Montana: Where Scenic Wonders Live Up to the “Big Sky” Reputation

Teepees in the rear of the Ninepipes Museum of Early Montana (Credit: Bill Rockwell)

Teepees in the rear of the Ninepipes Museum of Early Montana (Credit: Bill Rockwell)

Falling behind only Alaska, Texas and California in size, Montana is the nation’s fourth-largest state. Despite its size (it’s slightly larger than Japan), it was the only state in the union that I’d not visited, which made it a prime bucket list candidate. Vexed by my incomplete list of visited states, I was determined to explore Montana. The fact that Glacier National Park’s Going-to-the-Sun Road is often named one of America’s top 10 scenic byways only added fuel to my ambition.

The plan was to fly into Kalispell (I know, “Where is that?” you’re thinking), pick up a rental car and head south along Flathead Lake to Missoula, the state’s cultural capital. From there, it was over the Continental Divide into the prairies for a look around Great Falls, where the Missouri gave the Lewis and Clark Expedition fits.

Next, I headed north along the eastern edge of the Rockies, stopped at a couple interesting museums, then used Browning, the chief town on the Blackfeet Reservation, as my base for exploring Glacier National Park. Saving the best for last, I roamed Glacier, first on the east side, where I took a boat ride on Swiftcurrent Lake, then climbed the awesome Going-to-the-Sun Road from the west portal.

On my 829-mile-long adventure, I saw a great variety of terrain, photo-ops as plentiful as bitterroot (the state’s official flower), a wide range of people (mostly friendly, easy going folk), and several new sights, sounds and tastes (it was huckleberry season and the summer treat is used to make pies and a much-in-demand ice cream).

Montana was a long time coming, but, as they say, well worth the wait. Here’s my trip condensed into three concise parts:

 

For more information on Montana tourism, check out visitmt.com or call 1-800-847-4868.

Dave Zuchowski

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About the Author

Dave Zuchowski

Dave Zuchowski has been writing about travel for more than 25 years, and his articles have made the pages of many newspapers and magazines across the country, including the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Tribune-Review, the Erie Times, the Hartford Currant, the Fredericksburg Free Lance Star, AAA, Pathfinders, West Virginia Magazine, Southsider, and Westsylvania. For 10 years, he was the travel correspondent for the 86 newspaper consortium, Community Newspaper Holdings, Inc., and his travel articles are posted to the cnhinews.com website.

His travels have taken him to Europe seven times, to Mexico several times, to the Caribbean, Costa Rica, almost all of Canada’s provinces from Newfoundland to British Columbia and Vancouver Island, and all 50 US states. Some of his favorite places are the Cote d’Azur, California, Portugal, France, Oregon, Mexico, Napa and Sonoma, New England and Quebec – both the city and province.

1 Comment on "Montana: Where Scenic Wonders Live Up to the “Big Sky” Reputation"

  1. Montana looks gorgeous, I’d love to visit one day

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