As a small agricultural town in northern Montana, Hingham may not seem like the first choice for a vacation spot – but it continues to surprise and delight us here at Discovering Montana.
With its close proximity to the Fresno Reservoir and Havre, locals and travelers alike have plenty of recreational activity choices to supplement their farm-adjacent life, from boating to fishing to celebrating their beloved Hill County at the Great Northern Fair.
One thing is for certain: folks in and around Hingham support each other along their massive former railroad line. Once deeply connected by trains, grain, and the rush of family greetings, you can always expect a warm hello from a north Montanan. It’s just in their blood.
Like so many other Hi-Line railroad towns, Hingham’s existence as an official entity began as a grain storage and shipping center along the Great Northern Railway, clearly supporting the local economy via its agricultural stronghold within the community.
By 1910, homesteaders had established a town based on a broad, square grid with a centralized town square as its main attraction – and it seemed to be the town among all those on the Hi-Line that would make it (Do we even need to say “Spoiler Alert”?).
And it did – for a while – with numerous commercial buildings and businesses, multiple churches, saloons, grain elevators, and even a Hi-Line Fair, offering local farmers and ranchers the opportunity to meet up with neighbors along the Hi-Line.
Hingham continued to prosper into the latter half of the 20th century, although they certainly had to fight for it. These days, it’s much quieter but it still has a small-town charm and a tight-knit community of old guards and younger families.
We love to stop through and visit the central town square park, as well as Hi Way Bar & Services, a place where everyone knows your name after you’ve been through once or twice. How sweet is that?
Let’s visit some of our favorite recreational spots and attractions in and around Hingham. Yeehaw!
Just a short drive past Gildford gets you to a refreshing and popular summer sanctuary, the Fresno Reservoir.
With 65 miles of shoreline and fantastic fishing opportunities (walleye, perch, and northern pike), the Fresno Reservoir offers peace and quiet away from the grain, cows, and barking dogs.
Although the reservoir is free to enter, you’ll want to bring your own fishing bait, poles, snacks, and water gear, since it’s a “be where your feet are planted” type of spot.
Located along the historic Milk River – named for its milky consistency by Meriwether Lewis of the Lewis and Clark Expedition – the water is relatively clear and offers year-round fishing (keep in mind that no live bait is allowed on these grounds).
If you’re more into swimming, Fresno Res offers calm and cool waters, despite its proximity to the Fresno Dam.
If you don’t have your own water boat, jetski, kayak, or canoe, we recommend renting from the reservoir. Just make sure to follow the campsite rule and return the equipment better than when you found it!
Speaking of camping, check out the Fresno Reservoir Campground for a private and pristine back-to-the-Earth Montana experience. Ready, set, relax.
Earl Clack Museum
While Hingham was originally home to the Blackfeet and Métis tribes prior to homesteader arrivals in the early 1900s, the Hi-Line area has been inhabited as far back as the dinosaurs, something the H. Earl Clack Museum knows a thing or two about.
This museum named after a local power couple offers artifacts from tribes, dinosaur fossils, military uniforms, dioramas, and more. We like to think of it as a step back in time to see how people, reptiles, and plant life thrived throughout the centuries and millennia.
And if you have a passport book for the Montana Dinosaur Trail, get your passport stamped because the Clack Museum has numerous dinosaur artifacts and fossils, including Chomper, Melvin, and Stygi (Also recommended if you have time: the nearby Rudyard Depot Museum!).
The H. Earl Clack Museum is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day from Wednesday until Sunday.
Great Northern Fair
If you find yourself in northern Montana during the middle of July, consider yourself lucky because you just bought yourself a ticket to the Great Northern Fair.
The name is a nod to the Great Northern Railroad that linked the neighboring Hill County towns together in spirit and purpose, and this fair parallels those railway lines in every way.
Come during July to check out the free live music, rodeos, tractor pulls, all the best fair concessions (funnel cake!), and more.
We love the fairgrounds because they operate 15 year-round camping sites, perfect for those days we want to extend those funnel cake and s’mores vibes into the cooler fall season.
And bringing it back to the H. Earl Clack Museum for a moment, they’ve got a few awesome homesteading buildings on site, like the old Faber School, farm machinery, and only the coolest homesteading house in the area!
Fishing at Hingham Lake
You’ll find plenty of fishing opportunities surrounding Hingham (like the Fresno Reservoir!), but you can also activate your fishy-senses right at Hingham Lake.
At 330 acres in size, this lake will satisfy your fishing needs and give you some dinner bragging rights. Go ahead – you deserve it!
Just drive a bit southwest towards Lake Elwell and the Tiber Dam, and you’ll find 178 miles of unadulterated shoreline perfect for swimming and boating, especially around the Fourth of July.
We also really like this spot for ice fishing, as well as the archaeologically sound tipi rings, otherwise known as circular stones left by the Blackfeet Nation.
Are they ceremonial or were they used for sustenance? You’ll have to visit and let us know what you think!
Hingham doesn’t have much of its own in the way of accommodations, but there are plenty of nearby options to keep you cozy and smiling throughout the night.
And since you’re playing your cards right, we’ll share some of our favorite spots so all you have to do is relax and enjoy the Fresno Reservoir. Starting with…
- The Great Northern B&B and The Homestead Suite – As its name suggests, this former farmhouse along the Great Northern Railroad has been converted into a warm and inviting B&B, as well as a bonus suite off Main Street appropriately called The Homestead.
They’ve got those nice personal touches you can’t get in a hotel, and they’re in close proximity to the Liberty County Museum and a great art center. If you’re traveling with a larger group, check out the Great Northern’s larger Westland Suite, but we happen to think the Homestead Suite is, well, perfectly sized. And yes, they are pet friendly! Also, check out the Lewis and Clark Overlook while you’re in the Chester area!
- Best Western Plus Great Northern – Another Great Northern reference, and this one has a complimentary hot breakfast! Drive a bit east into Havre and you’ll find this Best Western Plus, a pet-friendly spot that offers an indoor pool, hot tub, its own casino lounge, and exercise facility.
This Best Western Plus has all the goods for some peaceful shut-eye after the bright, glaring rodeo lights of the Great Northern Fair. And this will either make it or break it for you, but it’s a 100% smoke-free hotel, so you may need to look elsewhere if you’re craving nicotine and can’t imagine leaving your room.
- The Motel – Okay, we know the name isn’t the most original, but sometimes you have to look past a book’s cover to see its pages. And we were positively charmed by this small town motel that seems to operate off of word of mouth, good vibes, and an extremely friendly front desk staff.
You’ll have to drive a bit south for this uncut gem, but it’s situated at the foot of the Bear Paw Mountains in adorable Big Sandy – so we think it’s worth it.
- Evergreen Campground – Alright, we love nature as much as the next Montanans, but real talk: some campgrounds are just better than others. One of our favorites is the beautifully lush Evergreen Campground just a few miles south of Havre, which is wonderfully shaded and offers a cozy spot to gather all five of your senses before moving along to the next day’s work.
While Hingham’s 100-plus residents are happy to have their own restaurant and gather together often in the city park, they don’t have specific town events.
We’ve already mentioned the indomitable Great Northern Fair – a true cultural highlight for locals – but we’re also partial to the Art in the Park and Car Show in nearby Joplin.
- June – Living History/ High Line Heritage House Museum (Havre, MT)
- June – Art in the Park and Joplin Car Show (Joplin, MT)
- July – Great Northern Fair (Havre, MT)
- July – Fourth of July Celebration (Havre, MT)
- September – Festival Days (Havre, MT – Check out the Kiwanis Pancake Breakfast!)
Activities Near Hingham
- Gildford, MT (6 miles)
- Rudyard, MT (6 miles)
- Inverness, MT (12 miles)
- Joplin, MT (16 miles)
- Chester, MT (26 miles)
- Havre, MT (34 miles)
- Big Sandy, MT (46 miles)
- Shelby, MT (68 miles)
- Fresno Reservoir (Havre, MT)
- Liberty County Museum (Chester, MT)
- Great Northern Fair (Havre, MT)
- Sweetgrass Hills (Sweetgrass, MT)
City Parks & Pools
- Beaver Creek Park (Havre, MT)
- Joplin Memorial Park (Joplin, MT)
- Sheehy Park (Big Sandy, MT)
- Kris Bakke Memorial Park (Havre, MT)
- Devlin Walking Trail (Havre, MT)
- Big Sandy Swimming Pool (Big Sandy, MT)
- Chinook City Pool (Chinook, MT)
National and State Parks
- Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument (Lewistown, MT)
- Lake Thibadeau National Wildlife Refuge (Havre, MT)
- Creedman Coulee National Wildlife Refuge (Havre, MT)
- Giant Springs State Park (Great Falls, MT)
- Glacier National Park
Local & Nearby Favorites
- Hi Way Bar & Services (Hingham, MT)
- Sugar Shack Diner (Rudyard, MT)
- Inverness Bar and Supper Club (Inverness, MT)
- Joplin Bar & Grill (Joplin, MT)
- Spud’s Cafe (Chester, MT)
- Walleye Tavern (Havre, MT)
- Wolfer’s Diner (Havre, MT)
- Canton Chinese Restaurant (Havre, MT)
- Duck Inn (Havre, MT – A local favorite!)