The 11 Best Things To Do In Lincoln, Montana [+ Free Activities]

Mark Barnett
Last Updated: February 28th, 2023

While it may seem like not much more than a speck on a map, Lincoln, Montana is home to far more than you may think. With pitch-perfect examples of classic Montanan diners and world-class art exhibits, it’s a wonder it all fits within Lincoln’s modest borders.

Lincoln embodies the classic Montana culture to a tee: a Western Cowboy mentality permeates the culture, and a sincere reverence and respect for the outdoors drive many aspects of life.

A visit to Lincoln is much more than the sum of its parts: here you’ll be privy to a side of Montana that has waned from its larger cities, though you’ll find it alive and well in Lincoln.

In this article, we will look at the best things to do in Lincoln along with free events for those looking to travel affordably.

11 Top Things To Do In Lincoln, Montana

Lincoln State Forest

1. Brand Bar Museum

Just a half-hour west of Lincoln in the tiny municipality of Ovando is the Brand Bar Museum. Inside you’ll find memorabilia and displays that relate to the history of the area.

It’s a tiny but mighty museum housed in a former saloon that dates to 1897, and it’s on a beautiful plot of land: the caretakers suggest bringing a picnic to enjoy on the grounds.

If there’s no one attending the museum when you arrive, just swing by the Blackfoot Angler or the Blackfoot Commercial Company across the street, and someone there can unlock the door for you.

2. Upper Blackfoot Historical Society Museum

Set on four acres of land directly behind the Hi-Country Trading Post, the Upper Blackfoot Historical Society Museum holds the history of the region in a mix of objects, and even the cabins themselves that part of the collection is housed in.

A portion of the collection lies outside the cabins: these are the larger items like tools and machinery once used for logging and mining.

Inside you’ll find smaller items like photographs and documents that relate important information about the area.

3. Visit a Classic Montana Dinner

top view of hands holding fresh mouthwatering burgers with fries, beer and sauce on the wooden table.

Scapegoat Eatery and Wilderness Bar

This Lincoln institution combines a lively local bar with a true down-home restaurant where you can bring the whole family.

In addition to serving local brews and quality pub-fare, they host live music, motorcycle and car rallies, and even the occasional fundraiser.

In some ways, this is the heart and soul of Lincoln, Montana, and a visit to town without at least stopping by for one cold pint would mean missing a significant part of the local culture.

Wheel Inn Tavern

Way more than a simple tavern, this is the type of place you might end up stopping for a bite and staying the whole evening.

As you might think of a pub in a town like Lincoln, this place has an authentic small-town vibe, though the food is legitimately incredible. Locals believe the Wheel Inn’s fried chicken is the best in Western Montana.

Montana Steakhouse

If you think a steakhouse sounds far too slick to be tucked away on a highway in Western Montana, then you’ll be delighted to find out that the Montanan Steakhouse has great food with none of the pretenses.

This is a place where you can get a high-quality meal in a come-as-you-are environment.

4. Browse a Trading Post

Lincoln Leather and Fur Traders

Carrying furs, leather goods, and antiques, this retail and taxidermy shop has an incredible selection of unique, often handmade goods. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, they do custom work as well so don’t be afraid to ask.

Hi-Country Trading Post

If you can imagine an old-timey trading post was modernized for the present day, that’s exactly what you’ll find here.

Though it’s homed in a log cabin-type building, inside you’ll find everything from high-tech outdoor gear, to incredible local trail foods and preserves, to beekeeping supplies.

Even if you aren’t an experienced outdoorsman – or beekeeper – you’re bound to find something to entice you during your visit.

5. Check Out a Local Rodeo

local rodeo
Image: Chris Ford

Why not check out some of the Western-tinged aspects of the town with a visit to an authentic local rodeo?

Depending on when you plan to visit the area, if you happen to be around in the summer you might be able to catch the Annual Lincoln Open Rodeo, which typically occurs on the nearest weekend to the Independence Holiday every year.

The rodeo is around 2 miles to the west of the downtown region, where the festivities kick off with a parade through town.

The Lincoln Rodeo is one of the few remaining open rodeos left in Montana and it provides a stage for young local cowboys to hone their skills.

6. Get Out into the Wilds

get out into the wilds

Lincoln’s geographical location ensures some of the best outdoor recreations in the state.

For starters, the town is virtually surrounded by the Lewis & Clark and the Lolo national forests, and just to the north is the Scapegoat Wilderness Area.

This area is in turn adjacent to the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex 10 miles north of Lincoln and covers more than 1.5 million acres of untouched wilderness on both sides of the Continental Divide.

The main access routes adjacent to the Scapegoat Wilderness include US Highway 287 to the east and Highways 200 and 83 to the west and the south. This wilderness is home to endless miles of trails used by both hikers and horseback riders.

Hunting, fishing, and amazing scenery are also prominent in the area, which is permeated by wildlife such as deer, wolverine, elk, moose, grizzly and black bears, and mountain lions, goats, and sheep.

This region is notably the only one outside of the state’s national parks supporting grizzly bears, which the taxidermy display at the Lincoln Ranger Station showcases with one of the largest specimens ever found in the area.

The wilderness regions also contain no less than 14 lakes and close to 100 miles of streams. These waterways provide various fishing opportunities, and anglers will find primitive camping with no public facilities is allowed.

7. Fish the Blackfoot River

fish the blackfoot river

While we are on the topic of the extensive outdoor recreation opportunities close to Lincoln it is only logical and proper to mention the Blackfoot River and its fishing. In this region of the state, the river flows for 25 miles through some amazingly scenic countryside.

The Blackfoot River starts out in the mountains along the continental divide just outside Lincoln. It runs through picturesque and diverse landscapes for over 100 miles before its confluence with the Clark Fork, close to the small town of Bonner.

Access above Lincoln is really good with large stretches of the river flowing through National Forest land. Once below Lincoln, there are several fishing access sites with good road access just off of Highway 200.

However, the main stretch of the river of interest to anyone in the Lincoln area is the Lincoln to Mineral Hill Fishing Access Site.

Just downstream from Lincoln the river twists and turns quite significantly as it weaves through small, forested mountains. Access is reportedly very good here, with Highway 141 closely following the river and providing easy road access.

The real good part is that this part of the river has relatively low fishing and other recreational floating pressure even though it is easily accessible.

Fly fishing can be challenging along this section of the river with mainly brown trout on offer. The size of these trout can often be well above average, although they are not the easiest fish to catch.

This section of the river is best wade-fished, and various logjams and other obstructions limit the floating options somewhat.

8. Get Some Snow-Boarding Practice In

get some snow boarding practice in

Lincoln is also something of a mecca for snow sports and winter enthusiasts can make use of more than 250 miles of groomed snowmobile trails in and around the area during the colder months.

The entire region screams backcountry skiing to any winter enthusiast, and the action also includes various events and races throughout the winter.

Lincoln also features in a stretch of the annual Race to the Sky Dog Sled Race. This 350-mile race winds through some of the most amazing mountain scenery in the state, as well as right through the town of Lincoln.

Snowmobile routes also exist extensively throughout the region, which brings in visitors whether summer or winter.

3 Free Things To Do In Lincoln, Montana

9. Lincoln Skatepark

The in-town Lincoln Skatepark is somewhat unique in Montana, in that it is rare for a town so small to have a facility quite like this.

It’s just next door to Hooper Park & Campground, a lovely green space with a gazebo, several picnic tables, and lawns.

10. Blackfoot Pathways: Sculpture in the Wild

blackfoot pathways

A truly incredible community arts project, Blackfoot Pathways: Sculpture in the Wild is part artists’ residency, part sculpture park that aims to provide visitors with thoughtfully made work made from both natural and industrial materials.

The work shown here is commissioned specifically to reflect the specific traditions of the region and stands as a visual depiction of the individual artists’ own interpretations of the cultural heritage of Lincoln and the surroundings.

11. Nature’s Playground

This rustic disc-golf course may not be particularly well maintained, but that’s exactly part of what makes it so challenging, especially if you’re playing in the summer.

This course shares part of the site that Blackfoot Pathways sit on, so you’ll be playing this 45-minute-long course in and around legitimate pieces of art.

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About The Author

Mark Barnett

Mark Philip is a writer and lifestyle enthusiast from the Midlands in the U.K. With a background in martial arts and fitness, Mark headed out to Bangkok, Thailand where he now lives and works. Mark has authored e-books, articles, and blogs across a wide range of topics for commercial, educational, factual, lifestyle and leisure-based purposes.

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