The most beautiful places to visit in Montana

Top 20 Most Beautiful Places To Visit In Montana 

28 mins read

Otherwise known as Big Sky Country, I personally think the diverse and dazzling Western state does live up to the hype! This is a seriously gorgeous place, home to a large and pristine wilderness preserve that crosses over into Canada. It’s a tough choice as pretty much all the scenery here is jaw-dropping, but here are my favorite spots…

1. Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park

Aptly called the “Crown of the Continent”, the Glacier National Park is home to more than one million acres of beautiful and unspoiled terrain.

The scenic wilderness area encompasses jaw-dropping scenery such as spectacular lakes, glacier-carved peaks, pristine forests, and alpine meadows. It also forms part of the world’s first International Peace Park, so is perfect for both adventurous souls and solitude seekers. I would suggest gazing in awe at the huge glacier and spotting mountain goats amid the gorgeous scenery at Grinnell Glacier.

Drive along the breathtaking scenic mountain road of the Sun Highway which passes through more than fifty miles of unique terrain and then paddle across the pristine waters of Lake McDonald. 

See the beauty of Glacier National Park in 4k…

My must-do highlights

  • Drive to Logan Pass, the highest point in the park that can be reached by car for the best panoramic views.
  • Hike to the Grinnell Glacier where you will find stunning waterfalls, vibrant emerald lakes and beautiful scenery along the way.
  • Take a boat tour across the Lake McDonald Valley for a more relaxed way to admire the surrounding landscapes.

2. American Prairie Reserve

American Prairie Reserve

American Prairie Reserve

The American Prairie Reserve is located on Montana’s Great Plains and I honestly think one of the most stunning spots to explore in Montana. Stretching over north and south of the Missouri River, the massive conservation area preserves the natural mixed-grass prairie ecosystem along with the native wildlife which includes deer, elk, pronghorn, burrowing owls, bison, and bighorn sheep. 

The area is another beautiful gem in the Montana Tourism crown. Dive into the history at the Great Plains Dinosaur Museum or visit the restored Prairie Union Schoolhouse.

Wake up to the awesome free-roaming bison and chirping birds – this place will force you to slow down and observe the beauty of the prairie ecosystem. Roam around freely or hike or bike, this is a truly magical place that nature lovers will absolutely adore. 

My must-do highlights

  • Stop by the National Discovery Center to pick up a map and learn about the vision for the area.
  • Explore across the terrain on a mountain bike, where trails include obstacles such as steep hills, soft sand, and ruts.
  • Stay till it’s dark to witness the sky come alive with bright stars, if you’re lucky you might even see the Milky Way.

3. Rocky Mountains

Rocky Mountains Montana

Big Sky ski resort Montana

Home to over a hundred ranges in Central Montana, the Rocky Mountains run along the western part of the state of Montana. The rugged and rustic charm of the Rockies is the best place to seek both solace and outdoor adventures.

Snuggled in the Madison Range of Montana, the Big Sky ski resort is enveloped with mountains in every direction and I think is definitely worth a visit especially if you’re a fan of winter sports. 

Another charming destination located at the doorsteps of Glacier National Park is the Whitefish Resort Mountain which is home to a shimmering lake, lofty peaks, stunning trails, and a quirky downtown area. 

My must-do highlights

  • Watch a breathtaking sunrise at Dream Lake before heading on to reach Emerald Lake.
  • Visit the Coffee on The Rocks café for beautiful views whilst enjoying a hot drink and light snack.
  • During the winter months, explore through the area with cross-country skiing, a magical activity to do in the snow.

4. Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park

One of North America’s most loved national parks, the world-famous Yellowstone National Park sprawls over a huge 3,500-square mile space. The beautiful landscapes sit atop a volcanic hot spot which makes it extra special offering some truly unique landscapes. 

Home to many species of wildlife, dramatic canyons, rivers, hot springs, and gushing geysers, the park is mostly located in Wyoming but crosses over to Montana and Idaho. 

My must-do highlights

  • Visit the magical waterfalls at the spectacular Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.
  • Take a rafting ride down the river for some exciting and adrenaline-pumping fun.
  • Go for a hike through one of the popular trails to admire gorgeous views overlooking the landscape.

5. Bozeman

Bozeman Montana

Bozeman Montana

Located in the Gallatin County of southwest Montana, the city of Bozeman is ranked amongst the most livable places in the US and for many good reasons. I love the dramatic mountains, impressive wildlife and cultural scenes here as well as the opportunities to go hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, skiing, and backcountry exploring. 

Ski on the Bridger Bowl area, raft on the Gallatin River or witness the stunning fall colors of the nearby Yellowstone Park, the city of Bozeman is a true Montana treasure! 

My must-do highlights

  • Have a go at learning how to rock climb at either an indoor wall or on the outdoor rocks.
  • Explore the town in a unique way with a scavenger hunt, where you will be given fun tasks to complete.
  • Soak in one of the best hot springs in Montana, the perfect way to end a busy day.

6. West Yellowstone

West Montana - one of the best small towns to visit in Montana

West Yellowstone Montana

West Yellowstone is one of the best small towns in southern Montana. It’s a gateway to the world-famous Yellowstone National Park but is a wonderful tourist attraction in its own right and is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts in both summer and winter.

The charming Montana town is quaint and easy-on-the-eye and is home to some interesting independent shops and restaurants as well as a theatre and plenty of places to stay.

Highlights of West Yellowstone include the Yellowstone River (the last “free-flowing” river in the country), the popular Playmill Theatre, the beautiful Earthquake Lake, and The Museum of Yellowstone. During the winter I would recommend snowmobiling as a fun Montana activity to get involved in!

My must-do highlights

  • Visit the Museum of Yellowstone located in the old train station to learn about the history of the area.
  • Have a thrilling adventure on a snowmobile during the winter season months.
  • Check out the array of local restaurants and cafes across the town, find your favorite one and have a delicious meal.

7. Paradise Valley

Paradise Valley Montana

Paradise Valley Montana

Close enough to Yellowstone yet far away from the crowds, the Paradise Valley is dwarfed by the towering Absaroka Range on the east and Gallatin Range on the west. Located in southwest Montana, the Paradise Valley is Montana’s premier vacation destination. With gushing waters of the Yellowstone River, snow-capped mountains, a crisp blue sky, and beautiful ranch land, Paradise Valley deserves a place on this list!

I would highly recommend soaking in the naturally warm waters at the Chico Hot Springs or La Duke Hot Springs or hiking along the breathtaking trails! 

My must-do highlights

  • Watch the magnificent eruption of the Old Faithful, well known for being one of the best sights to see.
  • Relax at the Chico Hot Springs located in the heart of the area and surrounded by lush greenery.
  • Have a go at disc golf, an unusual activity that many people haven’t heard of.

8. Livingston

Livingston- best cities in Montana

Livingston Montana

This lovely town in SouthWestern Montana enjoys a truly gorgeous position nestled on the banks of the Yellowstone River between the rugged Crazy and Absaroka mountain ranges. The town which dates from the late 1880s is quiet and charming with but its striking mountain backdrop is truly jaw-dropping.

The main focus here is for outdoor activities, but its historic buildings have drawn many notable visitors over the years and has even been featured in popular films A River Runs Through It, The Horse Whisperer, and even Marlboro advertisements.

There are some good accommodation options as well as museums, art galleries and restaurants to explore. Popular things to do here include cross-country skiing, river rafting, hiking or just kicking back and taking in the wonderful scenery!

My must-do highlights

  • Watch live music at the cool venue, The Attic, a restored historic building.
  • Take a picnic to enjoy at Sacajawea Park after having a stroll through the gardens.
  • Check out the art galleries throughout the town filled with vibrant pieces, and the art walk during summer.

9. Beartooth Highway

Beartooth Highway - best places to visit in Montana

Beartooth Highway Montana

On the Beartooth Highway, you can experience one of the most beautiful road trips in Montana. Located on the northeast entrance of the Yellowstone National Park, this highway offers some truly wonderful scenery.

The mesmerizing views include the majestic Absaroka and Beartooth Mountains, countless glacial lakes, pristine waterfalls, and high alpine plateaus. 

Camp around the wide wilderness or hike across the broad plateaus, the Beartooth highway offers a rare opportunity to explore the untouched landscapes of Montana’s alpine country. Every wilderness lover’s dream, this 68-mile panoramic drive is a spectacular journey of a lifetime! 

My must-do highlights

  • Soak up the picturesque scenery as you drive along this gorgeous highway.
  • Make sure to stop off at several of the viewpoints to capture Instagrammable shots overlooking the landscape.
  • Grab a souvenir to remember the trip at the Top of The World Store.

10. Montana State Capitol 

Montana State Capitol

Located on a gentle slope and surrounded by beautiful lawns, you’ll find the state capital of Montana. One of the best things to see in Montana is the majestic state capitol of Montana was completed in 1902 and resides in Helena, the capital of Montana and one of the best cities to explore in the state.

Outside the building is comprised of granite and exquisite sandstone and inside it houses the Montana state legislature. The prominent feature of the Capitol includes the attractive rotunda with four circular paintings depicting the people of Montana’s early history.

Sitting atop the copper-based Capitol dome is the Lady Liberty or the Montana statue. Visit and enjoy viewing the beautiful murals, stained glass, and marble preserving the early history of the Treasure State.

My must-do highlights

  • Grab a brochure on your way in to experience a self-guided tour around the building.
  • Admire the stunning murals, stained glass and marble that have been preserved from the historic past.
  • Be amazed by the art located throughout this landmark.

11. City Beach

Whitefish Lake Montana

Located in Whitefish this wonderful place offers seven miles of sandy shorelines surrounding the south end of Whitefish Lake. It’s a much-loved hang-out area complete with a designated swimming area, kayak, and paddleboard rentals (during the summer), picnic tables, and gazebos. 

I would recommend going for a swim in crystal clear water or just lazing around on the beach, all with the amazing backdrop of beautiful mountains.

My must-do highlights

  • On a hot day, take a dip in the refreshing crystal-clear waters to cool off.
  • Rent a kayak or paddleboard to spend some time out floating on the ocean.
  • Pack a picnic to enjoy on the sandy shores and spend the whole day relaxing.

12. Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park

Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park 

The Waterton Glacier International Peace Park is a World Heritage Site and a wonderful example of friendly Canada and USA relations. A union of the Glacier National Park and the Waterton National Park of Canada, this is the first-ever global peace park.

Here you can expect exceptional mountain scenery, glacial landforms, crystal clear lakes, abundant wildlife, and distinctive climate which make both the national parks wonderful places to explore. A little slice of paradise, the park is home to travelers seeking both solitude and adventure.

The park also features dark night skies free from a lot of light pollution and has even received a Gold Tier Designation with provisional status from the International Dark Sky Association. 

My must-do highlights

  • Rent a bike from the town to explore along the roads that go through the scenic park.
  • Hike up to Bertha Falls to witness stunning views overlooking the landscape across this wonderful area.
  • Go on a boat tour and cruise down Waterton Lake, a more relaxed way to admire the surroundings.

13. Conrad Mansion

Conrad Mansion Montana

A beautifully preserved mansion in Kalispell, the Conrad Mansion Museum reflects the luxurious Norman-style architecture and the lifestyle in the Pacific Northwest. Built in 1895, the Conrad Mansion was the home of renowned businessman Charles E. Conrad.

A dreamy mansion in the backdrop of Montana wilderness, the Conrad Mansion overlooks the flathead valley and Swan mountain range. Tour the 26 rooms with diamond-paned, Tiffany stained glass windows with the original family furnishings along with the landscaped gardens and original drystone fence. 

My must-do highlights

  • Take a guided tour of the 26-roomed mansion and discover the history behind how the Conrad family had a big impact on Montana.
  • Stroll through the gorgeous gardens surrounding the property which feature six large flower beds filled with color.

14. Helena National Forest

Helena National Forest

Helena National Forest Montana

This is a stunning natural area located in west-central Montana. The wonderful Helena National Forest covers a vast expanse of 984,558 acres. Broken into several separate sections, the Big Belt Mountains dominate the eastern region while the Scapegoat wilderness and the Elkhorn Mountains form the west and south border of the National Forest.

A mix of grass, sagebrush lowlands, and shaded groves, the park also offers camping in designated areas. Covering the Gates of the Mountain Wilderness Area and a portion of the Scapegoat Wilderness Area, the National Forest is a little slice of paradise for naturalists and photographers.

My must-do highlights

  • Spend the night in one of the rentals available at the campgrounds located throughout the forest.
  • Have some fun out on the water with a bit of jet skiing, tubing and water skiing.
  • With thousands of miles of hiking trails, find one best suited to you and enjoy exploring this gorgeous area.

15. Wild Horse Island State Park

Wild Horse Island State Park

Wild Horse Island State Park

The largest primitive island on Flathead Lake, the Wild Horse Island State Park is only accessible by water. For centuries this beautiful island was used as pasture land by the Salish-Kootenai Indians to keep the horses from getting stolen.

Full of pine forests, incredible trails, and wildlife watching, here you can catch a glimpse of the wild horses that still inhabit this park. A designated state park since 1987, Horse Island’s 2,200-acre beautiful state park offers swimming, hiking, boating, and kayaking. 

My must-do highlights

  • Admire the picturesque landscapes as you ride over to the island by boat, and get your camera ready to capture some great shots.
  • Go for a swim in the refreshing waters on a hot summer’s day, or kayak along if the weather is a bit cooler.
  • Walk through the pine forests via the 4 miles of trails or if you’re feeling adventurous explore the off-trail areas too.

16. Gates of the Mountains Wilderness

Gates of the Mountains Wilderness

Gates of the Mountains Wilderness

Out there in the lofty hills, the legendary Missouri River carves a path through towering sandstone cliffs which were once named the Gates of the Mountains by Meriwether Lewis (an American explorer, soldier, and politician). Encompassing a wide area of 28,465 acres, the wilderness is managed by the Helena National Forest.

The Montana beauty spot is known for its prominent grey cliffs, an ancient lake, high meadows, narrow gorges, and open forests and they also offer an excellent opportunity to spot bighorn sheep and mountain goats up close. Hike along the Refrigerator Canyon or camp on the Bear Prairie, the scenic gates promise pristine natural beauty galore! 

My must-do highlights

  • Visit the unique point of Refrigerator Canyon which acts as a wind funnel perfect to explore on a hot day.
  •  Head over to Holter Lake where you can enjoy a range of different water sports.
  • If you’re looking to spend more than a day in this area, camping overnight is a great idea and experience.

17. Blodgett Canyon

Blodgett Canyon Montana

Blodgett Canyon Montana

When traveling in Montana if you’re anything like me you will want to find the best hiking spots and I honestly think this one of the best. Nestled in southwestern Montana, the Blodgett Canyon – which was carved out by ice age glaciers – is beautifully positioned in the middle of the Bitterroot Mountain Range.

It features more than two dozen scenic canyons, steeply carved granite mountains, meandering valleys, and moraines.  Known for its wall climbing spots and excellent hiking trails, the Blodgett Canyon provides one of the best scenic hikes in Montana surrounded by truly spectacular landscapes. 

My must-do highlights

  • Hike to the magnificent overlook for dramatic views of the canyon.
  • A favorite spot for climbing, stopping at the local outdoor shop for some tips is a must-do.
  • For those who love mountain biking, ride along the 6-mile round trip as many times as you like.

18. Moss Mansion

Moss Mansion Montana

Head to the Montana city of Billings and seek out this wonderful red-stoned Moss Mansion Museum. I’m a big fan of this place which was once home to the wealthy Moss family, the stunning mansion was designed by Henry Janeway Hardenbergh in 1905. The high-end interiors, walls with gold threading, marble fireplace, and beautiful paintings are a perfect example of early American residential architecture.

Still intact with the original items of the home, the mansion is a doorway to the unique architecture of the past. Listed as a National Historic Place, the mansion has also appeared in many period films over the years. Today it’s managed by the Billings Preservation Society and the museum hosts a variety of cultural events all year round.

My must-do highlights

  • Admire the gorgeous and upscale interiors within the property.
  • Check out what events are being hosted at the mansion and grab a ticket to go.
  • Take a tour around this National Historic Place to learn about its history.

19. Lolo Trail

Wild Goose Island Lookout

Lolo Trail Montana

Described by Lewis and Clark as the most challenging yet majestic portion of their journey, the Lolo Trail is not only of immense significance in US history, but it is also one of the top places to visit in Montana. Go hiking or mountain biking for miles on one of the most famous trails in the United States.

You can see the Lewis and Clark camps such as 13-Mile, Sinque Hole, Lonesome Cove and others and stop off at the visitor center to get practical information as well as historical insight into the Lewis and Clark and Native American trails.

My must-do highlights

  • Enjoy a thrilling ride through the trails on a mountain bike to cover more ground and see the stunning scenery.
  • Take a picnic and have a break at one of the designated areas whilst being surrounded by the tranquil nature.
  • Explore this location by foot and discover the magic within the forests.

20. Whitefish Mountain Resort

Whitefish Mountain Resort

Whiteface ski resort Montana

Big Mountain in northwestern Montana is home to one of the top destinations in the state. Whitefish Mountain Resort has hosted its fair share of championships and has provided training slopes for many US Olympic athletes such as Andrea Mead, Tommy Moe, and others.

Located in Flathead County, near Going-to-the-Sun Road and Glacier National Park, the town of Whitefish is famous for its world-class skiing, but it also boasts a freshwater lake that is a popular Montana travel destination for those who like boating or simply taking in the spectacular views.

My must-do highlights

  • Sour through the sky on a zipline tour to witness a bird’s eye view overlooking the lands.
  • With over 3,000 acres of snow-covered terrain in the winter, skiing or snowboarding is a must-do activity.
  • Slow down with a scenic chair lift that takes you up to wonderful areas across the resort.

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