Make Memories in Montana This Summer
For me, memories of Montana include multiple road trips with my family from Washington State to Yellowstone with a traditional stop at the Bozeman hot springs. I also strongly associate the state with A River Runs Through It, a book-turned-Brad Pitt-film that was popular when I was a teenager.
The Montana of today is much more than those childhood memories, and it’s a state you could spend a lifetime enjoying. Here are a few ways to get your fill of Big Sky Country this summer.
Photo courtesy Visit Montana
Montana is often associated with ranching, and rightly so. As the fourth largest state with just one million residents (compared to Colorado’s five-and-a-half million and California’s nearly 40 million), there’s a lot of space to roam in Big Sky Country.
Whether you want to engage in ranch activities or watch events from the stands at a rodeo, Montana’s got you covered. For families or couples looking for a dude ranch, Montana is home to all types, including high-scale resort-like ranches or more rustic experiences.
If you’d prefer to watch cowboys instead of ride like one, check out one of Montana’s rodeos, such as the Augusta American Legion Rodeo. This will be the 82nd year of Augusta’s rodeo, a town that’s located one hour west of Great Falls, Montana. This traditional rodeo features cowboys and cowgirls competing in events like barrel racing and calf roping. It’s one of the largest one-day rodeo events in the state and takes place annually on the last full weekend of June.
Glacier National Park [Photo courtesy Visit Montana]
Montana is home to two national parks, one national monument and numerous national historical sites (browse a full list of sites here). While Yellowstone National Park is the best-known park in Montana, Glacier National Park tends to be less crowded and allow explorers to get into beautiful-yet-desolate backcountry.
The popularity of this park has risen over the last five years, but with more than 700 trails it’s easy to get away from tourists if you plan appropriately. One of the more fascinating things about Glacier is the sheer amount of water here. There are 131 named lakes and another 631 unnamed lakes. If you’ve dreamed about hiking into a lake in Montana, this is the place to make that happen.
Missoula Farmers' Market [Photo courtesy Destination Missoula]
My love for Montana meant that I considered attending college in Missoula, and as a college town, it’s always been an active place that’s perfect for a weekend getaway or week-long stay.
While in town, don’t miss the Missoula Farmers' Market which takes place every Saturday from May to October and Tuesdays starting in July and ending in September. This farmers' market has been selling local produce and meat since 1972.
The town boasts restaurants, breweries and 22 miles of off-street bike trails and 40 miles of on-street bike lanes, so bring or rent a bike for your stay. Bikes are so popular here that the League of American Bicyclists has designated the city as a Gold Level Bicycle Friendly Community.
Missoula makes a great base for exploring the surrounding area, whether it’s kayaking the Blackfoot River or biking Montana Snowbowl, a nearby ski area that’s perfect for mountain biking in the summer. There’s even a zip line tour for adrenaline junkies at this stop.
Plan your trip to Missoula, Montana, at DestinationMissoula.org.