Things to Do in Browning, MT + Where to Eat & Sleep
Browning, Montana is a small town with a rich cultural heritage located on the Blackfeet reservation, near the east entrance to Glacier National Park. The town is predominantly inhabited by members of the Blackfeet Indian Tribe, and cultural sensitivity and respect are important when visiting.
We drove through this small town on our way to Helena from Glacier National Park last summer and at first glance Browning doesn’t seem to have much to offer. It has a rundown feel and though the mountain caps of the park are visible in the distance, Browning is mostly surrounded by the lowlands of the Western Plains and feels like a stark difference to the majestic beauty of Glacier.
However, for those looking to learn more about the culture of the Blackfeet tribe, Browning, MT should not be overlooked.
Browning is the Agency Headquarters for the Blackfeet reservation, which stretches from the eastern edge of Glacier National Park to just west of Cut Bank, while the southern border is about 43 miles north of the town of Choteau and to the north is Canada.
In terms of amenities in Browning, visitors can find gas stations, a grocery store, and a few restaurants in town. For those looking for outdoor recreation, there are opportunities for hiking, fishing, and wildlife viewing in the surrounding areas.
Read More: 30 Coolest Small Towns in Montana
History of Browning, Montana
In the late 1800s, white settlers began moving into the area, leading to conflict between the two groups. The Blackfeet were eventually forced onto reservation land through a treaty made in 1855.
In 1910, the town of Browning was officially established as a hub for trade and commerce on the reservation. Over the years, it has grown into the central town for education, healthcare, and businesses on the reservation. Today, Browning is home to several cultural attractions that celebrate the history and traditions of the Blackfeet people.
Best Things to Do in Browning, MT
The best things to do in Browning for visitors all center around learning more about the Blackfeet tribe and its history and culture. Take the time to immerse yourself in the world of indigenous people in Montana and you will come away with a better understanding of their traditions, historic significance, and what their lives and community are like today.
Blackfeet National Marker
The Blackfeet Nation Marker in Browning, Montana is an important landmark that celebrates the history and culture of the Blackfeet Nation. This marker serves as a reminder of the rich heritage and traditions of the Blackfeet people, who have lived in the area for thousands of years.
It’s a good place to begin your visit to Browning, especially if coming from the east or south, since you’ll see it right off Rte 2.
For visitors, the marker is a chance to learn about the history and culture of the Blackfeet Nation, as well as to appreciate the natural beauty of the surrounding landscape.
Museum of the Plains Indian
The number one thing to do in Browning is visit the Museum of the Plains Indian.
The Museum of the Plains Indian in Browning, Montana is a fascinating destination for anyone interested in the history and culture of the region’s indigenous peoples. The museum showcases an impressive collection of artifacts, artwork, and traditional clothing and regalia, providing visitors with a unique insight into the daily lives and customs of the Plains tribes.
One of the highlights of the museum is the exhibit dedicated to the Blackfeet Nation, which features an array of items such as beaded moccasins, elk-tooth dresses, and buffalo-hide tipis. The museum also boasts a gift shop where visitors can purchase authentic Native American crafts and souvenirs, as well as a library and archive for those interested in further research.
The Museum of the Plains Indian is open year-round, but has very limited hours in winter so check the website first for opening house before visiting.
Faught’s Blackfeet Trading Post
Faught’s Blackfeet Trading Post is a historic store located in Browning, Montana that has been serving the local community and tourists since 1946.
The trading post is known for its extensive collection of Native American crafts made by Blackfeet artisans, including beadwork, quillwork, pottery, jewelry, and lotion made with herbs gathered on the Blackfeet reservation.
The craftsmen and women who create the products sold at Faught’s Blackfeet Trading Post are highly skilled and use traditional techniques passed down through generations.
In addition to its selection of Native American crafts, Faught’s Blackfeet Trading Post also sells a variety of other items, including books, clothing, and souvenirs. The store is a popular destination for tourists en route to Glacier National Park and is a must-visit for anyone interested in Native American culture and crafts.
Iron Shield Creative Tours & Workshops
Iron Shield Creative is a cultural tourism company located in Browning. It was founded in 2015 by a group of Blackfeet artists and educators who wanted to share their knowledge and traditions with visitors. The company offers a range of workshops, hikes, and presentations that allow tourists to learn about Blackfeet culture, history, and art.
The workshops offered by Iron Shield Creative provide hands-on experiences in traditional Blackfeet crafts such as beading, quillwork, and hide tanning. Hikes are also available, where visitors are taken through the stunning landscapes of Glacier National Park and learn about the plants and animals that are significant to Blackfeet culture. Presentations are held as well, where visitors can learn about the history and traditions of the Blackfeet people.
Iron Shield Creative is run by a team of experienced Blackfeet artists and educators who are dedicated to sharing their culture with visitors. The company’s mission is to promote cultural understanding and respect through education and creative expression. Visitors to Iron Shield Creative can expect to leave with a deeper understanding and appreciation for the rich cultural heritage of the Blackfeet people.
Diamond R. Brown Cowboy Museum
The Diamond R. Brown Cowboy Museum is a must-visit for anyone interested in the rich history and culture of the American West. Diamond R. Brown was a bullwhacker, trader, and rancher during the later decades of the 1800s and into the turn of the 20th century. He was even a model for renowned western painter C.M. Russell. He spent the last part of his life in Browning, working his plot of land. His great-grandson opened this cowboy and western lifestyle focused museum in his honor.
Visitors to the small Diamond R. Brown Cowboy Museum can expect to see a wide range of exhibits and artifacts related to the cowboy lifestyle. From antique saddles and spurs to vintage firearms and artwork depicting the rugged beauty of the western landscape, the museum offers a fascinating glimpse into the world of cowboys and cowgirls.
Lodgepole Gallery features Native American art and crafts from local Blackfeet artists. The gallery, which opened in 1993, is housed in a log building typical of Montana’s frontier architecture. It’s a great place to see and purchase authentic and unique pieces such as beadwork, pottery, jewelry, and paintings.
The gallery is located on Blackfeet Culture Camp, which also has tipis available to stay in (more on that under the lodging section below). This gallery also sometimes offers visitors the opportunity to meet local Blackfeet artisans and learn about their craft.
Blackfeet Heritage Center and Art Gallery
The Blackfeet Heritage Center and Art Gallery in Browning was established in 1983 by the Blackfeet Nation. The center was created to preserve and showcase the rich cultural heritage of the Blackfeet people. The gallery features the works of Blackfeet artists and provides a space for community events and educational programs. Today, the center continues to be an important cultural hub for the Blackfeet Nation and visitors alike.
The gallery showcases a wide range of traditional and contemporary arts and crafts made by local Blackfeet artisans. Visitors can find unique souvenirs such as pottery, beadwork, jewelry, and paintings.
Annual Events in Browning, MT
Here are some events that take place in Browning each year that you may be interested in checking out.
- North American Indian Days: A 4-day powwow celebration of Native American culture with dancing, drumming, and traditional dress.
- Heart Butte Indian Days: A powwow celebration held about 30 miles south of Browning that includes traditional activities such as horse racing, stick games, and a parade.
- Blackfeet Nation Youth Powwow: A 2-day event that celebrates the youth of the Blackfeet Nation with dancing, drumming, and traditional dress.
- Browning 4th of July Celebration: A parade, rodeo, and fireworks show that celebrates America’s independence.
We also recommend checking to see if any Native American Speaks events are happening when you’re in the area. This is a long-running partnership between indigenous speakers and the national park service for Blackfeet, Salish, Kootenai, and Pend d’Oreille tribal members to share information and stories of their history and culture in a setting the general public can attend. In addition to venues in Glacier National Park, such as St. Mary Visitor Center, these talks also happen in Browning at the Museum of the Plains Indian and the Blackfeet Heritage Center. You can find more information about upcoming Native American Speaks events through the park service here.
Many people only travel through Browning because it’s on their way to and from Glacier National Park. Browning’s close proximity to the park opens up opportunities to explore Glacier National Park while undergoing a deeper understanding of the land’s relationship to the indigenous tribes in the area. One way to do that is by taking a Sun Tours excursion.
Sun Tours offers guided bus tours of Glacier National Park with half-day and full-day options, both of which travel along the famous Going-to-the-Sun Road. The company was founded by Blackfeet tribal members and has a strong connection to the local indigenous community.
The Blackfeet tribe has lived in the area for thousands of years and has a deep understanding of the land and its history. Sun Tours draws on this knowledge to offer visitors a unique and authentic experience of the park. The company’s guides are all trained in Blackfeet culture, history, and traditions, and are able to offer a perspective that is not available from other tour companies.
Sun Tours buses pick up at Glacier Peaks Hotel in Browning, as well as Izaak Walton Inn in Essex, and the Glacier Park Lodge in East Glacier.
For history of the Lewis and Clark variety, head to Camp Disappointment National Historic Site 12 miles northeast of Browning. It is the northernmost point along the Lewis and Clark Trail and marks where Lewis noted the Marias River’s headwaters were farther south than hoped, thus not being able to increase the scope of the Louisiana Purchase.
Camp Disappointment National Historic Site has a marker with information about the journey the Lewis and Clark expedition made to this point.
Best Places to Eat in Browning, MT
You won’t find a lot of traditional sit-down restaurants in Browning. The town mostly has fast food style eateries with limited seating options.
Grocery Option: Glacier Family Foods
If you’re looking for more grab-and-go style food items or want to stock up before continuing on to Glacier, this grocery store in Browning is a good place to stop. Glacier Family Foods offers a decent selection of fresh produce, meats, and other groceries. They also have a deli and bakery. Just keep in mind it’s a small town grocer and you’re not going to find everything you might be used to in stock. Prices will likely be higher as well, as is typical in the grocery stores on the east side of Glacier National Park.
Restaurant Options in Browning, Montana:
- Nation’s Burgers – Craving some comfort food? Nation’s Burgers is known for its delicious burgers, chicken tenders, fries, and more. They also serve up vegetarian options, and appetizer faves like onion rings, sweet potato fries, mozzarella sticks, and popcorn shrimp. This is also the place to go in Browning for ice cream cones, shakes, and sundaes.
- Big Dan the Frybread Man – Think of this more like a drive-thru food truck. This little stand serves up some unique burgers made with frybread buns.
- Pizza Time – Craving some cheesy pizza after a day of driving? Pizza Time along Central Avenue is your answer in Browning. You can’t miss the building since its covered in paintings depicting indigenous life.
If you’re looking for nightlife in Browning, your best bet is to head to Glacier Peaks Casino. This is also an ideal place to rest your head if you’re planning to spend the night in Browning, which brings us to…
Lodging Options in Browning
Here are our top two picks for where to stay in Browning:
Glacier Peaks Hotel and Casino
Located just behind the Museum of the Plains Indian, Glacier Peaks Hotel and Casino offers a comfortable stay with on-site dining and gaming options. It’s the most traditional-style hotel option in Browning.
Lodgepole Tipi Village
A unique option for where to stay in Browning is the Lodgepole Gallery and Tipi Village, which provides a cool experience for visitors to spend the night in a tipi and partake in cultural activities. Keep in mind this is not glamping. The tipi furnishings and bedding is very simple and you’ll be using a shared bath facility. But if you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind, authentic experience on the Blackfeet reservation, this is a good place to check out.
Overall, Browning, Montana offers a glimpse into the rich cultural history of the Blackfeet Indian Tribe and provides outdoor recreation opportunities for visitors to enjoy.