If you are traveling through western Montana, mountains will
be your constant companions. The Beartooth Mountains, the Absaroka
Range, the Ruby Range, the Pioneer Mountains, the Madison Range-
I could fill this page just with the names of mountain ranges
in Montana. This is not an exageration. This is the place to
come if you want day after day of scenic drives.
Montana is also the place to come to get away from the crowds.
It is the third largest state in the U.S., larger than many countries,
and yet has less than a million residents. There are tens of
millions of acres of public lands, much of it in the same state
as it was hundreds of years ago. You can easily find dayhikes
in the mountains where you won't find another person all day.
The most famous park in Montana is Yellowstone National Park.
It is, of course, primarily in Wyoming, but the northern edge
of the park is in Montana. If you have the opportunity, enter
or exit Yellowstone by way of the north entrance. Highway 89,
up to Livingston, is worth the drive. The Absaroka Mountains
rise up precipitously on your east side, while the ranchlands
to the west give way to the Gallatin Range. The highway winds
along the valley bottom with the Yellowstone river.
Yellowstone, however you approach it, is one of the most geologically
unique places you will see. With mountains, geysers, colorful
mineral springs, large waterfalls, bubbling mud pots, and more,
you won't be disappointed. The wildlife is amazing as well, and
includes grizzly bears, buffalo, moose, antelope, and wolves.
Much of the wildlife can be seen from the road. For more information
on the park, visit the Yellowstone National Park Website.
One of the most beautiful parks in the world, in the opinion
of my wife and myself, is Montana's Glacier National Park, on
the border of Canada. Going-To-The-Sun-Road will be one of your
favorite drives through mountains. For more information, go to
the page "Glacier
National Park Vacations," or visit the Glacier National Park Website.
Montana Mountain Towns
Montana has many small towns in the mountains worth visiting.
Anaconda, for example, is a town surrounded by mountains, where
you can golf at The Old Works Golf Course (designed by Jack Nicholas),
play nickel slot machines and fish from downtown bridges. A movie
in the Washoe Theater (named the fifth most beautiful theater
in the country by the Smithsonian Institution) will cost you
only $3, and if you really like the town, you can buy a nice
home for under $30,000. Skiing is fifteen miles away, Fairmont
Hotsprings Resort seven miles the other way, and a laundromat
that serves drinks right downtown. For more information, use
this link to Anaconda.
Other great small towns of Montana include Philipsburg (a
great scenic drive from Anaconda), Red Lodge, Dillon, and Hamilton.
There are no big cities in the state, and virtually all of the
towns in the western half of the Montana are in a scenic setting.
Mountains are always part of the view.
Finding Your Way Through The Mountains
One of the best resources I've come across for traveling around
the state, is the Montana Atlas and Gazetteer. It has 95 detailed
maps that show even the smallest dirt roads, and many hiking
trails. In addition, it lists all the ski areas, scenic drives,
campgrounds and wildlife viewing areas of the state. It has extensive
information and maps for Glacier National Park, and lists all
the national forests, BLM lands, and State Lands.
If you like to fish, it has details on the best stretches
of the best fishing rivers in Montana. There is a section that
describes over forty hiking trails in the state, with directions
on how to get to them. Thirty unique natural features (such as
the "Chinese Wall", a 1000-foot high, 12-mile long
cliff), are described, as well as over forty historic sites and
museums. It is great to be able to see mountains, find them on
the map, and actually get elevation information. Finally, for
those of you into high-tech gadgets, the guide has GPS grids
on each map, so you can precisely locate everything.
10 Cheap Vacations