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.
The Top 3 Hotels in Havre
BEST FOR COUPLES
- Swimming Pool
BEST FOR FAMILIES
- BBQ Facilities
- Free WiFi
- Snack Bar
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Best Western Plus Havre Inn & Suites
- Best Western Plus Great Northern Inn
- AmericInn by Wyndham Havre
- Super 8 by Wyndham Havre
- Quality Inn
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.
- June – Bear Paw Marathon
- June – Living History
- June thru August – Sounds on the Square
- July – 4th of July Festival
- July thru September – Saturday Market
- July – Great Northern Fair
- August – Biz and Brews
- August – Rocky Boy Powwow
- September – Festival Days
- November – Community Tree Lighting
Activities Near Havre
- Optimist Park
- Pepin Park
- American Legion Park
- Kuhr Memorial Park
- First Bank Park
- Memorial Field
- Devlin Walking Trail
- Kris Bakke Memorial Park
- Patterson Park
- Deaconess Park
- Havre City Park and Recreation Center
- Beaver Creek Park
- Beaver Creek Golf Course
National Parks and Forests
- Bear Paw Battlefield – Nez Perce National Historical Park
- Fresno Reservoir – Bureau of Land Management
What Is The Cost of Living in Havre?
Compared to the rest of the country, Havre’s cost of living is much lower than the national U.S. average. The national cost of living index average of 100 leaves Havre behind at 84.3. This means Havre is a much cheaper option than many other places, with healthcare being the exception.
Is Havre Safe to Live in?
As far as Havre’s crime index rates go, unfortunately the town weighs in at an 8, with 100 being the safest. From 370 reported annual crimes though, 300 are property-related, as tends to be the trend in the state. Violent crime is minimal comparatively but still tallies around 70 cases per year.
What is Havre Known for?
Fort Assiniboine is another local historic attraction that conducts regular tours. The Bear Paw Battlefield and the Wahkpa Chu’gn Buffalo Jump are all in the vicinity for anyone interested in the area’s past.
The entire region of plains and mountains surrounding Havre is popular year-round for outdoor recreation, including the local Beaver Creek Park. Hunting and fishing are common in and around Beaver Creek and Bear’s Paw Mountains.
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