Glacier National Park is a must-see when in Montana. When I went the main road wasn't completely open yet, but it was still a breathtaking experience. We hiked down the closed road to a small waterfall off the path. The shops right in beginning of the park have some amazing local artwork and crafts. There is also an information center with incredibly helpful park rangers. They taught us all about the first international peace park. I would suggest going after April. The large amount of snowfall that Montana gets can keep the main road closed until May.
Visit Kerr Dam in Polson, Montana. The guys that work there are fantastic and so informative. If you call ahead, you can schedule a tour of the inside of the power station that runs the dam. It is amazing inside. You can tour the huge machinery before taking a walk down to see the dam. It was great to learn how the dams work and what an impact they make on the community we were living in. Also the water around the dam is an almost impossible aqua blue. It is gorgeous and a great site to see.
The National Bison Range is quite possibly my favorite thing about Montana. Our group went there to volunteer, but got to tour the property as well. The bison are amazing and massive animals. They roamed about without a care in the world. There were some other wildlife as well including one mother badger that kept popping up.
This is an old hotel restored to the original 30's look and feel. The bedrooms are all art deco furniture and it has a very comfortable lobby where everyone hangs out. I did not want this under hotels because going to the Symes is not about a place to stay, it is an adventure in itself. The mineral water is the best I have ever been in and I try to find hot springs wherever I go. They have good music on Saturday nights and it is very inexpensive.
The Park has some of the most breath taking natural beauty I have seen anywhere.
It is very inexpensive and only cost us a few dollars to enter.
The road we took was called the "Going to the Sun Highway."
I can't recommend driving this road enough.
We had to stop every little ways to take in the views and hike and explore!
Be sure and check ahead before going there, as it is up in the Glaciers and the road is only open a couple months a year in the middle of the summer! :)
There are several different ghost town in Montana. Garnet was just listed in 2010 as a Ghost Town. People had to be pretty tough to live here at that time.
There is a $3.00 fee for entry and is done on the honor system.
This is a self guided tour. Get a pamphlet and you can go in most of the buildings. Some I don't recommend going is as they don't look too stable.
Camping is not allowed at the town proper, but you can camp for free anywhere else, just no facilities.
Although they do rent a couple of the cabins in the winter to snowmobilers. There is one that sleeps 6 and one that sleeps 4 (very cozy). There is a wood stove for heat and propane for lights. You haul everything else.
On my first trip to Montana in 1994, it was a very big deal to drive the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park. It was hailed as the top scenic drive in any US National Park and I must say, it did not disappoint. The winding road hugged the mountains closely and if any drive could approximate a hike, this sure seemed to be it. Stopping at Logan Pass at nearly 6700 feet was a highlight.
Glacier National Park is a study in contrasts. While it does have what is possibly the most scenic drive of any US National Park, its most incredible spots can only be reached on foot. The park does its very best to make these spots accessible, from shuttles to shorten hikes to extremely useful free trail descriptions and sketch maps, but in the end, Glacier National Park is a vast wilderness, one that cannot be tamed. But even in a park noted for grizzlies and even their attacks, people of all walks of life are hitting the trail. Why? This has to be in part due to the rangers that man this rugged park, doling out information, rules, and warnings matter-of-factly, not so much to make them less pertinent but less frightening. We live on this planet with many creatures and as a rule, man has dominated and taken everything for himself. Glacier National Park is that rare glimpse of a world where we share it. The thought of seeing that is enough to make even the wary abandon caution, and march into a world where man is just part of the universe and not the center.
In 1876 at this battlefield Custer attacked the Sioux. led by Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse, who camped near the Bighorn River, in order to force them back into their reservation. Having seriously underestimate the number of Indians encamped there he did not have a snowball's chance in hell of winning, and in what was one of the biggest victory for the Indians against the army, Custer and his men were slaughtered in less than an hour.
That's the short version, but at the visitor centre you can attend one of the ranger talks, where they will discuss the battle in much more detail, and they also have a bookshop with lots of literature. Nearby is also an Indian trading post, where you can buy Indian artifacts and souvenirs.
For months I had been looking forward to travelling to the Dryhead Ranch for a cowboy-style horseriding holiday. We had looked at a lot of ranches on the web, but many of them seemed to be rather like leisure ranches, where they just take you on trails for the fun of it, but we were looking for more of working-type ranch, where we could participate in the ranch work, and the Dryhead Ranch seemed to be just what we were looking for. And we were not disappointed!
The ranch is located in the heart of the Pryor Mountains on the Crow Indian Reserve, surrounded by an amazing scenery of mountains, canyons, prairie and rivers. It is a family-run cattle ranch, where everyone was happy to share their lifestyle with us for a week, and made us feel part of the family. The home-cooked food was delicious, the horses were well-trained, and our rooms in the bunkhouse (with shared bathrooms) were rustic, but comfortable.
You will have the choice between going on cattle or horse drives, mainly in spring and autumn, or to stay on the ranch for a ranch week. We had opted for a ranch week, and in August this mainly involved riding out every day to look for cattle that had wandered off to where they weren't supposed to be and to drive them back to their pasture, or gathering up the mare bands with their foals and bringing them to the ranch, where they were recorded and checked over. If you are an early riser you are also welcome to help wrangling the horses, and I loved being out there at dawn, rounding up the horses, bringing them back to the ranch and then go to the cookhouse for a hearty breakfast.
After breakfast one of the cowboys will pick out the horse that you will ride for the day, and you will probably ride two or three different horses over the course of the week. They will rope the horse in for you, and then you will saddle it up and get it ready for the ride. Typically there was a 2.5 hour ride in the morning and then another one in the afternoon, although on one of the days we rode to a rather remote corner of the ranch, and were out for most of the day, stopping for a picnic lunch on the way.
For me it was also very interesting to experience working with horses, as opposed to riding them as a hobby, which is what I do at home. Usually the highlight for me is to have a wide open field or a beach in front of me and to let the horse loose for a wild gallop. So on the way to the ranch I looked longingly at the wide open spaces and could hardly wait to race across the plains. However, ranch work is very different, and we took it very slowly on the rides and walked the horses to where the cattle was, so that your horse was fresh when the cattle needed to be rounded up. Obviously you can’t wear your horse out if you have a 2-hour walk to the cattle herd, then work the horses for an hour or two, and then have to walk back again for 2 hours. It was a whole different horsemanship culture out there, where horses are your working buddies rather than your pets, and I very much enjoyed the whole experience.
The Beartooth Highway is an absolutely stunning stretch of road. Coming from Billings, I could see the Absaroka mountain range looming in the distance and slowly coming closer. Then the road wound up in precarious serpentines along the mountain sides up to plateau of the Beartooth Pass, with many turnouts and viewpoints along the way. The views were so fantastic that I stopped at nearly all of them, and it took me forever and a day to cover the 65 miles or so between Red Lodge and Cooke City, so you should give yourself plenty of time in order to take in the scenery.
Due to its high elevation of over 3,000 metres (10,900 feet) the road is is unpassable in winter.
We drove across Montana from the northern entrance of Yellowstone on Rt 89 to the North Dakota Border on Interstate 94, stopping for a night in Billings. Almost the entire route followed along the Yellowstone River, as it grew from a quick-running, fish-infested rapids leaving Yellowstone National Park, to a wide fast river as it approached the Missouri River.
The entire stretch of our drive along Route 89 was lined with signs marking various fishing spots and white water rafting sites. Here the mountains were close in along the river and the road followed in the canyon. As we approached I-94 we entered the northern Great Plains and the mountains seemed to move off into the distance. As we neared the North Dakota border, the mountains were long in our rear-view mirror and the great plains stretched before us.
Billings, with 100,000 residents, is Montana's largest city and even the largest city within a 100-mile radius. Originally a railroad town, Billings draws tourists due to its close proximity to Yellowstone National Park and the Little Big Horn battlefield. The area was also on the route of the Lewis and Clark expedition during 1806 (in fact, nearby Pompey's Pillar bears William Clark's carved signature as the only physical trace of the expedition anywhere along the route.
A snowmobile trip through the Park is an amazing experience and something you really must try if you have a chance. People who enjoy Yellowstone in the summer will be amazed at the beauty of the place in winter. We half joked that it felt like we were in Narnia.
Our guide was fantastic - all snowmobilers must go in with guides - and works both for a company and doing private tours. His name is Dan Myers and his contact information is below. He was attentive and knowledgable - very willing to answer questions.
This is the sort of thing where you MUST make reservations and plan a bit in advance. There are other companies as well. But, no matter how you go or with whom - Go! :)
Each April, the Montana Horses ranch moves a huge herd of horses from Winter to Summer pastures. The drive takes them through the towns of Willow Creek and Three Forks. It's a fantastically "Montana" event. There's great street food, sales and a dance at night at the Sacagawea Inn in Three Forks.
We watched the drive from the Main Street of Three Forks (the larger of the two towns). We loved it - partially because we were lucky enough to have a beautiful, sunny day.
The drive itself lasts three days, total. For a not-so-nominal fee, you can ride with the drovers as well. But, for us, the few minutes of watching the horses pass was thrilling as well.
The largest of the Glacier National Park hotels. Situated near Grinnell Glacier and some incredible...more
It is an ok hotel. It is an older structure, but seems to be fairly well maintained. It seems to...more
It's been awhile since we stayed here on our way to Utah. We stayed in a room with the following; ...more