Outbound Collective logo

5 Unforgettable Experiences in Central Montana

Adventure in the heart of Big Sky country.

By: Sara Sheehy + Save to a List

Few states loom so large in our imaginations as Montana. Known as the "Big Sky" state and the "Last Best Place," Montana draws in adventure-lovers like a moth to the flame.

The area east of the Rocky Mountain Front Range and west of the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument, north of the Little Belt Mountains and all the way to the Canadian border is the heart of this beautiful country. With Great Falls as it's hub, this area is a place where you can spend days in the mountains without seeing another soul, or cast a dry fly over a wild river as the sunset turns the air golden. You can ride horses on a working ranch, or follow in the footsteps of Lewis & Clark.

Ready for the adventure? Here are five unforgettable experiences in Central Montana.

1. A River Runs Through It

Fishing opportunities abound in Central Montana, including the Missouri River, which is a designated Wild and Scenic River. The Missouri is known as one of the best fly-fishing rivers in the world, with great hatches and abundant trout. Other great spots include the Sun River, Big Spring Creek, and Sluice Boxes State Park.

2. Sleep Under the Big Sky

If you think Montana's sky looks expansive during the day, wait until those stars blaze overhead at night. Get a front-row seat to the show by pitching your tent at one of the area's camping spots. Stay at a campground, or strap on your backpack and snuggle into a wilderness campsite, far from civilization.

3. Explore on Foot

There is no shortage of wide-open places to roam, mountains to climb, and river edges to wander in this slice of Montana. Summer or winter, you'll find hiking as challenging or as chill as you crave.

The summer wildflowers are spectacular, and you're not going to want to miss them. Catch blooms in the lower elevations in May and the higher elevations from July through August. 

4. Paddle or Pedal in the Wild

Whether you prefer two wheels or one oar, there's a place for you and your favorite sport in Central Montana. By boat, spend two days skimming over the Upper Missouri River, following the path of Lewis & Clark's famous expedition to the west. 

If traveling on land is more your style, plan a road ride on one of Central Montana's six scenic byways or craft your own route through this sparsely populated land. There's great mountain biking, too!

5. Carve the Slopes

Family-friendly skiing awaits at Showdown Resort, just an hour south of Great Falls. Though this resort flies a bit under the radar, it's the perfect spot for a day of winter fun. Showdown has 1,400 feet of vertical, fun glade runs through the evergreens, and a beginners-only area for new skiers to learn.

Explore more of central Montana at CentralMontana.com.

Additional Info

Looking for options to stay in Central Montana? Check out 5 Unique Ways to Stay in Central Montana.
Looking for where to eat? Check out 4 Ways to Feast in Central Montana a try. 

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

Do you love the outdoors?

Yep, us too. That's why we send you the best local adventures, stories, and expert advice, right to your inbox.

Recent

Testing out the new LifeStraw Peak Series Straw

Ann-Marie Brissett

Take this awesome 4-day road trip through Arizona

Aurora Slaughter

14 Tips for attempting your first 14er

Aurora Slaughter