11 Best Guided Montana Tours for Every Traveler

Montana has a way of casting a spell; its mountains bestow a continuous theater of some of the most beautiful vistas in America. But wouldn’t you agree that travel is a quest for more than just a view? Montana’s charm unveils a colorful world of both natural and cultural experiences that offer a roster of 11 must-do adventures.

This comprehensive destination guide is an essential read whether you’re embarking on a journey to soak in the geothermal wonders of Yellowstone National Park, explore the history of Glacier’s Red Buses or any of the wide-ranging tours this article has in store.

Expect insights on a breadth of adventures like helicopter tours, accessing Montana’s rich wildlife tours, experiencing historical and cultural Montana through private walking and story-hike tours, and more.

Are you ready to don your sun hat, winter boots, or perhaps even your water gear to embark on one of the 11 best Montana tours? There’s so much more to Montana than initially meets the eye, and we’re here to show you just that.

7 Key Takeaways on Best Montana Tours

  1. Yellowstone National Park offers diverse tours, suitable for family trips or individual pursuits, including fishing, backpacking, painting, and more.
  2. From boat tours and guided hiking to vintage Red Bus interpretive tours, Glacier National Park offers experiences that blend natural landscapes with rich human history.
  3. West Yellowstone is an exclusive gateway to personalized summer adventure vacations like fishing and whitewater rafting, as well as winter activities such as snowmobiling and snowshoeing in Yellowstone Park.
  4. The Yellowstone River provides diverse tour options, from thrilling jet boat rides to leisurely wooden boat tours. Tours cater to all levels of experience and offer a chance to connect with nature’s sounds and scenery.
  5. Wildlife tours are designed for wildlife enthusiasts, offering an educational, slow, and mindful exploration of Montana’s diverse habitats and its charismatic inhabitants.
  6. Montana’s historical and cultural tours provide a deep dive into the state’s historical and cultural legacy, covering everything from the wild days of Butte to the untold stories of Glacier National Park.
  7. Diverse adventure on action-packed experiences are available year-round in Montana, from ATV tours in the Bitterroot Mountains to eco-conscious activities in Glacier National Park.

11 Best Montana Tours

A ski slope in Montana with trees and mountains in the background.

When it comes to touring Montana’s sprawling landscapes and unique attractions, variety is the name of the game. From hiking up the iconic Glacier National Park to strolls in the historic Butte, your Montana tour list is bound to be as diverse as the Big Sky State itself. So let’s dive into Montana’s rich tapestry, one tour at a time.

1. Yellowstone National Park Tours

A geyser in Yellowstone National Park, Montana.

If Montana has a one-stop shop for unforgettable experiences, it’s got to be Yellowstone National Park. I mean, it’s like the universe decided to blow our minds and pile up geysers, hot springs, and wildlife in one place. 

Authorized companies in Yellowstone National Park offer an array of services and tours including fishing, backpacking, painting, and more. And if you truly want to dive into the park’s heart and soul, staying a night within its borders is the way to go.

Did you know that after the day trippers hustle back home, Yellowstone becomes a serene dreamland for its in-park overnighters? It’s like having the world’s most famous geothermal playground all to yourself.

With 9 unique lodging options, Yellowstone National Park Lodges has a variety of options for adventure tours, including:

  • Winter Adventures – Winter Adventures in Yellowstone National Park Lodges offer a side of Yellowstone poetry not everyone gets to hear. Think geysers mixed with snowflakes.
  • Land Adventures – Authentic land adventures are your ticket for deep diving into Yellowstone’s ecological treasure chest under expert guidance. Get to explore the park’s magnificent natural wonders and ecological diversity.
  • Water Adventures – Discover the unspoiled magnificence of Yellowstone Lake from the water. You can participate in a Montana guided boat tour, opt for boat rental services, or even hire a private boat for guided fishing or sightseeing.
  • Wild West Adventures – If you’re into Wild West daydreams and want to channel your inner cowboy (or cowgirl), saddle up for their Wild West adventures. Traverse the aptly-named trails, saying hi to the local wildlife and soaking in every drop of Yellowstone’s rich cowboy history.

These tours offered by Yellowstone National Park Lodges provide exciting sights and family-friendly adventures, making it the ideal destination for Yellowstone hiking and exploration.

2. Glacier National Park Tours

A lake in Glacier National Park framed by mountains and pine trees.

If you think about it, a Glacier National Park tour is as close as you’ll get to time travel with over 700 miles (1,127 km) of trails winding through an ancient canvas painted by Mother Nature herself.

Between soaring alpine peaks, cascading waterfalls, and serene lakes, you’ve got a family fun adventure of epic proportions at one of Montana’s best tourist attractions

Types of Glacier National Park Tours:

  • Boat Tours – Get to experience floating pensively on the azure waters of Lake McDonald, or if you’re feeling up to it, venture to Many Glacier or Two Medicine for even more splendor.
  • Bus Tours – Sun Tours delves into the park’s cultural heritage, while the iconic Red Buses, managed by Xanterra, take you on a different narrative, through the park’s historic sites.
  • Guided Hiking – From day journeys to multi-day adventures, take the unbeaten path to learn about the hidden stories of the park.
  • Raft Tours – Seeking thrills downriver? Several companies offer commercial rafts on the park’s rivers.
  • Horseback Rides – Saddle up for scenic rides at Many Glacier, Lake McDonald, or Apgar.
  • Glacier Institute Field Courses – Take a deep dive into the park’s flora, fauna, and geology through the Glacier Institute’s educational courses.

Now, if you’re like me, a self-proclaimed history nerd, you’ll want to carve out some time for an interpretive tour. And what better way to get this than by lounging in a vintage 1930s Red Bus, and your trusty guide is peeling away layers of time, discussing everything from glacial formations to the impact of tourism on the park.

You see, these Red Buses aren’t just to look pretty — they’re part of Glacier’s story. The fleet of 33 you’ll find here is considered the oldest of their kind in the world.

So, whether you’re cruising the tranquil waters or stomping through the forests on a guided hike, your connection with Glacier National Park reaches beyond the visible, embracing both the natural and human essence of this spectacular place.

3. West Yellowstone Tours

A man is fishing in a river with mountains in the background in West Yellowstone, Montana.

If you consider Montana as the gatekeeper to Mother Nature’s best work, West Yellowstone is the exclusive VIP entrance. You don’t want to miss it!

Whether it’s a summer escapade or a winter wonderland you’re chasing, every adventure in West Yellowstone feels like a personalized exploration, thanks to highly articulate guides who are as passionate storytellers as they are knowledgeable trailblazers.

For the ultimate West Yellowstone guided tour, AllTrips should be your expert guide. Think of them as the conductors orchestrating your symphony of delight. And I do mean symphony because each experience in West Yellowstone is like scoring a different musical movement.

Summer tours in West Yellowstone:

  • Fishing – For those with a rod in one hand and a dream in the other, West Yellowstone’s fly fishing is going to be your Disneyland, considered the trout capital of the U.S.
  • Whitewater Rafting – The thrill-seekers among you are going to love the rush on the Gallatin River, one of the premier whitewater rafting rivers in the West.
  • Horseback Riding – Channel the Wild West’s spirit with picturesque rides around West Yellowstone.
  • ATV Rentals – Explore the untamed beauty of the public lands on an exhilarating ride, with many miles of area trails for ATV riding.

Winter tours in West Yellowstone:

  • Snowmobiling – West Yellowstone is fondly referred to as the snowmobile capital of the world due to its expansive trail systems and proximity to Yellowstone National Park.
  • Snowcoach Tours – Plunge into the heart of Yellowstone Park like a pro explorer.
  • Cross-country Skiing – Around West Yellowstone, there are plenty of ski trails and snow to enjoy Nordic skiing.
  • Snowshoeing – West Yellowstone becomes a blank canvas; it’s your job to paint the adventure.

Winter isn’t just about snowmobiling – though that is, absolutely, off-the-charts fun – but there’s an entire landscape of pure white awaiting your snowshoeing escapade. And when the mercury dips, the charming West Yellowstone gets cozier, beckoning you to explore in the crystalline serenity.

So whether you’re lured by the siren call of the park’s geological marvels or just a yearning to capture life moments that don’t fade in a hurry, West Yellowstone should top your list of must-do experiences. 

4. Yellowstone River Tours

Yellowstone River in Montana runs a grassy field with mountains in the background.

The Yellowstone River, the longest undammed river in the continental United States, provides tours that are as diverse as the landscapes it carves through. I know, I’ve taken time to bask in its serene beauty and listen to its watery symphony as it etches a path through some of Montana’s most dramatic scenery.

Options for Yellowstone River Tours:

  • Yellowstone River Adventures – This family-owned business offers more than just transportation, providing thrilling activities like jet boating or leisurely options like bird watching. Perfect for those seeking a customizable experience immersed in the sounds of nature.
  • Yellowstone Wood Boat Tours – Perfect for history buffs and those who appreciate a good story, you can glide down the river in beautifully crafted wooden boats while indulging in custom-catered fare. Plus, their local guides ensure you’re not just passing through, but rather inhabiting moments in time.
  • Montana Classic Boat Tours – If you’re after luxury, this is your go-to. These tours claim to “float in style” – and they’re not joking. It’s like drifting down the river on a cloud, except the ‘cloud’ is a boat with knowledgeable guides that ensure you don’t miss a single note in the “Sounds of Nature” album.

Each of these tours, be it on a high-speed jet boat or a leisurely wooden vessel, provides a unique opportunity to connect with Mother Nature. And don’t worry, none of this seafaring is only for experts; these tours are designed to accommodate all levels of experience.

So, if you want more than just an aesthetically pleasing boat ride, these Yellowstone River tours have got your ticket. Drift down the same river that Lewis and Clark traversed, and let the river be your guide to a Montana tour like no other.

5. Montana Wildlife Tours

A grizzly bear in Montana is walking on the grass.

Montana isn’t just mountains and clear lakes; it’s a wildlife spectacle that rivals any National Geographic documentary. As you prepped your checklist of mesmerizing Montana explorations, wildlife tours were probably etched in bold.

I mean, how could you resist the allure of spotting a grizzly bear in Lamar Valley or a wild wolf in Yellowstone, Montana’s natural habitat? Montana creates a vivid arena for playful critters and majestic predators alike. 

Top Montana Wildlife Tours for Intimate Encounters:

  • Yellowstone Wild Tours – The Yellowstone Wild Tours is a safe bet if you’re particularly keen on making friends with the elusive Yellowstone wolves.
  • Silver Gate Guides – If your wildlife wish list spans from grizzlies to osprey to mountain goats, Silver Gate Guides has a daily pass to paradise with guided tours into Lamar Valley.
  • Big Sky Safaris – With a wildlife biologist at the helm, expect your nature tours around Missoula to be both insightful and awe-inspiring.

Whether you’re into birdwatching, sketching, or capturing Montana’s wildlife on camera, tour operators like Big Sky Safaris have expansive itineraries. They even offer trips to the National Bison Range, a genuine slice of Montana’s wildlife heritage.

Montana has many gorgeous theaters where nature unfolds and wildlife enthusiasts like us are welcome to sit right on the front row. These are not wild jeep rides, it’s more like a slow, mindful meander through the beautiful scenery that serves as a dramatic canvas to these encounters.

6. Montana Historical and Cultural Tours

The Moss Mansion Museum in Billings, Montana, representing the cultural and architectural heritage of the state.

Why take a Montana historical and cultural tour, you ask? Imagine diving into a time capsule and stepping back into Montana during its most vibrant, tumultuous, and historic periods.

From the urban landscapes of Butte to the untouched wilderness of Glacier National Park, these tours promise a deeper understanding of Montana’s rich and colorful past.

Check out some of Montana’s most captivating historical and cultural tours:

  • Old Butte Historical Adventures – Walking back in time, these tours are an authentic stroll through the wild days of Butte, Montana, covering every decade from the 1890s through the 1950s. It’s not just architecture; it’s a living, breathing history lesson.
  • Iron Shield Creative – A unique cultural adventure hike on Amskapi Pikuni (Blackfeet) homelands, their tours at Glacier National Park blur the lines between storytelling and nature. You’re not just walking; you’re walking through stories.
  • Moss Mansion Museum Guided Tours – Dive into the entrepreneurial history of the Moss family, as the Moss Mansion Museum offers an intimate peek into the lives of the upper class at the turn of the century.

Montana cultural experiences are a wonderful way to create meaningful memories, enrich your understanding of local communities, and even capture stunning photography of the landscapes. In the end, historical and cultural tours are more than just adding variety to your itinerary; they’re about connecting with the heart of a place. 

7. Montana Adventure Tours

A woman on top of a mountain in Montana.

Montana is like that one friend who always has a surprise up their sleeve, except in this case, the surprise is endless jaw-dropping scenery and thrilling outdoor adventures. Whether you’re planning a high-energy summer vacation or a magical winter escape, Montana adventure tours have got you covered.

Here are a few celebrated adventure tour operators, each offering something unique to make your Montana trip unforgettable, whether you’re traveling on your own, with family, or as part of a group:

  • Bitterroot Adventures – ATV Tours in the Bitterroot and Sapphire Mountains for adrenaline junkies.
  • Glacier Guides and Montana Raft – Offers rafting, hiking, biking, and fishing experiences in Glacier National Park.
  • Discovery Yellowstone Tours – Tailored private tours in Yellowstone National Park, complete with binoculars and gourmet lunch.

What’s so fantastic about these adventure travel consultants is their attention to detail. Whether you’re on a multi-day excursion or just looking for a day trip, they know how to cater to your interests and make the experience unforgettable.

These are human experiences, tailored for human enjoyment. So, seriously, in Montana, it’s never the wrong time for an adventure. Don’t keep Montana waiting; start planning your adventure now!

8. Montana Winter Sports Tours

A man skiing down a snowy slope with mountains in the background in Montana.

Montana in winter is a winter wonderland, where snow-covered mountains, pristine landscapes, and outdoor adventure abound. The state might be a glacier of a good deal to navigate in winter but dare I say, it’s the coolest time to visit.

The snow-covered scenery provides the perfect backdrop for a variety of winter sports activities, making it an ideal destination for outdoor enthusiasts and adventure-seekers.

Winter tours in Montana:

  • Austin Adventures – Originating in North America’s national parks, Austin Adventures boasts a deep familiarity with these landscapes. Their expert guides offer an exceptional experience, particularly highlighted in their Yellowstone in Winter tour, featuring snowshoeing and snow coach adventures in the snowy beauty of Montana.
  • Backcountry Adventures – Their guided snowmobile and snow coach tours are led by Montana veterans, some boasting up to 62 years of local expertise in the West Yellowstone area. It’s like carving through history – both natural and human – and the thrill knows no bounds.
  • Big Sky Resort – Big Sky Resort is the home of the Biggest Skiing in America, and its menu of winter offerings is as vast as its alpine offerings. Snowmobile, snow coach, and snowshoe tours are available for visitors to enjoy. Visitors can also participate in dog sledding and sleigh rides as additional activities.

Winter in Montana is an experience that lets you run and ramble over the snow in places you’d never imagine. Whether you are a thrill-seeking action fiend or a beloved family-friendly adventure facilitator, the snowy playgrounds of Montana have got you covered.

9. Montana Brewery and Distillery Tours

A tray of beers sits on a wooden table at a Montana brewery.

What’s a Montana adventure without a touch of hops and spirits? The state’s craft brewery and distillery scene has been carving its delightful niche, and here’s your chance to drink it all in – quite literally!

With Big Sky Brews Cruise, experience Northwest Montana’s rich craft beer culture through a guided tour. The best part? The journey is as much about the people behind the brews as it is about the beer in your hand. It’s like a local TED talk but with more hops.

If your journey’s plotted around Billings, a stroll on the Billings Brew Trail is a must. You’ll be sipping and tasting your way through historic downtown on a 1.5-mile (2.4 km) loop, taking in not only 9 breweries and 3 distilleries but also a cider mill and winery. Your entire trip is neatly encapsulated in a spirited walk.

Drilling down further, you can visit Bridger Brewing, which offers private and public tours at their brewery locations in Bozeman and Three Forks. Whether you’re a beer geek or just love a good IPA, watching their brewers in action is a behind-the-scenes treat.

Actionable Tips for Enjoying Montana’s Brewery and Distillery Tours:

  • Most tours have a limit on the number of guests, so it’s wise to book in advance, especially for private tours.
  • Try to chat with the brewmasters and distillers. You’d be surprised how many have fascinating stories that are as rich as their beverages.
  • Plan for responsible sampling. With so much to try, it’s easy to overindulge.

In this state where adventure abounds, the fizz of a cold beer and the kick of a crafted spirit is just another way to experience Montana’s vitality.

10. Montana Culinary Tours

A group of chefs prepare food in a kitchen during a Montana culinary tour.

If you thought Montana was just about awe-inspiring landscapes and thrilling outdoor adventures, boy, do I have a flavorful surprise for you. Montana’s culinary landscape is a fantastic trip for your taste buds and a must-explore facet of this state.

Immerse yourself in delectable huckleberry-flavored treats, savoring flavorful bison dishes, and enjoying a glass of Montana-produced wine while soaking in breathtaking mountain views. It’s a 360° sensory experience that’s uniquely Montanan. 

Top Montana Culinary Experiences:

  • Polebridge Mercantile – Renowned for its Huckleberry Bear Claws, right outside Glacier National Park. With your morning coffee, this sweet delicacy is just the “claw” you need to start the day.
  • Ted’s Montana Grill – Known not only for its chic ambiance but also its distinct Bison dishes. Satisfying gourmet burger cravings and steak enthusiasts, this grill is a playground for your palate.
  • Loula’s Café – Nestled in the mountain town of Whitefish, huckleberry pies here are a sensation. If you thought classic huckleberry was the only option, also on the mix are huckleberry-peach, huckleberry-cherry, huckleberry-raspberry, and huckleberry-blackberry.

So, suppose you’re looking to supercharge your gastronomic adventures in Montana. In that case, I can’t recommend these food tours enough. Trust me, these tours are not just for foodies; they’re an essential part of any Montana adventure.

11. Montana Helicopter Tours

A helicopter soars over a forest with mountains in the background, one of the best Montana tours.

Taking to the skies over Montana is a challenging activity that’ll carve a forever spot in your memory. Surveying the vast, untamed world laid out below — that’s the magic of Montana helicopter tours. They are the ultimate cherry on top of your adventure cake.

Now there are various ways to slice the aerial pie in the Big Sky Country. Each Montana helicopter tour is as unique as the landscape it reveals. Here are 3 standout trip options to consider:

Helicopter Tour OperatorWhat They OfferFlight TimeHighlights
Yellowstone HelicoptersTours and scenic flights in and around Yellowstone National Park.10-60 minutesSoar over mountains, lakes, and rivers.
Rocky Mountain Rotors6 helicopters to accommodate your needs in Belgrade, Bozeman, Butte, and Billings.1 hour to over 5 hoursClean, comfortable helicopters, and safe friendly pilots.
Triple Creek RanchPrivate helicopter or plane tours over the East Fork and Bitterroot Rivers, Trapper Peak, El Capitan, and the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness.30, 60, & 90 minute optionsEnjoy the stunning sights of alpine lakes and wildlife.

Are you still walking through the mountains like an amateur? It’s time to take on Montana’s vastness from the sky. Your options aren’t just limited to the tours listed above.

With the expansive horizons and the intricate river and mountain tapestry Montana flaunts, every single minute on these helicopter tours is a breathtaking fraction of the world’s canvas.

Best Montana Tours Final Thoughts

A mother and daughter trek up a grassy mountainside during their Montana tour expedition.

By immersing yourself in Yellowstone’s geysers and fishing in its pristine waters or venturing on a vintage Red Bus to unravel the tales of Glacier National Park, each tour paints an intricate portrait of Montana’s diverse charm.

Whether you’re captivated by the state’s rich human history or its breathtaking natural landscapes, the tours offered across the Big Sky Country are the key to unlocking an adventure unlike any other.

As Montana redefines adventure with stories etched in time and nature, there’s always another surprise around the corner. From a curated wildlife tour spotted with grizzlies to a historical walk through Old Butte, the options are as varied as the state’s enchanting scenery.

So as you plan your Montana travel checklist, remember: it’s not just about the sights but the stories that echo through Montana’s landscapes and historical avenues. The ultimate Montana tours are beckoning; are you ready to answer their call?

Learn more about Pocket Montana’s Private Tours to have your own personalized fun.

Best Montana Tours FAQs

1. Why Do Tourists Go to Montana?

Tourists visit Montana for its stunning natural landscapes, including Yellowstone & Glacier National Parks, offering opportunities for outdoor activities like hiking and wildlife viewing, as well as to experience the state’s authentic Western culture and outdoor recreational pursuits.

2. What Is the Best Time to Travel to Montana?

Montana is most enjoyable during the summer due to the agreeable weather conditions and the plethora of outdoor activities available. During the winter, Montana also becomes a hotspot for visitors seeking thrilling skiing and snow-related adventures, particularly in destinations like Big Sky and Whitefish.

3. Is There a Yellowstone Tour in Montana?

Numerous tour operators offer Yellowstone tours in Montana. These tours provide opportunities to explore the unique features of Yellowstone National Park, including its stunning landscapes, geothermal wonders, and diverse wildlife, while often incorporating activities such as hiking, wildlife viewing, and educational experiences.

4. How Many Days Do You Need in Montana?

For a general visit to experience the highlights, including places like Glacier National Park or Yellowstone National Park, a week to 10 days is often recommended. This allows time for outdoor activities, sightseeing, and potentially exploring nearby cities or towns.

5. What Is Montana’s Peak Season?

Montana’s peak tourist season is typically during the summer months, from July to Early September. During this time, the weather is generally more favorable, with warmer temperatures, making it ideal for outdoor activities like hiking, camping, and exploring national parks.

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Written by:

Elizabeth Hawley
Hey, fellow travelers! I'm Elizabeth Hawley, stepping into the world in the hues of fall. For me, Montana is more than just a state; it's a muse. The golden aspen trees and russet landscapes in the fall have always fueled my creativity. Co-founding PocketMontana.com was a no-brainer, blending my love for art, photography, and Montana's ever-changing palette.

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