With so many things to do and see in Montana and such a large area to cover, there simply isn’t enough time on a standard vacation to see and do everything.
So, to help you get the most from your trip, we’ve compiled 13 of our ‘must do’ sights, attractions, and tours in Montana.
10 Best Tours in Montana
- Glacier National Park: Scenic Raft Trip: A two to three-hour raft trip on Flathead River in Glacier National Park.
- West Yellowstone: Yellowstone Park Tour with Local Guide: Guided tour around Yellowstone National Park’s popular places.
- Glacier National Park: Half-Day Whitewater Rafting Trip: A whitewater raft in the middle of Flathead River.
- Yellowstone 2-Day Guided Tour with Lunches: An exhaustive tour to both Upper and Lower Yellowstone Park.
- West Glacier: Moped Rental: Self-guided road tour aboard a rental moped. You can rent for as long as a day and as short as 2 hours.
- Yellowstone Self-Driving Audio Guided Tour: An audio-guided tour around Yellowstone National Park.
- Full-Day Yellowstone Lower Loop Tour: A guided tour along the Lower Loop of Yellowstone National Park.
- 4-Day Grand Teton and Yellowstone Winter Tour: Guided winter tour on Yellowstone National Park.
- Yellowstone 5-Day Wolf Tour: A tour to view Yellowstone gray wolf and witness the geysers in winter.
- West Glacier: 1-Hour Fly Casting Lesson: Learn the basics of fly-fishing and assembling casting tools.
13 Best Things to Do in Montana
1. Flathead Lake
One of the most serene destinations in Montana would have to be this large freshwater lake and its immediate surroundings. With 510.2 square kilometers of water to cover, you’re bound to have the best boating experience of your life. Rent a boat and other equipment in any surrounding city and row your way through the tranquil, clear waters of this lake.
If you enjoy fishing, these waters have lots of rainbow trout, brook trout, and other fish you can catch. Sail through the shallower ends of the shores and cast away for a calm recreational experience.
There are also several kayaking trails for both experienced and newbie kayakers. You can take any of the many outlet routes; the more rocky and adventurous ones, if you’re experienced enough or the stiller ones for beginners.
Surrounding the lake is the Flathead National Forest, where there are many hiking trail experiences to try out as well. You could pick a trail to explore, take in the beautiful vegetation and spot some wildlife as well. Spend your night camping on the many camping grounds on the shores, including Polson, Finley Point, Wayfarers, and others. Make reservations prior to your visit, as these grounds often fill up fast.
Are you looking for a refreshing and quiet getaway? There’s a secluded location you will definitely enjoy visiting. Accessible only by boat, the Wild Horse Island makes for a perfectly refreshing place to spend your afternoon. The waters on this lake are clean and suitable for swimming. Visit the southern shores near the beautiful Polson City for a safe swimming experience.
2. Hiking the Glacier National Park Trails
This popular and scenic park has the most adventurous hiking trails you’ll find in Montana. These trails come in different lengths and heights, and there are hundreds of miles to be covered. There is also plenty of direction provided in any of the three visitor centers in form of tips and maps to guide you through.
Some of the trails to expect include McDonald Lake routes like the Forest and Fire Trail, Trail of the Cedars, Fish Creek Bike Path, and more. The St. Mary’s Lake route features trails such as the Baring Falls Route, Virginia Falls Trail, St. Mary Falls, and more. All of these hikes may be self-guided following directions on signposts and warnings, or you could choose to be guided by experts.
This park offers opportunities for backpacking and overnight trips. For backcountry hiking, you would need to obtain authorized access from the visitor centers. Be sure to take every precautionary measure on these trails to stay safe.
As the forests are vast and there is no network service, you want to walk as a group at all times. Bring the best pair of hiking boots you’ve got, carry bear spray, and keep a safe distance from wild animals. Yes, I’m talking about those beautiful bears, elks, and mountain goats you’re dying to take pictures of.
The city of Bozeman offers some of the best museum hoping experiences in Montana. If you’re a historical enthusiast on a knowledge-hunting spree, make this your next stop. The Museum of the Rockies, for starters, is one must-visit museum in Bozeman. Here, you’ll get a paleontological overview of what the Montana landscapes once harbored millions of years ago.
The largest collection of dinosaur fossils and fossils of other extinct mammals such as mammoths and bone-crushing dogs are displayed in this museum. You will also get a real-time experience of what Montana life was like in the 19th century from their History Farm Homestead.
The American Computer and Robotics Museum, a specialty museum for information technology, is also one worth the visit. It’s the oldest of its kind and includes a collection of 4,000 years’ worth of exhibits. You’ll learn about everything from the ancient stone tablet kind of communication to the more modern invention of personal computers.
Aside from everything history, Bozeman also offers other indoor and outdoor recreational opportunities for Montana tourists. The Bozeman Hot Springs is a swimmer’s favorite destination. With indoor and outdoor pools, both hot and cold, you’re in for a calmer, water experience. You can also go rafting at Madison River Tubing, hike the Palisade Falls trail or visit the Gallatin Canyon for a scenic experience.
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4. The Going to the Sun Scenic Drive
This marvelous construction stretches all the way from the west entrance of Glacier National Park, through the scenic Logan Pass, and ends at the shores of St. Mary’s Lake. Taking a drive through this 50-mile engineering marvel is the best way to take in the beauty of Glacier National Park in a shorter timeframe.
On your way, you’ll be able to see wild animals that call this park home. The more common ones are the bison, elks, bighorn sheep, and mountain goats. As the road gains latitude, the picturesque glacier-laced peaks of the Rocky Mountain Ranges and the deeply carved valleys become even more visible. You’ll catch sight of lakes, waterfalls, and creeks on this Montana tour.
The road itself is quite a scenic experience too, just how functional it was constructed to be. How it seamlessly snakes its way around this mountainous region, blending in as if it were naturally a part of the landscape. This road may be shut seasonally or due to construction, hence it’s always advisable to make the necessary inquiries beforehand.
5. Beartooth Range
Besides taking a scenic drive along the 68.7 mile Beartooth Highway, you could take adventurous hikes on the Beartooth Mountains and experience its landscapes. Between Cooke City and Red Lodge, the options are limitless. The Beartooth Lakes Loop is one of the famous trails you want to try out. On this trail, you’ll visit six lakes and cross over several creeks.
There are 7.8 miles to cover and the trailhead elevates over 8,000 feet. Flowery alpine vegetation and beautiful rocky grounds await you on this trail. Finish off your trail at Beauty Lake where you can take a rest or try to catch some trout.
Hike the Silver Run Plateau trail from the shores of the Silver Run Lake and get to experience the rugged landscape as you climb up the treeless rocky region. The Beartooth Mountains also make for an amazing winter experience, for backpacking and skiing through the snow.
6. Lake McDonald
This Montana tour gives you an opportunity to experience Glacier National Park’s beautiful scenery as you sail along the serene waters of the largest lake in the park. The Glacier Park Boat Company offers cruising tours on this Lake from their boats.
Watch the sun go down on an evening cruise from the decks of these beautiful boats. You can also rent small boats and go on a boating excursion of your own. The views are spectacular and you’re in for a treat. You could stopover at any of the shores of this lake and take slow, calm walks.
7. West Yellowstone
If you’re visiting Yellowstone National Park through Montana, West Yellowstone makes for the perfect base camp. Yellowstone National Park offers many touring options, the closest ones to West Yellowstone being Old Faithful and the Midway Geyser Basin.
The park comprises hundreds of thermal features, including geysers, mud pots, hot springs, and fumaroles. There are trails and boardwalks that are safe to walk on when watching these amazing thermal eruptions.
Besides these geological experiences, there are scores of wild animals and birds that inhabit this park you will love to watch and take pictures of. There are also many hiking trails to take and thousands of miles to cover. The park roads are suitable for biking excursions. You can camp or take picnics on the calmer sides of the park. There are designated campgrounds, but you can also go the primitive way and opt for backcountry camping.
The lakes and creeks in this park are also suitable for boating and recreational fishing. Winter here is just as fun. With the roads shut to normal vehicles, there’s much more room for activities such as snowmobiling, skiing, snowshoeing, and more.
Take guided snow coach tours and enjoy the park at its best. Drive up to the Lamar Valley and watch wolves in their winter habitat. Watch how the geysers and hot springs are like when everything’s frozen.
Other than the Yellowstone National Park, other things to explore in West Yellowstone include the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center. Here you get to watch grizzly bears, gray wolves, and raptors in action. You also get to learn about them all. Catch a film at the Yellowstone Giant Screen Theater and get the theater experience of a lifetime.
8. Great Falls
Visit the C. M. Russell Museum, an art museum in Great Falls famous for its collection of paintings, drawings, and moldings by Charles Russell. This renowned artist narrated the story of the great landscapes of Montana and its cowboy culture through his art, like none other. Through his artistic pieces, you’re able to experience the American West in the 19th century, almost as vividly as he did himself.
Visit the Giant Springs State Park, just outside of Great Falls, and experience one of the largest freshwater springs in Montana. Take pictures at this elegant park, enjoy an afternoon picnic or go hiking on any of the park trails. There are also opportunities for fishing along the shores of thehele Missouri River, boating, biking, and bird watching in this park.
9. Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park
This is Montana’s first state park and is in Whitehall. It comprises decorated caves with uniquely rugged formations that are a definite must-see. While the walks through these caves are interesting, that is not all the park offers. There are lots of trails to take for both hikers and bikers.
The Nature Loop Trail is easy for those looking for something less explorative and more relaxed. For moderate to adventurous hikers, there are tougher trails to take such as the Middle View Trail, Greer Gulch Loop, and the Cave Gulch Trail. These stretch up elevated terrains are longer and go through more forested regions of the park.
There is also wildlife such as black bears and mule deer you may catch sight of on your trails. Over 200 species of wildflowers grow in this park, and some parts comprise prairie vegetation. It’s also suitable for bird watching of species such as bluebirds and raptors.
The region is relatively dry and with no water bodies, therefore if hiking these designated trails, you’re advised to carry water with you. Be sure to take precautions with wildlife by maintaining a safe distance and hiking as a group.
10. Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument
This is a memorial park for the 263 lives that were lost during a war between the Lakota tribe warriors and the United States Army’s 7th Cavalry. In 1876, the US government went on a battle aimed at forcing the Northern Plain Indians out of the land they had inhabited for years, into reservation lands. The battle was held right on the hills that this park currently occupies.
On this tour, you will get guided across the hills where everything took place, make stopovers in places significant to this history, and be shown exhibits during these stops. There are also numerous photographs from the actual event as well as later reenactments of it. Learn about this history and more on your tour.
Helena got its recognition in the 19th century as a mining town in Montana. They later made it the state’s capital in 1875. Aside from its rich history, Helena provides an entire set of adventures and tours for travelers. Here, you can take a historic stroll to Last Chance Gulch in downtown Helena. This street, which is the city’s main street, is where gold was first found in 1864. The Last Chance Gulch is how Helena came to be.
A visit to the Montana State Capitol is also a good way of learning about the city, its legislation, and the history of this magnificent architectural building as well. Mount Helena, a popular landmark, makes for a good hiking trail experience. Take any of the six trails in Mount Helena City Park and explore the nearby Helena National forest and its wildlife.
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The World Museum of Mining is one of the major tourist attractions in Butte. This is owing to its uniqueness. While ordinary museums show remains from life in the past, this museum goes a step further. It’s found in an actual mining yard and not only do you see tools and equipment used by past miners, but you also get to live their experience. You’ll take a walk on the actual yards they mined in; take underground walks to the mining pits they labored on and so forth.
The town is rich in Irish history from the 19th century. As a mining town, it gained fame and attracted lots of settlers who aided in building it into what it is today. Take trolley tours to the Butte Historic district and get to learn the town’s history.
13. The Big Sky Resort
This resort provides the ultimate winter experience for skiing and snowboarding lovers. There are miles of snowy mountainous regions to traverse during winter. They also offer lessons for mountain sports if you’re looking to learn a new skill.
Their tours include the Lone Peak expedition, where you ride to the peak of the Lone Mountain. Here you get spectacular views of the state, its landscapes, other mountain ranges, and national parks. There is an expansive golf course in this resort, and they also offer scenic lift rides around the mountains. There are also trails suitable for mountain biking and bike rentals.
Free Things to Do in Montana
- Take a scenic drive along the Beartooth Highway and enjoy the scenic views of the Beartooth Mountain Range.
- Visit the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and view collections of elks and learn about their conservation.
- Visit the Aerial Fire Depot and Smokejumper Center, a specialty museum in Missoula.
- Take a short hike to Ousel Park in Gallatin Gateway on the Ousel Falls Park Trail.
- Take self-guided historic walks along the streets of West Yellowstone.