27 Montana Outdoor Activities to Add to Your Bucket List

Have you ever dreamed of a place that feels like a real-life outdoor playground, where countless adventures await in every season? If your heart beats faster at the thought of immersing yourself in pristine natural beauty while partaking in thrilling Montana outdoor activities, then you’ve found it — Montana, the Treasure State.

This is curated especially for outdoor enthusiasts and families looking to infuse their lives with some adventurous Montana magic. Be prepared to rekindle that childlike curiosity within you as we delve into 27 mesmerizing outdoor activities found in Big Sky Country.

You’ll explore pristine rivers that carve through unfamiliar landscapes, hike to high-altitude peaks offering breathtaking vistas, and connect with the wild inhabitants of this stunning state.

Get ready to delve into our carefully curated list, offering essential details, top tips, and compelling reasons why each is a “must-try”. So lace up your hiking boots, grab your camera, and let’s explore the best of Montana’s great outdoors together.

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7 Key Takeaways Montana’s Outdoor Activities

  1. Glacier National Park is a Hiker’s Dream: Glacier National Park offers over 700 miles of trails, from easy strolls to demanding hikes, and also provides boating and scenic road trip opportunities.
  2. The Going-to-the-Sun Road is a 50-mile two-way highway passing through Glacier National Park, providing access to various pull-offs and overlooks perfect for photography.
  3. Whitefish features not only the renowned ski destination Whitefish Mountain Resort but also opportunities for hiking, water sports, boutique shopping, and more.
  4. The largest natural freshwater lake west of the Mississippi, Flathead Lake offers diverse opportunities for fishing, boating, and wildlife exploration.
  5. The National Bison Range, a century-old wildlife sanctuary, allows visitors to observe American bison, elk, white-tailed deer, and black bears from their cars or on hiking trails.
  6. Situated near Missoula, the Garden of One Thousand Buddhas is a visually stunning and spiritually enriching site, encompassing a 750-foot-wide monument with hand-cast Buddha statues.
  7. From outdoor adventures in national parks like Yellowstone and Glacier to fishing in rivers and lakes, to unique cultural and spiritual experiences, Montana has much to offer for the adventurous traveler.

27 Best Outdoor Activities to Experience in Montana

A grassy field adorned with trees in Montana with snowcapped mountains in the background.

Montana’s undisturbed natural beauty offers a patchwork of diverse landscapes, just begging to be explored. Read on to uncover 27 of the best outdoor adventures across Montana.

Grab your gear, prepare for sights that will leave you speechless, and get ready to make memories that last a lifetime. These diverse experiences will connect you with nature in ways you can’t even imagine.

1. Go on a Hiking Adventure in Glacier National Park

A group of hikers on a rocky trail in the mountains of Glacier National Park in Montana

When you think of Montana and outdoor adventures, does your mind instantly jump to Glacier National Park? If not, it really should. This incredible park is essentially a hiker’s dream with over 700 miles of trails – that’s more paths than a choose-your-adventure book!

Whether you’re a casual stroller or a hardcore hiker, Glacier National Park has something to offer you — from the serene Trail of the Cedars to the heart-pounding Iceberg Lake Trail, you’re covered.

Glacier National Park trail suggestions to get you started whether on foot or on a mountain bike:

  • Trail of the Cedars – This is your easy, make-any-excuse-to-escape trail. A tranquil boardwalk through luscious forests offers a simple one-mile loop that’s accessible for all.
  • Avalanche Lake – For a bit more challenge, this 4.5-mile (7.2 kilometers) hike rewards you with stunning views of a picturesque lake.
  • Hidden Lake Overlook  – At 2.8 miles (4.5 kilometers) long, this popular hike may treat you to a mountain goat or two, should they feel like showing off.
  • Iceberg Lake Trail – This 9.6-mile (15.4 kilometers) hike is known for its demanding nature and jaw-dropping views – perfect for flexing your hiking muscles.

These are just a few of the options within Glacier National Park, each trail taking you on a unique journey through pristine forests, across alpine meadows, and alongside shimmering lakes.

But don’t let hiking consume your entire visit. Glacier National Park is more than just trails; you can also enjoy boat rides across Lake McDonald, paddle on Swiftcurrent Lake, or take a scenic road trip along the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

As you embark on your wondrous journey, ensure you pack snacks and water to fuel your hike adequately. Starting early is crucial, especially for longer treks, to make the most of daylight hours.

While traversing the wilderness, remain vigilant of wildlife; if encountering a bear, maintain a safe distance and stay composed. Remember to respect the trails and environment by leaving no trace behind, preserving the beauty for future adventurers.

2. Drive Along the Scenic Going-to-the-Sun Road

A car driving down Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park.

Driving along the Going-to-the-Sun Road is a transformative experience. This paved, two-lane highway winds through Glacier National Park, revealing an array of stunning landscapes, including glacial lakes, cascading waterfalls, towering alpine peaks, and lush cedar forests. There are numerous lookout points along the route, allowing travelers to pause and take in the awe-inspiring scenery.

7 must-know tips for an epic Going-to-the-Sun Road trip:

  1. The Route – The paved Going-to-the-Sun Road is a 50-mile (around 80.47 km), two-way ribbon of adventure that exposes travelers to a sweeping range of visuals. Lakes, cascading waterfalls, alpine meadows, cedar-scented forests – you name it, this road flaunts it.
  2. Adventure from the Car – The beauty isn’t just a blur from your car window. Going-to-the-Sun Road is studded with pull-offs and overlooks, each a photo-op waiting to happen.
  3. High on Logan Pass – For a literal high, make sure to stop at the Logan Pass, the star of the show at 6,646 feet (around 2,025.32 m). Hike the trails from here and be ready to swap mountain peaks for wildflower fields at every turn, all while breathing in the fresh mountain air.
  4. Best Times to Visit – When to go? Plan your drive for summer and early fall, roughly from July to October. This is when most of the road is open, and trust me, you don’t want to be snowed in.
  5. Make It Your Own – With the road’s total drive time averaging about two hours, you’ve got ample time to customize your adventure. Combine it with a short hike from Logan Pass, or plan a longer day with multiple stops.
  6. Where to Rent Wheels – Unless you’re bringing your car on a road trip, there are several car rental options available in the vicinity of Glacier National Park.
  7. Permits and Essential Gear – Depending on your plans, you might need a parking permit. And remember your essentials – water, snacks, and a camera.

3. Discover the Charms of Whitefish and Whitefish Mountain Resort

Two skiers are skiing down a snowy slope in Whitefish Mountain Resort with clouds, mountains and trees in the background.

Nestled in the tranquil wilderness, this charming town is the gateway to the majestic Glacier National Park. With Big Mountain and Whitefish Mountain Resort as prominent features, Whitefish offers a wide range of outdoor activities, from skiing and snowboarding to hiking and water sports on Whitefish Lake.

Whitefish offers a bit of everything:

  • Skiing or snowboarding at the renowned Whitefish Mountain Resort.
  • Hiking amidst breathtaking vistas in Sommer’s Blacktail Trail.
  • Water sports galore on Whitefish Lake.
  • A leisurely gateway to Glacier National Park.

The renowned Whitefish Mountain Resort spans over 3,000 acres, offering top-rated skiing and snowboarding in winter, as well as hiking and mountain biking in summer. Downtown Whitefish is a delightful area, free of big-box retail chains, perfect for strolls amongst quaint cafes and boutique shops selling handmade jewelry and art.

Outdoor relaxation options abound, from trout fishing and kayaking on Whitefish Lake to playing a round of golf at the 36-hole Whitefish Lake Golf Club.

you can also explore the area’s natural beauty through 12 scenic trailheads along the Whitefish Trail. Whether you’re seeking adventure or relaxation for you or your family, Whitefish has something for everyone.

4. Cast Your Line for Fishing at Flathead Lake

Two people in a canoe on Flathead Lake.

Flathead Lake, the largest natural freshwater lake, is located just 40 miles (64.37 km) south of Glacier National Park. With over 191 square miles (235.69 sq. km) of water and 161 miles (259.15 km) of shoreline, it’s no wonder that this stunning destination is renowned for fishing.

The lake offers a variety of fish, including trout, yellow perch, kokanee salmon, and whitefish, making it perfect for activities such as boating, sailing, paddling, sunbathing, and swimming.

Exploring the area’s scenic trails and observing local wildlife, including a visit to Wild Horse Island, is a must-do, as it’s known for bald eagles, bighorn sheep, wild horses, and various bird species.

For those who don’t bring their gear, fishing equipment rentals are available around the lake, making it easy for anyone to cast their line.

When it comes to accommodation, camping sites at Big Arm/Flathead Lake State Park are a great option, or visitors can explore other top-rated alpine lakes in Glacier National Park, including Lake McDonald, St. Mary Lake, and Avalanche Lake. With so much natural beauty and fishing opportunities, Flathead Lake is a true gem of the West.

5. Encounter Wildlife Up Close at the National Bison Range

Bison grazing on a grassy hill at the National Bison Range.

One word sums up the National Bison Range: iconic. It’s one of the oldest wildlife refuges in the U.S., a sanctuary for American bison, unspoiled prairie, and a staggering variety of other animals.

Below I’ve sketched out some experiences, routes, and timings that’ll make your Montana wilderness encounter at the National Bison Range unforgettable.

  • The main Visitor Center is perfectly open for business from mid-May to early October. Pop in to get a lay of the land and learn about the wildlife you’re about to witness.
  • Before you think of starting your engine, try timing your drive on the West Loop and Prairie Drives around dawn or dusk. This is when animals are most active and best seen.
  • For those who want a punchy drive and a bit of elevation, the Red Sleep Mountain Drive is your ticket. It’s a 19-mile (30.5 km) gravel road that climbs about 2,000 feet (609.6 m) and is open from mid-May to early October.
  • What about hiking, you ask? Fear not, there are a couple of great trails like the 1-mile Nature Trail and the Grassland Trail. Both are located near the Day Use Area and are perfect for exploring on foot.
  • For wildlife viewing, stay in your car. Animals here are used to vehicles but are a tad more cautious around two-legged creatures.

Montana was once the untamed Wild West; at the National Bison Range, you can see it’s still very much alive under a big, blue sky. This isn’t just a wildlife encounter; it’s a connection to a slice of America’s heritage.

6. Seek Serenity at the Garden of One Thousand Buddhas

A row of white buddha statues with mountains in the background at the Garden of One Thousand Buddhas.
source: commons.wikimedia.org

Tucked away in the tranquil Jocko Valley, just a stone’s throw from Missoula, lies Western Montana’s serene and spiritually rich escape – the Garden of One Thousand Buddhas. Your dose of inner peace supersized? You bet!

  • Location and Layout – Nestled in western Montana’s Jocko Valley, just 20 miles (32.19 km) north of Missoula, this garden features a layout based on the eight-spoked Dharma wheel, with a 750-foot (69.6 meters) monument and one thousand stupas on 10 acres of land.
  • A Haven of Peace – Established in 2000, the Garden’s primary mission is to inspire positive transformation. It serves as a sanctuary for anyone seeking respite from life’s hustle, offering a chance to reconnect with themselves or explore different spiritual perspectives.
  • Stupa Circuit – The leisurely walk around the garden introduces visitors to hand-cast Buddha statues, native trees, and blooming flowers, guiding thoughts into a calm, centered place.
  • A Meeting Place of Faiths – Beyond being a Buddhist site, the Garden welcomes people of all faiths to reflect, worship, and seek peace, fostering meaningful exchanges between spiritual seekers.
  • More Than Just a Garden – Visitors can also explore an information center filled with knowledge on Buddhism and the garden’s history. The gift shop offers unique souvenirs, including items imported from Nepal and local crafts.

For a family-friendly outing, don comfortable shoes, bring water, and aim for a visit during pleasant weather. While the Garden is open year-round, the experience is heightened when the sun is shining and birdsong fills the air.

Amid Montana’s rugged outdoor offerings, the Garden of One Thousand Buddhas shines as an unexpected oasis of tranquility. It stands as a testament to the state’s diverse allure, showcasing its depth beyond its renowned natural beauty and adventurous spirit.

7. Immerse Yourself in Cowboy Art at the C.M. Russell Museum

C.M. Russell Museum exhibiting various paintings and artifacts.
source: flickr.com

Immerse yourself in the captivating world of American cowboy art at the C.M. Russell Museum in Great Falls. Dedicated to celebrating the life and work of the renowned artist C.M. Russell, nicknamed the “Cowboy Artist,” this museum offers a captivating glimpse into Western cultures and landscapes of the late 1800s and early 1900s.

With a collection of over 3,000 pieces of Western art, including oil paintings, watercolors, bronzes, and clay models, spread across 16 exhibition galleries, visitors can explore Russell’s depictions of North Plains Indian life, Montana’s wildlife, landscapes, and cowboy culture.

The museum highlights Russell’s artistic evolution through rotating art exhibits, offering insight into his genius as a largely self-taught artist.

Visitors can explore documents and artifacts from Russell’s collection and visit the original Russell House and Studio, now a National Historic Landmark, along with the Russel Riders Sculpture Garden. At the C.M. Russell Museum, embrace the Western spirit and immerse yourself in the enduring legacy of the “Cowboy Artist.”

8. Trace the Path of Lewis and Clark on the National Historic Trail

Lewis and Clark on the National Historic Trail sign surrounded with bushes under a clear sky.
source: flickr.com

When in Montana, one can’t ignore the significance of the Lewis and Clark expedition, a pivotal part of the state’s history. Retracing their route on the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail is a prime opportunity to experience the adventurous spirit of the early 1800s.

This 4,900-mile trail spans across 16 states, offering a plethora of outdoor activities along the way. In Montana, notable landmarks like Fort Benton, Great Falls, and the Two Medicine Fight Site await visitors, with scenic beauty and historical significance.

Adding Missouri Headwaters State Park, Traveler’s Rest State Park, and Lolo Pass to the itinerary ensures a deeper immersion in Montana’s natural allure. And don’t miss the Interpretive Center in Great Falls, a treasure trove of exhibits highlighting the expedition’s journey across North America.

So, lace up those boots and embark on a journey that not only connects you to history but also leads you to the breathtaking landscapes of Montana.

9. Explore the Historic Capital City of Helena

The Montana State Capitol with its iconic statue as seen in Helena, Montana.
source: commons.wikimedia.org

Welcome to Helena, also known as “The Queen City of the Rockies.” If you’re into grand architecture, museums, and steeping yourself in history, Helena is your dream come true. 

Your must-do list in Helena:

  • Tour the State Capitol – As a history enthusiast, you can’t miss this. The stunning State Capitol building is a masterpiece of Neoclassical architecture, filled with rich historical tidbits.
  • Montana’s Museum – Imagine yourself transported to Montana’s past, from Native American artifacts to the Gold Rush – it’s all here.
  • Holter Museum of Art – Modern and contemporary art aficionados, we haven’t forgotten about you. This museum with its diverse collection will light up your cultural soul.
  • Mount Helena City Park – For a blend of history and natural beauty, check out the 1906 Trail. It’s a local favorite, a moderate hike with panoramic city views.
  • Tizer Botanic Gardens & Arboretum – Take a break and breathe in the tranquility. The botanical gardens are a perfect spot for leisurely walks amidst a symphony of vibrant colors.
  • Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest – Covering an incredible 2.8 million acres, this forest is your gateway to the great outdoors. Hiking along the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail or wildlife viewing in Elkhart Wildlife Management Unit – the choices are endless.

I had the pleasure of exploring Helena a while back. I remember the awe of standing in the Capitol Building, admiring its timeless architecture, and then immersing myself in tales from Montana’s rich history at the Montana Museum.

With options like the Tizer Botanic Gardens and the vast Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest, Helena truly offers a well-rounded outdoor city experience. On that note, you might want to grab a walking stick, some comfortable shoes, and a curious mind – your outdoor, historical journey in Helena awaits.

10. Take a Relaxing Cruise Through the Gates of the Mountains

Two towering mountains and a lake in the Gates of the Mountains in cloudy weather.

There’s something quite spectacular about cruising through the “Gates of the Mountains.” You see, this renowned natural attraction isn’t just another pretty spot. It’s steeped in history, offering stunning scenery, geological insights, and a few surprises along the way.

Here’s why you should pack a boat tour through Gates of the Mountains into your Montana adventure:

  • Journey Through History – Meriwether Lewis, of Lewis and Clark fame, famously named this stretch of the Missouri River during an 1805 expedition. As the story goes, he was struck by the towering limestone cliffs that seemed to form a gateway.
  • A Local’s Perspective – Don’t just float by – local guides on the boat tours will regale you with tales about the area’s geology and wildlife. It’s like being in a live-action documentary, except the stars of the show are the towering mountain goats and birds of prey that might just make a cameo.
  • Uncover Indigenous History – As the tour steers into Mann Gulch, keep a lookout for Indian pictographs on the rock walls. This is a haunting site for more than just its scenery: it also holds a tragic 1949 wildfire, a piece of significant but somber history too.
  • A Trail of Wildlife – Speaking of rugged rock formations, Mann Gulch is also a prime location for spotting bighorn sheep and mountain goats. The local birdlife is just as impressive, with sightings of majestic birds of prey a common occurrence.

When Someone Asks “What’s So Special About a Boat Tour?” There you have it: a boat tour through the Gates of the Mountains isn’t just a leisurely cruise; it’s an adventure rich in natural beauty, historical significance, and even the occasional dash of adrenaline.

Whether you are intrigued by Lewis and Clark’s expedition, interested in indigenous history, or simply enjoy scenic views and wildlife sightings, this two-hour journey promises to be the highlight of your Montana vacation.

11. Enjoy a Picturesque Drive on the Beartooth Highway

The scenic Beartooth Highway winding through the mountains, with majestic peaks in the distance.

The Beartooth Highway, part of the U.S. Highway 212, is like a silk ribbon woven through the Rockies. It’s so stunning, that it’s been designated a National Scenic Byways All-American Road. Let’s dive into this adventure.

Tips for a Beartooth Highway road trip:

  • Gas Up – The highway may be scenic, but there aren’t any gas stations on it. So, fill your tank in Red Lodge, Montana, or Cooke City, Montana, before you start your journey.
  • Bring Your Camera – With landscapes that range from emerald green forests to dramatic alpine tundra, you’ll want to capture every moment.
  • Wildlife Watching – Keep your eyes peeled for moose, elk, and grizzly bears. Pull over where safe to enjoy these sightings, but do not approach the animals.

For an unforgettable vacation, hit the road on the Beartooth Highway. This 70-mile (112 km) route winding through the Beartooth Mountains offers not just stunning views but also abundant wildlife sightings, perfect for keeping the kids entertained and awestruck.

Imagine spotting mountain goats perched on cliffs or majestic elk with their impressive antlers. Elevate the adventure with fun activities like guided horseback riding or trying your hand at trout fishing in nearby lakes and streams.

With plenty of National Forest campgrounds along the way, consider pitching a tent for a night under the stars, creating lasting memories of bonding time in nature’s embrace. 

12. Marvel at Unusual Formations in Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park

The entrance to Lewis & Clark Caverns with stairs and stalactites and stalagmites.
source: commons.wikimedia.org

When was the last time you ventured 300 feet beneath the Earth’s surface to explore pristine geological wonders?  Tucked away in Jefferson County, this park is touted as ‘Montana’s first and best-known state park’, allowing you to witness one of the most fascinating limestone caverns in the Northwest.

  • Stalactites and Stalagmites – Simply setting foot inside the limestone caverns is like stepping into an otherworldly landscape. The guided tours, available from May to late September, take you through a series of stairs, narrow passageways, and stunning underground formations like the “Beaver Slide”.
  • Logistics and Expectations – Tours last roughly two hours, so plan your visit accordingly. For most tours, expect about 600 stairs roundtrip.
  • All-Around Outdoor Fun – I don’t know about you, but I like to balance my subterranean adventures with a little sunshine. Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park has you covered on that front too. 

Don’t fret if you’re not a hardcore spelunker; Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park is designed for all amateur adventurers. 

13. Experience the Unique Appeal of Butte’s Small-Town Atmosphere

Butte, a small mining town in the heart of Montana
source: flickr.com

When it comes to transcending time and immersing yourself in Montana’s rich history, Butte is the ultimate destination. Nicknamed the “festival city,” Butte seamlessly blends small-town charm with a storied mining past.

Highlights include a preserved Victorian business district, stately mansions, and a rich vein of year-round events suited for anyone.

  • Berkeley Pit – Butte greets visitors with the Berkeley Pit, an iconic symbol of its mining heritage. Whether you’re a history enthusiast or just curious, the viewing platform provides a captivating perspective into the depths of a former open-pit copper mine.
  • Butte Trolley Tour – To get a comprehensive overview of the town’s rich history, hop on the Butte Trolley Tour. The 2-hour guided journey takes you past iconic landmarks in the National Historic Landmark District. You’ll meet knowledgeable guides with a knack for storytelling, and the charm of the trolley itself is an experience.
  • World Museum of Mining – The World Museum of Mining offers a unique journey into the past, showcasing a vast collection of antique machinery and tools. Visitors can don a hard hat for a simulated mining experience, and the reconstructed mining town provides a hands-on exploration of Butte’s history.
  • Copper King Mansion – The Copper King Mansion skillfully restores a chapter of Butte’s history, providing insight into the opulent life of copper tycoon W.A. Clark. Featuring 34 rooms adorned with antique chandeliers, stained glass windows, and period furnishings, a visit promises a memorable journey back in time.

Butte weaves a captivating tale of what life was like during the copper boom, making it one of Montana’s gems for history lovers and anyone intrigued by the fusion of old and new.

14. Indulge in Outdoor Thrills in Livingston

A group of people riding horses in a grassy field in Livingston, Montana.

I’ve had the pleasure of exploring Livingston, a historic train town from the late 1880s that boasts a perfect blend of outdoor adventures and a warm, welcoming community. Nestled in the embrace of the Absaroka Range, you can enjoy a range of activities such as fly fishing, dog sledding, river rafting, and horseback riding.

Located north of Yellowstone National Park, between Billings and Bozeman, at the end of the legendary Paradise Valley, and along the Yellowstone River, Livingston offers opportunities for fly fishing, hiking near the Absaroka Mountains, and relaxation in Chico Hot Springs, a popular Montana hot springs experience.

The charming downtown area is a treasure trove of history, with over 17 sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places now transformed into bustling restaurants, theaters, cafes, and boutique shops.

Don’t miss the Livingston Depot Museum and the Yellowstone Gateway Museum for a trip back in time to learn about the region’s rich railroad history and Wild West days.

Experience the essence of Montana’s countryside on a vacation with a scenic drive through the Shields River Valley. Marvel at the expansive meadows, grazing livestock, and traditional farmsteads that paint the landscape with quintessential Montana beauty.

It’s an ideal opportunity to appreciate the rural charm of Montana and forge lasting bonds amidst breathtaking scenery. So pack some treats, tune into your favorite tunes, and set off on a leisurely journey that promises joy for everyone.

15. Witness Prehistoric Wonders at the Museum of the Rockies

A statue of a T-Rex in front of the Museum of the Rockies building.

If you think Bozeman is just a portal to outdoor excitement, you’re in for a colossal surprise — one with as much bite as any trail in the area. I ventured into the Museum of the Rockies and let me tell you, it’s not your run-of-the-mill history stop. You’re about to encounter Montana’s past, as it turns out, in a manner that’ll make you feel like you’ve hopped in a time machine.

  • Dino Delights – Explore the largest dinosaur collection in the US, featuring “Big Mike,” a jaw-dropping T-Rex skeleton, and fascinating exhibits on the meteor that ended their reign.
  • Pioneering Past – Step into the 1800s with authentic log home exhibits, offering a firsthand glimpse into the pioneering spirit of the era.
  • Stellar Spectacle – Immerse yourself in space at the planetarium with 4K digital projections, journeying alongside the Hubble Space Telescope for an unforgettable cosmic experience.

The Museum of the Rockies isn’t just about geology and prehistoric life; it’s also rich with displays that’ll make you feel like a Montana local from centuries ago. There’s the American West exhibit to dive into how the country was explored, Yellowstone’s heritage, and even an old mining contraption or two.

In terms of the state’s human history, there are exhibits delving into the lives of native peoples, Montana’s mining past, and even an in-depth look at transportation in the region. Trust me, it’s a Montana Telegraph Road experience you don’t want to miss.

16. Journey Through Technological History at the American Computer and Robotics Museum

A collection of old computers on display in the American Computer and Robotics Museum.
source: flickr.com

Stepping into the American Computer and Robotics Museum in Bozeman, Montana, is like taking a journey through the captivating history of humanity and technology. From cuneiform tablets to the first personal computers, the museum showcases a wide array of historic artifacts, offering an insightful look at the evolution of technology over the past 4,000 years.

What makes this museum truly fascinating is its focus on various aspects of technology and innovation. Visitors can explore the role of women in computing, marvel at early innovations, and learn about modern advancements such as high-resolution satellite cameras.

But the museum doesn’t just dwell on the past. It also delves into the future of the Information Age, with thought-provoking exhibits on Artificial Intelligence, Quantum Computing, and the Enigma Code. This provides visitors with an opportunity to immerse themselves in the ever-evolving world of technology.

The museum offers an enriching experience for visitors of all ages, catering to history buffs and tech enthusiasts alike. Explore the intersection of humanity and technology through interactive exhibits and fascinating stories that highlight the impact of innovation on our lives.

17. Sample Craft Brews Across the State of Montana

Local Montana craft beers lined up on a bar

As I roam through Montana’s rugged landscapes, I find solace in its thriving brewery scene, offering a perfect way to unwind after a day of outdoor adventures. Here, I can savor locally crafted beers made with Montana’s own wheat, barley, and glacier waters.

Notable breweries like Philipsburg Brewing Company, housed in a historic bank, and Bayern Brewing in Missoula, offer unique experiences, while Big Sky Brewing Company boasts a diverse beer selection. Billing’s Brewery District is a must-visit, with six breweries, two distilleries, and a cider house within walking distance.

As I explore the state, Flathead Lake Brewing Company in Bigfork provides breathtaking views, while Beaverhead Brewing Company in Dillon offers a unique atmosphere. Each brewery promises a distinct experience, showcasing the rich flavors of Montana’s craft brews.

18. Explore a Spooky Ghost Town

An aerial view of Garnet Ghost Town with tall pine trees and a dirt road.

Swapping the hum of city traffic for the echoes of a ghost town sounds like the perfect intrigue. Montana, a state steeped in Gold Rush-era history, is home to some of the country’s most captivating ghost towns.

Garnet Ghost TownGarnet is Montana’s most intact ghost town, allowing you to wander back in time to the 1800s.Main Street, Hotel, Saloon, Post Office
Coloma and MarysvilleColoma features preserved mining relics, while Marysville offers a haunting blend of historical charm.Mining Relics, Historic Buildings
Granite Ghost Town State ParkStep into an authentic 1890s boomtown at Granite Ghost Town State Park, frozen in the silver mining era.Relics from 1890s Silver Boomtown
Elkhorn State ParkExplore frontier-era remnants at Elkhorn State Park, including cabins and stores from a bygone era.Architectural Remnants (Cabins, Stores)

Exploring Montana’s ghost towns offers a hauntingly good time suitable for history buffs, romantics, and those with a penchant for the offbeat, providing a tangible connection to the state’s rich history and a sense of mystery and adventure.

19. Paddle Through the Stunning Upper Missouri Breaks River

Aerial view of a river running through Upper Missouri Breaks Canyon
source: flickr.com

Looking for an ideal paddling adventure? Look no further than the picturesque Upper Missouri Breaks River in Montana. With its remote and rugged canyons, it’s suitable for all skill levels.

Adventure enthusiasts can embark on multi-day canoe trips on the Upper Missouri National Wild and Scenic Rivers, tracing the path of Lewis and Clark and enjoying stunning Montana scenery.

For families eager to explore the Upper Missouri Breaks, the Missouri Breaks Interpretive Center in Fort Benton is an ideal starting point, offering expert guidance and information for a successful expedition.

While visiting, immerse yourselves in the center’s exhibits showcasing the region’s fascinating history, providing an educational and engaging experience for all ages.

For more outdoor fun, consider hiking, birdwatching, fishing, or camping nearby, allowing you, your friends, or your family to enjoy a well-rounded adventure in the great outdoors.

20. Appreciate Ancient Art at Pictograph Cave State Park

A paved path leading to the Pictograph Cave State Park in Billings.
source: flickr.com

Travel back in time about 2,000 years at the Pictograph Cave State Park in Billings, where you can get up close and personal with history.

Here’s what you can do at the Pictograph Cave State Park:

  • Start at the Visitor Center – I strongly recommend checking out the interpretive exhibits at the Visitor Center first. They set the stage for the fascinating journey you’re about to take.
  • Explore the Loop Trail – The designated loop trail, light but robust, takes you past over 100 cave paintings. You’ll see how early artists used black and white pigments to depict their world.
  • Binocular Up – Yes, bring your binoculars. The loop trail doesn’t just offer a tour of the artwork; it’s also an excellent vantage point for taking in the park’s wildlife and beautiful scenery.
  • Pictograph, Middle, and Ghost Caves – Hike the interpretive trail to view the Pictograph, Middle, and Ghost Caves. These sites are truly awe-inspiring, and the walk is fairly easy.

I had the pleasure of visiting the caves myself and was astounded by what I saw.  It’s hauntingly beautiful and offers a poignant connection to the past. The park offers a lot more than just historic art. The scenery is breathtaking, and if you’re into bird-watching, you’ll be in your element.

What you’ll discover at the Pictograph Cave State Park:

  • Over 30,000 Artifacts – Besides the cave paintings, the site has yielded a treasure trove of stone tools, weapons, and other artifacts.
  • Rich Interpretation – Pictographs depict various subjects, from game animals and hunting scenes to more modern additions like horses and rifles.

If you’re a history enthusiast or simply enjoy immersive experiences that connect you with the past, Pictograph Cave State Park is an absolute must-visit. 

21. Explore the Wild Side at ZooMontana

Giraffes and Zebras in their enclosure at ZooMontana in Billings.

When it comes to fun and exciting destinations in Montana, ZooMontana in Billings tops the list. This place offers a captivating blend of botanical and wildlife habitats, all with a “Bio Park” theme. With over 80 animals from 56 different species, many of which are rescues, there is no shortage of fascinating creatures to encounter.

From wolverines and Amur tigers to grizzly bears and river otters, the variety is impressive. Special exhibits like the ball python, California kingsnake, and Chilean rose hair tarantula add an extra layer of intrigue.

For those who appreciate the serenity of gardens, the Sensory Garden, Bamboo Garden, Children’s Garden, and Homestead Garden are must-see attractions, providing interactive experiences for visitors of all ages.

If you are looking for a fun and educational outing, ZooMontana is the perfect destination, catering to plant enthusiasts, animal lovers, and those simply seeking a good time.

22. Catch a Sunset View of the Rimrocks in Billings

A view from the top of the Rimrocks cliff overlooking the town of Billings.

When in Billings, be sure to catch a sunset view of the remarkable rimrocks, a geological wonder shaped by the Yellowstone River over millions of years. With various viewing points, trailheads, and parking areas scattered across the city, finding the perfect spot to admire these ancient formations is a breeze.

Zimmerman Park, nestled on the northwest side, not only offers scenic vantage points but also provides ample opportunities for mountain biking and hiking, making it an ideal destination for outdoor enthusiasts.

For more rimrock trails and panoramic views of the Yellowstone Valley and the Beartooth Mountains, explore places like Swords Park, Phipps Park, and the Four Dances Special Recreation Management Area. If you want a peaceful retreat alongside the Yellowstone River, head to Riverfront Park, where hiking trails and picnic pavilions await.

Make unforgettable memories by exploring the tranquility of Lake Josephine and the exciting outdoor activities available at Lake Elmo State Park in Billings.

Spend quality time hiking along scenic trails, casting lines for fish, or simply enjoying a relaxing picnic by the water’s edge. These outdoor adventures promise endless fun and cherished moments for all.

23. Immerse Yourself in History at the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument

A row of graves in a grassy field under a cloudy sky at the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument.
source: flickr.com

History buffs won’t want to miss the opportunity to visit the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument. Upon arrival, head straight to the Visitor Center to delve into immersive exhibits and displays centered around the infamous Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876.

The 4.5-mile walking route is a great way to delve deeper into the history of the battle, taking you to important sites like Last Stand Hill, Custer National Cemetery, and the Indian Memorial. These stops offer a unique understanding of the events that took place during the battle.

Visitors can experience a captivating journey through a pivotal moment in American history at the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, whether strolling or driving through its grounds.

If walking isn’t your thing, fear not. You can also explore the monument by car, with the option of an audio tour on your cell phone. This audio tour provides fascinating insights into the movements of soldiers and accounts from the warriors involved in the battle, making for a truly immersive experience.

Going to the Little Bighorn Battlefield promises an educational and enriching experience for visitors, friends, and families alike, offering valuable insights into our nation’s past, regardless of your preferred mode of exploration.

24. Embrace Winter Activities at Big Sky Resort

People ski down a slope in Montana's Big Sky Resort

When the mountains transform into snow-laden playgrounds, Big Sky Resort beckons with its winter wonderland offerings. With 5,850 skiable acres and 4,300 feet of vertical terrain, the resort offers diverse trails catering to all skill levels.

But the excitement doesn’t end there! Visitors can also enjoy alternative activities such as winter zip-lining, dog sledding, ice skating, and snowshoeing, providing opportunities for everyone to create lasting memories.

Don’t get me started on the post-adventure relaxation — the resort’s accommodation offerings include comfortable hotels, cozy cabins, and spacious condos. You’ll also find an array of dining options, so diverse you could eat at a different spot every night.

But wait, there’s more. If you’re flying in, the resort is just about an hour from Bozeman, making it easily accessible. And don’t put away your skis too early — the skiing often extends into late March and April, offering a touch of spring sun on the last of the season’s powder.

Winter activities at Big Sky Resort at a glance:

  • Types of Activities – Skiing, snowboarding, winter zip-lining, dog sledding, ice skating, snowshoeing.
  • Accommodation – Hotels, cabins, and condos provide varied options to suit different preferences, from comfortable lodging to convenient amenities.
  • On-Site Dining – Indulge in a variety of cuisines ranging from hearty mountain fare to gourmet dining experiences, ensuring there’s something to satisfy every palate.
  • Proximity – Conveniently located just an hour’s drive from Bozeman, providing easy access for traveling to and from the resort.

Big Sky Resort — it’s not just the name, it’s Montana’s stomping ground for those who want to make the most of winter but keep their options open. 

25. Discover the Wonders of West Yellowstone & Yellowstone National Park

A man is fishing in a river in Yellowstone National Park with mountains in the background.

If you’re designing a Montanan bucket list, West Yellowstone should be written in bold, underlined, and maybe even framed. This town’s like the gateway, the portal that opens straight into the full-on wild kingdom that is Yellowstone National Park.

  • Uncover the Animal Kingdom -At the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center, experience educational animal encounters reminiscent of an Animal Planet show. Watch grizzlies forage for trout and witness their impressive feedings. The playful agility of North American river otters is also a highlight.
  • Time-Trip at the Museum of the Yellowstone – The Museum of the Yellowstone offers an engaging exploration of history. Unlike traditional museums, you can interact with the past by touching and trying on items like old ski gear and 1800s cooking utensils, making history come alive.
  • Family Fun Central – The Yellowstone Zipline Adventure Park is perfect for active families, offering ziplines, rope courses, and a sky bridge. The historic Playmill Theatre features live family-friendly performances, ideal for unwinding after a day of exploring the park.

The biggest charm of West Yellowstone? It’s a little microcosm encapsulating nature, history, and good old fun in one spot. And with the mesmerizing Yellowstone Park sitting right next door, it will feel like you’re getting two unforgettable outdoor adventures for the price of one.

26. Traverse the Verdant Forests and Cascading Waterfalls of Lolo National Forest

A waterfall hidden amid lush greenery in Lolo National Forest.

Ever wanted to walk in the footsteps of the intrepid Lewis and Clark? Well, buckle up, final destination – the Lolo Trail. This is no ordinary nature walk, folks. The Lolo National Forest offers you a historic journey spanning about 150 miles from western Montana into west-central Idaho.

Here’s why the Lolo Trail is a must for your bucket list:

  • Historic Legacy – This isn’t just any trail; it’s the Lolo Trail, a historic route that’s been traversed by an eclectic mix of pioneers, from the Lewis and Clark expedition to modern-day adventurers.
  • Trail’s Core – This rugged path is more than just a dirt road. It’s a registered National Historic Landmark, meaning it’s essentially a museum without the glass walls. The trail’s credentials also include a listing on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s like you’re walking through centuries of stories, trees just happen to frame them.
  • Mixed Bag of Fun – The Lolo Trail offers something for everyone, be it motorized or non-motorized adventurers. The path is more narrow and twisty than the line for the latest iPhone, usually navigable only by the classic duo: trucks and four-wheel-drive vehicles.
  • Nature’s Grand Show – The trail isn’t just about the journey; it’s the stunning scenery that will be tattooed on your mind’s eye forever.

The Lolo Trail has an experience customized just for you. And when you come face to face with one of Montana’s scenic waterfalls amid a lush forest, you’ll realize — you’re not just on a trail; you’re on an unforgettable journey through time and nature.

27. Scale the Challenging Cliffs of the Bitterroot Mountains

An aerial view of the Bitterroot Mountains under a clear sky

If you or your family are seeking challenging climbing opportunities, look no further than Bitterroot Mountain. The rugged cliffs in this region offer a thrilling experience for climbers. While specific technical climbing routes are not detailed, several hikes lead to scenic overlooks and vantage points showcasing the terrain.

Hikes such as the Blodgett Canyon Overlook Trail, Bass Creek Trail, Bear Creek Overlook Trail, St. Mary Peak, and Lake Como provide stunning views of the Bitterroot Mountains’ cliffs and peaks.

But for those looking for technical climbing routes, it’s essential to consult local climbing guides or experienced climbers familiar with the area, especially within the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness known for its rugged terrain.

The Bitterroot Mountains are a haven for adventure seekers, offering a mix of challenging climbs and breathtaking views. With the right guidance and preparation, scaling these cliffs can be the ultimate thrill for any passionate climber.

Montana Outdoor Activities Final Thoughts

A man trekking the Montana mountains stops to take in the view below him.

Exploring Montana’s outdoor wonders provides unforgettable adventures in the heart of the American West. Glacier National Park stands out with over 700 miles of trails amid pristine forests and glacier-capped peaks.

Hikes like the Trail of the Cedars and the Iceberg Lake Trail offer breathtaking views and unparalleled serenity. The iconic Going-to-the-Sun Road provides a scenic journey through Glacier, with opportunities for wildlife spotting and boat rides on lakes.

Other outdoor destinations in Montana include the historic battlefields of Little Bighorn and the tranquil shores of Flathead Lake. The diverse landscapes of Montana invite adventurers to explore rugged cliffs in the Bitterroot Mountains and paddle through the Upper Missouri Breaks.

Montana’s outdoor wonders offer unforgettable adventures amid pristine forests, rugged peaks, and historic trails. Each experience promises to immerse travelers in the unparalleled beauty of Big Sky Country, creating memories to last a lifetime.

Montana Outdoor Activities FAQs

1. What Was Montana Famous For?

Montana is renowned for its stunning natural landscapes, including Glacier National Park and Yellowstone National Park. It’s also known for its rich history, particularly its role in the Lewis and Clark expedition and the Battle of Little Bighorn.

Montana’s vast wilderness areas and outdoor recreational opportunities draw visitors from around the world.

2. What Is the Most Interesting Thing in Montana?

The most interesting thing about Montana is its diverse natural beauty and rich history. From being home to the largest grizzly bear population in the lower 48 states to its unique Yogo sapphires, Montana offers a treasure trove of natural wonders.

3. Is Montana a Fun Place to Live?

For those who appreciate the great outdoors, Montana offers an abundance of recreational activities year-round, from skiing and snowboarding in the winter to hiking and fishing in the summer. Its stunning natural landscapes provide endless opportunities for exploration and adventure, making it an exciting and fulfilling place to live for outdoor enthusiasts.

Don’t stop here! Dive into our archives for a wealth of related content:

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Written by:

Chris Hall
Hi, I'm Chris Hall, co-founder of PocketMontana.com. Growing up among Montana's breathtaking landscapes ignited my passion for travel. While I've journeyed to many corners of the world, the allure of Montana's wild beauty always draws me back. To me, travel is about understanding the soul of a place, and Montana has a special place in my heart. It's where endless adventures meet raw nature.

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