Montana is Big Sky Country, a state blessed with wide open landscapes that range from the Rocky Mountains to the Great Plains. Also known as the Treasure State, this lesser-known and sparsely-populated northwestern state is a place to discover fertile prairies home to Native Americans, spectacular national parks teeming with wildlife and world-class adventure sports. Here are four reasons why you should be visiting Montana in summertime.
Adventure Sports at Big Sky Resort
While Big Sky Resort bills itself as offering the "Biggest Skiing in America," the mountain resort is making a name for itself in summer. Travel at speed on the Adventure Zipline while suspended 150 feet above the treetops and enjoy some family fun on the Nature Zipline. Bring your mountain bike and tackle over 40 miles of biking trails, all accessible via three bike-friendly chairlifts. For something more relaxed, gaze in awe at the far-reaching views from Montana’s highest scenic overlook. Get back to the active lifestyle by following mile upon mile of trail around Gallatin National Forest and the Lee Metcalf Wilderness. Golf enthusiasts can even play 18 holes at an Arnold Palmer-designed course.
Attend a Music Festival
An authentic slice of Americana music awaits at statewide summertime festivals. Head to Lewiston in August for the Montana Cowboy Poetry Gathering and Western Music Rendezvous. The second-oldest cowboy poetry festival in the U.S. is a celebration of the cowboy heritage of the Rocky Mountains. Expect performers dressed in 10-gallon hats and Western attire to treat you to a lyrical journey of the American cowboy. In Butte in July, the Montana Folk Festival is a free three-day event with artists from as far as Belize, Iran and Nepal in addition to homegrown talent. Band of Horses and Nathaniel Rateliff are among the names to grace the stage at the Under the Big Sky Fest, at Big Mountain Ranch.
Visit the National Parks
Predominantly situated in Wyoming but extending into both Idaho and Montana, Yellowstone National Park became the world’s first national park in 1872. Hiking trails lead to emblematic waterfalls and huge granite peaks, and no visit is complete without watching the iconic Old Faithful geyser shoot water into the sky. Meanwhile, bison, elk, grizzly bears and moose wander amid the park’s wilderness.
Presenting a magnificent contrast to Yellowstone is Glacier National Park, where thousands-feet-tall peaks tower above vast placid lakes. Traversed by over 700 miles of trails, the park is a hiker’s paradise, many of whom choose to stay overnight at the 13 campgrounds. Among the many highlights are the peaks and pinnacles of the Ptarmigan Wall, St. Mary’s Falls and Quartz Lake. Consider coming by bike or car and cruise the impossibly scenic Going-to-the-Sun Road.
Whitewater Rafting on the Rivers
The thrill of paddling down rushing rivers and crashing through rapids is a memory that will last a lifetime. Get the adrenaline pumping on rafting excursions on the Flathead River while remembering to enjoy the beauty of Glacier National Park at the same time. In the south of the state, Stillwater River is anything but what its name suggests and you’ll be avoiding large boulders as the swift current pulls you along. Adventure Whitewater and Glacier Raft Company are options for arranging half, full and multi-day rafting tours.