an exhibition. Every year over 100 artists and craftspeople of all types gather to display and sell their work, and winners are announced at the end of the weekend.
Conveniently, this festival is held the same weekend as the Livingston Roundup Rodeo, whose mission is “the best Pro Rodeo in the state of Montana.” The Roundup has all of the classic events you’d expect like bareback riding, steer wrestling, and tie-down roping, and many nights conclude with fireworks.
But maybe the number-one mainstay of the summer events calendar is the Montana Folk Festival, held every year in Butte in early July. This is a large affair, and folks travel from all around the region – and the country – to attend. Maybe most surprising about the festival is that admission is completely free.
If you’d like to visit during the festival, the organizers have put together a comprehensive guide detailing hotels, campgrounds, and RV parks you can stay at in and around Butte.
Performances will include over 200 local and national acts spread across six stages, with all manner of additional activities like a dance pavilion, a marketplace, and a food court. If you have a great time at the festival, consider donating to the effort to ensure that it can remain a free event for years to come.
Things To Do In Montana In July
Even small towns in Montana go all out for the 4th of July, so if you find yourself in Montana for Independence Day, you’re bound to find a celebration nearby. Many cities organize a parade, and some of them have fireworks after the sun goes down.
July in Montana is also cherry season, especially the last two weeks of the month. You can celebrate by attending the Polson Main Street Cherry Festival which highlights purveyors of all things cherry from pies to preserves and much more.
In addition to the festival, you can find seasonal dishes at restaurants and bakeries all over the state. You can also spend a day at an orchard picking your own if you like; there are several to choose from, particularly around Kalispell which is known for its cherry harvest. Or if you prefer, you can buy them by crate directly from local farmers or at markets and roadside stands near Flathead Lake.
July is also a great time for backcountry and thru-hiking, but keep in mind that if you are planning such activities inside Yellowstone, you’ll need a backcountry permit. Only a certain amount are issued at a time, so it’s best to plan ahead to ensure there will be one available.
If hiking is on your radar, check out our list of top hiking trails in Montana.
If you find yourself with some hiking-related aches and pains, don’t forget that Montana is home to some of the world’s best hot spring and hot springs resorts. Here are our thoughts on Montana’s best hot springs.
This is also the perfect time of year to schedule a llama trek. These 3-7 day treks allow you to see Yellowstone uniquely and are all led by an experienced guide. Though not native to Montana, llamas are even more suited than horses to carrying passengers in this particular type of terrain.
Planning Your Trip To Montana In July
- July is in the middle of the high season, so lodges fill up quickly and attractions can be crowded. A trip to Montana in July can require a considerable amount of planning.
- The weather is hot, but usually not humid, though it depends on what region you’re in. It can get chilly at night, so pack a couple of layers, and don’t forget a swimsuit.
- Hiking, mountain biking, swimming, and fishing are all popular pastimes this time of year.
- You’ll find flights from Denver, Newark, or Boston to be the most reasonably priced, especially for flights into Glacier and Missoula.
- Several pro rodeos occur in Montana over the summer, of note in July are in Livingstone and Augusta.
- If you plan on attending the Montana Folk Festival, make your reservations for your campsite or hotel well in advance, and bring plenty of sunscreen as there is little shade in the venue.
- Montanan cherries (Flathead variety, in particular!) are famous in the northwest for their quality, so you’ll want to try some while you’re in town for cherry season.
- Llama treks are available in Yellowstone in July. They are offered by Wildland Trekking and must be booked in advance.