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Montana

Montana

Great Destination:

5

Value for Money:

4

Total Stars:

9.0

Personality Types that Like it Best

Enjoyed strongly by Venturers, Mid-Venturers, and Centric-Venturers; much less so by Authentic types

Did You Know…?

  • Montana claims more than three dozen ghost towns — more than any other state.
  • Each day, about 390 million gallons of water gush out of Giant Springs in Great Falls.
  • Custer’s Last Stand, in 1876, occurred in Montana near the Little Bighorn River.
  • The main street in the capital Helena is called Last Chance Gulch.
  • Montana has a state fossil, the duck-billed dinosaur.

A very big sky

Montana bears its moniker, Big Sky State, for a reason. Much of its territory is a great wide open, relatively flat and sparsely populated land. In addition, the landscape in western Montana encompasses mountains plus numerous glaciers, rivers and lakes. Visitors are attracted by all these natural features because they are beautiful, largely unsullied by humankind and perfect for a whole raft of outdoor activities.

The state’s fans also come for rodeos and other activities reminiscent of the Old West, Native American experiences and — because of Montana’s renowned dinosaur finds — even a little paleontology.

Most travelers who visit the western U.S. first mention the grandeur and beauty of its scenery, and Montana is no exception. But the state differs from others, too: It is cooler and drier than Oregon, cooler and wetter than New Mexico or Utah, and more sparsely populated than any of these states.

Fans rave about the special quality of the mountains, but the great granite slabs of Montana provide a different look from the Rockies to the south. It seems that almost everyone who visits Montana spends time at Glacier National Park where the mountain scenery is especially breathtaking, and available outdoor activities are legion. Montana attracts visitors from all over the U.S., possibly attributable to this famous national park.

More than most, adventurous travelers appreciate the isolation of the parks, mountains and waterways of Montana. They think the lack of congestion has kept the sky and air clear, the waters clean and unpolluted, and the wildlife abundant. Activities are almost entirely geared to the outdoors. Montana is the place for backpacking, camping, hiking, fishing, skiing, tracking bighorn sheep, digging for dinosaur bones and more.

When those at the center of the personality scale describe their Montana trips, they talk about the appeal of a slower pace of life. They can enjoy the splendor of the scenery and appreciate Montana’s history and be active, too, from the comfort of a first class ranch-style resort if they choose. Even those who like city life appreciate that this is one of the last areas of truly unspoiled, sparsely populated wilderness in the U.S.

Things to do for Venturers

  • Follow the Montana Dinosaur Trail, or at least some part of it. Its 13 stops take you all across this big state. You can dig for bones at some sites.
  • Plan a stay at one of Montana’s seven Indian reservations. Accommodations range widely, from hotels or B&Bs to camping out.
  • Go whitewater rafting; Montana has scores of outfitters ready to set you up.
  • Montana is home to at least four testicle festivals, including the world’s largest in Clinton. Revelers, many arriving by bike, eat about 2.5 tons of the boneless protein in five days. Between meals, events in Clinton include cowpie Bingo and a cowpie toss, plus wet T-shirt and hairy-chest contests. The humor is corny and crude; this is for adults only.
  • Choose a dogsledding adventure. With instructions from your guide, you can mush your own team of huskies. Multiday guided trips by dogsled are an option, too.
  • Arrange an outfitter-guided llama pack trek of three to five days in the Flathead National Forest. Less exotically, join a trail ride traveling on horseback.

Things to do for Centrics

  • The battle of the Little Big Horn is one of the most dramatic episodes in the history of the West. Attend the Custer’s Last Stand reenactment, which is held each year in late June as part of the annual Little Big Horn Days in Hardin. Also, visit the real site, the Little Bighorn Battlefield, which is a national monument.
  • If yours is a summer trip, ski at the Ski and Snowboard Camp outside Red Lodge. The season, roughly Memorial Day to Independence Day, is limited because the access road, the Beartooth Highway, is closed until late May.
  • Visit the Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park, a complex of vaulted chambers and passageways whose colors and formations make it one of the most beautiful in the country. Warning: It’s cold down there, so bring a jacket!
  • Take a ranch vacation, and that can mean anything from staying at a working cattle ranch to relaxing at a resort property.
  • Go fly-fishing, or ice fishing, or fish from a boat. For starters, after satisfying licensing requirements, you have the use of more than 300 public access sites maintained by the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks. Other land management agencies provide additional access sites for fishing.
  • Attend a powwow or other Native American event. The Crow Fair and Rodeo is the largest Indian celebration in Montana. Activities include daily parades, an all-Indian rodeo, wild-horse racing and Indian dancing.

Things to do for Authentics

  • Plan an itinerary with three goals: to visit Glacier National Park, attend a rodeo and see a ghost town.
  • Ride Helena’s Last Chancer, a tour train that takes you on a narrated journey to highlight the capital city’s history.
  • Play golf on one of the state’s more than 70 golf courses, but don’t hit the deer or the elk that may turn up on the links. They are real.
  • Mingle with lovers of dinosaur bones — or dinosaur lore — at the June Montana Dinosaur Festival in the town of Malta.
  • When it is time to relax, choose from one of Montana’s more than two dozen developed hot-springs destinations. They provide a range of comforts, which can include therapeutic massage, Olympic-sized pools, soaking tubs and steam rooms.
  • Sample the beer at one or more of the state’s microbreweries.

Additional Resources

For more information, consult the Montana Office of Tourism at www.visitmt.com