One of the most beautiful locations for Americans to vacation at is the state of Montana. Montana offers an incredible amount of things to do, places to see, and areas to experience. From the many historical sites found throughout the state to the splendor of some of the world’s most famous natural areas, Montana is a great place for almost anyone to vacation in. The state is even more though for those who have an appreciation for, or a desire to spend time in, the great outdoors.
Montana has always placed a great deal of importance on it’s outdoor treasures, protecting large sections of land as early as it’s earliest days of development. Much of the state of Montana’s forests and mountain areas have been set aside for the enjoyment of not only it’s residents, but also the guests who head there each year to experience everything Big Sky Country has to offer. The communities of Montana are friendly and inviting, many of them offering remote and somewhat secluded vacationing opportunities.
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1. The Montana Historical Society
Amazingly, the Montana Historical Society was established in 1865. Since that time it has been dedicated to preserving, protecting, and displaying the history of the state of Montana. From it’s early days as a wild frontier to it’s current time as one of the last areas of America that features such wide open spaces, the Montana Historical Society can tell the whole story of this fascinating and beautiful place. The Montana Historical Society is found in the state’s capital, Helena, and is located in the popular Capitol Complex area.
2. Our Lady of the Rockies
One of the more surprising and shocking attractions that visitors to the state of Montana come across is the Our Lady of the Rockies statue just outside the city of Butte. Construction on the statue started in 1979 and it was put into place on the continental divide overlooking the town in 1984 by helicopter. The statue is 90 feet tall, making it America’s second tallest statue, and depicts Mary, the mother of Jesus. The statue can be viewed from below in a number of locations as well as visited high in the mountains after a bus trip.
3. Glacier National Park
Tucked away in the northwest corner of Montana is one of the most fantastically beautiful national parks that the United States has to offer. Glacier National Park has an incredible amount of things to do for everyone that goes there, from enjoying the scenery from the roadside or picnic area to hiking and exploring the forested areas of the park. With over one million acres of land covered within the park’s boundaries, Glacier National Park is one of the largest protected park lands in the United States.
4. Big Sky Ski Resort
Some of the finest snow skiing in the United States can be enjoyed at the Big Sky Ski Resort in Big Sky, Montana. The closest large city to the resort is Bozeman in Central Montana. Although it is a resort area specifically tied to skiing, it is also popular in the off season months because of the beautiful views and surroundings, as well as the hiking available in the area. There are few areas in Montana that combine such wonderful natural beauty with the creature comforts of a resort too.
5. Yellowstone National Park
While Yellowstone National Park is most often associated with the state of Wyoming, there is a small northern portion of the park that extends into the state of Montana. This area of the park is well worth visiting during all months of the year and has many similarly beautiful natural areas as the rest of the park, but has a lot lower attendance, meaning that there is more room for visitors to stretch out and less crowds to deal with. Yellowstone National Park, whether in Wyoming or Montana, is something that every American with a decent appreciation for the outdoors should see at least once in their life.
6. Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument
The site of one of the most famous battles ever to occur on American soil, the Battle of the Little Bighorn has been told about in book, on television, and in film. There is nothing though like experiencing it firsthand, and that is what a visit to the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument provides for the travelers heading there. Once on the site it is possible to walk through the visitor’s center, trace the movements of different units and members of the Union forces involved either on foot or by car, and visit Custer National Cemetery which is found right on the battlefield. Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument is something that can be enjoyed and appreciated by a great many people with a great many interests.
7. The Moss Mansion
Located in the city of Billings, the Moss Mansion is a wonderful place to visit and see some of the finest examples of what life was like in the the late 1800s for the residents of Montana who were members of the upper class. The architecture of the building is extremely beautiful and that should not be too much of a surprise considering that the same person that designed the Moss Mansion also designed the Waldorf Astoria, Plaza Hotel, and Dakota Apartments in New York City. The mansion is open for guided tours, and making a visit there is like walking right into a history book. There are a phenomenal amount of historic artifacts on view and the rooms have been painstakingly preserved to look much the way they did during the home’s glory days.
8. Flathead Lake
Located in northwest Montana, south of Kalispell and north of Missoula, is one of the largest lakes in the United States. The lake is home to a wonderful amount of outdoor recreational possibilities including fishing, water skiing, boating, personal watercraft operation, and more. The area surrounding the lake is largely undeveloped, making it an extremely beautiful and appreciable place to visit. There are boat tours on watercraft of all sizes available to the public, as well as a way to drive around the entire lake via two different state highways. One visit to Flathead Lake and it is easy to see why it is such a popular destination regardless of the time of year.
9. Going-to-the-Sun Road
Found inside Glacier National Park, Going-to-the-Sun Road is such an important, popular, and fabulous attraction that it deserves to be listed separately as well. Construction on this amazing road began in 1921 and though it covers just 53 miles, it was not completed until 1932. The road crosses the entire width of the park and along the way passes through or by a number of worthwhile places to stop and view the local surroundings. Going-to-the-Sun Road was an amazing engineering accomplishment when it was completed, and that is still easy to appreciate today. Visitors can choose to drive the road themselves or they can elect to instead book passage on any of the large red antique tour buses that depart from the visitor’s center and travel on different sections of the road. Some of the finest scenery in all of Glacier National Park can be seen from Going-to-the-Sun Road.
10. Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail Interpretive Center
Located just outside of the community of Great Falls is the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail Interpretive Center. Here children and adults alike can learn pretty much everything there is to know about Merriwether Lewis, William Clark, the Corps of Discovery, and their trip from back east to the Pacific Ocean. The interpretive center offers a number of historical displays detailing the events of the trek across the nation and also offers a glimpse into some of experiences these brave souls endured.
There are a number of regularly scheduled programs that people can watch during different times of the year ranging from musical performances to re-enactments of parts of the excursion. What can be learned at the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail Interpretive Center goes far beyond this amazing expedition though, as a great deal of energy and space is devoted to learning about the Plains and Northwest Indian cultures that the explorers came into contact with. Easily one of the most fascinating and interesting places in the state of Montana is the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail Interpretive Center.
While a beach vacation in Hawaii or a Caribbean cruise may be a better known, more popular, and higher profile vacation; a trip into or through the state of Montana offers many things that those cannot. A Montana vacation allows a visitor to gain an even bigger appreciation for not only the large open spaces the United States still has, but what the American West must have looked like when it was first being settled. There are many things to enjoy during a visit to Montana including national parks, state parks, national forests, historical sites, landmarks, small towns, museums, monuments, and more. A visit to Montana is the kind of vacation that any traveler lucky enough to make the trip will remember for the rest of their life.