Montana travel is pure fun, whether on vacation or a business trip.
John Steinbeck in Travels with Charley (1962) wrote, “I am in love with Montana. For other states I have admiration, respect, recognition, even some affection, but with Montana it is love…” Enough said to make you want to go and see first-hand. Enjoy!
The population of Montana is about 1,042,520. Many people are of northern European ancestry, German, Irish, English, and Norwegian. Native Americans call Montana home, as well. Montana is sparsely populated, so there’s plenty of room to roam, in the countryside and in the cities.
Eastern Montana is an area of vast rolling plains. Grasslands with few trees dominate the landscape. Huge wheat farms and cattle ranches are common in eastern Montana.
In central Montana, the plains are dotted with small mountain ranges.Cattle ranching and farming are a way of life. Mule deer and antelope roam the prairies throughout eastern and central Montana.
Western Montana is a region of magnificent mountains. Welcome to the Rocky Mountains. The Absaroka Range near Livingston is covered with snow much of the year and peaks reach over 11,000 feet in elevation. National forest lands offer myriad recreational opportunities. The wild and pristine landscape of western Montana is home to mountain lion and grizzly bear.
Rainfall is low in most areas of Montana, often less than 13 inches, annually. Temperatures in western mountain valleys are generally moderate the year-round. In eastern areas, on the plains, days can be very hot in the summer and very cold in the winter.
Montana has exciting historical and cultural places. Wonderful museums are found in cities, big and small. In the great Montana outdoors, fishing, hunting, camping, and skiing are popular activities. It’s an ideal and fun place to vacation.
Western traditions live on in Montana. Cowboys drive cattle high up into the mountains to feed on lush summer grasses. Native Americans gather to celebrate their customs in Helena and other cities around the state. Montana is the “Treasure State” an amazing natural wonderland with friendly people.
Planning travel for a vacation is half the fun of being there. This Web site is packed with information about things to do, attractions, lodging and much more.
Population of Major Montana Cities and Towns
Major cities: •Billings, pop. 110,323 •Missoula, pop. 72,364 •Bozeman, pop. 45,250 •Helena, pop. 31,169 •Great Falls, pop. 59,178 •Butte, pop. 34,553
•Glendive, pop. 5,332 •Kalispell, pop. 22,761 •Miles City, pop. 8,647 •Lewistown, pop. 5,870 •Havre, pop. 9.846 •Dillon, pop. 4,257
MONTANA TRAVEL REGIONS
Travel regions shown here are based on geographical, historical, and cultural characteristics common to various areas of Montana. Regions designated by Montana Traveler.
Southeast and south-central Montana is Yellowstone Country. Visitors to this region enjoy the beauty of vast prairies and the region is a gateway, toward the west, to the Rocky Mountains. Some cities in this region are Billings, Glendive, Miles City, Forsyth, Red Lodge, and Livingston. Billings (pop. 110,323) is the chief city along I-90 and the upper Yellowstone Valley in south-central Montana. Billings is a trade, medical, and entertainment center for all of eastern Montana and the Bighorn Basin in Wyoming. Billings is a good base from which to make forays to major attractions in the region. Yellowstone National Park, the Little Big Horn Battlefield National Monument, and Cody, Wyoming are not far from Billings Yellowstone Country
It’s easy to say that southwest Montana is Wonderland. Tourists flock to this region for outdoor activities, cultural events, and more. Fun is everywhere. Some cities in this region are Bozeman, Dillon, Hamilton, Butte, and Missoula. Bozeman and Missoula are the major cities in Wonderland. Bozeman (pop. 45,250) is located in the Gallatin Valley, surrounded by magnificent mountain ranges. The Gallatin Range and the Madison Range, south of Bozeman, rise more than 10,000 feet and have peaks covered with snow much of the year. Missoula (pop. 72,364) is home to the University of Montana and the mighty Grizzlies. Wonderland
Central Montana is Ranchland. This region is rural Montana at its best. Some cities in this region are Lewistown, Roundup, Townsend, and Helena. Helena (pop. 31,169) is a friendly town with lots to offer visitors. An early day gold mining camp, it’s now the state capital and a major tourist center. The main part of town lies at the foot of the mountains and overlooks the beautiful Helena Valley. The entire Helena Valley is rimmed by mountains on all sides. Ranchland
Northeast and north-central Montana is Discoveryland. Early-day explorers in Montana followed the mighty Missouri River across this region. Some cities are Culbertson, Glasgow, Havre, Shelby, and Great Falls. Great Falls (pop. 59,178) is the largest city in north-central Montana. Most people who live in the region go to Great Falls for shopping. Holiday Village, the main mall in Great Falls, with over 80 stores, is located south of the downtown area on 10th Avenue South. Barnes & Noble bookstore is in the same area of town. Discoveryland
Northwest Montana is The Wilderness, an area of wild and pristine landscape. If one imagines what a wilderness is like, this region is the place. Some cities in this region are Whitefish, Columbia Falls, Kalispell, Polson, and Ronan. Kalispell (pop. 22,761) is the largest city in the Flathead Valley in northwest Montana. Glacier National Park is the huge attraction in this area of Montana. In Glacier, visitors see some of the most spectacular landscape in North America. The Wilderness.
Map of Montana: a free highway map, produced by Visit Montana, shows highways, cities, and waterways. A Montana Guidebook: published by National Geographic is excellent and very helpful for travelers. For more information the Montana Office of Tourism, can be reached at P.O. Box 200553, Helena, MT 59620, or call 800-847-4868.
Before traveling, it’s helpful to check Montana’s road condition report and the weather from the Weather Channel. MDT’s traveler information system offers information on bad weather driving conditions, road construction, and road closures. Call 1-800-226-7623.
Travel tip: Montana is far away from all major population centers in the U.S. and Canada. Still it is possible for many folks to drive to Montana in one day. Sometimes it’s a long day! Day trips are possible, such as: Seattle to Bozeman; Minneapolis or Winnipeg to Glendive; Salt Lake City to Kalispell; Calgary to Great Falls; Portland to Missoula; and Denver to Billings.
Missoula to Billings to
Source: Mileage data from Montana Department of Transportation. The M DT Web page has a link to the department’s mileage calculator for computing mileage between other Montana cities.
Motoring is FUN in Montana! The speed limit is posted on the DOJ Web site. On U.S. Highway 93 in western Montana traffic is heavy, so drive carefully and watch for changes in the speed limit. Traffic is light on many of Montana’s highways, however, so there’s plenty of opportunity to see and enjoy the spectacular scenery very common in every travel region.
“Montana’s curvy, mountainous roads and weather—which can change quickly even during summer months—require drivers to be alert to conditions at all times and to adjust speeds accordingly,” warns the Montana DOJ Web site. Great advice!
Some folks may choose to fly to Montana. Modern airports are found in Montana’s major cities. The Billings (BIL), Bozeman (BZN), Missoula (MSO), Helena (HLN), Kalispell (FCA), Butte (BTM), and Great Falls (GTF) airports are especially nice and all are served by major airlines and conveniently located near downtown areas. Booking flights on Expedia or other travel Web site is easy. Bus transportation is available for many Montana cities. Check out Greyhound. Another choice, travel across Montana by train on AMTRAK’S Empire Builder.
Travel tip: Montana is in the Mountain time zone. When entering Montana from the east, one’s watch should be set back one hour. When entering Montana from the west, one’s watch should be set ahead one hour. Don’t forget to call 800-847-4868 to get a free map of Montana.
Travel tip: Be prepared for large changes in temperatures even in the same day. This is true for the summer months too. Many areas of Montana are at a high elevation and the state is far north. Think chilly or cold. The best advice is to take along clothing to “layer up” when conditions change. During the summer a wool sweater and a spring- or fall-like jacket of medium-weight is a good choice.
Travel tip: Montana has a single area code for the entire state: 406. When using search engines, combining the area code as a search term with a business name or more generally, any keyword(s), is a good strategy for making direct phone connections with travel-related businesses in Montana.
Travel tip: Google Maps are a traveler’s best friend. When navigating city streets, searching highway routes, or locating hotels and other businesses, you can depend on Google Maps. Be sure to download the app for Google Maps and place the icon for Google Maps on the first screen of your smartphone for quick reference.
Enjoy The Scioto River Band and
Catherine Leigh perform:
Welcome – Willkommen – Bienvenu
– いらっしゃい – Bienvenido