Vacation in Montana...Any Advice?

Vacation in Montana...Any Advice?

This is a discussion on Vacation in Montana...Any Advice? within the Off Topic & Humor Discussion forums, part of the The Back Porch category; Last year I went to Arizona and got some tips on things to do and see on this board that were very helpful. This year ...

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Thread: Vacation in Montana...Any Advice?

  1. #1
    Member Array waynesan's Avatar
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    Vacation in Montana...Any Advice?

    Last year I went to Arizona and got some tips on things to do and see on this board that were very helpful.
    This year me and my wife are flying from Tennessee to Billings, Montana and plan on driving around the state for about 10 days starting on July 18th, and see all that time will allow. The only two must see destinations are Glacier NP and Beartooth Highway.
    If anyone has any other suggestions on places to stop and visit I'd appreciate your input.
    As far as "packing" I'll have my Springfiel XD9 and maybe my Ruger LCP. I'm aware of the restrictions on Indian Reservations and National Parks (for the time being) and have reviewed the state carry laws and have a printout just in case. Are there any areas that I need to be more careful about? Any cities or tourist areas that are especially unfriendly to concealed carry?
    Thanks for any advice you send my way.
    Raising children is like being pecked to death by a chicken every day.


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    Member Array MtflyerHK's Avatar
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    Well I'm glad to see in your original post you already said the top two things I"d suggest. I grew up in Montana and my folks and inlaws still live there and I get back whenever I can. My family farmed in northern montana west of Havre and I also lived in Great Falls and Bozeman so I've covered the state pretty well. Our vacations were mostly driving around the state rather than trips to disney land etc. so I'm thankful of that - I've seen a lot of the US since then. The two most scenic drives in the state you pretty much already covered - the going to the sun road in GNP and the beartooth highway. Are you planning on any other activities like fishing, rafting etc? mainly sight seeing? As far as the national parks go, the breath-taking scenery is in GNP, and the wildlife is in Yellowstone (generally speaking). In yellowstone some cool things to see other than the mega tourist spots like old faithful and lower falls would be Echinus Geyser and Steamboat Geyser in the Norris geyser basin which I thought were cool. If you're up for some hiking in Glacier hiking up to Granite Park Chalet or Sperry Chalet have some unbelieveable views. Apgar is my family's favorite Glacier destination hanging out at lake McDonald and eating at Eddies but there are cool spots all over. If you're driving through Great Falls between the two places you might want to check out Giant Springs where they have a fish hatchery and the worlds shortest river (roe river) - where you can see the springs shooting right out of the rocks, also the CM Russel museum is cool... If you drive through Bozeman you should really check out the Museum of the Rockies - which is really pretty cool also. Since you're flying into Billings you may want to check out the Custer Battlefield which is south of there (I belive), can't really remember how far south especially in relation to the beartooth highway (maybe further east?) I'm pretty sure its off of I-90 east of billings, but its pretty interesting with the native american history of Crazy Horse and Custer and the battle of the little bighorn. Also between Billings and Bozeman a quick stop on I90 would be Pompey's Pillar which is (I think) one of the only specifically known and marked campsites of Lewis and Clark - they wrote their names into the rock there. You might also want to check out Virginia City and Nevada city (the two are only a couple miles apart) which are historically preserved old west mining towns. (southwest of Bozeman) There are many things to do and see - I guess it would help if you elaborated on what sort of activities you're planning on (other than driving) but those are a few.. Hope that helps! I gotta admit I'm a bit jelous since I"m not sure if I"ll make it back this summer or not - deffinitly in the fall for some hunting on our farm up north though! Cheers!

    -Aaron

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    Member Array MtflyerHK's Avatar
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    As far as unfriendly areas or places you need to be worried about - I wouldn't be too concerned, there are sheep everywhere in our country but Montana is a pretty gun friendly state and I doubt many would bat an eye if they caught a glimpse of your weapon. You'll find the occasional "hippie" or "granola" in places like Missoula, Kalispel, or Bozeman (usually California transplants or university students) but most of the natives grew up with guns so they don't view it with concern or disdain. Any places you'd want to steer clear of would probably be obvious, such as the reservation at night (on foot) or a dark alley in the heart of billings on foot, etc. Any places you'd be subject to elevated danger you'd have no business or desire to be there in the first place - so generally speaking I don't see crime as much of an issue wherever I go there but it never hurts to be prepared and have your situational awareness about you.

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    Member Array heater's Avatar
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    Being from Livingston Montana I can add a little bit to the previous posts on this subject. I would recommend heading south out of Bozeman, spending some time enjoying the trip through Big Sky and on to West Yellowstone. Then venture over the pass to Henry's Lake. From there find your way to the Centennial Valley. This is fairly remote and extremely beautiful country. You will come out at Monida, which is on I-15 south of Dillon, MT. While in the West Yellowstone region you could also visit Quake Lake on the Madison river.

    Enjoy your trip, you really can't go wrong.
    "We have a decision to make; Either get busy living or get busy dying."

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    Member Array waynesan's Avatar
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    Thanks MtflyerHK,
    I'm going to print off your response and try to work in some of your suggestions. I think most of what we will be doing is just driving around the state and sightseeing as much as possible - Grand Views, Old Towns, Museums, Historical Sites, etc. - of which Montana seems to be abundantly supplied.
    Do you think Waterton Park in Canada is worth going to? I will have to make arrangements to store my gun (Hotel Safe? or some other option of which I'm not aware) while we drive up there if we decide to go. I'm sure its got to be a beautiful place to visit - I just wonder if its that much more scenic than Glacier in Montana or would it just be more of the same? And is it feasible to drive up to Waterton just for the day?
    Thanks again. Your response was exactly what I was hoping for from my OP.

    Thanks to you too, heater. In the areas you suggest, is it passible in just a car? I won't have 4 wheel drive. I know there is a lot to see in the south west area of Montana but a lot of it seems to be remote (as you said). I wouldn't want to spend any time waiting on a wrecker to pull me out of a mud hole, and if anyone is going to wind up in a mud hole it would be me.
    Raising children is like being pecked to death by a chicken every day.

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    Distinguished Member Array Chaplain Scott's Avatar
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    you should be OK with a 2wd car--as you said in the OP, the Beartooth pass is a MUST. Make sure you bring a warm sweatshirt, vest or something like that--I live about an hour north of beartooth pass and on really hot days down low we will drive up onto the pass where the temps can be in the upper 30's.......

    I wouldn't be too worried about packing--although, you might scare the tourists

    I would alos agree that GNP is great for the scenery and YNP for the wildlife--take in both, BUT travel by the back roads (2 lane highways) for a trip into the real Montana--the small towns where the cows outnumber humans at about 50:1 and people still wave at you even if they don't know you

    I work in Billings two days a week at the largest hospital and live in a small local town about 70 miles SW of Billings. If you need anything, shoot me an email and I'll do what I can for you.

    Enjoy the trip

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    Member Array MtflyerHK's Avatar
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    Glad you have something to go on - should be a fun trip! I've spent a lot of time in Glacier Park and hiked around a bit but honestly I haven't spent much time on the canadian side. We would usually venture into canada further east than the park so I really can't recall much - but you'll not be disappointed in whatever you do. You might be better suited traveling around to more places though since as far as I know just a lot more breathtaking scenery (Which I don't think you can ever have too much of) As an elaboration of the two museums I mentioned - The museum of the rockies in Bozeman is really rather impressive - theres a fair amount of history there and also a pretty impressive dinasaur exhibit if I recall correctly - Jack Horner has worked out of there a lot and consutled a lot of the jurassic park movies etc and I think they have a full T-Rex skeleton there - they also have revolving exhibits that cover lots of interesting topics, its been several years since I've been in there though but its not bad for a relatively small town. In Great Falls the C.M. Russel museum is all about Charles M. Russel who was a very famous western art painter and was one of the first people to really capture the old west in artwork - there are a lot of his paintings there, his old studio etc. but should be a fun stop if you have the time. Another idea if you head straight west from billings before going north is the Copper King mansion in Butte which could be an interesting thing to check out and learn about butte's beginning as a mining boomtown and one of the richest hills/mountains (now a very big hole!) on earth! I'm thinking there might be some sort of mining museum out there too but I"m not sure - mainly the mansion in butte but Virginia City/Nevada city are mainly what comes to mind as a historical site thats somewhat "as it was" so to speak. We all expect a full trip report when you get back!

    -also as a note about storing your gun, you might even check at a local police dept, they may have lockers or a secure place to store things also. I seem to recall such an option when I was in College in North Dakota for those of us living in dorms where firearms were not permitted. Might not hurt to give the PD a phone call and ask anyway.

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Davies View Post
    I would alos agree that GNP is great for the scenery and YNP for the wildlife--take in both, BUT travel by the back roads (2 lane highways) for a trip into the real Montana--the small towns where the cows outnumber humans at about 50:1 and people still wave at you even if they don't know you

    Enjoy the trip
    -Good advice!

  8. #8
    Member Array waynesan's Avatar
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    Dang Ya'll,
    You've got me so anxious to get on the road now, I'll go crazy before the 18th. Thanks so much for all your suggestions.

    Scott said
    I would also agree that GNP is great for the scenery and YNP for the wildlife--take in both, BUT travel by the back roads (2 lane highways) for a trip into the real Montana--the small towns where the cows outnumber humans at about 50:1 and people still wave at you even if they don't know you
    I agree on the 2 lane roads being where the real Montana (or any other state for that matter) is at. Great suggestion.

    Mtflyer, I never even thought about leaving my gun(s) with the local LE. That would be great if I could do it. Definately worth checking out.
    Raising children is like being pecked to death by a chicken every day.

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    Member Array gogriz91's Avatar
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    Waterton Lakes is the park opposite Glacier and Waterton is a beautiful tourist town at the top of lake. I would recommend a day trip to canada to see Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump near Ft McLeod then head down to Waterton to see the lake, Prince of Wales hotel and just putz around Waterton. The only thing I'm not sure about is whether or not you'll need a passport.

    Depending on what route you will take to get there, if you're going through Yellowstone go through the Tetons, they're abosolutely gorgeous and worth a day in and of themselves.
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    Senior Member Array The Fish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gogriz91 View Post
    waterton lakes is the park opposite glacier and waterton is a beautiful tourist town at the top of lake. I would recommend a day trip to canada to see head smashed in buffalo jump near ft mcleod then head down to waterton to see the lake, prince of wales hotel and just putz around waterton. the only thing i'm not sure about is whether or not you'll need a passport.

    depending on what route you will take to get there, if you're going through yellowstone go through the tetons, they're abosolutely gorgeous and worth a day in and of themselves.
    a passport is required to enter canada and to get back.
    " Keep On Packin' On The Bimah"

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    VIP Member Array dukalmighty's Avatar
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    If a sheep has a collar somebodys married to it
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    Member Array UnklFungus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dukalmighty View Post
    If a sheep has a collar somebody's married to it
    That's BAA-A-A-A-D!!!


    What are the three biggest lies in Montana?

    1. My truck is paid for.
    2. I won this belt buckle.
    3. I'm just helping this sheep over the fence!!!

  13. #13
    Distinguished Member Array Chaplain Scott's Avatar
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    HOW TO TELL IF YOU ARE IN MONTANA:

    1. You need to use both the heater and air conditioner in your truck in the same day............

    2. If they name all the local celebrations after fruit, vegtables, grains or testicles............

    3. The wind is faster than your truck.....

    4. You can see the stars at night........

    5. You break down on the side of the road and somebody stops to help you.....

    6. You leave your keys in the car and next morning its still there......

    7. There truly are four seasons in Montana; Early-winter, Winter, Late-Winter, and Construction

  14. #14
    Member Array MtflyerHK's Avatar
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    In Montana we have 9 months of winter and 3 months of bad skiing!

  15. #15
    Member Array waynesan's Avatar
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    Well, so far, page 2 of this thread has turned into a script for Comedy Central.
    As Johnny Carson used to say "Great Stuff."
    Raising children is like being pecked to death by a chicken every day.

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