People visit Great Falls for a variety of reasons, such as visiting the Glacier National Park or using the I-15. In any case, Great Falls is worth a visit as there are plenty of exciting things to do here, whether you only have a few hours or a few days to explore. Continue reading to discover 10 fun things to do in Great Falls, Montana.
Great Falls Should Definitely Be On Your List
The Great Falls is a place you must visit. The Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center teach visitors about the earliest American exploration of the area, and anybody interested in arts and culture can visit the Paris Gibson Square Museum of Art or the C.M. Russell Museum. Some of the Missouri River dams offer good picnic spots, but if you prefer to dine out, options in town include Mexican, Texan BBQ, and made-from-scratch burgers.
Visit the Great “Falls” of the Missouri River
Visiting the Missouri River’s waterfalls will give you a better understanding of how Great Falls got its nickname, the Electric City. Five hydroelectric dams at Great Falls are powered by five enormous waterfalls along the Missouri River. Black Eagle Falls, Rainbow Falls, Colter Falls, Crooked Falls, and Great Falls are the names of these five waterfalls.
Black Eagle Falls was the site of the first dam in the region. It’s a lovely little waterfall that flows over massive stones in front of the Black Eagle Dam. Black Eagle Falls is also the closest waterfall to Great Falls, making it a convenient place to visit for those short on time. From the Black Eagle Memorial Island, you can enjoy beautiful views of the Black Eagle Falls. This place also provides a lovely promenade, picnic tables, and a public restroom.
Rainbow Falls is located at a short distance from Colter Falls, which is now mostly submerged. If you don’t want to hike to the falls, this is a nice location to stop.
The Great Falls is the tallest of the five waterfalls, as its name suggests. Ryan Dam rises majestically behind the original waterfall, generating a water stream of 148 feet. A visit to Ryan Island Park through a suspension bridge is an excellent opportunity to see the Great Falls. The Morony Dam lies downstream of the Great Falls, while the Cochrane Dam is upstream; the water flows through Crooked Falls, Rainbow Falls, Colter Falls, and Black Eagle Falls before entering the city.
Check out the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, Great Falls
The Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, overlooking the Missouri River, tells the epic story of the early 1800s, 8,000-mile Lewis and Clark Expedition. The main hall is packed with interactive displays, where you can also take a complimentary audio tour. Visitors are also encouraged to explore the interpretative pathways available outside the center. And if time allows, you can also traverse the route that leads to the neighboring Giant Springs State Park. Visitors under the age of 15 are allowed free of cost, while groups of 20 or more are given discounted tickets.
Explore the River’s Edge Trail
The River’s Edge Trail is the city’s major pedestrian route. This route links numerous areas such as the historic downtown center, and many cultural sites due to it being located on both sides of the Missouri River for 60 in-town miles.
Gibson Park, one of the several city parks linked by the River’s Edge Trail, is regarded as the crown gem of the municipal park system. This public area is a short walk from downtown and contains lush gardens and serene ponds. It’s a popular activity to start the day on a bicycle, touring the River’s Edge Trail.
Giant Spring State Park and the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center are two more significant stops along the route. Pedestrians may also enjoy a fantastic view of The Great Falls of Missouri in the same spot, northeast of downtown. Smaller attractions such as Warden Park or the various pieces of public art bordering the trail are also interesting locations to stop and witness on the walk.
Witness History at the C.M. Russell Museum
The C.M. Russell Museum, named for the famed “cowboy artist” who spent most of his life portraying the essence of the American West, houses one of the country’s biggest collections of C.M. Russell artwork.
The collection inside The C.M. Russell Museum includes everything from landscape paintings and illustrated letters to large sculptures. The museum also hosts temporary exhibitions showcasing works by other nationally recognized artists regularly.
Interestingly, Russell’s original house and log cabin studio are situated on the museum grounds. They are both furnished with period furniture and other artifacts, which were owned by the artist and his wife.
Shop at the Holiday Village Mall
The Holiday Village Mall, first opened in 1959, is a two-story retail complex with over 60 businesses and a few anchor stores such as PetSmart, Hobby Lobby, and Bed Bath & Beyond. It’s a fantastic location to stop at if you need to do some shopping. Moreover, many of the businesses offer frequent sales, which you can check on the mall’s website before you go.
During opening hours, free Wi-Fi is available throughout the mall and wheelchairs are accessible upon request. Lastly, a modest food court, a children’s play area, and two ATMs are also available.
Experience Glacier National Park
A trip to Glacier National Park is a must when visiting Great Falls. The east entrance of Glacier National Park in St. Mary’s is situated in the north of Great Falls and takes two and a half hours to reach. The Crown of the Continent is a hiker’s dream, with its panoramic views and enthralling hiking trails.
Going through the Sun Route, a 52-mile road that connects one end of the park to the other is the finest way to soak in the alpine grandeur of this location. Granted, Glacier Park is quite a distance from Great Falls but is worth the visit due to its scenic views and fun activities.
Enjoy the Paris Gibson Square Museum of Art
The Paris Gibson Square Museum of Art is one of the area’s most renowned art and culture centers. It is situated inside a remarkable sandstone edifice, built-in 1896, which was meant to serve as a high school. The permanent collection has over 800 works of art, including a diverse spectrum of modern American works.
However, the distinctive feature is a collection of over 200 unique sculptures created by Lee Steen. Visitors are welcome to utilize the on-site ceramic studio, and the museum frequently hosts art lectures and workshops for individuals of all ages and varying skill levels.
Visit the First People’s Buffalo Jump State Park
If you could only use one word to characterize the First People’s Buffalo Jump State Park, it should be “magical.” With its colorful vistas, magnificent trails, and historic reputation as one of the greatest buffalo jump sites in the United States, this state park is a wonderful location to spend a day. Visitors to this National Historic Landmark witness miles of sandstone cliffs, walk along trails of historic significance or visit a 6,000 square foot visitor center with educational exhibits and tours from experts who are knowledgeable about the area’s history.
Fun at the Electric City Water Park
At Electric City Water Park, you can spend a fun-filled day under the sun. This water park is a popular summer destination, open every day with extended hours on Wednesdays. Visitors to the park may take an adrenaline-pumping tumble down the Power Tower water slide, surf to their hearts’ content on the FlowRider, or float down the Flow River.
Moreover, guests looking for a refreshing swim in the water may visit the Mitchell Pool, while youngsters will certainly love a run around Montana’s largest water play structure. In addition to the obvious fun, if you like to unwind by relaxing in the shade, the Electric City Water Park is the perfect place with numerous trees for a calming environment.
Entertain the Kids at the Children’s Museum of Montana
The Children’s Museum of Montana, the state’s biggest and oldest museum for children, is jam-packed with activities and exhibits. The museum features a plethora of interactive and interesting exhibits to explore, including the Treehouse, which is their newest exhibit. A lovely small hanging obstacle course and several tumbling mats for motor skill development and confidence building are available at the Small Falls Parkour display.
Other exhibits such as the Flight Zone, which features an air traffic control tower; and the Clinic, which contains stethoscopes, diagrams, and models to help youngsters acquire an understanding of several real-life vocations.
If you’re not driving to Montana, you’ll want to rent a car since public transportation can be unreliable and you’ll probably want the freedom to stop at viewpoints and other attractions along the way. There is a significant vehicle rental shortage in Montana right now, so make sure to secure a car rental when you book your trip.
Great Falls is well-known for its waterfalls, which make it a stunning place to visit. It is also one of Montana’s best cities, with plenty to see and do. For visitors to the state’s north-central area, it offers a taste of Montana’s city life without the crowds. We hope that with this guide, you can plan your trip easily and have a fantastic time in Great Falls!