From spectacular mountain views to mid-sized cities, Montana features many awe-inspiring destinations for an unforgettable summer getaway. Explore forest trails; go fishing at lakes and rivers; or spend a day perusing galleries and shops, all within a short distance of most Montana vacation rentals across the state. Here are 10 of the best places to take a summer vacation in Montana.
1. Glacier National Park
Filled with iconic glaciers, peaks, and lakes, Glacier National Park is an outdoor enthusiasts paradise. Explore the park from a vacation rental in West Glacier, East Glacier or one of the many towns just outside the park. See the park without the hassle of driving with a bus tour from Sun Tours or Xanterra. While in the park enjoy the views from Lake McDonald, Two Medicine, Rising Sun, and Many Glacier with a relaxed boat tour. For a thrill consider a rafting trip with the Montana Raft Company or Glacier Raft Company in West Glacier. Swan Mountain Outfitters offers horseback rides on some park trails.
2. West Yellowstone
While most of the park is located in Wyoming, a vacation rental near Montana’s west entrance to Yellowstone is a great way to see the splendor of America’s first national park. Yellowstone Vacation Tours provides bus tours of the park out of West Yellowstone. The town is also a good home-base for anglers, who can fish for trout and other species in the numerous rivers just a short drive away. The Grizzly & Wolf Discover Center gives your family to see the apex predators of the park ecosystem up close. The center also has a museum with exhibits about the animals.
Montana’s second largest city, Missoula, has plenty of summer fun to offer. Just outside the city the SnowBowl ski area has a variety of summer activities. Ride the chairlift up the mountain to enjoy grand vistas before heading down on foot or your mountain bike. There’s also a zip line and disc golf course, making it easy to spend an entire day in nature. In town there are more than 22 miles of bike trails to check out. If you don’t have your own bikes at your vacation rental, you can rent them from Missoula Bicycle Works or Big Sky Bikes. The shoreline of the Clark Fork River, which is lined by several parks for picnics, makes a prime biking route. When you want to head indoors, the city has several museums to visit, such as the Missoula Art Museum and the Montana Natural History Museum.
Located in central Montana, Bozeman is close to numerous hiking, biking, and fishing opportunities. Popular hiking destinations include the 80-foot tall Palisade Falls and Gallatin River. The river is also a fly fishing and whitewater rafting destination. Anglers can stock up on gear and ask about the best spots at The River’s Edge Fly Shop or Montana Troutfitters. Montana Grizzly Encounter lets you see live grizzlies and learn about the bears. A visit to the Museum of the Rockies includes the Tinsley House and the Living History Farm, which replicates a working late 1800’s homestead, complete with costumed actors. Inside the museum you can view a Tyrannosaurus skull, see a traveling exhibit, or catch a showing at the planetarium. Bozeman is also a short drive from the north entrance to Yellowstone Park.
Located just north of Flathead Lake, Kalispell is a relaxed place to spend your summer vacation. Hit the links with a round at Buffalo Hill Golf Club, or cool down from the summer heat at Woodland Water Park, which features slides, a pool, and a lazy river. Hikers can get away from it all on the trails at Lone Pine State Park or Herron Park. Explore Flathead Lake by boat with a rental from Wild Wave Watercraft & Boat or Bigfork Outdoor Rentals. Flathead Lake State Park, which has multiple locations around the lake, offers swimming and picnic areas perfect for sunny summer days.
Montana’s capital city, Helena has a rich history and striking architecture, such as the capitol building and the Cathedral of Saint Helena. Mount Helena City Park has hiking trails and views from the top of Mount Helena just minutes from your in-town vacation rental. Children and kids-at-heart enjoy the Great Northern Carousel, which has hand-carved animals to ride. Centennial Park has playgrounds and trails, as well as a dog area so your canine pal can join in the summer fun. Last Chance Splash Waterpark and Pool is a favorite spot for locals and visitors looking to beat the heat. See more of the city with a bicycle rental from Big Sky Cycling and Fitness.
Learn about Butte’s mining past with a stop at the World Museum of Mining, which features a recreated 1890s mining town. Nearby Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest has numerous trails with diverse destinations, including alpine lakes and ghost towns. Venture through the mountains near the city at a faster pace with an ATV tour from Montana ATV Adventures. For a more relaxing stroll, the Butte’s old town features a variety of historic buildings to take in. After your walk stop by Farley and Mary Dees North Star Diner and Ice Cream for a frozen treat.
Located near Glacier National Park on the shores of Whitefish Lake, Whitefish has a thriving downtown with shops and restaurants, such as Tupelo Grille and Stillwater Fish House. Downtown also has a variety of galleries, including Underscore Art and Going to the Sun Gallery, that make the streets perfect for meandering. Whitefish Lake State Park has a swimming area and picnic spots with views of the lake and the mountains beyond. Golfers can get in eighteen holes at Whitefish Lake Golf Club, while Whitefish Marine rents power and pontoon boats so you can get out on the lake to fish or play.
Montana’s largest city, Billings, has a walkable downtown with galleries, museums, and shops perfect for summer evenings. Downtown is also home to a collection of local breweries and distilleries, including Angry Hank’s Microbrewery and Montana Brewing Company. Many of the establishments have outdoor seating so you can enjoy the good weather. Swim laps or try out the water slides at Rose Park Pool or South Park Pool, the city’s two public pools. ZooMontana contains a botanical park as well as popular animal favorites that draw children and adults alike.
10. Great Falls
Great Falls is located on the shores of the Missouri River, which offers numerous recreational activities in or near town. Giant Springs State Park Great Falls has large freshwater springs that make a perfect backdrop for picnics, as well as several miles of trails. The park hosts special events throughout the summer and is also home to the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail Interpretive Center. Explore the Missouri and other nearby rivers by boat with Montana River Outfitters. While several of the waterfalls that gave Great Falls its name have been submerged behind dams, you can still visit Crooked Falls to experience the power of the river.
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