When it comes to Montana, there is so much to see and even more to do.
With national parks, world-famous ski resorts, museums, lakes, wildlife, and even a ghost town or two — you’re going to love this wild and natural state, that’s perfect for visiting year-round.
Montana is called “The Treasure State,” and it’s easy to see why. Here are 21 of the best things to do in Montana.
GLACIER NATIONAL PARK
When it comes to national parks, Glacier National Park is one of the best. This national park located in northwestern Montana on the Canadian border, encompasses more than 1 million acres, and is one of the best places to visit in Montana.
Featuring two mountain ranges, over 100 named lakes, and home to many plant and animal species, Glacier National Park is amazing.
Going-to-the-Sun Road is one of the most popular things to do in the park. This 50-mile long, scenic mountain road takes you across the Rocky Mountains showing you spectacular views along the way. Logan Pass is the highest point on Going-to-the-Sun Road at 6,646 feet, and is a popular spot — the parking lot usually fills up by sunrise!
Wildlife is often present in Glacier National Park, and it’s not uncommon to see mountain goats and bighorn sheep near Logan Pass. Grizzly bears also call Glacier their home, so make sure you take precautions.
Along Going-to-the-Sun Road you will find campgrounds, restaurants, visitor centers, and plenty of scenic overlooks. Jackson Glacier Overlook, found between Logan Pass and St. Mary, is the best place to see a glacier from the road.
You could spend years and still not see everything Glacier National Park has to offer, but make time to visit Lake McDonald while you’re here. It’s the largest lake in the national park, and its formation is the direct result of glacial carving. The lake is so beautiful, it looks unreal. Stay the night in the Lake McDonald Lodge, to make the most of your time here.
You’ll find the Grinnell Glacier in the heart of the park. The Grinnell Glacier Trail is an 11 mile hike with significant elevation gain — but is so worth it for the amazing views.
An amazing and unique way to explore Glacier National Park is on horseback.
When it comes to horseback riding in Glacier National Park, the wranglers with Swan Mountain Outfitters are the experts. They are the only place that will allow you to ride within Glacier National Park.
With three corrals within the national park, and one just outside the park in West Glacier, they truly know Glacier National Park best. Depending on what part of the park you want to explore, they offer 1-hour, 2-3 hour, half-day, and full-day rides.
Take a trail ride through forests, up to the Sperry Chalet, through meadows, or up Apgar Mountain. There are so many great rides to choose from, and they all have lots of fun in common.
Planning a National Parks road trip? The America the Beautiful Pass covers entrance for an entire year to all the US National Parks and over 2,000 federal recreation fee sites. Fees are covered for everyone in the car for per-vehicle sites and for up to 4 adults for per-person sites. This is a no-brainer, friends. While fees vary, you’ll likely break even after two visits. Plus, REI will donate 10% of pass sale proceeds to the NPS Foundation.
MUSEUM OF THE ROCKIES
Are you a huge fan of the Jurassic Park series? Does the idea of seeing real remnants of dinosaurs make you excited? In that case, the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman is the place for you to visit!
Even if you’re not a huge fan of these prehistoric beasts, they’re still worth looking at for their sheer size alone. The museum also happens to have one of the largest collections of dinosaur fossils in the country.
Of course, dinosaur fossils are not the only things you can find in this massive museum. The main purpose of the compound is to study life in the Rocky Mountains, examining both humans and animals from almost 500 million years ago.
You can catch some of their incredible permanent exhibits like the Taylor Planetarium, History of the Northern Rocky Mountain Region, and Enduring Peoples, just to name a few.
Read More: 12 AMAZING THINGS TO DO IN BOZEMAN MT
GRIZZLY & WOLF DISCOVERY CENTER
The Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone is an educational facility and wildlife park in one. It strives to entertain and educate visitors about local wildlife.
The discovery center is open every day of the year, meaning that no matter when you’re in Montana, you can visit. If you’re interested in gray wolves, birds of prey, and grizzly bears, get ready to look at them in a new light.
All of the animals at the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center are unable to survive in the wild, and now serve as ambassadors for their wild counterparts. Visit the center, and observe and learn to appreciated these amazing animals.
You can view the animals from either inside or outside, and the bears here don’t hibernate — so you can see them year-round. The center is located near the west entrance to Yellowstone National Park.
MAKOSHIKA STATE PARK
Makoshika State Park is Montana’s largest state park and clocks in at 11,00 acres. It is considered a publicly-accessible recreational center and nature preserve wrapped into one. When you visit, you’ll experience the Montana badlands, where paleontologists unearth dinosaur fossils. In fact, fossil remains of the Tyrannosaurus Rex have been found here.
A visitor center near the park entrance features interactive exhibits. Triceratops and T-Rex fossils are housed here too!
Enjoy scenic drives, hiking trails, camping, and picnic areas within the park. Special events are held here throughout the year.
LEWIS & CLARK CAVERNS STATE PARK
If you are curious about limestone caverns, you must check out Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park. This is another public recreational area, but it is also a preservation area that stretches across 3,000 acres.
When it comes to exploring the caves, you can only explore them during a guided tour. Offered seasonally, two tours are offered daily — the Classic Tour and the Paradise Tour.
The Classic Tour is a 2-mile, 2-hour long tour that shows you so much of the cave and allows you to learn so much. You do have to navigate 600 stairs, and maybe bend, slide, or duck waddle on some parts — so be prepared! The Paradise Tour is best suited for those with small children, or for those who want to avoid the 600 steps thing. It’s another great tour, and is the only one that takes you to the Paradise Room, the most decorated place in the cave.
In addition to cave tours, you’ll also find miles of hiking trails, a campground, and two visitor centers here.
YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK
Yellowstone National Park is America’s first national park, and an absolute must-visit when in Montana.
Yellowstone in primarily in Wyoming, but parts of it extend into Idaho and Montana. Montana is the proud home of the West Yellowstone entrance.
Within Yellowstone’s 2.2 million acres, you can enjoy the park’s unique hydrothermal and geological features. Hot springs are the most common hydrothermal features in Yellowstone. The geothermal areas in Yellowstone make up about half of the world’s active geysers!
Old Faithful is the most famous of Yellowstone’s nearly 500 geysers. What makes it so special? It’s one of six that park rangers can currently predict its eruptions. It lives up to its name, and has only lengthened the time between eruptions by 30 minutes in the last 30 years! Watch eruptions from the Old Faithful viewing area or along the boardwalks that weave around the geyser and through the Upper Geyser Basin.
Visit the Grand Prismatic Spring, hike the Upper Geyser Basin Trail, and see the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.
Wildlife is abundant in Yellowstone, so don’t be surprised if you have to wait for bison to pass by while you’re driving. Keep an eye out for elk, grizzly bears, otters, and more.
With hiking, camping, fishing, boating, biking, lodging, restaurants, horseback riding, and guided tours — Yellowstone is full of adventure.
WHITEFISH SKI RESORT
Whitefish Ski Resort exists as part of Big Mountain in the Flathead National Forest, and it’s a great place to visit during any season. With winter skiing, summer sports, lodging, restaurants, and shops — Whitefish has it all.
If you’re looking to get your ski game on in Montana, then Whitefish is the place to go. It offers over 3,000 acres of skiing space, so you can ski to your heart’s content. It is considered a world-class ski resort, so you know you’ll get quality runs in.
If you’re a beginner skier, don’t worry! They offer an affordable Learn to Ski or Ride package that includes two days of equipment rentals, two days of beginner-area lift tickets, and two half-day lessons, to get you on the bigger slopes in no time.
After skiing, you can relax in the Base Lodge, which features dining, shops, a Kids Center, bus transport, and a bar.
In the summer, you’ll find zip lining, alpine slides, mountain biking, an aerial adventure park, summer tubing, scenic lift rides, hiking, and more fun than you can handle, making Whitefish a great year-round choice.
BIG SKY RESORT
Big Sky Resort near Bozeman is one of the biggest ski resorts in the country. The incredibly high summit of over 11,000 feet is only for the most well-versed skiers or those looking for a beautiful view of Montana.
The location offers plenty of incredibly fun activities, such as snowshoe tours, climbing walls, snowmobile tours, and zip-lining, all of which make your visit that much more exciting. They also happen to have one of the most advanced tramway systems in North America, with fast coaches or weatherproofed ones that can let you rest from the cold. There are also plenty of skilled trainers who can teach you skiing or snowboarding on different beginner trails.
Big Sky is a more modern resort, and it boasts nearly 4,500 acres of skiing space as well as one of the most technologically-advanced chair lifts in all of North America. Not to mention that the food in the base lodge restaurant is to die for.
In the summer, popular activities at this resort include exploring the hiking trails, mountain biking, enjoying the golf courses, zipline tours with aerial views of places like Lone Peak, rock climbing, or taking a scenic lift ride. Adventure Mountain in Mountain Village has great activities for kids, too!
Although few roads in the United States are considered “popular,” one of them is US Route 212, which stretches between Montana and Wyoming. Beartooth Highway is part of this stretch of road, and it passes by the northern entrance of Yellowstone National Park.
Beartooth Highway features an extremely scenic view that stretches nearly 70 miles between the two states. If you’re looking for a low-key but beautiful experience in Montana, a drive on this highway is the perfect choice.
LITTLE BIGHORN BATTLEFIELD NATIONAL MONUMENT
The Battle of Little Bighorn occurred in 1876, and the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument serves as a place of reflection for the lives lost there.
In addition to the monument, you’ll also find lush, grassy fields that span the 190-mile area. Hiking trails, guided tours, and scenic views can also be found here.
WORLD MUSEUM OF MINING
Located in Butte, Montana, the World Museum of Mining is a museum and not-for-profit educational corporation. Opened in 1965, this museum has been a delight for visitors ever since. It is an active mining site, maintaining precious metals and jewels such as zinc and silver.
The main mine is named The Orphan Girl, and it stretches across 22 acres of land. However, outside of mining, this museum also exhibits over one hundred years’ worth of American history.
If you have an interest in mining and/or American history, this is the museum to check out.
PICTOGRAPH CAVE STATE PARK
Pictograph Cave State Park is located in Billings, Montana. It’s an area that is made up of three separate cave systems that were once home generations of prehistoric hunters.
The hunters who camped in Pictograph Cave left behind artifacts and over 100 rock paintings, or pictographs. Some of the oldest pictographs in the cave are over 2,000 years old!
A 3/4-mile loop trail to the caves allows visitors to view the rock paintings, and learn more about them from the interpretive displays along the way. If you’re visiting, consider bringing binoculars to get a better look at the pictographs.
Allow an hour to visit the park, the trail, and the visitor center. Picnic facilities are available here, and bird watching is also a popular pastime.
When it comes to some of the best small towns in the United States, you can’t go wrong with Red Lodge, MT.
Red Lodge is located along the Beartooth Highway, and you’ll pass through this awesome town on your way to the northern entrance to Yellowstone National Park. This small town is one of the most historic towns you can find. Nestled against The Beartooths, Montana’s highest mountain peaks, Red Lodge is simply beautiful, and filled with fun things to do.
Here, you’ll find skiing and snowboarding, ice skating, shops, restaurants, and great lodging choices. Make sure to check out the Yellowstone Wildlife Sanctuary while you’re in town, and see and learn more about mountain lions, wolves, bears, and more.
Flathead Lake is the largest freshwater lake west of Mississippi. It stretches for nearly 30 miles and, as the leftovers of a glacial dam, it features stunningly beautiful water.
This beautiful lake is popular for its water sports, including swimming, boating, kayaking, and sailing.
If you’re not feeling up for getting wet, you can check out the many hiking trails in the area. In the winter, you can even try your hand at ice fishing!
If you thought that Beartooth Highway was the only place in Montana to offer scenic driving routes, think again. Bison Range is a natural nature reserve that exists as part of the Flathead Indian Reservation. It exists to help with the conservation of American bison.
At the writing of this article, there are currently between 350 and 500 bison on this preserve. If you come to visit the range, you can check out the wildlife by driving along the roads, or walking on designated trails. Picnic areas are also available here.
Earthquake Lake, also known as Quake Lake, is — as you might be able to guess — a lake that was made in the wake of an earthquake.
In 1959, a 7.5 magnitude earthquake caused a massive landslide, which stopped the flow of the Madison River in the Madison River Canyon Gorge. The landslide caused 28 deaths, flooding, and millions of dollars worth of damage to the forests and highways in the West Yellowstone area.
In its wake, Quake Lake was formed. The lake spans 6 miles and is about 130 feet deep, making it a popular recreational spot for people today.
Fishing and hiking are popular activities here. The Earthquake Lake Visitor Center features a Memorial Boulder to honor those who lost their lives.
VISIT A GHOST TOWN
When it comes to things to do in Montana, there are so many things…it may be hard to choose. But ghost towns? They should always be on your list!
The Ghost Town of Castle City is one you could try to see — but it’s currently on private lands, so you’d need permission. But Bannack State Park is a great and easy way to see a Montana ghost town. Walk the deserted streets and learn about the realities of the “Old West.”
Bannack was the site of Montana’s first major gold discovery in 1862. People moved in from miles around, and the town grew. But when the value of gold dwindled, so did the population of Bannack — leaving behind the 50 buildings that you can still see today.
Tours are conducted from the visitor center in the summer months, and ice skating on the pond is popular in the winter.
Zoo Montana is, perhaps confusingly, not exactly a zoo. Zoo Montana is a 70-acre wildlife botanical garden of zoology. It is more an area of education and study these days, but entertainment comes in the form of seeing the animals.
If you or your family are interested in animals, checking out this conservatorium is a must-do on your list of things to do in Montana.
This location features over 58 species of animals who live in habitats meant to mimic their real habitats.
GARDEN OF ONE THOUSAND BUDDHAS
If you’re looking into more spiritual locales that will clean out your chakras and restore you with positive energy, then the Garden of One Thousand Buddhas is your place. This is an area in Montana that is meant for spiritual experiences that stretches across 10 acres of land.
This garden features one thousand hand-cast Buddha statues that are displayed around a figure in the center of the design (The Great Mother).
In recent times, it is also a public park and botanical garden, although many Buddhism-practicing individuals still use it for spiritual means.
C.M. RUSSELL MUSEUM
Located in Great Falls, MT, the C.M. Russell Museum features more than 3,000 pieces of Western art, and honors one of America’s greatest artists, Charles M. Russell.
With 16 galleries, an outdoor sculpture garden, educational programming, and a research center, the C.M. Russell Museum is a must-visit for any art lover.
Featuring almost 1,000 of Russell’s creations, the museum presents his personal reflections on Western history.
You’ll find permanent exhibitions, such as The Bison: American Icon and the Josephine Trigg Collection, along with visiting exhibits as well. The sculpture garden contains six major bronzes representing western wildlife, and is free and open to the public.
MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO MONTANA
- MISSOULA: 19 Amazing Things To Do In Missoula, Montana
- HOT SPRINGS: 21 Most Amazing Hot Springs Montana Has To Offer
- SKI RESORTS: 15 Of The Best Montana Ski Resorts To Visit This Winter
- BILLINGS: 15 Awesome Things To Do In Billings MT (Including SE Montana Day Trips)
- BOZEMAN: 12 Amazing Things To Do In Bozeman MT
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