Often referred to as Big Sky Country, Montana is one of the most northerly of US states. Its beautiful, rugged scenery with abundant wildlife makes it a popular destination for scenic drives and outdoor activities. The area is well-known for its numerous outdoor activities including winter sports, water sports, hiking and biking.
While it is an extremely large state (the fourth largest), it is also one of the least populated (just over one million). This makes Montana a great destination with plenty of wide-open spaces, and fewer crowds.
Highlights of the area include Glacier National Park, the North and Northeast entrances to Yellowstone National Park and of course, the Rocky Mountains.
For those looking to explore the outdoors away from the big city hustle and bustle, we’ve put together a list of ten popular outdoor activities in Montana.
Hiking in Montana is a great way to explore this wondrous state and its beautiful landscapes and wildlife. There are numerous hiking trails throughout Montana, including day hikes and multi-day treks. Many of the best hikes in and around Montana can be found in Glacier National Park, Bob Marshall Wilderness, Yellowstone National Park, Glacier Country, and Bitterroot National Forest.
From mountains to lakes, glaciers, caves, waterfalls, and canyons, there is a hiking trail for all levels and interests of hikers.
2. Horseback riding
Experience the spirit of the American West on the back of a horse. Horseback riding is one of the many traditional ways to experience Montana. You can choose to go for the full experience by visiting a working ranch, or simply embark on a relaxing afternoon of trail riding.
Popular horseback riding facilities in Montana include Swan Mountain Outfitters (located in Condon, Montana), Bear Creek Guest Ranch (located in Essex, Montana), Billedeaux Trails (located in Babb, Montana) and Snowy Springs Outfitters (located in Essex, Montana).
Whether it’s hopping on a bicycle to explore the cities and towns of Montana or climbing onto a mountain bike and heading to the trails, Montana is an ideal bicycling destination. You’ll find bike shops throughout the state and many other keen bikers to interact with.
Montana has mountain biking trails pretty much everywhere, from family and beginner-friendly trails through to expert-level trails. And if you’re here in the winter months, you can give fat biking through the snow a try, a way to explore new terrain and experience winter in Montana on two wheels.
4. Water sports
For thrill-seekers, you can navigate the rapids while whitewater rafting or try flyboarding. Avid surfers can take their surfboards out to the scenic rivers in Missoula, Montana to ride the waves. Or, for a more relaxing water experience, try stand-up paddle boarding, canoeing, or kayaking.
If you prefer to be on the water, rather than in it, join in on a boating adventure. You can go sailing across Flathead Lake, waterskiing at Canyon Ferry, or charter a fishing boat on Fort Peck Lake.
5. Rock climbing
With endless mountains and cliffs, there’s great rock-climbing challenges for all skill levels. Bozeman is one of the most popular climbing areas in the state, popularly known as the climbing capital of the Northern Rockies. Common spots include Gallatin Canyon, Sagebrush Point, Cascade Creek, and Paradise Valley.
Grab your climbing gear and check out some of the best climbing spots in Montana.
6. Winter sports
Montana turns into the land of snowy adventure during the winter months. The vast and dramatic landscape means you can enjoy pretty much any winter sport that you can dream of here. From skiing and snowboarding through to cross-country skiing, snow tubing, dog sledding, sleigh rides, snowmobiling, backcountry skiing, snowshoeing, skijoring, ice climbing and ice fishing. Wow!
Skiing and snowboarding are some of the most popular winter activities in the area, with a long list of slopes to enjoy, often without the long lift lines.
For the perfect winter ski trip, visit one of Montana’s ski resorts.
7. ATV riding
Many resorts in Montana will include a range of outdoor activities, one being ATV riding (also known as quad biking). It’s an exciting way to see the mountain scenery while slicing through streams and powering over bushes.
Or take it up a level and rent a high performance all terrain vehicle for half a day, a full day, or a multi-day adventure from MONTANA ATV Rentals in Eureka, Montana.
Fishing in Montana is another great way to enjoy the scenery. From the crystal-clear lakes to pebble-filled trout streams, you’ll find great places to cast your line. Some of the popular fishing spots in Montana include Paradise Valley, Clark Fork River, Big Hole River, Missouri River and Flathead Lake.
Beautiful spots to sit back and enjoy the mountain views around you while you’re waiting to reel in your catch.
Another relaxing outdoor activity for many are the golf courses in Montana. Some of these include Rock Creek Cattle (Deer Lodge), The Reserve At Moonlight Basin (Big Sky), Wilderness Club (Eureka), The Stock Farm Club (Hamilton), Iron Horse (Whitefish), Old Works (Anaconda), Yellowstone (Billings), Northern Pines (Kalispell), Black Bull (Bozeman) and Eagle Bend (Bigfork).
Shooting sports are quite popular in Montana. You can head to a rifle range or try out your aim at target shooting or archery. You can also simulate a field hunting experience by doing some clay bird shooting. Or, if you’re travelling in a group, perhaps get competitive with a game of paintball.
Some of the facilities include Montana Action Paintball in Kalispell, Montana, Diamond Paintball in Billings, Montana and Wild Rose Paintball in Acton, Montana.
Enjoy the fresh air of Montana
No matter what month of the year it is, it’s always a perfect time to visit Montana and breathe in some fresh mountain air while experiencing the truly breathtaking scenery.
Montana is nothing short of an ideal destination with countless outdoor activities for the whole family.