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Helena Valley West Central, Montana

Helena is a hugely popular tourist destination for Western Montana locals and tourists alike. It’s an area rich in history, initially made good by the mining of the boomtown era.

The capital region of Helena is just one angle of the colorful attractions and activities of this historic and interesting area surrounded by mountains and endless outdoor recreation.

Helena Valley West Central is an example of one of the separately census-designated Helena districts in Montana’s Lewis and Clark County.

It is set within a 2-3-mile radius of the state capital Helena and is the same distance from Helena West Side, Helena Valley Northwest, Helena Valley Northeast, Helena Valley Southeast, and East Helena.

The Mansion District of Helena is within a reasonable distance of the West Central area and is a great place to admire some of the most impressive existing period architecture in the country, which includes touches of the Italianate, Queen Anne, and Revival styles.

The upper regions of the Central West Side contain homely and picturesque residences set in quaint, charming-housed neighborhoods. This section of the city is ideal for families and is reasonably close to other attractions of both a recreational and cultural nature.

The Upper West Side of the central region is also located right at the foot of the mountain in Mount Helena City Park not too far from the vicinity of Spring Meadow Lake State Park, so there is plenty to do around and from this spot.

helena valley west central
Image: Forest Service Northern Region

Main Attractions in or near Helena Valley West Central

Visitors always find plenty to see and do in the southwest Montana region, especially if they are interested in checking out some of the cultural attractions.

You can visit a battlefield site, browse a few museums, or tour a historical site or two in and around any of the Helena districts.

The capital’s Historic Downtown can be found just a couple of miles away from West Central, with much of it built along a small creek running through a historical Montana spot by way of Last Chance Gulch.

What was once the former Main Street is now known as Last Chance Road, and is basically a pedestrian and mall-type area containing a stretch of historic brick buildings which include restaurants, art galleries, and a number of other local businesses.

The famous Reeder’s Alley is one of the oldest existing sections of Helena. All of the buildings here were built by Louis Reeder who decided that brick buildings would withstand any potential fire better than wood. Reeder’s Alley has a Visitor Center that will be able to give you more ideas about the other attractions in and around town.

You might check out a spot of the local culture at the Montana Historical Society and its fascinating exhibits that can keep all ages’ attention. Many consider this facility to be the most complete and informative museum in Montana history.

It’s a rather large place and there’s plenty to read when considering the wildlife, Lewis and Clark, Native American history and culture, and paleontology exhibits to name just a few.

The Mackay Gallery features one of the best collections of art by the celebrated “Cowboy Artist” Charles M. Russell, and for historians, the Society library, archives, and the photo archives are one of the main areas of interest.

Some of the archived manuscripts cover topics such as local business and finance, mining, homesteading, ranching, the pioneer era, and various social organizations that existed.

Recreation Activities in or near Helena Valley West Central

Spring Meadow Lake State Park is definitely one of Montana’s smaller state parks, but it is incredibly easy to access compared to some of the others and is located 1.5 miles from the upper west side of the city.

So if you’re looking for a nice and steady few hours in nature without a long drive beforehand, this may be for you. The lake is the park’s main feature, seconded maybe by the mile-long, easy-going loop trail around the water’s perimeter.

Carry Ferry Lake is another local recreation spot and the go-to spot for all kinds of water activities within the area. A man-made lake in the Missouri River is huge, with the closest access points at the northern tip.

This is about half an hour east of town and is very easy to get to from Helena Valley West Central.

Even though they are super close to the center of town, both the West and North Central sections of Helena have a few decent parks and other outdoor spaces themselves.

Some of these places include water parks which makes them popular with families. And don’t forget Centennial Park–one of the largest parks in Helena–complete with a skate park, baseball fields, and playgrounds to boot.

Hiking

hiking

There are of course a multitude of decent hiking options near Helena. The thing that makes the area special is the fact that you don’t even have to leave town to find a trail.

Just a few minutes from the downtown regions of the city is Mount Helena City Parka big city park easily within reach from the Helena Valley West Central area. It is a bit closer than Spring Meadow Park if you want to find some decent recreation virtually on your doorstep.

Some of the trails in the park lead up to Mount Helena’s summit–1,300 feet above the town. The 1906 Trail is a popular choice for anyone seeking an easy climb.

Fishing

fishing

Spring Meadow Lake State Park is a great day-use area just up the road from Helena Valley West Central. The lake is reportedly reasonable for fishing and the park is a popular spot for other recreation.

Slightly more of a drive out from Helena is the Clark Fork River, where many anglers like to pit their fishing wits. The river is known for its fish being a bit picky and choosy, so patient anglers who like a challenge won’t be disappointed here when they finally land one as the fish here can be sizeable. 

Biking

biking

Some of the best biking on offer in Montana can be found around this area, and the weaving trails are not overused. Many of the routes wind their way through and around the town which is ideal if you are a single-track enthusiast.

The area is actually a silver-level-rated destination by the International Mountain Biking Association There are some pretty top-notch single-track trails, accessible in just a few minutes from the downtown district.

In addition, you can find free shuttles that take bikers to some of the best routes in the area.

Camping

camping

Located right in Helena Valley West Central is the Lewis and Clark County Fairgrounds Campground.

The facility includes 22 camping spaces at $22.00 per night which includes electricity. Maximum stays of 7 days are allowed in a 30-day period, and there are water fill-up stations in the main parking lot.

There is no water in the campground area and no RV dump. 

Accommodation–Hotels and Lodging

You won’t be short on choice of accommodation anywhere within the region of Helena.

To get closer to the Valley SE side you have to go past the Helena Regional Airport where there are plenty of hotels like the ones below on the way to Helena Valley SE.

Special Events in Helena Valley SE  

Activities and other Points of Interest near Helena Valley SE

Forests/State/National Parks/Wilderness Areas

Museums/Historic Items

Nearby Towns/Cities

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