Central Montana: Cowboys, Ranches and Native American Traditions
Central Montana bridges the gap between mountains and rolling prairies – with wide-open big sky in between.
Whether you paddle a canoe down the wild and scenic, history-steeped Missouri River, camp along its White Cliffs or watch the magical spring migration of snow geese flocking to the waters of Freezeout Lake, this region is full of stunning diversions.
Into the Great Outdoors
The East Slope of the Rockies offers entrance points to the spectacular Bob Marshall Wilderness. Hike or ride horseback to experience this jaw-dropping wilderness scenery. Knowledgeable guides are available for both. Island mountain ranges dot the rolling grasslands to the east. Blue ribbon–rated trout fisheries and cold mountain streams offer endless opportunities for anglers.
Ride the rails on Montana’s premier dinner train, the Charlie Russell Chew Choo, departing near Lewistown. You’re in cattle ranching country here, and prime rib is on the menu. Nearby Martinsdale gives visitors a chance to tour the home of one of Montana’s most successful sheep ranchers at the Charles M. Bair Family Museum.
Get a History Lesson
Travel back to prehistoric times and view dinosaurs unearthed along the Montana Dinosaur Trail in the communities of Choteau, Bynum, Rudyard, Havre, Chinook and Harlowton. You can even participate in a dinosaur dig.
Don’t miss the C.M. Russell Museum in Great Falls, named after America’s cowboy artist, who captured this land and its Native American tribes on canvas. History lovers young and old will marvel at the endurance of the Lewis & Clark expedition at the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center located on the banks of the Missouri River in Great Falls.
Venture to Fort Benton, dubbed the birthplace of Montana, and tour the Old Fort and community museums. See Central Montana’s underground town at Havre Beneath the Streets. Havre’s buffalo jump and Fort Assiniboine will take you back in time.
The site of the last major Indian battle in the United States is south of Chinook on U.S. Highway 2. In 1877, Nez Perce Indians were fleeing the U.S. Cavalry in an attempt to get to Canada. The Bear Paw Battlefield site is where Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce gave a poignant surrender speech, finishing with “Hear me, my Chiefs! From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more, forever.”
Creating Festive Memories
Looking for a unique festival to attend? How about the Montana Bale Trail: What the Hay event between Hobson, Utica and Windham? The annual hay-bale decorating competition takes place the first Sunday after Labor Day on the heels of Lewistown’s Chokecherry Festival. Chokecherry pit spitting, culinary contests and vendors galore line Lewistown’s Main Street during this event.
You can attend a rodeo or Indian powwow in the region almost every weekend during the summer.
Create travel memories as you sleep in a tipi, an original homestead cabin or a sheepwagon. Visit the region’s small rural towns to experience local foods and culture.