western history and culture two national parks a beer trail and small towns
National Parks Montana is home to two national parks:
Glacier National Park crosses the Continental Divide at Logan Pass, offering breathtaking views and opportunity to see wildlife, the rugged terrain along the way and the many unspoiled lakes on a wooden boat, kayak or canoe, a guided horseback ride, or hiking some of the 700 miles of trails.
The Gateway to Yellowstone National Park in South central Montana and shared with Wyoming and Idaho, Yellowstone is the world’s first national park. Renowned for its geysers, canyons, lakes, waterfalls and wildlife, Yellowstone encompasses 2.2 million acres, of which 7 % are in Montana. Three of the parks five entrances, Cooke City, Gardiner and West Yellowstone are in Montana and provide year-round adventure to this wonderland of nature.
Beartooth Highway extends from the quaint mountain town of Red Lodge and winds its way over the largest true high elevation plateau in North America, all the way to the Northeast Entrance of Yellowstone, near Cooke City; a spectacular 68-mile drive to elevations over 10,000 feet through a land of glaciers, high alpine lakes, glacier-carved cirques, and fragile tundra.
Small Towns and Downtowns
Bozeman in 1864, John Bozeman led a wagon train over Bozeman Pass into the Gallatin Valley, where his friends W. J. Beall and D. E. Rouse staked out the town site for the city of Bozeman. It is considered one of the most diverse small towns in the Rocky Mountains, with a mix of ranchers, artists, professors, ski enthusiasts and entrepreneurs drawn here by Montana’s world-class outdoor recreation.
Billings was established in 1882 with the coming of the Northern Pacific Railroad. Today it is a major shipping center for cattle and other agricultural products and is Montana’s largest city. Known as Montana’s Trailhead, it has access to the Beartooth Mountains, the Yellowstone River and local trails.
Missoula is nestled in the heart of the northern Rockies in the western part of the state. Home to the country’s largest smokejumper base, the historic downtown features classic early-century buildings and unique galleries, shops and restaurants. All three are excellent year-round bases to explore Montana.
Butte is a melting pot of ethnicities and culture that shape it to this day. From all corners of the world, immigrants came to this tough mining town, created distinct neighborhoods, and brought with them the cultural heritage of their native countries of Ireland, Wales, China, Croatia, Italy, Serbia, Lebanon, England, Canada, and Finland. Butte’s very placement near the crest of the Continental Divide is unique. The sheer elevation of nearly 6,000 feet makes the journey to the city a challenge. The terrain of the city is a dichotomy between “the flats,” a stretch of even terrain that spreads south, and Uptown Butte, the face of the city that saw growth in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
Western History and Culture
Custer’s Last Stand took place at the Little Big Horn in 1876 when the US 7th Cavalry Regiment led by Lt. Colonel George Armstrong Custer battled the Sioux and Cheyenne. Native American powwows such as North American Indian Days in Browning or Crow Fair in Hardin welcome visitors and give a glimpse into their traditional customs, dance and music.
Ranch Vacations the state has many unique guest ranches of different types: dude, working, or luxury resort ranches that offer a diverse array of activities from horseback riding to fly fishing, spa treatments to gourmet meals, hiking to rafting.
Rodeos are held all summer throughout Montana providing insight into past and present cowboy life. All rodeos, large or small, professional or down-home celebrations, are family friendly events.
Montana‘s vast farmland provides ample area for wheat and hops production and is home to 53 breweries, the most per capita in the country. Experience a walking brewery tour in historic downtown Billings where six breweries and one distillery are within walking distance of each other. Or tour the Bitterroot Valley south of Missoula and try seasonal varieties. Taste samples of brews such as Mountain Man Stout, Pigs Ass Porter or Coldsmoke throughout the state at many local craft breweries, each with their own special brews and character.