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Montana Mountains

If you are traveling through western Montana, mountains will be your constant companions. The Beartooth Mountains, the Absaroka Range, the Ruby Range, the Pioneer Mountains, the Madison Range- I could fill this page just with the names of mountain ranges in Montana. This is not an exageration. This is the place to come if you want day after day of scenic drives.

Montana is also the place to come to get away from the crowds. It is the third largest state in the U.S., larger than many countries, and yet has less than a million residents. There are tens of millions of acres of public lands, much of it in the same state as it was hundreds of years ago. You can easily find dayhikes in the mountains where you won't find another person all day.

Mountain Parks

The most famous park in Montana is Yellowstone National Park. It is, of course, primarily in Wyoming, but the northern edge of the park is in Montana. If you have the opportunity, enter or exit Yellowstone by way of the north entrance. Highway 89, up to Livingston, is worth the drive. The Absaroka Mountains rise up precipitously on your east side, while the ranchlands to the west give way to the Gallatin Range. The highway winds along the valley bottom with the Yellowstone river.

Yellowstone, however you approach it, is one of the most geologically unique places you will see. With mountains, geysers, colorful mineral springs, large waterfalls, bubbling mud pots, and more, you won't be disappointed. The wildlife is amazing as well, and includes grizzly bears, buffalo, moose, antelope, and wolves. Much of the wildlife can be seen from the road. For more information on the park, visit the Yellowstone National Park Website.

One of the most beautiful parks in the world, in the opinion of my wife and myself, is Montana's Glacier National Park, on the border of Canada. Going-To-The-Sun-Road will be one of your favorite drives through mountains. For more information, go to the page "Glacier National Park Vacations," or visit the Glacier National Park Website.

Montana Mountain Towns

Montana has many small towns in the mountains worth visiting. Anaconda, for example, is a town surrounded by mountains, where you can golf at The Old Works Golf Course (designed by Jack Nicholas), play nickel slot machines and fish from downtown bridges. A movie in the Washoe Theater (named the fifth most beautiful theater in the country by the Smithsonian Institution) will cost you only $3, and if you really like the town, you can buy a nice home for under $30,000. Skiing is fifteen miles away, Fairmont Hotsprings Resort seven miles the other way, and a laundromat that serves drinks right downtown. For more information, use this link to Anaconda.

Other great small towns of Montana include Philipsburg (a great scenic drive from Anaconda), Red Lodge, Dillon, and Hamilton. There are no big cities in the state, and virtually all of the towns in the western half of the Montana are in a scenic setting. Mountains are always part of the view.

Finding Your Way Through The Mountains

One of the best resources I've come across for traveling around the state, is the Montana Atlas and Gazetteer. It has 95 detailed maps that show even the smallest dirt roads, and many hiking trails. In addition, it lists all the ski areas, scenic drives, campgrounds and wildlife viewing areas of the state. It has extensive information and maps for Glacier National Park, and lists all the national forests, BLM lands, and State Lands.

If you like to fish, it has details on the best stretches of the best fishing rivers in Montana. There is a section that describes over forty hiking trails in the state, with directions on how to get to them. Thirty unique natural features (such as the "Chinese Wall", a 1000-foot high, 12-mile long cliff), are described, as well as over forty historic sites and museums. It is great to be able to see mountains, find them on the map, and actually get elevation information. Finally, for those of you into high-tech gadgets, the guide has GPS grids on each map, so you can precisely locate everything.

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