Though technically winter doesn’t start until the end of the following month, November in Montana is decidedly wintery. The first few real snowfalls of the year usually occur during this month spurning locals and tourists alike to break out their winter gear. As the temperature drops, Montanans tend to find ways to keep it cozy and support one another within their communities, so it’s a lovely, wholesome time to visit the state.
Depending on who you ask, the holiday season begins either the day after Halloween or the day after Thanksgiving, but regardless it starts in November. In Montana, you’ll find a plethora of holiday activities geared toward families as well as singles, and most towns get decked out for the occasion with lights and Christmas trees.
As Montana approaches the winter solstice, the days are increasingly shorter. If you’re not used to spending time in the winter somewhere so far north, you may be shocked at how early the sun sets. Just make sure you take at least some time to get outside during the day, even if the sun isn’t all the way “out.” This will help to quell any anxiety you may experience and keep your circadian clock in order.
What’s The Weather In Montana Like In November?
While not completely frozen, November is cold in Montana. With highs in the lowest elevations rarely climbing over 40º, you’ll definitely need to plan for rain and snow, just in case. In November, the temperature will fluctuate above and below freezing, meaning during the day it could rain, only to freeze on the roads overnight, leaving them slick and somewhat treacherous.
If you’re not experienced at driving in the snow or on icy roads, you may want to eschew renting a car and leaving it to a professional by scheduling a tour or using public transportation.
Travel To Montana In November?
While most west coast flights are hovering within the middle of the road price-wise, flights from Los Angeles to Bozeman hit some of their lowest prices of the entire year. Luckily, Bozeman is also the gateway airport to Yellowstone, near the only entrance to the park that is open year-round. Keep in mind that traveling around Thanksgiving, which falls on the fourth Thursday in November, can increase prices dramatically.
November is when driving around Montana begins to be difficult. Several roads close during the month, and snow can make traveling by car difficult. But major interstates – which connect to all of Montana’s major cities – are plowed regularly and present little danger or extraordinary effort.
Events in Montana in November
If you want to pick up a few gifts while you’re in town, there are several holiday bazaars and fairs with all manner of unique items. In Bozeman, the annual Holiday Bazaar at the Emerson Center for the Arts and Culture features work by local artists and craftspeople, including jewelry, sculpture, home goods, and more.
And in Billings, the Holiday Food and Gift Festival is a massive shopping event in mid-November. Featuring locally made crafts, preserves, and beauty items, over 12,000 people visit the 200+ vendors at this fair annually.
And the Saturday after Thanksgiving at the National Museum of Forest Service History is the Old Fashioned Forest Service Christmas. The kids will already be entertained with the campfire sing-along and a scavenger hunt and thrilled, even more, when Santa and Smokey the Bear make an appearance.
Things To Do In Montana In November
No November day unites tourists and Montanans alike like the beginning of ski season. Though individual ski areas stagger their grand opening somewhat, you can expect them all to debut for the year within the last week of November. Season open dates published are generally tentative, but examining historical data proves they seldom delay more than a day or two past their proposed opening day.
If you’d like to join in on the revelry and ski on opening day at one of Montana’s ski areas, your best bet is to book an on-mountain resort well in advance. If for some reason conditions aren’t ideal to issue lift tickets, you can enjoy the resort’s other amenities for a day or two until they’re ready to invite visitors to the slopes.
If you’re in town for Veterans Day, you may want to make your way to Gardiner because entrance fees to Yellowstone Park are free the entire weekend. Though the roads you can traverse by car are somewhat limited, you’ll be able to access Mammoth Hot Springs via the road leading to Cooke City. And for adventurous travelers, you’ll still be able to explore Yellowstone on foot.
Just like the rest of the United States, Montana celebrates Thanksgiving on the last Thursday of November. If you’re visiting during this time and don’t have a place to go for dinner, several excellent restaurants around the state will treat you just like family.
24-hour diner Shellie’s Country Café in Missoula dishes up American standards 365 days a year, Thanksgiving included. Their annual turkey feast draws a pretty considerable crowd, and this is for a reason: Shellie’s is known for serving up quality though unassuming comfort food and completing each meal with a slice of homemade pie.
Also, a charming bed and breakfast housed in a historic building, The Grand Hotel & Restaurant in Big Timber offers Thanksgiving dinner in their well-appointed but rustic dining hall. Originally opened in 1890, The Grand has been welcoming travelers of all kinds since 1890, and they’ll be more than happy to host you as well.
If a buffet is more your style, the Red Fox Supper Club & Lounge at the Fox Ridge Golf Course in Helena offers a yearly Thanksgiving smorgasbord. It’s a very popular place to spend the holiday, and they only seat guests with a reservation, so be sure to inquire well in advance.
Out in Big Sky, Buck’s T-4 Lodge and Dining turns Thanksgiving into an elegant affair. They’re known throughout Montana for being one of the best fine dining restaurants in the state, and if you can snag a reservation, their Thanksgiving dinner is legendary.
And if all of these are full or too far from you, your best bet might just be the Montana Club. With five locations in major cities throughout Montana, you’re bound to be near somewhere hosting a fantastic feast, replete with all the fixings.
Travel To Montana In November
- November in Montana is cold, with about 10 days of rain or snow in the month.
- This is the beginning of the holiday season, so expect holiday events, decorations, and celebrations.
- Flights from Los Angeles are particularly economical this time of year.
- Ski season begins in November, with resorts around Montana opening to much fanfare on staggered days toward the end of the month.
- Beginning in November, there will be many fairs and bazaars around the state selling gifts and holiday goods.
- The fourth Thursday in November is Thanksgiving, and there are many restaurants of all different kinds throughout the state that serve dinner for folks not cooking at home.