Off the Beaten Path Series, Travel Destinations & Stories

30 Must-See Places to Visit in Montana

Are you taking a trip to Montana this summer? The Big Sky Country and natural beauty combine in Montana to create unforgettable experiences and incredible memories! This state has something to offer everyone, from rugged mountains to pristine lakes. Here are the 33 best places to visit in Montana that you won’t want to miss!

  • Glacier National Park – Known as the Crown of the Continent, this park boasts stunning alpine scenery and over 700 miles of hiking trails.
  • Yellowstone National Park – One of the most popular national parks in the country, Yellowstone is home to the iconic Old Faithful geyser and abundant wildlife. I have to say, this has been my favorite National Park thus far! Tip: Go early in the morning. Absolutely incredible!
  • Flathead Lake – With crystal-clear waters and beautiful mountain views, this lake is a must-see when visiting Montana. There is so much to do here!
  • Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area – This hidden gem offers breathtaking views of steep cliffs, majestic canyons, and excellent fishing and camping opportunities.
  • Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park – These limestone caverns feature fascinating formations and underground lakes, making it a unique and educational experience.
  • Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument – This historical site marks the location of the famous battle between the U.S. Army and the Sioux and Cheyenne Native American tribes.
  • Museum of the Rockies showcases Montana’s natural and cultural history, including a collection of dinosaur fossils.
  • Lolo National Forest – With over 2 million acres of forests, mountains, and rivers, this is a must-visit for outdoor enthusiasts.
  • Beartooth Highway – This scenic highway offers breathtaking views of the Beartooth Mountains, with numerous trails and camping opportunities. Another favorite scenic drive! If you want to see more, check out our blog here: The Most Scenic Road Trips in the USA
  • Virginia City – This historic mining town offers a glimpse into Montana’s past with preserved buildings and authentic 19th-century shops.
  • Montana Grizzly Encounter – This sanctuary provides a safe and educational experience to learn about grizzly bears up close. Such a great place to take the kids too!
  • Big Hole National Battlefield – Another historic site of the Nez Perce War, this battlefield offers interpretive displays and walking tours.
  • Red Lodge Mountain – Known for its excellent skiing and snowboarding, this resort also offers summer activities such as mountain biking and hiking.
  • Madison River – Renowned for its world-class fly fishing, it offers breathtaking scenery and unparalleled fishing opportunities.
  • Garnet Ghost Town – (this was one of our favorites!) This well-preserved ghost town offers visitors a glimpse into Montana’s mining history with rustic buildings and a museum.
  • Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site – This working cattle ranch showcases western ranching history and daily demonstrations.
  • Missouri River – Known for its blue-ribbon trout fisheries, the Missouri River offers unparalleled fishing opportunities and scenic float trips.
  • Bridger Bowl – This ski resort offers some of Montana’s best skiing and snowboarding, with breathtaking views and challenging terrain.
  • Philipsburg – This charming town offers unique shopping and dining options and sapphire mining opportunities.
  • National Museum of Forest Service History – This museum tells the story of the Forest Service’s impact on the environment and provides educational exhibits.
  • Montana State Capitol – This impressive building offers tours and a chance to learn about Montana’s political history.
  • Libby Dam – This hydroelectric dam offers stunning views of the Kootenai River and surrounding mountains and excellent fishing and hiking opportunities.
  • Giant Springs State Park – This park features one of the largest freshwater springs in the country, along with a fish hatchery and scenic trails.
  • Philipsburg Bay – This scenic bay on Georgetown Lake offers excellent recreation opportunities, including fishing, boating, and hiking.
  • Clark Fork River – This river offers world-class whitewater rafting and kayaking, as well as stunning scenery and fishing opportunities.
  • Alpine Meadows Golf Club – This scenic golf course offers challenging play and stunning mountain views.
  • Lone Mountain Ranch – This historic ranch offers a unique lodging experience, with horseback riding and fly fishing activities.
  • Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness – This untamed wilderness offers stunning views, challenging hikes, and opportunities for solitude.
  • Greycliff Prairie Dog Town State Park – This unique park offers the chance to observe prairie dogs in their natural habitat.
  • National Bison Range – This wildlife refuge is home to over 350 bison and other native wildlife.
  • Blacktail Mountain Ski Area – This ski resort offers excellent skiing and snowboarding with stunning views of Flathead Lake.
  • Madison Buffalo Jump State Park – This historic site showcases the traditional hunting practices of Native American tribes and scenic hiking trails.
  • Flathead National Forest – With over 2.4 million acres of forests, mountains, and lakes, this forest offers countless outdoor recreation and adventure opportunities.

Montana has it all, whether you’re seeking outdoor adventure, culture, history, or simply stunning scenery. Plan your visit to these top 33 places and create memories that will last a lifetime!

We also found some amazing hidden gems in Montana! Check out our blog here!

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Glacier National Park
Boondocking / Dry Camping, Travel Destinations & Stories

5 Must-See Places in Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park is one of the most breathtaking places to visit in Montana; numerous spots are worth checking out. The park has stunning landscapes that showcase the beauty of the Rockies, and it has endless opportunities for outdoor activities. Below are some of the popular places to visit at Glacier National Park.

  • Going-to-the-Sun Road: If you look online, you see so many people stating it takes 45 minutes to drive this road. Please schedule a whole day! There are many places to pull over, and enjoy the views! Going-to-the-Sun Road is an iconic highway that cuts through the park, offering a picturesque drive to the Rockies. It passes through the Continental Divide and Logan Pass, providing breathtaking views of the valleys below. Tip: Make sure you know the dates when it’s open. When we were there, it didn’t even open until after July 4th weekend.
  • Lake McDonald: Lake McDonald is one of the largest lakes in the park, offering a breathtaking view of the surrounding mountains. It’s popular for kayaking, fishing, and swimming, making it an ideal destination for families.
  • Grinnell Glacier: Grinnell Glacier is a must-see for any hiker visiting National Park. The hike is challenging but offers stunning views of the glacier and the valley below. Visitors can also see diverse flora and wildlife along the hike, making it a fantastic adventure for nature lovers. Take your bear spray!
  • Many Glacier: Many Glacier is an area in the park known for endless hiking trails and stunning views. Visitors can go on a boat tour of the swift current, enjoy horseback riding, or hike to the Grinnell Glacier.
  • Two Medicine: Two Medicine is a tranquil park area with many hiking trails, fishing spots, and stunning vistas. Visitors can hike to the Scenic Point or Medicine Grizzly Lake to enjoy the beauty of the rugged landscape.

No matter which spot you choose to explore, Glacier National Park is a destination that offers endless adventures and breathtaking views. Whether you’re hiking, kayaking, or just driving down the Going-to-the-Sun Road, you’re bound to find something new and discover at Glacier National Park. So pack your bags, grab your camera, and start your trip today!

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Off the Beaten Path Series

Off the Beaten Path in Montana – Our Top Hidden Gems in Montana!

As full-time RV’ers, we travel and see a lot. This is part of our Opting Out of Normal series where we explore the “Off the Beaten Path” of every state.  Of course, we love the big popular stuff like everyone else, but there is just something incredible about discovering something unique and different to see as well. We certainly can’t explore them all, but we’d love you to include your favorites below too. We live our name – Opting Out of Normal.

Summer is the perfect time to visit Montana. It gets a little warm in Montana, but most days are pleasant and comfortable.


Kootenai Falls & Swinging Bridge

Located between Libby and Troy, (mile marker 21) the swinging bridge is only about half a mile from the parking area located on Highway 2.

Swinging Bridge Libby Montana

There is a place to eat lunch and bathrooms too. It’s just downstream from Kootenai Falls, the bridge offers access to the other side of the Kootenai River, offering a better view of the falls and connecting to multiple hiking paths. Fun Fact: The bridge was featured in the hit movie, The River Wild. Fun Fact #2: Kayakers can use the bridge to gain access to the famous Super Hole and other river access points.

Garnet Ghost Town

Hidden high in the Garnet Mountain Range east of Missoula. This was one of the coolest things we saw in Montana. The history of this little town is unbelievable.

For a town built that was never intended to last, this is Montana’s most intact ghost town. The miners were more interested in collecting the riches below ground than building above. As a result, buildings grew quickly, most lacking foundations. They were small and easy to heat. Yet, a century after Garnet emerged, remnants of the town stand. If you do nothing else on this list, definitely explore this!

Garnet

The Boiling River

Boiling River flows into the Gardner River and is as natural as it gets.  Just two miles from Yellowstone National Park’s North gate. The hot water and the cool water flow together, meeting in small, stone pools that create natural hot tubs for soaking.

Boiling River

The water flowing from Mammoth Hot Springs is very hot, so be careful. This is public land, and free to use as long as you follow the posted rules. 

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The Ringing Rocks

This place is a crazy phenomenon in my opinion. I’ve seen piles of rocks that don’t “ring”, so these just don’t make sense to me, but it’s fascinating to go see. Pack some hammers for this! Different types, and sizes. You’ll figure it out when you get there! The Ringing Rocks near Butte ring melodically when tapped gently with a hammer. Some sound completely hollow.

Ringing Rocks, near Butte

This pile of rocks exists as part of the edge of the Boulder Batholith, a geological formation that reaches from Helena to Dillon, covering roughly 1,900 square miles. The rock’s composition and connection patterns create the condition that causes the rocks to ring when struck. Scientists say that once removed from the formation, the rocks no longer ring. Just go check this out! It’s really fun for kids too!  Beware though, the roads to reach the rocks are often treacherous.

Havre Beneath the Streets

This is really bizarre and we really love stuff like this! It’s a little on the shady side when you do the Havre Beneath the Streets underground tour. When a fire almost decimated the town in 1904, adaptable business owners moved underground.

Havre

Some shops opened in their basements, and together, they created a series of tunnels that stretched about a six-block radius. They carried on business as usual during the rebuilding of the town above-ground. There is a barbershop, a general store, a saloon, a bordello, and others. If you’re looking for unique, definitely put this one on your list.

Jim’s Horn House

Ready for this one? Ha! This is a collection of 16,000 antlers crammed beautifully into a small shed. It’s actually very beautifully displayed. Art!! For the last six decades, Jim’s favorite pastime has been to hike out into the Montana backcountry, braving the elements, for the sole purpose of picking up thousands of pairs of stray antlers.

Anthouse2

Since starting his collection as a 10-year-old boy, the “Antler Man” has amassed a grand total of 16,000 antlers, all of which are on display in one well-lit shed in Three Forks, Montana. His story is absolutely fascinating and touching. I won’t spoil it! If you’re lucky enough to get a tour, you’ll be able to hear his story firsthand. 

Antlerhouse1

Know Before You Go: Jim isn’t open as a business. But he does love to share his collection with you, but you must email him (yes, I swear, this is legitimate) and he will give you his address if he’s able to give you a tour. His email is 2jd3law4@gmail.com

Holland Lake

Holland Lake is a small glacier lake in the Flathead Valley National Forest. Yes! this picture is mine and it’s what we saw most days if we woke up early enough. Just gorgeous! We were lucky enough to work here over the summer last year as workampers. (If you would like to read our workamping blog, click here) It is a paid campground with no hookups, but oh the lake! Just wow!

HOLLAND LAKE, MT
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And the hiking as well is just something completely worth the stay. There is a beautiful, short hike to the waterfalls, and you can also take a longer hike up to Upper Holland Lake. But don’t go too early, as Upper Holland Lake is frozen until the middle of June. We normally are all about free camping and boondocking but I had to include this beautiful out of the way area on our list. It’s worth a stop! There is a day-use area if you just want to enjoy it for the day and take a hike from there. You may not be able to get into Holland Lake to camp (it’s off the beaten path, but it’s a very busy campground for the locals who usually head from Helena every summer). But, there is boondocking right next to Holland Lake (walking distance even) called Owl Creek.

Want to check out all our favorite boondocking locations in Montana? Click the button below for lots of great boondocking and paid campground information.

Morrell Falls

This might not be an “off the beaten path” place, but we hiked up to Morrell Falls and it’s worth a trip! The water that comes over the top of these falls is so intense, that it was hard to get pictures because as soon as we lifted our camera, it would be full of mist. We hiked in, sat in the beautiful spray of the water, ate lunch, and enjoyed a very easy hike back out.

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Here are some more of our travel blogs we think you’ll love!

Thank you for coming to our little corner of the internet. We hope you found some fun things to see and explore. We’d love to hear from you! Where are your favorite hidden gems in Montana?

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Off the Beaten Path Series, Travel Destinations & Stories

The Most Scenic Road Trips in the USA

From small towns to big cities, the United States really has some epic scenic road trips to take. There is no shortage of scenic highways and byways to explore.

We’ve lived and traveled full time in our RV now for over 4 years. You could even say, we’ve been on the most epic road trip of all! We’ve made 3 full circles around the United States so far, and we aren’t stopping yet.

From the oceans to the mountains and everything in between, here are our favorite road trips!

Mirror Lake Scenic Byway – Utah

This is a 42-mile drive. But it took us about 4 days to do the whole thing because there are so many overlooks and other stops to make. Heading east from Kamas through the national forest, Mirror Lake Highway is one of the most popular mountain routes in the state. The road winds through farm and ranch lands and rises to heavily forested, mountain terrain, accented by meadows and rugged peaks. We happen to catch this in the fall, and it was the most explosive color we’ve ever seen! Don’t forget to stop at Provo Falls. Not a hard hike at all. It’s literally right off the parking area.

You can check out some of our video information here!

Independence Pass – Colorado

Another one of our very favorite road trips was Independence Pass in Colorado. It’s a spectacular drive as well as an adventure with hairpin turns, sheer drops, and narrow roads. Climbing up to 12,000 feet in elevation and enjoying the stop at the top of the Continental Divide. The scenery at the pass and all along the 44-mile route is some of the most dramatic in all Colorado. Driving this scenic road in August was perfect timing. We experienced almost a spring-like bloom of flowers everywhere. Don’t forget to stop at Independence Ghost Town and also The Devil’s Punchbowl. Those were two of our favorite stops. Check out more on our video below.

PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) – California

Yes, this is on everyone’s list, but I was born and raised in central California, so I have driven this road more times than I can count, so it’s worth mentioning. It is, perhaps, the most iconic highway (so I’ve read) but there are some amazing stops to make along this 655 miles of highway.

Don’t miss anything on this highway. Everything is worth exploring. From North to South, there are so many scenic stops, places to explore, and beautiful landscapes to take in.

Route 66

We haven’t been on every stretch of Route 66, but have really enjoyed the sections we have explored. The history and fun restorations of original restaurants and gas stations are really fun to explore. It takes you back to simpler times. Our favorite part, was Shamrock, Texas. What’s your favorite part of Route 66?

Blue Ridge Parkway

Another favorite of ours! We have a few funny stories about the Blue Ridge Parkway road trip. It was late in the season when we went to explore it. However, we ended up stuck in the middle of two sections in North Carolina that were closed off. So we actually got to see some beautiful parts of the scenic parkway that others didn’t. The Parkway runs from Virginia all the way to Cherokee, North Carolina. We hope to do this entire parkway drive soon. The tunnels that cut through rocks were our favorite! Incredible scenic stops are everywhere on the Parkway.

US 1 – Overseas Highway – Florida

Leaving the mainland for the 120-mile-long island chain of Florida’s Keys, travelers enter a paradise of beach bars, water sports, and incredible sections of the bluest water you’ve ever seen. From Key Largo to Key West, the highway strings the islands together. Crossing turquoise waters on 7-mile Bridge, journeying above coral reefs, and cutting through stunning tropical islands, the Overseas Highway offers one of the most scenic driving experiences on the planet. How long does it take to drive? Allowing for traffic, it takes roughly four hours to drive the Overseas Highway one-way. However, it’s worth giving yourself more time than this to explore the many gems along the way. With a couple of fun stops and a break for a leisurely local lunch, we would recommend eight to ten hours to drive the Overseas Highway.

North Shore Scenic Drive – Minnesota

If you drive this entire scenic drive, you’ll drive 148 miles. Well worth the time! There are so many incredible stops along the North Shore Drive, I highly recommend taking your time. There is something for everyone on this drive. From golf courses to lighthouses. Small shoreline towns offer restaurants serving local fish and produce as well as unique shops and art galleries. Our favorite stops include the Split Rock Lighthouse and Gooseberry Falls State Park. But there is so much more to see!

Wind River Canyon Scenic Byway – Wyoming

Amazing! And yes, you can drive your RV through those tunnels. We did it! The Wind River Canyon Scenic Byway begins in the town of Shoshoni at milepost 100. Following U.S. 20 north through Wind River Canyon and the Wind River Indian Reservation, the route ends just north of the city of Thermopolis (The world’s biggest hot spring) at milepost 134. Without stopping, the total drive time is about 40 minutes. But please stop!

Kancamagus Highway — New Hampshire

This one is probably one you might not have heard of before. But well worth checking out! Especially in the fall. The locals call it “The Kanc”. While the Kancamagus Highway is scenic year-round, it’s best driven in the fall when the trees’ colors are on fire. The leaves usually start changing in mid-to-late September and peak in mid-October, just FYI. For a touch of history, stop off at the 120-foot Albany Covered Bridge, which dates back to 1858.

Going To The Sun Road – Montana

Definitely not a road trip to do while pulling an RV. But if you’re up in Montana in your RV, just leave it at the campground. This is a must-do road! This road is one of the last roads to open for the season and the first to close. So your window of time is small.

Though Going-to-the-Sun Road isn’t that long in terms of mileage, don’t be fooled into thinking you can drive the whole thing in an hour. There are lots of scenic overlooks and points of interest along the way, so don’t rush through it. To truly experience Going-to-the-Sun Road, you should set aside one full day. That way, you’ll have time to stop at every remarkable spot. If you’re short on time, give yourself a minimum of three hours.

There are so many amazing road trips to take in the U.S. What are your favorites? We’d love to hear!

Here are a few blogs we think you’ll love!

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Uncategorized

Magnificent Montana – Our Summer in Montana as Full Time RVers

A story about how we left everything behind for a life lived more intentionally, and how we spent our first summer in Montana.

“At some point, you have to make a decision. Boundaries don’t keep other people out, they fence you in. Life is messy. That’s how we’re made. So you can waste your life drawing lines, or you can live your life crossing them. But there are some lines that are way too dangerous to cross. Here’s what I know: If you’re willing to take the chance, the view from the other side is spectacular.”

Grays Anatomy

Reactions

When we decided to go full-time in our RV, we got many mixed reactions. We were thankful for the positive encouragement of most. The countless numbers of people who said they were envious, and cheered us on or told us how we were an inspiration to them. There were a small few who doubted we could do this, called us crazy, and gave us examples of things they knew nothing about.

Montana Bound

We decided we would try our hand at workamping. We arrived in Montana where we knew we’d settle for a few months. We were excited to explore, but also learn, meet people, and help run a campground. So it was a win-win for us. We are just finishing up the Memorial Day weekend where we had 3 full days of a completely full campground to take care of. We have gotten so much energy from the people out there to who we have told our story. The encouragement and energy we received was amazing. We never doubted we could do this. We are enjoying it 100% and feel blessed and fortunate. But we all know there are those moments when our insecurities creep in and we hear the words of the naive people who doubted we could do this or called us stupid for what we were doing find it’s way into a fleeting thought in a weak moment. None of these campers this weekend will read this, or understand just what they have given us, even though we were the ones that were supposed to be the givers this weekend.

In our home, we do deployment. We do forgiveness. We do loud really well. We have fun. We do honor. We do courage, and we do commitment. We are strong. We get through the hard times. We do integrity. We do lots of hugs and kisses. We keep our promises. We believe in happily ever after. We do homecomings. We are blessed.

LIVE SIMPLY – GIVE MORE – EXPECT LESS