BOZEMAN • GREAT FALLS • KALISPELL • MISSOULA
Montana: Discover the Beauty of the Treasure State
Its rich mineral content is what gives Montana its Treasure State nickname, drawing curiosity from all over the world. Yet there’s still far more to this state than its association with gold and silver — although those are certainly excellent starting points. Even if you book a bus ticket to Montana with visions of sparkling trinkets in mind, you’ll be forgiven if you end up distracted by the many exciting sites, attractions, and activities you encounter once you arrive. For starters: What’s in a name? The name “Montana” is born from the Spanish word “montaña,” or mountain. Expect to see plenty of marvelous scenery as you journey through this incredible state.
A Brief Look at Montana History
There were two distinct areas where Native Americans lived during the 18th century. Some settled in the mountains and worked as hunter-gatherers to support their families. Other tribes resided in the plains, where they would hunt bison for food and clothing. Eventually, gold mining replaced fur trapping as the region’s core industry. The isolated state drew thousands intrigued by the possibility of discovering gilded treasures in the Wild West. Tensions between the Native Americans and these migrants grew and ultimately escalated to war, which the Indian tribes ultimately won. Their victory was short-lived, however, as they were eventually forced to move to reservations in 1880. The state was admitted to the Union in 1889.
All About Culture in Montana
Montana may be the fourth largest state in the country, but it’s hardly the most populated. In fact, it’s the perfect place to visit if your goal is to experience complete solitude. There are 56 counties in the state and 46 are known as frontier counties, or those with just a handful of people per square mile. Its rich pioneering history sets the tone for Montana’s warm, welcoming environment. It’s a state where friendly spirits are as abundant as open lands and rolling hills. Small-town communities feel cozy and inviting, largely because there’s a sense that everyone knows everyone. Outdoor life plays a vital role in everyday lifestyles here too, from hikers and joggers to farmers and ranchers. With an abundance of national parks, fishing spots, and hunting opportunities, Montana’s also a dream for wildlife enthusiasts.
Where to Go in Montana
Bozeman is a practical starting point if you’re headed to Yellowstone National Park. It’s situated between the north and west entrances, and with its abundance of lodging and dining establishments, it’s perfect for an overnight stay. Bozeman’s mountainous location gives it its cozy character — it’s as much a ski town as a living tribute to the state’s Old West roots. Bozeman is an outdoor lover’s paradise, and with its population of elks, bears, and moose, it’s sure to delight eagle-eyed wildlife lovers. If you’re craving some social activity, head downtown and stroll along the vibrant Main Street. There, you can find everything from the annual car show and summer concerts to art galleries and diverse restaurants. And if you love history, don’t miss the fossil collection at the Museum of the Rockies and the regional exhibits at the Gallatin History Museum.
Often referred to as the “Electric City” because of its countless power plants and dams, Great Falls is steeped in history. The area consists of five waterfalls: Black Eagle, Rainbow, Crooked, Colter, and Big Falls — four of which were named by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. You can follow in the noteworthy explorers’ footsteps and learn even more about their expedition at the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail Interpretive Center or enjoy a hike the 57-mile trail along the Missouri River. If the state’s pioneering past fascinates you, delve into the depictions of Wild West life at the C.M. Russell Museum.
The state’s largest city, Billings provides stupendous views of the surrounding Rimrocks, colloquially known as the Rims. Despite its size, the city boasts the small-town appeal you expect in Montana. It’s a vibrant community with a bustling social scene, shops, and lively craft breweries. If you’re a self-professed foodie, you may want to pop into The Burger Dive, named the World Burger Champion in 2016. While you’re in town, stop by the Western Heritage Center and take a crash course on the history of the area’s settlers; visit the Yellowstone Art Museum and indulge in both ancient and modern works; and enjoy a guided tour of the circa-1901 Moss Mansion Museum.
In the midst of forests and mountains sits Missoula. Situated in the Northern Rockies, it’s a natural celebration of the great outdoors and also home to the University of Montana. Stop by the Historical Museum at Fort Missoula to learn about the area’s rich and diverse history, keep your eyes peeled for bighorn sheep, black bears, and foxes in the Rattlesnake National Recreational Area and Wilderness, and pop into the open-air Missoula Farmer’s Market to pick up some fresh produce.
If you book a bus ticket to Montana, it’s worth a visit to Helena just to say you’ve been to the state capital and explored the stunning architecture and scenery at least once. The beautiful government center features a dramatic front landscape and offers regular tours. The Cathedral of Saint Helena, built in 1908, is equally humbling in its ornate beauty. The city itself is set against the backdrop of Mount Helena in the distance.
Hop aboard a trolley and enjoy a two-hour journey through Butte, where you’ll learn about the town’s fascinating mining history, view the popular open-mine Berkeley Pit, and catch a glimpse of Our Lady of the Rockies. The latter is a magnificent, 90-foot-tall statue that overlooks the city. Because of its privileged Rocky Mountains location, this is also a great place to spend quality time camping, fishing, or snowmobiling if you’re in the area during winter.
There’s so much to do in Kalispell that you may not even know where to begin. But rest assured that it’s where you should book your bus ticket to Montana if you love the idea of being surrounded by nothing but fresh air, shimmering lakes, magnificent mountains, and unforgettable scenery at every moment. In the heart of Flathead Valley, the city is packed with vibrant shopping and craft breweries. If you happen to be with the family, head to the Hockaday Museum of Art to browse some of the state’s native works, or make your way to Woodland Water Park for some warm-weather enjoyment.