Last Updated on June 26, 2023
As the global pandemic continues to impact our regular routines, travel has taken a backseat for many avid adventurers around the world. A sure cure for even the most severe wanderlust, a trip to Big Sky Country is meant for epic, yet socially distanced experiences you won’t find anywhere else. Here are the one-of-a-kind Montana adventures you don’t want to miss! I want to introduce you to some of the best places to visit in Montana that you may not have heard of – places that aren’t National Parks or well-known towns. Read on for things to do in Montana that aren’t hiking in Glacier National Park or fishing in Flathead Lake.
Four unusual places to visit in Montana
Silver fever late in the 19th century established and later bankrupted several towns in Montana. Nicknamed the Treasure State, silver production in Montana fell second only to Colorado and drew a large population of single male miners. Today, the remains of this era stand as ghost towns for visitors to explore.
There are several ghost towns in Montana that are worth visiting, including:
Castle Town: Castle Town was formed during the gold rush in the late 1800s and at its peak, this town had a school, a jail, seven brothels, several merchants and saloons for its 2,000 residents, one of whom was well-known frontierswoman Calamity Jane. Castle Town is located off Highway 294 between White Sulphur Springs and Martinsdale. Note: Since this is now a privately owned property, you’ll need to ask for permission to walk around Castle Town.
Elkhorn: Elkhorn is a town that was abandoned in the 1970s, after the nearby silver mine, which led to the establishment of the small town, was not used anymore. It stands now as Montana’s smallest state park.
Bannack: This well-preserved town in southwestern Montana was formed during the gold rush. You can still see many of the town’s buildings, the old schoolhouse, a hotel, and wander the streets of this abandoned town. The entrance fee is $8 per vehicle, and $4 for walk-ins, bicycles and bus passengers.
Exploring ghost towns is a great thing to do in Montana for photographers and for people who aren’t into hiking.
Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail
Retrace the route that helped define and expand America by journeying along the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail where it crosses through Montana. The 4,900-mile trail connects 16 states, from Illinois to Oregon, and several American Indian reservations. In Montana, the High Potential Historic Sites include Gates of the Mountains, Giant Spring, Rainbow Falls, the Great Falls, the Eye of the Needle formation and the Bozeman Pass. Just off the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail is the Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park, (near Cardwell) where you can visit stunning caverns and enjoy ten miles of hiking trails.
Garden of One Thousand Buddhas
A Native American Reservation in the middle of Montana may be a surprising site for a Buddhist shrine, but that only adds to this statuary’s marvel. The Garden of One Thousand Buddhas was established as an international center for peace in 2000. Spanning 750 feet, the statues are arranged in the formation of a wheel of dharma to represent the Noble Eightfold Path that encompasses the eternal cycle of life, death and rebirth. This site is a source of pride for the many volunteers who have assisted in its creation, and a serene sanctuary to all its visitors. This is one of the best places to visit in Montana because you just wouldn’t expect anything like it in Big Sky Country!
Glamping in Montana
Connect with Montana’s natural beauty and bountiful wildlife amidst a landscape of rustic elegance and impeccable comfort while glamping in Big Sky Country. Several premier Montana resorts offer a number of glamping accommodation styles and dozens of on-site activities and adventures in Montana for all energy levels. Glamping is very different from your regular camping trip – in fact, many glamping resorts offer gorgeous cabins and all-inclusive meals. From hiking and horseback riding to lake excursions and rappelling, experience the state’s most epic adventures all in one place. Glamping or camping is one of the things to do in Montana that you shouldn’t miss out on – it’s such an amazing experience to spend the night under these wide open star-filled skies.
Photo Credit: All images used via Flickr.com’s Creative Commons Licensing. (1) Montana Ghost Town by Patti McNeal; (2) Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail by BLMIdaho; (3) Garden of One Thousand Buddhas by Lorie Shaull; (4) Big Sky Country by kmanohar