Choosing which Montana vacation ideas to add to your vacation itinerary is a challenge—there is so much to do in this state that narrowing down which things to do in Montana interest you the most is a tall order. During the summer, a trip here may include fishing or swimming in one of the many lakes, hiking or camping on the mountains of Yellowstone and Glacier National Park, or discovering less-traveled back roads by jeep or bike. In the winter, the best Montana vacation spots are the destinations good for skiing, snowshoeing, snowboarding, and even ice fishing. Throughout the year, visitors will also find a variety of festivals, rodeos, local fairs, arts and crafts shows, and concerts while on vacation. In the cities, there are museums, galleries, and concerts; and outdoor attractions like the Big Sky Waterpark provide plenty of family entertainment.
When planning your trip, it’s best to start by looking at the different regions—north, west, Yellowstone and Glacier parks, and Custer country—for Montana vacation ideas that interest you. This is a big state, and unless you have at least a few weeks to take it in, you may choose to thoroughly explore one area rather than try to fit them all in.
In the western part of Montana, you’ll find Virginia City one of the most important mining towns of the mid 1860s. The World Museum of Mining sits on the actual location of the Orphan Girl Mine and consists of 50 buildings providing an all-day excursion into the world of mining. The Fairmont Hot Springs Resort, located in the Continental Divide, provides superior accommodations while vacationing in the in this part of Montana. Missoula, which is home to the University of Montana campus and is near the Challis and Flathead national forests, also has many options for accommodations.
Northern Montana is one of the prettiest areas in the United States, with 25 million acres of wilderness areas, national forests and rivers, the Continental Divide National Trail, and the historic Lewis and Clark National Trail, which covers more than 2,500 miles. While on vacation, you will experience nature at it best. Kalispell, which is near Whitefish and just outside Glacier National Park, is one of the most scenic cities in the country, and its various hotels and inns make it a great base for exploring the northwestern part of the state. If you’re up for a longer drive, you can even head into Canada or over to the Kootenai National Forest and into Bonners Ferry, Idaho.
The town of West Yellowstone is in southeastern Montana, close to Wyoming, and is the gateway into the western side of Yellowstone National Park. The natural beauty and peace and quiet of the area are the main attractions for those seeking a less hectic vacation. You can go remote backpacking or camp along scenic mountain trails, stay in your RV at well-equipped sites, or relax at one of the many hotels and lodges available within the park. The many lakes provides ample opportunities for fishing, boating, and kayaking while natural attractions abound such as the famous Old Faithful geyser, volcanic craters, and ancient hot springs.
For many history buffs, the Little Bighorn area in southern Montana is the most important destination in the state. One of the most famous battles in US history occurred in this area in June of 1876, when Gen. George Armstrong Custer along with soldiers of the US Army 7th Calvary made a disastrous last stand against thousands of Lakota, Sioux, and Cheyenne during the Indian Wars of the nineteenth century. In this region, you can see the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument acknowledging those who fought in the battle.
Other attractions in the area include Zoo Montana, the Cowboy Hall of Fame, the Great Plains Dinosaur Museum with actual dinosaur bones from the Montana area, and the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse refuge home to the descendants of Spanish horses brought to the area over 200 years ago. For a look way back in history, the Pictograph Cave State Park has examples dating back more than 2,200 years, and more than 30,000 artifacts have been collected here.