If you think of mighty mountains, epic outdoor activities and vibrant mountain towns, a Montana holiday is exactly that. Home to both Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks, this state straddles the Rocky Mountains in the west, and leads into sweeping plains in the east. A hub of university towns have drawn creative and innovative businesses to the state in recent years, birthing a boom in the arts and hospitality sectors, which provides a quirky alternative to the ever popular wilderness. Pack your hiking boots, camera and appetite for adventure and you’ll quickly fall in love with Montana.
The great outdoors is what draws most visitors to Montana. Straddling the borders between Montana, Wyoming and Idaho, Yellowstone National Park is the number one attraction. Situated atop a supervolcano, Yellowstone is home to more geothermal features than anywhere else on earth. In the north of the state is the Rocky Mountains is Glacier National Park, famous for its winding, photogenic Going-to-the-Sun Road, and myriad hiking trails. Visitors also hit the road to experience the wide open skies of the Great Plains, explore authentic 1800s ghost towns like Bannack State Park and Nevada City, or head to the mountains in Big Sky for fresh powder and uncrowded ski runs. Montana’s major towns are worth a look in too. Bozeman has built itself as a creative and tech hub, while in Missoula you can visit the Missoula Smokejumpers base - an elite group of wildland firefighters who parachute into remote areas to combat fires. Whitefish, at the base of Glacier National Park is a vibrant outdoor adventure hub, with excellent skiing and mountain biking, stand up paddle boarding, and even dude ranches for a day of trail riding. If paleontology piques your interest, Montana is also home to a number of dinosaur digs, with many major discoveries made here. You can take a closer look at the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman.
Eat and Drink
Dining in Montana is perhaps surprisingly cosmopolitan. Despite the smaller size of its major cities, you’ll easily find an eclectic mix of cuisines. In Whitefish, be sure to try the famous huckleberry pie at Loula’s cafe. In Bozeman you’ll be spoilt for choice of craft breweries, and coffee roasteries, while in celebrity-favourite Big Sky, locavore dining with an emphasis on foraging is a highlight. Be sure to call in at one of the many mountain distilleries, and feast on a hearty meal at a traditional saloon while rubbing shoulders with the locals.
Where to stay
Montana is cowboy country, so no visit would be complete without experiencing a Dude Ranch. Stay in a glamping tent or cabin and experience horse riding, hiking and wildlife watching. A lodge stay in Yellowstone or Glacier National Park is an authentic experience too, while there are plenty of boutique options and resort style offerings from town to town.
Montana like a local
The change in seasons is nothing short of dramatic in Montana, but the drastic weather doesn’t stop the locals from enjoying the great outdoors year round. In winter Montana’s ski slopes are some of the best in the world, with incredible off-piste options. The best part however, is that even the popular resorts are barely busy thanks to the sheer number of runs available. In Bozeman’s main street, there is even a light atop a hotel that flashes blue when there’s powder falling on the Bridger Bowl ski area just outside of town.
Come summer, join the locals for a spot of fly fishing, stand up paddle boarding on Whitefish Lake, or if cycling is your thing, join a group heading up the Going-to-the-Sun Road before it opens to vehicles in late June/early July.