What comes to mind when you think of Montana? Is it the beautiful scenery throughout the year? The exhilarating sports and outdoor activities you can participate in? Maybe it’s the history of Montana and the culture that is so much a part of it? Whatever your thoughts conjure up when you think of Montana, this is the one state that is worth visiting regardless of what season it is. There is something here for everyone!
Summertime brings warmth and colorful beauty to the mountains, valleys and prairies in Montana. The average high summer temperature is a refreshing 78 degrees while the nights cool down to a crisp 48 degrees. Most locals dress in layers so they can peel off clothing as it gets warmer and add a layer or two when the sun begins to set and the night air begins to drop.
There are 700 lakes in Montana; the largest is Lake McDonald, located in Glaciar National Park, the upper west side of Montana. Lake McDonald is a whopping 10 miles long and 472 feet deep. Three other lakes that are on the “Largest Lakes in Montana” list include: St. Mary Lake, Kintla Lake and Bowman Lake. These breathtaking lakes with their pristine beauty have all been shaped from glaciers during the ice age. Although the ice age was only 15,000 years ago, the Glaciar National Park in northern Montana is millions of years in the making.
All lakes are freshwater and teeming with life. The icy cold waters are a perfect home for the Trout (Rainbow, Brown, Brook, Cutthroat and Lake Trout). Fishing in these unspoiled waters is ideal for the beginner as well as the advanced fishermen. With over 700 lakes and waterfalls, there is a location to suit everyone’s needs and tastes.
While sightseeing in Montana, there is a road that is not for the faint hearted. It is called “Going-to-the-Sun Road” and it clings to the mountains offering no room for driving error. Only open during the warmer months of the year, this 2 lane paved road is 52 miles long, traveling east to west, and located at the Continental Divide. There are many pull-offs so visitors can stop and enjoy the beauty. This is the only road that will take you deep in the heart of Glaciar National Park. The scenery is different from both directions so be sure to travel it from one side to the other. In 1985 Going-to-the-Sun road was named National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark.
If history is appealing to you, visit the memorial where the battle of Little Big Horn was fought. Step back in time where General Custer battled the Sioux Indians, led by Sitting Bull. The museum is home to an extensive assortment of battlefield artifacts. Artwork and photography depicts scenes of “Custer’s Last Stand” and the historical massacre that took place on June 25, 1876, along the Little Big Horn River in Montana.
The summer months in Montana offer an array of outdoor activities, traveling destinations and breathtaking scenery. A trip to Montana is nothing less than a feast for all your senses.
Montana is known for its natural beauty through the changing seasons. Its name is from the Spanish word “mountain.” Yet there is a wealth of information pertaining to the history that has taken place in Montana. Throughout the state, you can easily find museums and exhibits that showcase a world from long ago.
One of the most memorable events in history is the battle of Little Big Horn, which took place on June 25, 1876. General Custer led his army of 210 men into one of the bloodiest battles against the Sioux and Cheyenne Indians. The battle ended sadly with every soldier killed. The Custer Battlefield Museum, in Garryowen, Montana, displays tombstones representing the soldiers that were killed there. Step back in time and see the extensive assortments of battlefield and period artifacts. The museum displays vivid artwork that exhibits that fateful day in 1876 and photographs taken shortly after the Sioux Indians surrendered.
The early days of Montana included mining. Copper, lead, zinc, silver and coal were some of the principal products mined during the early 1870s. The city of Butte, located in the southwest region of Montana, became a bustling city once copper was discovered there. Following the development of electricity, the demand for copper skyrocketed. Butte became the leading supplier for copper and supplied half of all U.S. copper during this time.
Native Americans were the first to live on the land of Yellowstone (Yellowstone National Park as its known today) until the early 1800s. It provided everything they needed to survive: food, shelter and protection. Trails that the Native Americans used frequently would be renamed Bannock Trail, which we know today. Many settlers explored Yellowstone and were in awe of its beauty. Preserving its majestic beauty was becoming a priority. In 1872, senators created legislation to create Yellowstone Park and was signed by President Ulysses S Grant on March 1, 1872.
Another well known park in Montana is Glacier Park, located on the northwestern corner of the state. Blackfeet Indians called this land “Backbone to the World.” Hugh Monroe, a fur trapper, was the first white man to see the beauty of Glacier Park. In the late 1800s the United States would purchase this land from the Indians and congress would make it a national park. During that time, the Great Northern Railroad would be completed.
In addition to Montana being a premier destination for skiers in the winter or fisherman and campers in the summer, the state is rich with history and educational facts. It doesn’t matter if your traveling brings you to the northwestern part of the state or the southern area. There is a never ending beauty and rich history in every direction.
With a state like Montana that boarders Canada, you know that wintertime is especially robust. What does this mean for visitors? It means that Montana is definitely the place to be for skiing, dog-sledding, ice-fishing and many other winter activities.
The crisp weather in Montana during the winter ranges from high 32 degrees to low 16 degrees. Annual snowfall in the northern part of the state is 30-50 inches. Snowstorms can occur as early as October or as late in the season as April, however, this is not too common, especially in the southern areas of Montana.
Whether you’re a cross country skier or enjoy the thrill of downhill skiing, there are resorts scattered across the state to accommodate any budget. Millions of acres of public land are available for cross country skiing and resorts offer private trails. The breathtaking scenery you find in Montana is unlike anywhere else. Glacier National Park, home to some of the largest lakes, has been designed by nature for over a million years. Since the ice age 15,000 years ago, the lakes have been formed from massive ice age glaciers that are responsible for carving the gorgeous, one-of-a-kind scenery, which is greatly appreciated by the slower moving cross country skier.
If downhill skiing is more your speed, several resorts throughout Montana are ranked in the top 20 SKI Magazine’s annual readers survey. There are many friendly, family orientated ski resorts offering plenty of hospitality as well as quick lines at the ski lifts, (a must for downhill skiers). The resorts that cater to the downhill skier range in price and diversity. The more expensive ticket prices may have more of a crowd but the variety of terrain makes it worth the large price tag. While the smaller resorts, mostly visited by locals, are an excellent way to experience killer terrain without the crowds or the hefty price.
Another popular winter activity is ice-fishing. As fishermen come to Montana as the ultimate fishing destination in the summer, the same fish are still there in the winter. There are 700 lakes in Montana, making it the premium location for all types of fishing. Having the proper equipment for ice fishing will make it as rewarding as the summer fishing season.
Perhaps you’re looking for something different, something that allows you to enjoy the awesome beauty of nature without all the physical exertion. Dog-sledding is what will satisfy that craving. Bundle up in a soft warm sled and let Alaskan Huskies pull you through trails in the back areas of the vast wilderness. See nature’s beauty, like a glimpse of rare wildlife, that can’t be appreciated when zipping down a mountain. This unique journey will be the highlight of any winter sport or activity in Montana.
The great state of Montana has so much to offer during the cold winter season. Embrace the raw beauty only nature can provide while tucked under the brilliance of powdery snow.
The first inhabitants of Montana were the Plains Indians. Other tribes include Blackfeet, Cheyenne, Sioux, and Kootenai. Human evidence has been found dating back 10,000 years. These people may have been the ancestors of the tribes that live in the Montana area today.
In the early 1800s, the white man began exploring northern Montana in search of beaver. More and more of these trappers began to move in. Soon mining for copper, lead, zinc, silver and coal had begun to attract so many people, the Indians were forced into reservations. The Blackfeet Indians were located on the east side of Glacier National Park while the Kootenai were in the southern part.
During the mid-1800s the Blackfeet Indians were devastated by small pox. The disease appears to have traveled along the Missouri River and infected many tribes along its path. The number of Indians in Montana dying from small pox was staggering. It is said by whites who were in the country at the time, that this disease nearly cleared the plains of all Indians. Ten years later, small pox again ravished the Indians, yet not as intense as before and eight years after that, the measles were fatal for a high percentage of deaths among the Blackfeet tribe.
Between 1860 and 1875, whiskey was becoming easy for Indians to acquire. They would trade their furs and robes for the liquor. Experiencing the intoxicating feeling was not something the Indians could handle easily. When drunk, they violently fought with each other making it dangerous to anyone nearby. Montana tavern owners would allow the Indians to purchase their whiskey in a container with no flat bottom. This would require the Indians to hold the container at all times so it wouldn’t spill when set down, thus keeping the danger of fighting to a minimum since they only had one hand to use freely.
The winter of 1883 was particularly harsh for the Indians in Montana. Many were starving to death. Buffalo had been exterminated from the Blackfoot county. This was the main source of food the Indians had depended on. The men had begun to concentrate on smaller game to hunt but it was not enough to feed the tribes. They started to die, the elderly and the babies first, then the sick and weak until the stronger ones began to suffer. The government tried to help by sending much needed food by covered wagon across the state of Montana. The journey was slow and more Indians died while waiting for relief to come. Gradually, food had started to arrive and the Indians were finally getting relief.
By the end of the 19th century, the railroad had been completed in much of Montana and made it easier than ever to travel across the open land. Although the great plains the Indians lived on were forever changed, they still gather in parts of Glacier National Park. This entire area of northwestern Montana holds great spiritual importance to the Blackfeet and Kootenai tribes. They gain strength and wisdom from the mountains within this unspoiled and pristine national park, just as their ancestors did before them.