C.M. Russell Auto Tour

Welcome to the Judith Basin! Nestled in the heart of the state known as the last best place, the Basin truly fits the classic Montana description of high, wide and handsome. Island mountain ranges like the Highwoods, Snowys and Moccasins surround a sea of grass where the rancher, farmer, and sportsmen enjoy the rich bounty of this land. The auto tour uses Charlie Russell's art to open a window to the Judith Basin and its history.

A young man from Missouri named Charlie Russell arrived in the Judith Basin in 1880. For the next ten years, the cowboy artist lived and worked here; the Western epic was faithfully captured with his paints and canvas, and many of the scenes are from the Judith Basin.

Charlie's art provides a window into the past to tell the story of American Indians, buffalo and wolves, cowboys and the open range, mountain men and miners, and the inevitable change that came with the progress of the homesteaders, railroads, and highways. The story is told where it happened out on the range and in the mountains where people can experience the West as it was, and as it is today.

The Montana Legislature designated Highway 87 between Great Falls and Lewistown as the 'Charles M. Russell Trail.' The land continues to stir the imagination and spirit today as it did for a cowboy artist over 100 years ago. Make sure to visit the C.M. Russell Museum located in Great Falls and also stop in and visit the charming museums located in Stanford, Utica and Hobson during your travels too!

An interpretive booklet for the C.M. Russell Auto Tour is available from the U.S. Forest Service Office located in Stanford, Montana or by calling 406-566-2292.

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  • Address:
  • 109 Central Avenue
  • Stanford, MT 59479
  • Mailing Address:
  • PO Box 484
  • Stanford, MT 59479
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