Montana in November: Outdoor Adventure Guide

Planning an outdoor adventure in November can be overwhelming, especially when it comes to exploring a destination as vast and diverse as Montana.

But fear not, because I’ve got you covered with all the insider tips and must-see locations to ensure you have the trip of a lifetime.

Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, a photography buff, or simply craving an escape from the hustle and bustle of city life, this guide is tailor-made for you.

So, if you’re ready to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Montana, learn from an expert, and discover the perfect outdoor adventure for you.

Together, we’ll uncover the enchanting wonders of Montana in November.

Montana in November: Reasons to Visit

A mountain range in Montana with trees in the foreground.

November in Montana is a prime time to witness the breathtaking autumn scenery, as vibrant foliage covers the landscape, creating a stunning backdrop for outdoor activities and scenic drives.

The early days of the month are the best time to see fall colors in all their glory.

November also brings an increase in wildlife sightings, offering opportunities to observe diverse animals like elk, deer, and various bird species preparing for the colder months.

The mild to cool weather during this time provides comfortable conditions for outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, and wildlife exploration.

One of the advantages of visiting Montana in November is the lack of crowds, allowing visitors to have a more tranquil experience as they explore the state’s attractions and natural landscapes without the usual tourist rush.

Montana in November: Weather Conditions

A road with snow covered mountains in the background in Montana.

Montana in November offers a unique blend of weather conditions that add a sense of adventure to any visit.

The crisp air and changing foliage create a picturesque backdrop for outdoor activities, while the potential for early snowfall adds an element of excitement to the experience.

It’s a time of transition from the crisp fall months to Montana’s chilly December, where the landscape begins to transform in preparation for the winter weather.

Average Temperatures During November

An aerial view of a Montana city at night with mountains in the background.

Montana experiences a gradual shift from fall to winter in November. The temperature takes a sharp plunge, especially in the late days of the month.

Montana’s early November might present milder weather, but as the month unfolds, expect varying conditions with the potential for colder temperatures, sporadic rain, and snowfall, particularly in elevated areas.

It’s important to note that these temperatures can fluctuate quite a bit, so always check your daily weather forecast before venturing outdoors.

LocationAverage Temperature °F (°C)Warmest Temperature Mean °F (°C)Coldest Temperature Mean °F (°C)Precipitation (inches)
Billings28.1°F (-2.1°C)37.9°F (3.3°C)18.2°F (-7.9°C)0.65″
Kalispell23.0°F (-5.0°C)29.9°F (-1.7°C)16.1°F (-8.8°C)1.97″
Missoula23.3°F (-4.8°C)32.2°F (0.1°C)14.5°F (-9.7°C)1.32″
Bozeman22.9°F (-5.1°C)32.8°F (0.4°C)12.9°F (-10.6°C)1.55″
Helena21.8°F (-5.7°C)31.3°F (-0.4°C)12.4°F (-10.9°C)1.02″
West Yellowstone14.9°F (-9.5°C)28.2°F (-2.3°C)1.73°F (-16.8°C)3.45″

Each location in Montana during November showcases unique weather characteristics.

Billings maintains a relatively moderate temperature range in November, leaning towards milder conditions compared to some other areas.

It tends to experience lower precipitation levels, offering a drier climate compared to most of the locations.

Kalispell emerges as a comfortable middle ground, enjoying more moderate cool temperatures compared to the other locations mentioned.

Missoula and Bozeman share similarities in their November climates, both hovering around comparable average temperatures.

Their precipitation levels might differ, yet they share a comparable temperature range, making them somewhat similar in terms of weather during this month.

Helena experiences a slightly cooler climate compared to the others, with temperatures falling a bit lower on average.

However, it’s not as extreme as West Yellowstone, which holds the title for the coldest November temperatures in the region.

West Yellowstone experiences significantly colder weather compared to the rest, along with notably higher precipitation levels.

November in Montana brings about chilly temperatures and fluctuating weather. Each city or town experiences its daily temperatures that are worth considering when planning outdoor activities.

Be prepared for colder weather, and don’t forget to pack accordingly to stay warm and dry. Regardless of where you go, always check the forecast to stay ahead of varying conditions.

What to Wear in Montana During November

A man with an orange backpack walking through the woods in Montana.

Montana’s November weather presents a range of challenges from the possibility of rain and snow. To navigate these conditions effectively, clothing choices are crucial.

Layering serves as a fundamental way of coping with Montana’s unpredictable weather in November.

Starting with a moisture-wicking base layer helps manage perspiration, while a warm insulating layer provides essential warmth.

Topping it off with a waterproof and windproof outer layer shields against the elements, ensuring comfort despite changing weather patterns.

Investing in a heavy coat or insulated jacket is essential to combat the chilly temperatures prevalent during this time. Protection from the cold remains a priority.

Footwear selection is vital, necessitating waterproof options with robust traction to navigate the potentially wet and icy conditions brought on by rain or snow.

Accessories play a pivotal role in staying warm and shielded from the wind. Packing gloves, a warm hat, and a scarf offer additional protection against the cool elements.

For planned outdoor pursuits like hiking or camping, packing a sturdy backpack, water-resistant pants, and other essential outdoor equipment becomes imperative to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

Montana’s November weather demands thick clothing considerations to stay comfortable and protected amidst the varying and often challenging conditions.

Montana in November: 7 Things To Do

The view from the top of a hill overlooks a city and mountains in Montana.

Montana in November offers a captivating blend of natural beauty and seasonal activities, despite the cooler temperatures.

As the landscape transforms with fall colors and occasional snowfall, a myriad of experiences await, from exploring scenic trails amidst changing foliage to embracing winter sports in select areas.

Whether it’s immersing in outdoor adventures or savoring the cozy ambiance of local towns, Montana in November presents a diverse array of activities to suit varied interests.

1. Journey Through Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park in Montana

In November, Glacier National Park transforms into a breathtaking landscape adorned with vibrant fall colors, making it an ideal time to explore this natural wonder.

Amidst the serene atmosphere, visitors can witness the park’s remaining glaciers and revel in the stunning fall foliage in the early days.

November in Glacier National Park offers a quieter, more intimate experience with fewer crowds and lower prices, allowing for unhurried exploration along open roads.

Wildlife enthusiasts will find this period perfect for observing elk, deer, and bighorn sheep preparing for winter, while fishing enthusiasts can indulge in abundant trout in the park’s lakes.

Driving along Going-to-the-Sun Road unveils unparalleled alpine scenery, including stops at Logan Pass for panoramic vistas.

Specific must-visit spots like Two Medicine and Lake McDonald promise picturesque beauty and unique attractions, enriching any November visit to Glacier National Park.

2. Visit Yellowstone National Park

Geyser basin in Yellowstone National Park.

November in Yellowstone National Park is a tranquil and mesmerizing time, offering a unique window into the park’s wonders before it closes for winter.

The weather during this period is surprisingly mild, with temperatures ranging from 30°F (-1.1°C) to 60°F (15.5°C), creating a crisp yet pleasant atmosphere ideal for exploration.

The landscape boasts a breathtaking palette of colors as the foliage transitions into vibrant autumn hues, contrasting beautifully with the steaming hydrothermal features.

Speaking of hydrothermal wonders, here are some of the hydrothermal areas in the park that you can visit during November:

  • Old Faithful Geyser – Old Faithful is one of the most famous geysers in the world and is located in the Upper Geyser Basin of Yellowstone National Park
  • Mammoth Hot Spring Terraces – The Mammoth Hot Springs terraces is located in the northwest corner of Yellowstone National Park. It is a must-see attraction in Yellowstone National Park, known for its unique beauty and geological structure.
  • West Thumb Geyser Basin – West Thumb Geyser Basin is located on the shore of Yellowstone Lake and is one of the most picturesque geothermal areas in the park. Visitors can explore the many geysers and hot springs

Wildlife enthusiasts also have a chance to witness incredible spectacles in November. This month marks a fantastic time to spot bears and wolves preparing for winter.

November in Yellowstone National Park offers mild weather, stunning landscapes, captivating hydrothermal features, and wildlife sightings—a perfect blend for adventurers and photographers.

3. Embark on a Fly Fishing Trip

A man is fly fishing during the month of November in Montana.

November in Montana presents an excellent opportunity for fly fishing, but it comes with some minor drawbacks—expect the unexpected when it comes to the weather.

While fishing conditions are generally good, the weather can be unpredictable. Early November might boast milder temperatures, but as the month progresses, be ready for colder spells, rain, and snow.

Nymphing steals the show in Montana in November, especially using a two-nymph rig with a big or small setup. The girdle bug works wonders as the “big” or “lead fly,” effectively enticing trout during this time.

Fly selection becomes critical in late fall. Nymphs are the best, yet streamers and dry flies might also do the trick depending on changing conditions and the trout’s behavior.

What’s unique about November is the sparse crowds. Locals often head to the mountains for elk, and tourists thin out, leaving more serene riverbanks for anglers.

While Yellowstone National Park closes for fishing early in the month, Montana’s rivers remain open, offering ample access for enthusiasts.

To ensure a seamless fishing experience, verify river access and regulations through local outfitters or the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks‘ website.

Guided trips in November are a great thing to have—they provide rental equipment and knowledgeable guides who can navigate the changing weather and river conditions, ensuring a successful and enjoyable fishing excursion.

4. Canoe and Kayak in Lake McDonald

A person is paddling a kayak in Montana.

Situated within Glacier National Park, Montana, Lake McDonald is a gem for paddlers. Renting kayaks and canoes is convenient at Apgar Village along the south shore.

November offers a picturesque opportunity for canoeing and kayaking on Lake McDonald, the largest of Glacier National Park’s lakes.

Compared to Two Medicine Lake, another famous lake in the park, Lake McDonald offers a longer and more immersive boat journey, showcasing stunning mountain vistas reflected in its emerald-hued waters.

The lake’s expansive stretch—spanning 10 miles and reaching depths of 472 feet—opens up to panoramic views of towering mountains reflected beautifully on the water’s surface.

Before setting out, it’s crucial to check the weather forecast and familiarize yourself with the required permits and inspection spots.

Again, November’s weather can be variable, so preparedness is key for a safe and enjoyable experience on the lake.

5. Camp at Apgar Campground

A sign pointing to Apgar Campground in Montana.

In November, the scenic Apgar Campground within Glacier National Park offers a serene camping experience amidst nature’s beauty.

Situated in West Glacier, Montana, it’s the park’s largest campground and remains open year-round for visitors seeking a rustic retreat.

During November, campers at Apgar Campground need to bring their own drinking water. The campground operates with limited facilities, so preparedness is essential.

Given November’s fluctuating weather, campers must always be prepared for changing conditions.

Reserving a site in advance is highly recommended, especially considering the limited first-come, first-served options available. 

The fee for primitive camping at Apgar during fall stands at $10 per night, which is definitely an affordable option for nature enthusiasts who want to camp.

6. Experience Bozeman’s Charming Town

An aerial view of Bozeman, Montana.

Nestled in southwestern Montana, Bozeman boasts a delightful blend of history and nature.

The historic downtown area invites exploration, with charming shops, galleries, and restaurants waiting to be discovered.

The Museum of the Rockies stands as a treasure trove of regional history and paleontological wonders.

Bozeman is enveloped by breathtaking natural scenery—mountains, forests, and rivers—that paint the landscape with stunning fall foliage in the early days of November.

Hiking the scenic trails of the Bridger Mountains unveils panoramic views and a chance to immerse in nature’s beauty.

The November weather in Bozeman offers a cool and crisp atmosphere, perfect for outdoor activities like hiking, fishing, and mountain biking, all abundant in this region.

Visitors can relish a diverse array of lodging and dining options in Bozeman.

Hotels, bed and breakfasts, and wide options of restaurants cater to various tastes and preferences, ensuring a comfortable and flavorful stay in this charming town surrounded by nature’s wonders.

7. Join the Holiday Food and Gift Festival in Billings

A Christmas market in Montana in November.

The Holiday Food & Gift Festival in Billings, Montana, held at the MetraPark Expo Center on November 11 – November 12, 2023, was a delightful showcase of holiday cheer, gifts, crafts, and local delights.

The festival welcomed visitors with open arms on Saturday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm and Sunday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.

Admission to this festive extravaganza ranged from $1 to $3, granting access to an array of vendors offering an enchanting assortment of holiday treasures.

The festival was a treasure trove of Montana’s best—handmade crafts and locally made goods galore, all under one roof.

The essence of the Holiday Food & Gift Festival in Billings lies in its diversity. Vendors from the region showcase unique holiday gifts, crafts, and Montana-made products, creating a shopping experience brimming with unique finds.

It was the perfect opportunity for holiday shopping, discovering distinctive gifts, and soaking in the festive ambiance that enveloped Billings, Montana, during this vibrant event.

Montana in November Final Thoughts

A dirt road with mountains in the background in Montana.

In November, Montana weaves a tapestry of natural wonders and vibrant experiences. Glacier National Park unveils its quiet beauty, showcasing fall colors and wildlife preparing for winter.

Yellowstone’s mildness during this time of the year unveils its hydrothermal wonders and wildlife spectacles.

Fly fishing on Montana’s rivers offers serene moments amid sparse crowds. Lake McDonald offers picturesque canoeing, while Apgar Campground provides a rustic retreat in Glacier National Park’s beauty.

In November, Bozeman’s blend of history and nature invites exploration, and the Holiday Food & Gift Festival in Billings captures Montana’s festive spirit.

Montana during this time of year ushers in a changing landscape amidst varying weather patterns. Temperatures can range from mild to cool.

Early November in Montana may offer milder conditions, but as the month progresses, be prepared for colder spells, occasional rain, and even snowfall, especially in higher elevations.

These changes add a touch of unpredictability to outdoor activities, necessitating a readiness for fluctuating conditions across the state’s diverse terrains.

Montana in November encapsulates the state’s rich offerings—natural beauty, outdoor adventures, serene landscapes, and vibrant cultural experiences—offering something special for every visitor.

Montana in November FAQs

1. When Is the Best Time to See Fall Colors in Montana?

The best time to see fall colors in Montana is typically from late September to early October.

The peak season for fall colors can vary depending on the location in Montana, but central Montana and western Montana are popular areas to view fall foliage.

2. What’s the Weather Like in Montana Last November 2023?

November 2023 was a cold month. The 2-week period from November 7-19 saw temperatures that were 15-20°F below normal. It was also fairly snowy during those two weeks, but not in an extreme sense.

Billings reported at least an inch of snow on the ground for 14 consecutive days, the 5th longest on record for November, and the longest since 1966.

3. What Is Off-Season in Montana?

The off-season in Montana typically occurs during October, November, and March through April. During these months, the state experiences a decrease in tourist activity, making it an ideal time for travelers to visit.

The off-season offers several advantages, including lower prices for lodging, activities, and everyday purchases such as gas and groceries.

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Written by:

Ashley Smith
Hello there! I'm Ashley Smith, born on a chilly winter's day, Montana has been my playground since childhood. The first snowfall of the year always brings back memories of building snowmen and winter hikes. Co-founding was my way of sharing the magic of Montana's seasons with the world. While Chris dives deep into the landscapes, I'm obsessed with Montana's rich culture, from the local festivals to the tales passed down generations.

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