Montana is well known as a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Winter sports, water sports, biking, hiking, you name it. Those who have been there call it Big Sky Country because of the rugged otherworldly beauty. A scenic drive through the Rockies, or along one of the longest state stretches of border with Canada will leave you breathless.
Glacier National Park
With exceptional alpine scenery and deep valleys filled with ancient forests, Glacier National Park is a year-round paradise. Scale its heights following trails pioneered by legendary Swiss mountain guides, take a gentle stroll amid moss-draped old-growth cedars or hike through alpine meadows strewn with lichen-covered boulders.
After a day’s exploring, sink into an armchair before a roaring fire and steep yourself in the history of Rogers Pass, the final link in the railway that brought Canada together as a nation.
The largest natural lake in the Western US is Flathead. It has 200 square miles of water and 185 miles of shore. Thanks to the Swan and Flathead rivers, fishermen and water enthusiasts have made the lake a Montana destination spot.
Part of the lake is on tribal reservation land and visitors must purchase a pass to visit this gorgeous stretch of the lake. If you’re arriving during Memorial Day, you can catch the annual Bigfork Whitewater Festival.
Triple Falls is a hidden location among the alpine meadows dubbed the Hanging Gardens in Logan Pass, Glacier National Park, Montana.
This stunning waterfall is a also known as Double or Quadruple Falls depending on the number of streams joining the Reynolds Creek as it flows towards lower elevations, often a reflection of how much snow has melted. The landscape master Galen Rowell was among the first to photograph it, instantaneously elevating the site to an iconic status.
Avalanche Gorge is a must see destination for anyone in the West Glacier area. With its luscious green canopy of moss and brilliant red rocks, there is no wonder why this little gorge is a favorite destination of photographers and travelers alike.
At the falls near the bridge, the stream dives into an incredibly narrow chasm for about forty feet. Some days when the light is right, you can view rays of sunlight as they reach down into the gorge where the creek pours over small punch bowl style waterfalls.
Saint Mary Lake
St. Mary Lake in Glacier National Park is absolutely stunning. This long and big lake is surrounded by huge, steeply rising mountains on three sides, with gently rolling prairie and forested hillsides found along its eastern shoreline. The water is exceptionally clear and remains quite cool all summer long.
Saint Mary Lake is the second largest lake in Glacier National Park, in the U.S. state of Montana. Located on the east side of the park, the Going-to-the-Sun Road parallels the lake along its north shore.
One of the most striking feature of some of the lakes in the Glacier National Park is the presence of a variety of colored rocks and pebbles just below the water surface and on the shores. The rocks range in color from dark red to maroon, and from green to blue.
Colored pebbles are seen in abundance on the shores of Lake McDonald on the western side of the park. Lake McDonald is the largest of the lakes of Glacier National Park with a surface area of 6,823 acres. It is also the longest, at over 15 km, as well as the deepest lake at 141 meters.
These rocks are actually all around Glacier National Park, and were formed at different eras. When the glaciers came, it broke down the rocks into tiny fragments and the rivers washed them away. Many of these got deposited onto the lakes and “tarns” – lakes formed by filling the bottoms of ice-scoured amphitheaters. Water erosion then rendered them into smooth pebbles.
West Thumb Geyser Basin, Yellowstone
The West Thumb Geyser Basin is situated at the western edge of a large bay along the shores of Yellowstone Lake. This area is known as the West Thumb caldera which was formed by a volcanic eruption that took place 174,000 years ago. This bay is actually a smaller caldera within the larger Yellowstone caldera. The resulting caldera filled with water, creating the bay.
West Thumb Geyser Basin is the largest geyser basin along the lake with many features lying underneath the water.
Grinnell Lake is the reward at the end of the Grinnell Lake Trail. And what a reward it is! The entire trail, although considered one of the easiest hikes in Glacier National Park, also offers some of the most spectacular scenery.
The lake has an opaque turquoise appearance from the rock flour (silt) which is transported to the lake from Grinnell Glacier.
One of the most popular trails in Glacier National Park (Montana), Iceberg Lake has icebergs (fallen from the adjacent 3000′ cirque walls) well into August and sometimes beyond. The trail runs along the generally open Wilbur Creek valley.
Although open and hot, there are plenty of little waterfalls along the trail, so bring along your filter. A popular day hike destination, Iceberg Lake Trail is one of the best hiking trails in Glacier Park. Spectacular views of mountains, wildflower meadows and an iceberg filled lake.
Boardwalk, Trail of the Cedars
Trail of the Cedars, a flat boardwalk and paved path through beautiful old cedars and hemlocks. The humidity in this valley allows the cedars to grow to heights of 100 feet, and diameters of 4 to 7 feet. Some of the trees in this area are more than 500 years old.
Weir Creek Hot Springs
Weir Creek Hot Springs is a well-kept secret we shouldn’t even be posting online just to keep it that way. But, you deserve to treat yourself in a long, hot, steaming soak in the middle of wilderness. If you can make it along the trail, that is.
Despite the seclusion, Weir is still a popular hang-out that’s rarely empty. But it’s a nice-sized pool that can fit about seven to ten comfortably. A hot water stream trickles down the boulders above the pool, feeding into it. Dark firs crowd around the pool. It’s easy to never want to leave again.
Reynolds Mountain, Glacier National Park
Reynolds Mountain is a true horn located about 1.5 miles south of the Logan Pass Visitor Center in Glacier National Park. The short approach and relatively small elevation gain of about 2,500 feet make this an easy day climb by any of the four established routes.
These factors also make Reynolds Mountain an excellent choice for climbers new to Glacier to become familiar with the somewhat unique rock and the grading system used in the local guidebook.
Headwaters Camp, Big Sky
The project, Yellowstone Club’s Headwaters Camp, located in Big Sky, Montana, is carefully cradled in a world defined by the orderly needs of the program and the random artistry of nature in the extreme. Set on the edge of a series of man-made ponds, streams, and falls, a rustic cabin appears to hover over the sparkling waters of a high mountain alpine lake.
Highway 93 North from Missoula
Spend some time in western Montana and you’ll see the bumper sticker: “Pray for me, I drive U.S. 93.” This highway runs from Arizona to Canada. It is a two-laner through much of Montana, entering big-sky country from Idaho at Lost Trail Pass and passing through Missoula.
The road is heavily used, ﬁlled with recreational travelers as well as commercial and local trafﬁc. It is also Montana’s most dangerous two-lane highway – not only for people but animals.
Jackson Glacier, Glacier National Park
Jackson Glacier is visible from Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park. A part of the largest grouping of glaciers in the park, Jackson Glacier rests on the north side of Mount Jackson.
Jackson Glacier is one of the easiest of the park’s glaciers to observe and is located south of the Going-to-the-Sun Road on the east side of the Continental Divide, upper St. Mary Valley.