Valier, Montana

Situated on the shore of Lake Frances, Valier is a small town in Montana’s Pondera County.

Despite its minimal size, Valier is a fantastic place for exploring the state’s diverse topography, from rolling plains to the town’s east to the grand Rocky Mountains to its west.

At the turn of the 20th century, the region of Valier was owned by Charley and W.G. Conrad as part of the brother’s 200,000-acre Seven Block Ranch. Known as a fantastic location for cattle ranching, the brothers valued the region thanks to its situation along the banks of St. Frances.

As a result, the area went largely undeveloped until the brothers finally sold their land claim to William S. Cargill and other investors in 1908.

Contracting a construction company, Cargill & co laid out the foundations for the development of a town on the bank of Lake Frances capable of supporting 3,000 people.

As part of the plan, the group of investors founded the Montana and Western Railroad in an effort to connect the town to the Great Northern Line to the east.

Completed in 1909, the new railroad connected Valier to the nearby Conrad and triggered a minor population boom in the region.

The following years saw several landmark establishments developed in the area, including the Valier Public School, which is currently listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Built-in 1911, the building is still in operation but now serves the town as a popular Bed and Breakfast.

The town continued to grow, and by the time the 1920 census takers reached the community, Valier had a population of 613.

Today, Valier remains a small community of 530 full-time residents located along the banks of Lake Frances.

While the town never reached the goal that Cargill and his fellow investors had planned for, Valier does continue to serve as an important agricultural and fishing community that attracts visitors each year to its traditional small-town shores.

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Main Attractions in Valier

rocky mountains

Situated on the shores of Lake Frances with the Rocky Mountains dotting its western horizon and long flowing plains flooding its east, Valier is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts that love exploring diverse landscapes.

Lake Frances

The biggest draw to Pondera County’s Valier is the beautiful Lake Frances that borders the town. The lake features year-round activities, from adrenaline-pumping water sports to relaxing days walking the lake’s tranquil shores.

Throughout the summer months, the lake’s warm waters are famous for fishing, swimming, boating, jet skiing, and windsurfing. Throughout the winter, Lake Frances continues to offer fantastic ice fishing opportunities and a myriad of skating, tubing, and snowmobiling experiences.

Also located on the banks of the lake is the Valier Firemen Pavilion, which can be rented by visitors. The building offers an excellent venue for family reunions, weddings, dances, and other special events.

Whether it’s a day hiking along the trails of the shore or venturing into the waters for an afternoon of fishing, Lake Frances offers a spectacular day exploring the historic reservoir while admiring the breathtaking views of the Rocky Mountains.

Rock City

Located just a few miles North of Valier along the winding Two Medicine River are the exotic hoodoo rock formations known to the locals as Rock City.

Over the past millennia, Two Medicine River has gradually eroded the landscape’s soft sandstone surface, leaving tall spire-like rock formations reaching up from along the shoreline.

These pillars often have a more rigid layer of stone on their tops, providing these formations with a distinct mushroom-like shape.

Hundreds of these formations have been produced along Two Medicine River in the region north of Valier, and they range in size from only a few feet to over 20 feet high.

Towering amongst the surrounding landscape, the collection of hoodoos gives visitors a distinct feeling of walking amongst a city of stone, hence the region’s nickname of Rock City.

DeBoo’s Ranch Adventures

Visitors to Valier are invited to explore the lifestyle of Montana ranchers at Deboo Ranch Adventures.

Located on 5000 acres just to the east of Valier, DeBoo Ranch offers adventures lasting half a day, a full day, or even custom multi-day stays for those that want the whole immersive experience.

At the ranch, guests can experience just exactly what a day in the life of a local rancher is authentically like.

Visitors can join cattle drives, find the best Montana fishing spots, and even ride the horses through the extensive property of the pristine Montana countryside.

The Montana Dinosaur Center

dinosaur trail

As one of the fourteen quintessential stops along Montana’s Dinosaur Trail, the Montana Dinosaur Center is not to be missed when visiting Valier.

The on-site museum features many paleontological artifacts, including many local discoveries, such as the first baby dinosaur in North America.

However, the actual draw that makes this a must-visit attraction is the ability to get dirty and join a Fossil Dig Expedition.

Guests to the center can join a variety of paleontology excavations that include everything from half-day tours to multi-day dig programs.

Digs must be scheduled in advance, so be sure to schedule your visit with the center ahead of time.

Recreation Activities

Whether enjoying the calm, warm waters of Lake Frances or exploring the nearby Rock City and other landmarks of Pondera County, there is plenty of outdoor adventure to be had when visiting Valier.


One of the biggest draws to Valier is the diverse fishing opportunities that Lake Frances offers. Northern Pike, Rainbow Trout, Yellow Perch, and Walleye are all species commonly found in the lake.

The lake is popular with wranglers throughout the summer months and continues to be a popular ice fishing location throughout the winter.

Be sure to visit Valier in January to partake in the annual Valier Ice Fishing Derby, which sees cash prizes awarded to the three largest Perch and Pike caught during the event.


There are plenty of hiking trails around Valier. Both Lake Frances and the iconic Rock City feature several paths guiding guests through their facilities.

Still, for the best hiking experience, visitors to Valier should make a day trip to Glacier National Park.

Located an hour’s drive from Valier, Glacier National Park features hundreds of hiking trails weaving their way through the preservation’s diverse topography that includes over 200 lakes, about 25 glaciers, and a series of alpine meadows, picturesque waterfalls, and dense forests.


The Lake Frances Recreation Area offers a fantastic on-site campground for those that prefer to spend the night in the great outdoors.

The 50 campsites on the grounds are serviced with electricity, picnic tables, and firepits. Further amenities found on the campgrounds include restrooms, fish cleaning stations, a playground, and a recreational area for volleyball and badminton.

Horseback Riding

horseback riding

What better way to explore the countryside of Pondera County than partaking in Montana’s traditional mode of local transportation; horseback riding.

DeBoo Ranch Adventure offers half or full-day horseback riding excursions. The ranch’s horses are kid-friendly and well trained on all the trails featured on the property.

Visitors can sit back on their steed and enjoy the extraordinary views of Montana’s countryside.


As such a small town with a population of only 546 full-time residents, Valier does not boast an exceptionally diverse selection of hotels for visitors.

Luckily, the town is only a short distance from larger communities such as Shelby and Conrad that are more than capable of providing accommodation during your visit to Valier.

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