Montana is a quaint, scenic, western state in the US. It is bordered by some Canadian provinces in the north, North and South Dakota in the east, Idaho in the west, and Wyoming in the south. Montana’s capital is Helena.
Known as “The Treasure State” and the “Land of the Shining Mountains”, the state is characterized by diverse landforms ranging from the Rocky Mountains to the Great plains.
It is a beautiful retreat for outdoor enthusiasts, with cultural attractions, scenic surroundings, and historic communities.
An insight into the small towns in Montana gives an overall view and understanding of this beautiful part of the United States.
7 most charming small towns in Montana
1. West Yellowstone
West Yellowstone is a small town in southern Montana. It is most well known for being the gateway to the Yellowstone National Park.
West Yellowstone has a population of around 1300, with around 55% of males and 45% of females.
Summers in West Yellowstone are generally short and comfortable with clear skies, while winters experience snowfall with freezing temperatures and partly cloudy skies.
In West Yellowstone, there is significant rainfall throughout the year.
Yellowstone National Park
The thought of the great outdoors brings us to the West Yellowstone national park on the top of a volcanic spot.
It gets its name from the Yellowstone River and features amazing canyons like the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, rivers, hot springs, and geysers, including the famous geyser, Old Faithful.
The Yellowstone National Park is home to various animals like bears, wolves, elks, bison, and antelopes.
Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center is another great attraction that lets tourists see live grizzly bears and wolves.
It is a nonprofit wildlife park with an educational facility and boasts of a Yellowstone museum that highlights the wildlife’s ecosystems and histories in the charming little town.
Cross country skiing across the rendezvous trails is another perfect wintertime adventure and offers a breath of fresh air along with excitement as you ski on the trails through pine forests and great meadows.
These are just a few of the outdoor recreations available to you!
Cultural and Historic buildings
Situated on the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, the Yellowstone Gateway Museum offers a great insight into this small town’s local history, wildlife, and geologies.
Then, the Paymill Theatre puts up live shows and musicals for the entertainment of adults and children alike. The theatre has been working to entertain people for around 50 years now.
Among the many historic buildings in Yellowstone, a few other mentionable places are Fort Yellowstone, trail museum at Northeast Entrance Station, Lake Hotel, Old Faithful Inn, and the Fly Fishing Discovery Centre.
2. Big Timber
Big Timber is the county seat of Sweet Grass County in southeast Montana. The charming town got its name from Big Timber Creek, which was named so due to its large cottonwood trees.
Big Timber holds around 1650 people, among which approximately 47% are males, and 52% are females.
The summers are short and warm with mostly clear skies, while winters are snowy, windy, and partly cloudy.
The small town gets about 15 inches of rain and 50 inches of snow per year on average.
Big Timber offers magnificent scenic surroundings where the prairies meet the mountains like The Crazy Mountains.
You can indulge in camping, fishing, hiking trails, and horseback riding in these mountain ranges. It is even relaxing to raft the scenic river and enjoy the fresh air.
The Natural Bridge Falls Picnic Area is also a tourist favourite and offers plenty of hiking trails and picnics options.
And, of course, you may enjoy fly fishing experiences in Big Timber too!
Cultural and Historic buildings
Crazy Mountain Museum
In the small town of Big Timber, you can begin with the famous Crazy Mountain Museum. The museum houses artifacts of the local history and works to preserve the heritage of this charming town.
Other good spots are St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, Sweet Grass County Courthouse, Big Timber Lutheran Church, and St. Mark’s Episcopal Church.
Whitefish is one of the resort towns in Montana, and it is situated in the Rocky Mountain Front. It acts as a gateway to the peaks, lakes, and valleys of the Glacier National Park.
The small town has around 7800 people. Among them, 51% are males, while 49% are females.
In Whitefish, the summers are short, warm, and partly cloudy, while the winters are cold, freezing, snowy, and mostly cloudy. The town gets 18 inches of rain and 73 inches of snow per year on average.
Glacier National Park
A visit to Glacier national park is a must! It is a serene and tranquil Nature Preserve in the Rocky Mountains.
Flathead National Forest
Then, the Flathead National Forest has its rugged peaks for skiing and hiking. The Whitefish Lake State Park, Great Bear Wilderness, Big Sky Waterpark, and Waterfalls at Holland Lake are major attractions.
Other attractions are the City Beach, Whitefish Trail, and the Whitefish Mountain Resort.
Cultural and Historical Sites
Downtown Whitefish is a quaint, charming town that is a perfect picture of small-town living. The beautiful streets and busy shops and restaurants give off a unique aura of the towns in Montana combined.
Frank Llyod Wright Building, First Presbyterian Church, St. Richard’s Catholic Church, First Baptist Church, Whitefish Depot are just a few of the many Whitefish attractions.
Stevensville is a small town in Ravalli County, Montana, recognized as the first permanent settlement of the non-indigenous people in this state.
It is a laid-back town with around 2000 people living there. About 47% of the population here is males, while 53% is females.
Stevensville experiences short, dry and warm summers, freezing, snowy and cloudy winters. On average, the town receives 12 inches of rain per year.
Stevensville offers a magnificent outdoor ambience, surrounded by the Bitterroot and Sapphire Mountains.
The small town offers plentiful options starting from fishing, hiking the Kootenai Creek Trail and the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge, picnics, scenic drives, and many more. For activities in Stevensville, the sky is the limit!
Cultural and Historical Places
A significant place here is Fort Owen, which is thought to be the first permanent settlement of the whites in Montana.
Father Pierre had visited the Bitterroot valley in 1841 and established St. Mary’s mission among the Flathead Indians, while Major John Owen visited and established the fort as a regional trade centre.
Other must-see historical sites around Bitterroot valley include Ravalli County Museum, Big Hole National Battlefield, Darby Pioneer Historical Museum, and St. Mary’s Mission.
5. Fort Benton
Fort Benton is the oldest continuously occupied city in Montana and is the county seat of Chouteau County. Fort Benton is a national historic landmark because of its essential role as the head of navigation on the Missouri River.
One of the charming small towns in Montana, it houses around 1400 people. 47.5% of the population are males, while 52.5% are female.
Summers in Fort Benton are short, warm, and clear, while winters are snowy, windy, and mostly cloudy.
The Upper Missouri National Wild and Scenic River, which starts at Fort Benton and runs 149 miles downstream, have attracted visitors for hundreds of years.
Apart from that, other recreations include hiking, shooting, archery, camping, etc.
The Great Falls Area offers great hiking, shooting, and archery opportunities.
The lower Missouri River is an ideal place for fly fishing.
Lastly, the Benton RV Park & Campground and the Canoe Launch Campground offer open and secluded camping options.
Cultural and Historical Places
Missouri Breaks Interpretive Center
Missouri Breaks Interpretive Center is a notable facility that keeps stories alive and highlights and cultural and natural history of the Missouri River and stores exhibit related to it.
Museum of the Northern Great Plains, Montana Agricultural Centre, Museum- Upper Missouri, and Veteran’s Memorial Park are a few of the other notable features of the historical Fort Benton.
Anaconda, located in southwestern Montana, is the county seat of Deer Lodge County. It is located at the foot of the Anaconda Range and had initially started as a mining town.
One of the small towns in Montana, its population is around 9400! Here, 51.1% are males, while 48.9% are females.
Anaconda has a cold and temperate climate with warm, dry summers and snowy, cloudy winters. There is significant rainfall throughout the year.
Anaconda is surrounded by abundant national forests with hiking, skiing, and snowmobiling trails.
Fisheries like Big Hole River and Georgetown lake are just a short drive from the town.
Discovery Ski Area, Montana Zipline Adventures, and Pogonip Ranch are a few of the best attractions in Anaconda.
Cultural and Historical Attractions
Walking along Anaconda’s main streets, you will come across a number of historic buildings like the Deer Lodge County Courthouse, 1898 Hearst Free Library, Elks Building, Washoe Theatre, Marcus Daly Historical Society, and Old Montana Prison Museum.
Anaconda is, in essence, a seat of historical sites!
On the Yellowstone River, in southwestern Montana lies the town Livingston, the county seat of Park County.
It was the “Original Gateway City to Yellowstone National Park” and an essential stop for the Northern Pacific Railway, as it was initially a trading post.
One of the charming towns of Montana, Livingston houses around 8040 people. 48.5% are males among these people, while 51.5% are females.
Livingston experiences short, dry and warm summers, freezing, snowy and cloudy winters. The town receives 16 inches of rain and 53 inches of snow per year on average.
Paradise Valley, which connects Livingston with Gardiner, and the north entrance to the Yellowstone national park makes the perfect place to spend some relaxation and beauty.
You may also visit the Gallatin National Forest, the epitome of beauty with big snowy mountains, meadows, and canyons. It offers the best hiking trails, scenic beauty, and wildlife and is one of the area’s most charming and ecologically diverse forests.
National parks like Sacagawea Park are also a big attraction.
Cultural and Historical Sites
The former train station, Livingston Depot Centre, is a museum dedicated to the history of railroads.
The Yellowstone Gateway Museum, Empire Twin Theatres, Livingston Centre – Art Culture, Russell Chatham’s Gallery, and Pine Creek United Methodist Church are other attractions.
Other beautiful small towns in Montana
The list does not end at 7!
There is Polson which is the seat of the Lake County and is set on the southern shore of the Flathead Lake, within the boundaries of the Flathead Indian Reservation.
Around 113m deep, the Flathead lake is the largest natural freshwater lake, west of the Mississippi River. A remnant of the ancient, massive glacial dammed lake, Lake Missoula, The Flathead lake attracts tourists worldwide. Polson currently houses around 5100 people.
Choteau, the county seat of Teton County, Montana, is known for its Jurassic Period history. Millions of years ago, Choteau used to be the breeding ground of dinosaurs.
Along with a trove of dinosaur treasures, the maiasaura-type fossil can be found on display at the Old Trail Museum.
On the doorstep of this town, you will also find the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex with its millions of acres of natural terrain, wildlife, and opportunities for outdoor activities.
There is Red Lodge, the county seat of Carbon County in Montana. At around 2257, the most famous spot in Red Lodge is the beautiful Beartooth Scenic Highway, which induces repetitive visits from tourists.
The town Ennis is named after William Ennis, who had set up camp on the Madison River after gold was nearby Alder Gulch.
Later on, Ennis became a ranching county with numerous sheep and cattle ranches and several fishing spots in the rivers. Ennis is a popular site as it is close to the national parks in Yellowstone.
The Clark National Forest in Missouri, the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness Area in Libby, the City Hall in Hamilton, the World Museum of Mining in Butte, and the Big Sky Resort in Madison County are just a few of the popular attractions in Montana.
Does the list end here? No! The list of charming small towns in Montana is still much longer.
But be it the history, culture, or the great outdoors that you long for, know that the quaint, small towns in Montana have got you covered!