10 Hidden Experiences in Central Montana

You’ve seen the pictures of Going-to-the-Sun-Road in Glacier National Park. And you’ve dreamt of the untamed beauty in Yellowstone. But located between these two iconic parks, nestled within the dramatic mountains and sweeping plains, is the stunning region of Central Montana – an area that though comprised of small Montana towns still promises a whole lot of adventure...if you know where to look. From hidden lakes and idyllic train rides to underground tours of brothels long ago, Central Montana’s best kept secret is not just its landscape, but rather all that lies within. Whether you’re looking for that perfect weekend escape, relaxing spring getaway, or epic summer family vacation, these Top 10 Hidden Experiences will have you coming back to Central Montana time and time again!


Hike to Our Lake

West of Choteau, MT

It’s ours, but we’ll let you have it for a day! Perfectly situated on the Rocky Mountain Front, yet hidden in a forest of spruce, is the alpine lake of your dreams. With a little work (7 miles roundtrip) and a moderate elevation gain of 1,500 feet, you’ll soon find yourself in another world entirely. Traverse through the wildflowers, search for mountain goats across the rocky cliffs, and stand in awe of the two cascading waterfalls along the way. Hike intensity: moderate.


Peer into the Universe

Chester, MT & Various Locations

From the moon and the stars to the swirling bands of the Milky Way and the dancing green lights of the Aurora Borealis, with every setting sun in Central Montana comes a nighttime of wonder. And the views from Tiber Dam in Chester, MT don’t disappoint! Nestled alongside Lake Elwell, the Island Area at Tiber Dam promises some of the most spectacular displays (and darkest skies) in the lower 48. View a full map of stargazing locations.


Watch Mermaids Swim

Great Falls, MT

Voted the #1 bar in the world by GQ magazine in 2003 and one of the top tiki bars by USA Today, the Sip ‘n Dip Lounge in Great Falls is a Montana legend. I mean where else can you watch mermaids swim while listening to live music and sipping on the best blue drink you’ve ever had?! The answer is nowhere. Mark our words – a trip to the Sip ‘n Dip is a memory worth making!


Go Beneath the Streets

Havre, MT

You may have hiked through the mountains, but you haven’t experienced Montana until you’ve ventured underground. And, we don’t mean the mines. In the early 1900s, a small fire destroyed Havre (a Central Montana town), forcing business owners to move underground. The result? Saloons, Honkey-Tonks, restaurants, and bordellos that still remain intact today! No, they’re not in business, but the Havre Beneath the Streets Tour will certainly make you feel like they are.


Discover The Cowboy Artist

Great Falls, MT

If you’re new to the art world or venturing to Central Montana for the first time, it’s likely you’ve yet to experience the all-encompassing, mesmerizing beauty of a Charlie Russell masterpiece. Deemed the “original cowboy artist,” Charlie Russell is one of the most well-known western artists in the world. And much of his artwork (along with his home and studio) is on display in Central Montana at the nationally acclaimed C.M. Russell Museum.


Soak in a Natural Hot Spring

White Sulphur Springs, MT

We’ll be honest, hot springs aren’t for everyone. But if we had to guess, they’re definitely for you! Think outdoor hot tub on a cool evening, drink in hand, mountains in the background, laughing with your closest friends. Come to think of it, hot springs ARE for everyone and they’re a definite vibe come nighttime in Central Montana. And while we can neither confirm nor deny, the Spa Hot Springs in White Sulphur have been long known for their healing qualities.


Uncover the Dinosaur Trail

Rudyard, MT & Various Locations

Welcome to the Jurassic era. And yes, we mean dinosaurs – the real ones. Hidden in small-town Montana are some of the biggest reptiles to have roamed the Earth. And we’ve preserved it all. From actual dinosaur bones to impressive replicas and live field digs, you’ll have a prehistoric blast traveling back in time as you chase down the dinosaurs along Central Montana’s Dinosaur Trail. Looking for a good starting point? Try the Depot Museum in Rudyard, MT – home to the "Oldest Sorehead.”


Explore the Largest Buffalo Jump

Ulm, MT

It’s a part of Native American culture that has come and gone, but in Central Montana, the history of Native American buffalo jumps is still very much alive. Reaching a mile long, First People’s Buffalo Jump is one of the largest buffalo kill sites in North America and tells the time-honored story of the people, the animals, and the landscape of the buffalo culture. With only three protected buffalo jumps in the state, a second can be found just a few hours away in Havre, MT (Wahkpa Chu’gn Buffalo Jump).


Ride the Charlie Russell Chew Choo

Lewistown, MT

All aboard! If you’ve ever dreamed of traveling by train through the mountains at sunset while taking in the rolling hills, vast ranchlands, and abundant wildlife...now's your chance! Just out of Lewistown, the Charlie Russell Chew Choo is a true hidden gem and is as picturesque as it sounds. A 4.5 hour ride, the Montana Dinner Train includes a full course dinner, live music, and western entertainment – all set against the backdrop of Big Sky Country. Tickets typically sell out quickly, so reserve your spot early in the year.


Venture into the White Cliffs

Fort Benton, MT

You may have read about Lewis & Clark in a textbook long ago, but nothing paints their iconic journey quite like being there yourself. Walk where they walked, see what they saw, and be moved by the rugged beauty of the West all from the White Cliffs of the Upper Missouri River Breaks. Accessible by both water and land, these perpendicular bluffs remarkably formed from white sandstone is what Central Montana is all about.

P.S. For our history buffs, don’t forget to check out the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center in Great Falls. You’ll be enthralled for hours!

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