Things to Do in Montana This Summer
We are nearing the halfway mark of summer, and for many, you may be wondering “where did the time go, and what have I been doing this entire time?!” The answer to that question could simply be staying inside to avoid melting in this heat, and that’s okay! If you are looking for some inspiration for the next time you decide to venture outside, here are some of our favorite places to visit across our beautiful state (ranked closest to furthest from Billings):
Open as of 07/22/2022!
Located just outside of Red Lodge on U.S. Route 212, the Beartooth Highway has been called “the most beautiful drive in America”, tracing a series of switchbacks along the Montana-Wyoming border to the 10,947-foot-high Beartooth Pass in Wyoming. While the Beartooth Highway is typically an ideal route to reach the north entrance of Yellowstone National Park, this entrance is unfortunately closed this summer due to historical flooding in June. However, there are several sights to see along the highway. 18.9 miles up the highway, you will find the Vista Point Observation Site, which offers beautiful views and friendly chipmunks that love to be hand-fed sunflower seeds. Further up the road is the Beartooth Basin Summer Ski Area, which is closed this summer due to not enough snow, but is still a neat sight to behold.
Don’t forget to stop in Red Lodge along the way to check out the many restaurants and shops that they have to offer (a popular choice is the Montana Candy Emporium).
Lewis and Clark Caverns
Located between Three Forks and Whitehall, the Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park features one of the largest known limestone caverns in the Northwest and is Montana’s first state park. Cave access is available by guided tour only, for which advanced purchase of reservable tickets is strongly recommended during summer months. Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park additionally offers camping, hiking, and special events.
If you want to experience the true and original “Old West”, Virginia City is the place for you. This ghost town (and Nevada City, located one mile away) is the site of the richest gold strike in the Rocky Mountains, bringing in an estimated total value of 100 million dollars throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. “Come experience where Montana history lives” and check out the various entertainment, lodging, shops, restaurants and saloons, which are all open through Labor Day.
Gates of the Mountains (Helena)
Discovered and named by Lewis and Clark, the Gates of the Mountains is located just north of Helena, halfway between Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks. The main attraction is a 120-minute boat cruise along the same scenic route of the Missouri that the Lewis and Clark expedition followed.
Similar to Virginia City, Philipsburg is a charming 18th-19th century mining town that was known for its silver and sapphire resources. Philipsburg offers activities for all seasons and makes a great waypoint between Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks
Technically located just outside of the state along the Montana-Idaho border, the Route of the Hiawatha mountain bike or hike trail is 15 miles long with 10 train tunnels and 7 sky-high trestles. The trail follows the crest of the Bitterroot Mountains near Lookout Pass Ski Area, where additional biking trails, scenic lift rides, and various amenities are available. The best part of the trail? It is mostly downhill - shuttle buses are available to transport you and your bike back to the top when you are finished!
While these are a few of our personal favorite locations, they are only the tip of the iceberg. The beautiful sights to see in Montana are seemingly endless! Let us know your favorite Montana destinations in the comments below!