Montana — Things to Do
Montana epitomizes the American Wild West. It is a vast open land of rugged Rocky Mountains peaks and rolling prairie that invites people with a hankering for adventure to see what they can find. With so few people here and so much space to roam, visitors will truly feel like they have the state all to themselves. Montana is the perfect place to go backpacking, hiking, mountain biking, fishing, boating, hunting, and just about any other activity they can conjure up. And that’s just things to do in the summer. Winters open up world-class ski resorts, snowmobiling trails and other snowy recreation.
You can go as wild and remote as you want or take it easy on the doorstep of pleasant mountain towns and cities. The residents are almost universally outdoorsy types, so you’ll be in good company. There are excellent professional guides with intimate knowledge of Montana's sweet spots whether you need hands-on wisdom or just a good map and a suggestion.
The entire western side of Montana is virtually covered in national forests and state lands like Glacier National Park and the Flathead National Forest. The hiking and backpacking here is some of the best in the planet, with big horn sheep, grizzly bears and other amazing wildlife to go with the scenery. You can go at it alone if you feel confident though companies like Big Wild Adventures will ensure you make it out in one piece.
In the winter, these same epic mountains transform into ski and snowboard meccas, boasting reliably deep powder and a dozen great resorts to choose from. Big Sky just outside of Bozeman is arguably the best hill in Montana, though Whitefish can hold it's own too. The cross-country skiing is also superb, with resorts like Swan Mountain Outfitters leading a range of backcountry tours.
Another popular winter activity is snowmobiling which is fed by more than 3,000 miles of dedicated backcountry trails. The Seeley Lake Valley and West Yellowstone areas are two of the most popular places to rent gear and spend a day or two exploring the winter wonderland of Montana’s wilderness. Check out Silver Bow Outfitters for fun around Kalispell and Libby or Pine Hills Outfitters to experience the lovely Sawn Valley region of western Montana.
The classic movie A River Runs Through highlights the pleasures of fly fishing in Montana, and that was no Hollywood hyperbole. The entire state is renowned for its world-class blue ribbon streams filled with six species of native trout, salmon, perch, bass, and pike. Helena’s Montana Fishing Outfitters is well-established and able to arrange fishing trips and licenses to dozens of rivers.
Another great way to enjoy Montana in the summer is by boating on one of the pristine lakes. Flathead Lake is one of America’s largest freshwater lakes, surrounded by several fun resort towns like Kalispell and Whitefish. You can actually sail Flathead Lake with rentals available at the marina or hire a guide like Silver Bow Outfitters out of Libby for a rafting adventure along the Kootenai River.