Known as Big Sky Country, this is a state where the landscape seems to go on forever. The natural beauty is the biggest reason people visit Montana from across the world. Though far from any big cities, everyone in Montana is looking for some kind of escape or adventure. This is why you should consider adding Montana to your bucket list.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Montana Bucket List Destinations
- Outdoor, Hikes, and Camping Bucket List Ideas in Montana
- Spring and Summer Bucket List Ideas in Montana
- Fall and Winter Bucket List Ideas in Montana
- Popular Bucket List Foods and Restaurants in Montana
With so many amazing Montana bucket list activities and things to do, where do you begin? Your travel bucket list should inspire you to go further. Are you creating a bucket list for yourself or your family? If so, make sure you consider these must-do Montana bucket list activities. Perfect for all types of adventurers and thrill-seekers, see what Big Sky Country has for you to explore.
Montana Bucket List Destinations
First, if you’re looking for the best destinations in Montana, this list is for you. Known for the strong sense of community and Wild West exploration, these destinations might surprise you.
1. Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park
To begin, state parks are always a great place to visit in a new state. Montana’s Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park is located outside of Three Fork, Montana.
2. Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument
Another destination worth exploring in Montana is the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument. For lovers of US history, Little Bighorn is one of the most famous military battles. This is where Custer’s Last Stand took place in 1876.
3. Bozeman, Montana
One of the most popular cities in Montana is Bozeman. Perfect for travelers, this is considered the gateway to Yellowstone National Park. Though you can view a ton of natural scenery here, there's a lot of culture to explore.
4. Glacier National Park
If you want to see nature in all of its beauty, visit Glacier National Park. On the border between the US and Canada, this is one of the most dramatic landscapes you’ll ever see. With over 700 miles of hiking trailers, this is an outdoor wonderland all year long.
5. Virginia City, Montana
If you’re interested in the Gold Rush in the American West, you have to visit Virginia City. Once one of the largest towns in the northwest, millions of dollars in gold was pulled from this area in the 19th century. Today, the Old West town has been preserved with over 100 historic buildings.
6. Livingston, Montana
Lastly, Livingston is north of Yellowstone National Park. Near the Yellowstone River, this is a picture-perfect ranch town. Famous for frontier folk like Calamity Jane, this is a great spot to explore regional history.
Outdoor, Hikes, and Camping Bucket List Ideas in Montana
Next, Big Sky Country has made a name for itself as one of the top hiking and camping destinations in the world. With rugged mountains and vast prayers, explore the best of the American frontier.
7. The Highline Trail, Glacier National Park
One of the best hiking trails in Montana is the Highline Trail in Glacier National Park. With millions of hikers visiting each year, there’s so much to explore. The Highline Trail includes steep mountain passes, hidden lakes, and wildlife habitats.
8. The Beaten Path, Beartooth Mountains
To see the Montana Beartooth Mountains up close, challenge yourself to the Beaten Path trail. Found in the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness, you’ll explore alpine lakes, peaks, and what it’s like to get away from the “beaten path.”
9. Big Ice Cave, Red Lodge, Montana
Though you might not think of caves when you think of outdoor adventures, Big Ice Cake is a must-do. Located outside Red Lodge in the Pyor Range Mountains, this is a hotspot for plants and wildlife.
10. Rosebud Battlefield State Park, Busby, Montana
Next, travel back in time with this post near Billings, Montana. This large park is a battlefield from the Great Sioux War, and it’s still considered to be sacred ground to the Northern Cheyenne.
11. Continental Divide National Scenic Trail
Considered one of the most challenging hikes across the continents, you can hike the longest section of the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail (CDT). For miles of solitude and high-altitude vistas, this is a must-do hike or backpacking experience.
12. Ross Creek Cedars Scenic Area, Kootenai National Forest
You might not expect to see red cedar trees in Montana, but they’re right at home in the Kootenai National Forest. This rainforest has ancient cedars of all ages, but some are over 1,000 years in age.
Spring and Summer Bucket List Ideas in Montana
Spring and summertime are when Montana comes alive, the weather heating up and nature blooming to life. Here are the best bucket list ideas in Montana for the warmer months.
13. Climb a peak
First, it wouldn’t be summer in Montana without a hike. With so many magnificent mountains to choose from, this is the perfect time to find a peak and start climbing. If you’re an experienced hiker, try Granite Peak at a startling 12,807 feet above sea level.
14. Rent a tube on the Madison River
Another spring and summer pastime in Montana is tubing. Though you can find plenty of watersports, few are as fun or relaxing as renting a tube and lazing down the Madison River.
15. Visit Yellowstone National Park
Though technically located in Wyoming, Yellowstone National Park borders Montana and is considered part of the Yellowstone region. While you could spend a lifetime exploring this park, it’s highly recommended to visit in the spring or early summer to beat the crowds.
16. Gaze at the stars
Montana’s night skies are beautiful all year long, but they’re particularly spectacular in the warmer months. With little light pollution, especially outside of cities, this is the best chance to sleep under a sky of stars.
17. Explore the Montana Dinosaur Trail
Did you know Montana is home to some of the biggest fossil discoveries? It’s true, and you can follow the Montana Dinosaur Trail to see some of these sights up close.
18. Go huckleberry picking
Lastly, a Montana staple of the warmer months is huckleberry picking. These tart berries are Montana gold, and you’ll find them in just about every sweet treat. Perfect for picking in July and August, keep an eye out for them on the trail.
Fall and Winter Bucket List Ideas in Montana
Just because it’s getting colder in Montana doesn’t mean the fun stops. Big Sky Country is a winter-sports paradise, and these bucket list ideas prove it.
19. Sky at Whitefish Mountain Resort
With over 3,000 miles of ski terrain, this is one of the biggest winter sport destinations in the US. A quick visit to Whitefish Mountain will show just how beautiful these mountains are when covered in snow.
20. Soak up the warmth at Chico Hot Springs
Another way to beat the cold weather is by soaking up the steam at Chico Hot Springs. Located near Pray, Montana, you can dip in one of the two open-air pools.
21. Snowshoe in Glacier National Park
In the winter, explore the Glacier National Park in a new way. Way fewer visitors head to Glacier National Park in the winter, so this is actually a great time to visit.
22. Dogsled in Big Sky
If you’re near the thrill-seeking city of Big Sky, why not mush with one of the experienced packs? Though not the most common way to get around in the winter, it sure is fun. There are several commercial dog sledding outfitters in Big Sky to choose from.
23. Visit a remote cabin
For those looking to truly escape for a while, get off the grid with a remote cabin stay. Though many of these don’t have electricity or indoor plumbing, some do.
24. Visit a museum
Home to rich history, there are so many great museums to visit in the winter. This is the perfect way to escape the biting cold in the chilly months. From the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, you can also explore the American Computer and Robotics Museum for a tech-savvy exploration.
Popular Bucket List Foods and Restaurants in Montana
Don’t plan a trip to Montana without a food bucket list. With so many regional favorites, you might discover a delicious blend of flavors you’ve never tried before. Yum!
25. Try a Nutburger
Every state seems to have its own take on the burger. In Montana, this is the Nutburger. It’s made by smashing a meat patty, frying it, and topping it with crushed peanuts and Miracle Whip.
26. Enjoy a slice of huckleberry pie
This traditional American pie has a sweet-tart huckleberry filling, enjoying the sweet berries home to the Montana region. For extra flavor, cinnamon is usually added.
27. Taste bison meat
A lot of meat originates in Montana, including the less-common bison meat. The grass-fed American bison is native to North America, and this is something that’s been consumed since pre-European settlement. Commonly served as a burger, it’s something you shouldn’t knock ‘till you try.
28. Find a rare morel mushroom
In the summer, morel mushrooms grow throughout some regions of Montana. Though hard to find, you might spot these delicacies on restaurant menus during the warmer months.
29. Go back in time with a Butte Pasties
In the mining days, Irish miners would eat pasties as a meal. This is why you can still find Butte Pasties today. These pastry pockets are filled with meat and potatoes, then covered in gravy. The best place to try them in Butte is Nancy’s Pasty Shop.
30. Sample Rocky Mountain Oysters
Though not for everyone, you might feel up to trying Rocky Mountain Oysters. These are bull testicles fried in batter and served as an appetizer. Though adventurous, some people love them.
Explore the Best of Big Sky Country
Ultimately, everyone should visit Big Sky Country at least once in their lifetime. Though not on the usual bucket lists, this hidden destination is a nature lover's paradise. Like stepping back into time to explore a version of nature before big cities, there’s something magical about Montana.
Now that you know how to make a travel bucket list, there’s nothing holding you back. The world is yours to explore, all places big and small. When we make these memories with our loved ones, we build a legacy worth sharing.