Montana is an oasis in the West, boasting adventure and culture for any visitor to enjoy, its rich history and breathtaking nature offering plenty of things to see and do in this amazing state.
Montana is a haven for nature enthusiasts, as its lower 48 states boast the largest concentration of grizzly bears (its official state animal). Plus, with 10 national parks to visit and wildlife sighting opportunities aplenty!
1. Flathead Cherries
Flathead Valley in western Montana has long been recognized for its sweet cherry crop, which has thrived there since 1893. Thanks to Flathead Lake and its glacier-fed waters, which protect sweet cherry trees from harsh winter temperatures and spring frosts, this specialty crop thrives here today.
Montanan home gardens and commercial orchards cultivate both sweet and tart cherries for harvest, with sweet varieties dominating due to Montana’s climate. Though both types can be grown successfully in Montana’s climate.
One of the most sought-after varieties is Lapins, a dark almost black cherry variety known for its large size and sweetness that appeal to consumers as well as retailers with good shelf-life.
Sonata cherry varieties are also highly sought-after, being black with firm flesh that features an appealing lustre. Cropping heavily, Sonata varieties make an excellent retail choice.
There are three main varieties of cherries: sweet, tart and Canadian bush cherries. At the University of Saskatchewan, sour cherry dwarf varieties have been developed that combine hardiness with short stature for high-quality fruit production.
Cherries with sweet and sour flavors often rank over 20 on the Brix Scale, which measures sugar content in fruits. Hardy enough for home gardens or small farms alike, cherry trees make an excellent option.
Flathead Lake area residents and visitors are treated to an annual Sweet Cherry Festival held in Polson. You can visit many orchards to pick fresh cherries or indulge in delectable cherry treats!
Huckleberries, closely related to blueberries, thrive in forests and mountainous areas with ample vegetation cover, along lakes or streams at higher elevations. As an excellent source of antioxidants and fiber content, they’re delicious when eaten either fresh or dried!
Red or purple raspberries feature more tart flavors and larger seeds than blueberries, boasting high concentrations of vitamin C and antioxidants to strengthen immunity and fight off disease; in addition, these berries also contain iron that can prevent anemia.
While Montana offers excellent huckleberry picking near Glacier National Park in the northwest, other parts of western Montana also have good picking grounds – trails around Snowbowl and Pattee Canyon are good destinations, along with hiking spots near Missoula.
Montana is home to several species of huckleberries, but the mountain huckleberry (Vaccinium uliginosum) is by far the most prevalent and nutritious of them all. Ranging in hue from red through light purple and deep purple hues, they’re packed full of vitamins A, B and C as a nutritional powerhouse!
Picking time for ripe berries usually runs from mid-July to early September, as their harvesting requires taking some effort and time. But it will definitely pay off!
Huckleberries are a nutritional powerhouse and make a delicious addition to breakfast or lunch, as well as tasty jam or ice cream! Plus they look pretty too!
Berry picking can be an enjoyable activity to fill an afternoon, but be wary that bears may find them an irresistible source of sustenance! Be vigilant and pay close attention to what’s around you if picking for fruit is something you plan on doing.
Montana is known as “The Treasure State,” thanks to Montana sapphires – they boast high clarity and unique colors that make them perfect for engagement rings or fine jewelry designs. Furthermore, their sustainable sourcing practices offer peace of mind to any environmentalist seeking ethical gemstones.
Gold prospectors discovered an unexpected find on the western side of Massachusetts during the early 1860s: a large deposit filled with colored sands and sapphires that many dismissed as worthless.
Gem merchants from London soon learned of Montana sapphires and began mining them, initially using them in industrial applications such as gauges, scales, electric power meters, and compasses.
Montana sapphires had pale appearance and did not possess the vibrant colors seen elsewhere, which led them to lack vibrant hues and transparency. Luckily, however, heat treatment improved this issue significantly by greatly enhancing both their colors and transparency.
Montana currently hosts several deposits of sapphire, such as Rock Creek, Yogo Gulch and Missouri River Bar. All three areas have been mined with various degrees of success for sapphire.
Rock Creek sapphires can be found in various colors, such as orange, pink and green hues. While most stones from this location weigh under one carat, larger stones up to 10 carats have also been cut from this location.
Dry Cottonwood Creek northwest of Butte was another notable Montana sapphire mining area, producing alluvial sapphires combined with placer gold mined in the early part of this century.
Montana sapphires usually feature an “icy” grey tone in their coloring; however, some specimens contain trace elements of vanadium that cause them to change from blue in daylight to violet or purple under incandescent light. This effect is caused by elements within the stone that help trigger it.
4. Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park is an internationally recognized UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and one of North America’s most spectacular natural wonders, boasting 1 million acres of exquisite landscapes with glacier-carved peaks, crystal clear lakes and dense ancient forests – an experience all can enjoy!
The park is home to numerous iconic species of animals, such as bears, moose, mountain goats, deer, bighorn sheep, wolves and wolverines. Furthermore, rare and endangered animals like Canada lynxes and northern bog lemmings also reside there.
Glacier National Park provides an ideal place for you to stay safe when around wildlife. Bears and wolves can be dangerous creatures to approach directly; always be wary when approaching bears or wolves directly. Also keep in mind migratory routes, and don’t attempt to approach wild animals you don’t recognize directly.
Thankfully, animals are very intelligent and adept at adapting to their environment. A mountain goat might climb a cliff face in search of food; alternatively they might dig for sustenance on the ground surface if necessary.
Plan your visit around the seasons if you want to witness Glacier National Park’s best wildlife. Summer months provide you with more chances to spot animals such as elk, bighorn sheep and bears who tend to frequent areas with higher elevations.
The park is home to various species of birds, such as hawks, owls and bald eagles. You’re likely to have more success finding these species on a clear day with few tourists nearby. To learn more about them visit the National Park Service’s website; or alternatively hire a guide for the duration of your journey.
5. Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park is an unsurpassed natural marvel, home to some of the world’s most legendary geysers, hot springs, waterfalls, bison herds, elk herds, bighorn sheep herds, antelope, deer, and wolves – as well as their respective populations.
Montana played an instrumental role in helping Yellowstone become America’s first national park, drawing thousands of Americans to its stunning scenery and impressive natural attractions during the 19th century. Montanans helped establish Yellowstone as America’s inaugural national park due to its unmatched natural beauty, abundant wildlife and breathtaking sights that attracted them here.
John Colter was the first non-Indian American to visit Yellowstone between 1807-08. He reported canyons, hot springs and waterfalls that were previously unknown at that time.
Today, Yellowstone National Park covers more than 3,500 square miles and is recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Encompassing Wyoming, Idaho and Montana – making it larger than Rhode Island and Delaware combined!
Yellowstone National Park offers visitors a spectacular experience year-round. Winter offers visitors the best way to witness its wildlife and scenery at their most captivating. Many geysers and waterfalls in Yellowstone’s national parks become more visible as many are frozen over, creating more access.
Park offers visitors an unforgettable wilderness experience and boasts some of the best trout fishing available in North America from late May until early November. Fishing season opens up every Friday.
Gardiner’s North Entrance remains open during winter to accommodate visitors.
If you need a break from exploring the National Park, why not stay at one of its gateway towns? Bozeman, Cooke City or Ennis all provide quality lodging options as well as fantastic museums in an unhurried atmosphere.