John Steinbeck said it best when he called Montana a “love affair”, but how else does one describe the great variety of this state?
Montana is a canvas – a blue, endless sky and the golden hue of wheat fields running off toward a distant horizon. Montana is flatlands and badlands, mountains with rolling hills and rough, jagged peaks. Cowboys and entrepreneurs. Hard work, sweat and determination. Here, the Wild West lives on.
Visiting Mount Rushmore? Headed to Yellowstone National Park? Interstates 90 and 94 intersect in Billings, Montana’s Trailhead and the state’s largest city. Billings is also home to Montana’s busiest airport, making it a convenient destination for travellers. Billings, a city of just over 100,000, has seven microbreweries within walking distance of the city’s downtown. Throughout the summer, Billings is alive with street festivals, outdoor concerts and sporting events. Each Saturday the downtown streets are filled with the brightly colored booths of the weekly farmer’s market, featuring fresh produce from the farms and ranches of Southeast Montana.
But to really catch a glimpse of the Old West, you’ll have to stop in a small town. In August, the cow-towns of Glendive, Broadus and Ekalaka come alive during their annual county fairs. From rodeos to 4-H livestock showings, these fairs are a true showcase of what being a Montanan is all about. Miles City, east of Billings on Interstate 94, is home to the Bucking Horse Sale, also known as “Cowboy Mardi Gras”, each May.
Makoshika State Park, just south of Glendive, is Montana’s largest state park and contains some of the most spectacular badlands scenery in the nation. It is also home to some of the highest concentrations of exposed dinosaur fossils in the world. The Montana Dinosaur Trail guides visitors to 14 dinosaur museums across Montana. The Makoshika Dinosaur Museum and Ekalaka’s Carter County Museum are just two of the 14 stops along the trail. Interested in digging for dinosaur bones? Contact the Glendive Dinosaur and Fossil Museum or Baisch’s Dinosaur Digs to organize a day of fossil hunting in the Montana Badlands.
From Belle Fourche, South Dakota, the Warrior Trail Highway will take you on a scenic drive through Custer National Forest and the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation before ending at the Little Bighorn Battlefield, just outside of Crow Agency, Montana. At a distance of 280 miles, Highway 212 is the shortest route from Mount Rushmore to the Little Bighorn Battlefield.