9 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions In Montana That You Cannot Miss (2023)
The fourth-largest American State (by land), Montana is wild, natural, and untamed. A haven for outdoor enthusiasts, the existence of Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks here are just the glimpse, though the real picture is even grander. Locals and travelers who have been here refer Montana as the ‘Big Sky Country. Why? Because of its rugged otherworldly beauty, thin population, and a smaller number of skyscrapers, the sky here looks bigger than any other state in the west. Even though Montana has an immense number of indoor attractions, the dominance of outdoors and adventure is still visible here.
Montana has endless nicknames. It is known as ‘Land of the Shining Mountains,’ the ‘Treasure State,’ and the ‘Last Best Place.’ The state also offers an excellent mix of both Old World and New World charms through its wealth of Victorian mansions and Wild West remnants. Whenever one sees or reads about Montana, the state picturizes itself as the next getaway. It is something you cannot let go of, especially after knowing the charm. Hence, if you too carry a similar feeling, go through our list of Montana’s most popular tourist attractions and plan your next trip. Have a look:
9 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions In Montana That You Cannot Miss
1. Yellowstone National Park
When visiting Montana, the Yellowstone National Park isn’t a place you must dare to miss. Spread over 2.2 million acres, the National Park is bigger than the states of Rhode Island and Delaware combined. While its maximum is within Wyoming, Montana, too, receives the fair share of Yellowstone. There are two access zones, the North Entrance and the West Entrance. The North Entrance is in Gardiner, Montana, and is accessible with a drive through Paradise Valley from Bozeman. In contrast, the west entrance is within the Geyser country. Both the pathways lead to a different part of the National Park, opening up beautiful and new features every time. If you have ever been to a National Park, you can have an idea of recreational opportunities here. However, to learn about the beauty of the site, a visit to Yellowstone is mandatory.
2. The World Museum of Mining
Located on the hill of Butte, the World Museum of Mining is a top-rated tourist attraction in Montana. It offers a recreation of an 1890s mining town, a world of mining on its own. Butte was once (the late 1800s) known as the richest hill in the world, all thanks to its gold and silver mining camps. Today though, the picture of richness has turned different, but the idea and vibes of old times are still intact. Upon visiting here, one can experience the history and culture and dig past into the mining world. There are nearly 36 historic structures and buildings, all worth visiting. Among them, some of the notables are the Copper King Mansion and the Mineral Museum. The museum operates through the week and offers both over and underground tours. However, during winter, the museum closes for the season (from the end of November).
3. Montana State Capitol
Located in the capital city of Helena, the Montana State Capitol is a pleasing treasure of the state. This Greek Renaissance style has been operating as the State Legislature since 1902 and has seen several changes, development, and downfall on its way. Being a commanding symbol as well as a tourism spot, it attracts both travelers and locals. The building operates from Monday through Friday from 8 am to 5 pm, and Saturday and Sunday from 9 am to 3 pm. While guided tours are not operational, visitors can explore through self-guiding tour booklets and a scavenger program. On the first floor of the capitol building, an informational desk provides all the information about visiting the building. Visitors can see a good bit of the building and learn about both art and architecture that too for free. The Capitol building from outside, too, looks magnificent and picture-perfect.
4. Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park
Northwest’s largest known limestone caverns, the Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park, is a visit-worthy attraction in Montana. It is one of the most impressive and perhaps the oldest state park in Montana. What attracts visitors the most here are the underground tours. These tours are led by guides which are managed by the park authorities themselves. While summers cater different tours, winters operate a special Winter Holiday Candlelight Tour. These tour takes visitors through a concrete walkway which at places navigates via tight and unimaginable spaces. For someone claustrophobic, it isn’t the best choice of exploration. But if you aren’t, you can have the best time of your holiday here. Whereas on the park’s aboveground, there is a visitor’s center, hiking trails, cabins, tipis, and group campsites available. While the park is open year-round, the underground caves only operate from May through September.
5. Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument
One of the best-known historic landmarks, the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, is a treasure of the United States. This landmark recall and respects the 1876 clash between Cheyenne Indians and the US Army. Today the attraction is home to the Custer National Cemetery, the 7th Cavalry Memorial, a visitors’ center, the Reno-Benteen Battlefield, and a museum. For everything an American may have learned in the school, this national monument shares stories grander than them. Especially if you have a guide along, your experience will turn greater than you imagined. If not by walking, you can even drive through the entire area and make it a quick visit. When inside the historic buildings here, be aware that you murmur and not talk loudly. It is because the buildings here are so narrow that even a normal voice can get carried away loud enough to everyone’s ears. For anyone visiting Montana, a visit here is mandatory.
6. Montana’s Hot Springs
One of the best natural features of Montana undoubtedly is the Hot Springs. The state of Montana has numerous Hot springs; some nestled in the middle of valleys, whereas some settled amidst woodlands. Believe it or not, there is nothing like sitting, soaking, and relaxing in a Hot Spring when in Montana. Especially during winters with ice floating around, snow falling from the sky, this adventure is a treat to have. While some hot springs and small and secluded, others are huge, and well are settled within popular Montana resorts. A few of the great options that might make your research easy includes,
- Chico Hot Springs (a historic spring)
- Lolo Hot Springs (close to Idaho border)
- Elkhorn Hot Springs (in the Pioneer Mountains)
- Yellowstone Hot Springs (newest hot spring in Montana)
- Norris Hot Springs (one of the most popular in Montana)
- Lost Trail Hot Springs (popular for its rustic and charming vibes)
7. Flathead Lake
The Flathead Lake is the last remnant of the massive glacial dammed and ancient lake of the era of the last interglacial, Lake Missoula. It by surface area is the largest natural freshwater lake west of the source of the Missouri River in the contiguous United States. However, the fishing and water sports opportunities make it the top tourism destination spot in Montana. A visitor here can go for swimming, boating, water skiing, jet skiing, and tubing. Another popular feature of the lake is Wildhorse Island, where one can reach via boat. Or upon sitting on the land, catching the colorful glimpse via the eye of Flathead Lake is an experience on its own. Locals also choose it as a spot for communing with nature and often visit here to enjoy an afternoon picnic. If you happen to visit Flathead County, planning a few hours at the lakeside is a must. Or, if you happen to plan a visit here during Memorial Day vacation, do attend the Bigfork Whitewater Festival.
8. Ringing Rocks Pluton
The Ringing Rocks Pluton is a unique geological formation and a tourist attraction known for its rare characteristics. The Ringing Rocks of the Boulder Batholith are located just outside Butte and are locally known as sonorous rocks or lithospheric rocks. The rocks in this geological setting produce a melodious ringing sound when you lightly tap them with a hammer. Though there isn’t any scientific proof behind the phenomena, locals believe that it is the composition of the rock and the way of the joining pattern. And even if one boulder/ rock gets removed from the pile, the musical melody will no longer produce. Enthusiasts, be it locals or travelers, often visit here to observe the charisma of the site. Considering it is one of the few of its kind, some other similar sites are located at Pyeongyang in Vietnam, Lithophones in Africa, and Orrisa in India. Another interesting fact about Ringing rocks is that this geological formation is known to be thousands of years old.
9. The Garden of One Thousand Buddhas
A spiritual site near Arlee, Montana, the Garden of One Thousand Buddhas is a mesmerizingly calm and beautiful place. While Buddha-based tourist attractions are popular across the world, it existing in Montana at such a grand level is a matter of surprise. Spread over 10 acres, this spiritual site began developing in the year 2000. It took quite a few years, but later the land turned into a home for 1000 concrete Buddha statues. While the place is no less than heaven for people who follow Buddhism, for others too, it is the divine site to be at. Beside Buddha statues, the ground here is adorned by native trees and flowers that add to the impressive peacefulness. The gardens operate throughout the week from 9 am to 6 pm. Or, if you want to take it another way, visit here during offerings, traditional gatherings, festivities, or events.