11 Most Famous Historical Sites and Landmarks To Visit In Montana (2023)
With the richness of its landscape beauty and grandness, Montana also flaunts its luxuriance of history. Montana became a U.S. State in the year 1889, November 8th. However, the history of the region goes for even centuries before that. From the first settlers to protective traditions, railroad construction, the gold rush, and more, Montana has so much stored in the form of history and past. No wonder this mineral-rich State is still referred to as “The Treasure State.”
Over the last century, Montana has grown as a strong territory and a State that attracts a high number of tourists. You may love exploring landmarks between landscapes or spending a chilly day inside the historical museum; there is so much to do every single day. Montana has 28 national historic landmarks, 10 national natural landmarks, historic battlefields, and over one thousand entries in the National Historic Register of Historic Places for the millions of annual visitors. If you find even a slight bit of interest in any region’s history, you got to read our choicest picks for Popular historic sites in Montana.
11 Most Famous Historical Sites and Landmarks To Visit In Montana
Have a look:
1. Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument
The Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument is undoubtedly Montana’s most important and popular historical attraction. It was once the 7th Regiment of the U.S. Cavalry, in the 19th century. Back in the time, during the war between U.S. Military and the American Indian tribe, over 260 cavalry troops were killed here. It was the single worst defeat of the U.S. Calvary in the entire West. Though simultaneously, it was the greatest victory of the Native Americans. Today history buffs can walk on the memorial ground or the visitors center from inside. The attraction operates year-round but stays closed on National (Religious) festivals.
2. St. Ignatius Catholic Mission
Built back in 1983, the St. Ignatius Catholic Mission is one of Montana’s oldest continuously running missions. Regarded in the National Register of Historic places, the Mission is known for its spiritual significance and beauty. This simple-looking structure is basically an example of vernacular and Gothic revival architecture. Even the bricks you see here were made from native clay. The highlight and most stunning feature here are the 58 murals. Further, inside the Mission, there are impressive paintings of scenes from both the latest and historic testaments. Once done with the time in Mission, do visit the little souvenir shop on the log cabin beside. Here you will find some interesting rosaries and Catholic prayer items.
3. Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site
Grant-Kohrs Ranch was once a functioning cattle ranch but a preserved National historic site today. It celebrates the growth and evolution of the cattle industry in America. The ranch was originally built back in 1862 and was under operation (different owners) till 1958. At one point of time during the 19th century also worked as the headquarters for a massive cattle grazing operation. Today, history buffs visiting here can get their first experience of life on the ranch. Walking tours here are operated both self-paced and guided. You may find a cowboy, a blacksmith busy in his business, and several other individuals bringing the old ranch to life with their interpretation. No wonder hundreds of millions of visitors come here every year.
4. The Montana Dinosaur Center
One of the well-known historic anywhere in the world undoubtedly are the dinosaurs. And this fascinating element awaits your way in Montana. The dinosaur center in Montana is home to the longest dinosaur skeletal model, a Diplodocus, in the world (as claimed and believed). Not only that, but you will also find the first baby dinosaur bones collected anywhere in North America here. Or, the display of hadrosaurs, ceratopsians, and tyrannosaurs, basically new species of different dinosaur varietals too, are seen here. Besides the display, another highlight here is working alongside paleontologists and the active dinosaur dig site. For anyone who is interested in this field, this is a must-visit attraction in Montana.
5. The Hanging Site of George Ives
The Hanging Site of George Ives is a sight where one of the significant though the disheartening incident took place. George Ives was a member of a famous criminal gang, the Gang of Innocents. Back in 1963, he was killed by a pre-statehood group of individuals known as the Montana Vigilantes. What made it more brutal was this entire conviction and killing went for about an hour, and nearly 2,000 people watched him hang and die. Even today, the Hanging Site of George Ives is the most extraordinary trail in Montana’s history, and every year, several individuals pay their visit here.
6. Pompeys Pillar National Monument
Located on the banks of the Yellowstone River, the Pompeys Pillar is a popular historic site in Montana. It is basically a sandstone rock formation rising 120 feet high. Since the beginning of the human occupation, for over 10,000 years, this rock has been used as an observation point. Today, upon observing it closely, you will observe assorted graffiti, petroglyphs, pictographs, both historical and latest. These are more than 5000 in number and quite interesting to watch. No doubt more than 50,000 visitors come here annually. Close by, there is even a visitor center that narrates the tales of Pompeys Pillar and the native tribe who once lived here.
7. The World Museum of Mining
One of the very few Mining museums that are actually located at a Mine yard, the World Museum of Mining, is extremely interesting. Located across the Orphan Girl Mine, that museum is home to 60 exhibits all about Mining. Upon visiting here, one can go touring a reconstructed 1890’s mining town. Or step down 100 feet underground and explore mines to learn about the real-time conditions miners have had to face or are still facing. Besides that, visitors can also go for guided paranormal tours where guides share stories of spooky and unexplained events at the mine. You may approve or disapprove of these stories, but they are extremely interesting.
8. The Old Montana Prison Museum
Inside the Old Montana Prison Complex, the Old Prison Museum is a part of five unique museums inside the historic prison walls. Inside, there are Montana Auto Museum, Frontier Montana Museum, Powell County Museum, and Yesterday’s Playthings. What makes the sight historically important is the 1800s prison building/ complex. The prison walls then were built 24 feet high and buried 4 feet deep. However, this was meant for escaping via underground tunnels and was a big hit. Upon visiting here, you can walk through their austere cell blocks and maximum-security cells and feel the chill of prisoners. The prison had its first prisoner in 1871, whereas the last was in 1979. The best part about visiting this place is that visitors can explore everything literally for one fee. And undoubtedly, no single museum or exhibit will ever leave you disappointed.
9. Caves in the Pictograph State Park
When they claim that Montana’s history goes centuries back, they aren’t actually wrong. The Pictograph State Park in Montana is home to three caves which were the region’s first professional archaeological studies. Today, these caves are over 2100 years old, claimed as home to generations of prehistoric hunters. The three main caves are named Pictograph, Middle, and Ghost cave. Each of them was carved from the Eagle sandstone cliff with water and wind’s force. What attracts history buffs here aren’t just the caves but the rock art and artifacts as well. There are images of warriors, riffles, animals. Or you will observe thousands of artifacts, including instruments, stone tools, weapons, paintings, etc. These caves are wide and deep, and visitors are advised to bring along binoculars to better view pictography.
10. The Montana Bar
The Montana Bar is a historic bar and by far the best-preserved example of an authentic western bar in the region. It was opened back in 1908 with a gorgeous Italian tile floor, cherry-wood tables, big dark booths, steer heads, and taxidermy. Upon your visit here, you can enjoy a true old west atmosphere, great hospitality, and splendid western art. Most of the elements here are still the originals from the time of establishment, which makes everything interesting. Or picking out the historic elements aside, it is truly one great place to drink, eat, chill and enjoy.
11. The Bale of Hay Saloon
The Bale of Hay Saloon is the oldest watering hole and pub in the State of Montana. It has been in business since 1863 though today it is owned by the Montana Heritage Commission. Several different groups and individuals have run it during the annual summer high season. Today both history buffs and beer lovers often pay a visit to sit and soak into the vibe here. The place operates daily from noon through Midnight. It also operates nighty ghost tours that leave at 10 pm. Spirits of all kinds (both liquid and spooky) are known to be found here.