There are plenty of natural attractions and things to see in Montana and Wyoming. If you’re looking for adventurous things to do in Montana, look no further than Glacier National Park. As for adventurous things to do in Montana in winter, check out the fun activities at both Whitefish Mountain Resort and Big Ski Resort. With a plethora of family-friendly summer and winter attractions, heading to these resorts is also one of the best year-round things to do in Montana with kids.
Bounded by national parks, top things to do in Southwest Montana include visiting popular cities like Helena and Bozeman. A city escape to Helena is also one of the best things to do in Montana for couples. As for free things to do in Montana, keep reading for some great ideas.
1. Glacier National Park
Covering one million acres, Glacier National Park is the state’s most scenic location, with glaciers, jagged peaks, and deep valleys. Adventurers will love exploring the national park, as it has 13 campgrounds and over 700 miles of hiking trails – don’t miss the Hidden Lake Overlook Trail. While traveling along the 50-mile and very popular Going-to-the-Sun Road, keep your eyes peeled for 300 different bird species, as well as wolverines and grizzly bears. Other things to do in Glacier National Park including biking, backcountry camping, and boating.
2. Lake McDonald
Speaking of Glacier National Park, the 10 mile-long Lake McDonald just so happens to be its largest lake. Carved by Ice Age glaciers, the long lake is surrounded by both mountains and red cedar trees. Defined by its colorful pebble lake bed, there are plenty of ways to enjoy Lake McDonald. Firstly, make a pitstop at the Apgar Visitor Center. Then go hiking either over the mountains or along the shoreline, spot wildlife, go kayaking, or hop aboard a narrated boat cruise.
3. Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument
Located near Crow Agency, the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument preserves the site where the 1876 Battle of the Little Bighorn took place. A battle between the US 7th Cavalry Regiment and Native Americans, today there’s both a visitor center and museum onsite. The museum features exhibits on the battlefield’s history and artifacts, while the visitor center shows a documentary film in the offseason. There’s also a 4.5-mile road connecting two separate battlefields, which visitors can see on either a self-guided drive or a seasonal bus tour.
4. Whitefish Mountain Resort
Featuring over 3000 skiable acres, Whitefish Mountain Resort is one of North America’s largest ski resorts. Located near Whitefish in the Rocky Mountains, the full-service alpine village is known for its friendly staff and competitive prices. Winter activities include skiing and snowboarding for all levels across 105 runs, as well as snowshoeing and guided snowmobile tours. However, once the snow melts, the adventure stays. In summer, Whitefish Mountain Resort offers hiking and biking opportunities, zipline tours, scenic lift rides, and fun experiences at the Aerial Adventure Park.
5. Flathead Lake
A large and natural freshwater lake bordering Flathead National Forest in the state’s northwest, Flathead Lake is one of the best places to visit in summer. It features 13 public access sites along its 185 miles of shoreline. Take to the lake’s surface on a boat, kayak, or canoe; go swimming or fishing in its clear and calm waters; spend the weekend camping along its shoreline; or visit Wild Horse Island, which is only accessible by boat.
6. Big Sky Resort
If you seek a big adventure, head to Big Sky Resort. With 317 runs across 5800 skiable acres, every skier and snowboarder will find a trail that suits their skill level. Other winter adventures include night skiing, ziplining, dog sledding, renting a Sno-Go Bike, and romantic sleigh rides. On the other hand, one of Big Sky Resort’s tempting summertime attractions is its award-winning 18-hole golf course. Besides hitting the links in summer, you can also go ziplining, hiking, mountain biking on over 40 miles of trails, and horseback riding.
7. Logan Pass
Located along the Continental Divide in Glacier National Park, Logan Pass was named in honor of Major William Logan, the park’s first superintendent. The park’s highest elevation accessible by vehicle, you’ll find Logan Pass along the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Known for both its wildflower and wildlife viewing opportunities, Logan Pass is one of the park’s most popular destinations, so expect summertime crowds. From Logan Pass, you can also connect to two of Glacier National Park’s most popular hiking trails – the Hidden Lake and Highline Trails.
8. Ringing Rocks
One of the most unique things to do in Montana is to visit the Ringing Rocks, an interesting geological formation. Located east of Butte near Whitehall, the Ringing Rocks get their name from the fact that when you tap them lightly with a hammer, they make a melodic chiming noise. It’s believed the ringing is a combination of the rocks’ joining patterns and composition, so ensure you don’t disturb the unique geological area during your visit to this unusual but free roadside attraction.
9. The Museum of the Rockies
Located in Bozeman, the Museum of the Rockies is renowned for being one of the world’s finest research and history museums. Affiliated with both Montana State University and the Smithsonian Institution, the Museum of the Rockies is primarily known for its paleontological collection, which includes dinosaur fossils and mounted dinosaur skeletons. The museum also features both indoor and outdoor exhibits, a live reptiles exhibit, the interactive Martin Children’s Discovery Center, planetarium shows, and a museum store.
10. The Garden of One Thousand Buddhas
Brought to the state by Ewam International, the Garden of One Thousand Buddhas is located within the Flathead Indian Reservation near Arlee. Acting as a public park, botanic garden, and Buddhist center, it features an eight-spoked Dharma wheel, as well as 1000 hand-cast Buddha statues and 1000 stupas surrounding the central Yum Chenmo (Great Mother) statue. The Garden of One Thousand Buddhas hopes to be both a peaceful and positive destination. While guided tours are available April to October, you can also find self-guided maps at the onsite gift shop.
11. Castle Ghost Town
For an unusual experience, head to Castle Town, one of the state’s most famous ghost towns (there are eerily quite a few). Castle Town was established in the 1890s during the state’s silver rush boom. During its prime time, the township in America’s Wild West was home to approximately 14 saloons and famous frontierswoman, Calamity Jane. However, its last residents left 50 years later. While buildings remain, the ghost town of Castle is now located on private lands, so you need permission to visit.
12. Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center
Get safely up close to both grizzly bears and wolves in naturalistic habitats at the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center. While the grizzly bears at the non-profit wildlife park wouldn’t have survived in the wild for various reasons, its pack of wolves is captive-born. The center’s educational programs include the Keeper Kids children’s program, bird-of-prey demonstrations, the world-class BEARS: Imagination and Reality museum exhibit, and the Naturalist Cabin, which features daily wolf Pack Chats, a large window into the wolves’ habitat, and a National Geographic film on wolves.
13. The Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail
The Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail is a 3700-mile route stretching from Wood River, Illinois to Oregon’s Columbia River. Cutting through Montana, it commemorates the 1804 to 1806 Lewis and Clark Expedition. Great Falls is home to the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail Interpretive Center, which features hands-on exhibits chronicling the duo’s journey. Other important sights to see across the state include the Fort Union Trading Post, Missouri Headwaters State Park, and Travelers’ Rest State Park.
The state capital, Helena was founded in 1864 during the Montana gold rush. Known for both its historic and natural attractions, the city is home to several museums, including the Montana Historical Society Museum, the Holter Museum of Art, and ExplorationWorks, a science and culture museum. Alternatively, if you’d like an outdoor adventure, go hiking in Mount Helena State Park, visit the Tizer Botanic Gardens and Arboretum, or go on a boat tour through the Gates of the Mountains, a river canyon.