Montana, an Adventure Begins

Montana is tops for visitors, whether for business travel or a vacation.  Discover attractions and things to do on this Web site.  Find hotels, resorts, museums, and much more in Montana.

In a classic tale of adventure about a trip across America, 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, and it’s difficult to analyze love when you’re in it.”  Words like this by the master of storytelling make you want to go and see first-hand.   Enjoy!

Montana has spectacular mountains, vast prairie lands, and beautiful forests. Wild rivers and streams are filled with rainbow trout and other fishes.  Elk, antelope, and other wildlife are common in Montana.

Many Native American tribes called the region that was later to become Montana their home, before the West was settled by people of European descent.   In the early days, Montana’s Native Americans enjoyed and lived off the fruits of the land, especially buffalo. 

Shortly after the famous Lewis and Clark Expedition, 1804-1806, mountain men and prospectors arrived to seek riches. Later, homesteaders settled the land. In the 1870s, large cattle ranches developed in many areas of Montana Territory.

Montana has a population of about 1,042,520 (largely of northern European ancestry, German, Irish, English, and Norwegian), plus a large population of Native Americans and a few people of Hispanic and other origins. Montana is sparsely populated, with the population scattered over a huge area, 147,000 square miles. There’s plenty of room to roam, in the countryside and in the cities. 


Click on map for a more detailed view.

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 is 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.The wild and pristine landscape of western Montana is home to mountain lions, and grizzly bears.

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. 

Glacier National Park, located in northwest Montana, is a land of great beauty. Tourists enjoy the park’s many beautiful glacier-carved mountains.

Yellowstone National Park, the nation’s first national park, straddles the border of Montana and Wyoming (with most of the park being in northwest Wyoming). Geysers, waterfalls, and other natural wonders make Yellowstone the special place it is.  Wildlife is abundant in Yellowstone.

Both Glacier and Yellowstone are primary vacation destinations for many visitors.

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 and ideal and fun place to vacation.

“Old West” traditions live on in Montana. Cowboys drive cattle high up into the mountains to feed on lush summer grasses. Indians, in full native dress, gather to celebrate their customs at the Lewis and Clark County fairgrounds in Helena and other cities around the state.

Population of Major Montana Cities

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 is the “Treasure State.” This slogan symbolizes the state’s rich gold and silver deposits. True to its history, Montana is a genuine treasure, an amazing natural wonderland with friendly people.


Be current on Twitter: MontanaTraveler

Remember, 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.   The National Atlas of the United State of America has a nice reference map of MontanaA Montana vacation Planning Kit is available free from The Montana Office of Tourism, P.O. Box 200553, Helena, MT 59620. Or call 800-847-4868



 Yellowstone Country

Southeast and south-central Montana is Yellowstone Country.  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

Gold Country

Southwest Montana is Gold Country.  Some cities in this region are Bozeman, Dillon, Hamilton, Butte, and Missoula. Bozeman and Missoula are the major cities in Gold Country.  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.  Gold Country


Central Montana is Ranchland.   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.  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 

Wilderness Country

Northwest Montana is Wilderness Country.  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 big attraction in this area of Montana. In the park, visitors see some of the most spectacular landscape in North America.  Wilderness Country.

Travel Information

Map Montana: a free highway map, produced by the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT), shows highways, cities, and waterways.  In addition, the map shows cultural and physical features.  Visit Montana distributes a highway map and a Vacation Planning Kit. Call 1-800-847-4868.  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.

Mileage Table

Missoula to                                       Billings to

Kalispell 115 Bozeman 142
Butte 120 Butte 224
Bozeman 202 Missoula 339
Helena 115 Helena 224
Great Falls 169 Kalispell 420
Billings 339 Great Falls 219
Lewistown 274 Lewistown 128
Glendive 520 Glendive 222

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 tips: 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.

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.

Montana: Campgrounds | Dude/Guest Ranches | Outfitters and Guides  | State Parks | Golf Courses  | Art Galleries | MuseumsChurches 

 Welcome –  Willkommen – Bienvenu – いらっしゃい – Bienvenido


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Copyright © 2017 John Sandy

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3 thoughts on “Montana, an Adventure Begins”

  1. Canoe or Kayak on Jefferson River in western Montana.

    A trip down the Jefferson River by canoe or kayak is an experience of a lifetime. Contact the Canoeing House, 11227 U.S. Highway 287, Three Forks, Montana 59752. (406) 285-3488.
    Canoeing House

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Montana Travel: Best in 2017