Montana Travel and Vacation Guide 2018

Help for Planning Your Trip

“I am in love with Montana,” John Steinbeck wrote in Travels with Charley (1962).  Words that make you want to travel in the Treasure State and see first-hand.   Enjoy!

Montana has a population of about 1,042,520.  Many people are of northern European ancestry, German, Irish, English, and Norwegian.  Native Americans find home here, as well.  With such a sparse population, 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 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 this region.

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 is home to mountain lion and grizzly bear.

Rainfall is low in most areas, ofen 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 winter.

When visiting, get ready for exciting historical and cultural places. Wonderful museums are found in cities, big and small. In the great outdoors, fishing, hiking, camping, and horseback riding are popular activities.  It’s an ideal and fun place to vacation.

Western traditions live on across the state.  Cowboys drive cattle into the mountains to feed on lush summer grasses. Native Americans gather to celebrate their customs in Helena and other cities.  The “Treasure State” is amazingly beautiful and has super 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 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 map of regions
All Montana travel regions offer wonderful activities and attractions for visitors.

Travel regions shown here are based on geographical, historical, and cultural characteristics common to various areas of the state.

 Yellowstone Country

The southeast and south-central region is Yellowstone Country.   Visitors to this region enjoy vast prairies and, in the western section, towering mountains.  Some cities 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.  Billings is a trade, medical, and entertainment center for a vast area including 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 the southwest region is Wonderland.  Tourists flock to this region for outdoor activities, cultural events, and more.  Fun is everywhere.  Some cities 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


The central region is Ranchland.   Rural landscapes here are exceptionally beautiful.  Some cities 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


The northeast and north-central region is Discoveryland.  Early-day explorers in this region followed the mighty Missouri River.   Some cities are Culbertson, Glasgow, Havre, Shelby, and Great Falls.  Great Falls (pop. 59,178) is the largest city. Many people who live in Discoveryland go shopping in Great Falls.   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 

The Wilderness

The northwest region is The Wilderness, an area of wild and pristine landscape.  If one imagines what a wilderness is like, this is the place.  Some cities are Whitefish, Columbia Falls, Kalispell, Polson, and Ronan.   Kalispell (pop. 22,761) is the largest city in the Flathead Valley.  Glacier National Park is the huge attraction in this region. In Glacier, visitors see some of the most spectacular landscape in North America.  The Wilderness.


A digital map shows highways, cities, and waterways.   Use two fingers to navigate on map.  OR hold down control key and scroll.  View map, terrain or satellite images.


 For more information, the state Office of Tourism can be reached at P.O. Box 200553, Helena, MT 59620, or call 800-847-4868.  

When traveling, it’s helpful to check local weather from the Weather Channel.   For information about road conditions, road closures and more dial 511 on your phone.  Another choice is to simply call 800-226-7623.

 Follow Montana Traveler

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.

Motoring is FUN! 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 other highways across the state, 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 the DOJ Web site. Great advice!

Some folks may choose to fly.  Modern airports are found in major cities.  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 cities. Check out Greyhound.   Another choice, travel by train on AMTRAK’S Empire Builder.

Travel tip: Be prepared for large changes in  temperatures even in the same day. This is true for the summer months too.  Many areas 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:   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.

For recreation: Campgrounds | Dude/Guest Ranches | Outfitters and Guides  | State Parks | Golf Courses  | Art Galleries | Museums

Enjoy The Scioto River Band and
Catherine Leigh perform:

“Montana on My Mind”

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

Montana vacation
Information for travel and vacation planning from Montana Traveler.

Montana vacation travel

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Montana, Yellowstone, and Bozeman.