With almost 150,000 square miles and as the 4th largest state in the country, Montana is a huge, expansive state. On cross-country road trips, people often remark about how it takes forever to get across Montana. But we invite you to see our state in a different light, as a destination unto itself, with incredible treasures that need to be seen in every corner of the state.
If you’re looking to Travel Montana for part or all of a big vacation trip, here’s a great place to start to understand Montana’s geography and regional highlights:
Northwest Montana: Glacier National Park is the place that grabs the headlines in this corner of the state, and it’s no wonder. The landscape, wildflowers, and hiking trails created by ancient glacial movements is breathtaking in Glacier Country.
Flathead Lake is the other major tourist spot and is an all-around great spot for fishing, watercraft, and the surrounding beauty of Flathead Valley. Make no mistake, however. NW Montana is no one- or two-hit wonder. You can spend days in this part of the country on various scenic drives. On top of Flathead Lake and Glacier National Park, you can see Bitterroot Valley and National Forest, Blackfeet Indian Reservation, Kootenai Valley and National Forest. Not to mention the charming towns of Missoula and Kalispell.
Southwest Montana: Don’t underestimate the number or the charm of various towns in Southwest Montana. From Anaconda and Philipsburg to Virginia City and Butte, this area is a lot more than just the leftovers from Yellowstone National Park. Put another way, make sure you see Yellowstone, but don’t skip Southwest Montana on your vacation, either. Both as a town and as a larger regional identification, this part of Montana is what gives the state one of its popular nicknames, Big Sky Country. A lot of people will also visit the larger, nearby cities of Helena and Bozeman on their trip.
Southeast Montana: For natural wonders, check out the two National Parks (Little Bighorn Battlefield and Bighorn Canyon)—in addition to a handful of state parks. You can experience the history and present-day culture of Southeast Montana’s Native Tribes. You can also find the traditional western experience in Southeast Montana with cowboys, cattlemen, rodeos, and pioneer heritage. Much like western Montana, don’t forget about the plethora of towns, restaurants, and shops you’ll find in this part of the state.
Northeast Montana: The Montana Badlands region could be described as the forgotten corner of Montana, but the largely unspoiled nature of the land holds unique treasures of its own. Several significant dinosaur fossils, including T. Rex, have been discovered in this area. It’s also a great spot for bird-watchers. A significant portion of the beautiful and underrated Missouri River Valley is also located in the Northeast Montana. So whether you’re in the area on an archaeological dig, a bird-watching expedition, or just to get away from it all, you’ll want to visit the shores of the Missouri River.
Central Montana: Here’s where a lot of the people are. Central Montana is a diverse region that, in many ways, reflects a convergence of the different corners of the state. From the Great Outdoors to Arts & Culture, from Fine Dining to Local Microbreweries, you can find it all in Central Montana. Some of the biggest and cheapest airports are located in a cluster in the middle of the state (Bozeman, Billings, Helena, and Great Falls). Indeed, flying into Bozeman is one of the most common ways to get to Yellowstone. Billings is something of a gateway to Southeast Montana (coming from the west). Great Falls and Helena are great jumping off points for people looking to explore central and western Montana.