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Havre, Montana

Havre, Montana (pronounced HAV-er) is one of the larger cities in central Montana. Once a booming railroad town, today it serves much of the central Montana agricultural community and is a popular place to stop along Highway 2.

Originally known as Bullhook Bottoms, residents changed the name to Havre around 1893. The town was built to serve the Great Northern Railway, as the mid-point between Minneapolis-St. Paul and Seattle.

The town’s history has some unique points that make it a fun place for history buffs to explore. As you walk through the old downtown area, you’ll notice purple squares on the sidewalks. These squares are actually skylights that allow light to shine in the town’s underground mall.

This unique feature of the town was built to house the city’s more notorious businesses like brothels, saloons, opium dens, and speakeasies during prohibition. Today, the underground remains as a museum to the town’s unique and sometimes less than glamorous past.

Today, residents of Havre, MT enjoy living in one of the most beautiful parts of Montana, and tourists will enjoy plenty of special events, tourist attractions, and outdoor recreational activities.

Main Attractions

havre montana station
Image: The West End

Though Havre is a fairly small community, it does have some interesting things to see and do. There is a little something for everyone in the area, whether you like to explore historical landmarks, museums or take a hike for some beautiful views.

Havre Beneath the Streets

Once this area was home to the shadier side of Havre. The Havre Underground was originally built as tunnels to allow Chinese workers to move around town without being seen. Because of its “secret” residents, the Underground soon became home to brothels, opium dens, saloons, and other businesses of ill-repute.

In 1904 when the Havre downtown burned to the ground, reputable businesses moved to the Underground to continue business while the town was rebuilt.

Today, the Havre Beneath the Streets is a unique and interesting museum dedicated to the history of Havre. Many of the original shops and businesses have been restored to give visitors an idea of the unique collection of people and industry that used the Underground.

Wahkpa Chu’gn Archaeological Site

One of the best-preserved buffalo jumps in North America, the Wahkpa Chu’gn Archaeological site is not often visited by tourists, but it is a real highlight of the area.

The bison kill area is just behind the Holiday Village strip mall, has nice walking trails, and features a carefully excavated and preserved archaeological site that details the area’s past. Here you can learn how Native Americans used these hills to aid in hunting bison, a primary food and material resource for the peoples of the plains.

The H. Earl Clack Museum

If you are traveling with a child that loves dinosaurs, or if you really enjoy dinosaur museums, you cannot miss the Earl Clack Museum. Though the museum isn’t just dedicated to museums, one of the most popular exhibits here centers around the paleontological finds of the area.

You’ll also find great exhibits about the area’s Native Peoples, the history of Havre, and artifacts from Fort Assiniboine.

Fort Assinniboine

Fort Assinniboine was once the largest military installation in Montana. It was constructed around 1879 and remained operational as a military post until 1911. Today it is home to the Northern Agricultural Research Center, and a museum that details the military history of the Fort.

Annually, the Fort plays host to one of the area’s unique events, Havre’s Living History. This day-long event allows visitors to learn the history of Fort Assinniboine and Havre through hands-on activities and live reenactments.

Recreation Activities

If history and mining aren’t your thing, it’s OK, there are plenty of other things to do and see around Havre. With a wealth of opportunities for exploring the outdoors, you’ll find plenty of things to do and see around the town, and you will find it hard to be bored.

hiking

Hiking

There are plenty of great places to hike in and around Havre, MT. Many people enjoy the small, but easy to access trails around the Wahkpa Chu’gn Archaeological Site. For more hiking trails and a bit of nature, you can also visit Beaver Creek Park, the 6th largest county park in the United States.

This area has plenty of hiking trails, and you’ll get to experience the beauty of the Montana plains. Bear Paw Nature Trail is another great place to get out and explore the area and is only a short distance from downtown Havre.

Skiing

The most popular place to ski in the Havre area is Bear Paw Ski Bowl. This volunteer-run ski area is really popular with locals and will give you the opportunity to enjoy a ski hill with none of the frills.

Fishing and Hunting

The areas around Havre provide plenty of opportunities for hunting and fishing. The Milk River runs through Havre and Fresno Reservoir is just a short drive from Havre. Both provide great places for visitors to fish. There are also numerous fishing and hunting outfitters within the Havre area that can provide guide services and equipment rentals.

Watersports

The Milk River is a very calm river with plenty of places to put in your kayak, canoe, or paddleboard. You can also enjoy a variety of water sports on Fresno Reservoir just northwest of the town.

Accommodations

Havre is a pretty small community, and despite being home to a campus of Montana State University, there are limited accommodation options in the community.

Special Events

Many of the special events and festivals in Havre pay homage to the cultural groups that came to the area in search of a bit of mining wealth. Of course, the town does have festivals that are just for fun and celebrate some of our favorite holidays.

Activities Near Havre

Recreation Activities

National Parks and Forests

Museums

Performing Arts

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