Fall in Montana: Tips for visiting Montana in September

Montana is a beautiful state, and there are plenty of reasons to visit Montana in September. This is when the crowds subside, but the warm weather remains. As locals, we truly love Montana in September.

Whether you’re looking to check some national parks off of your bucket list or you want to catch a college football game, you’ll find no shortage of fun things to do in Montana in September. Read on to find out why and what you should know before planning a September vacation to Montana.

What’s the Weather Like in Montana in September?

Montana is huge, with the climate varying based on the region you’re visiting. Overall, you can expect temperature highs around 75 degrees Fahrenheit and lows around 40 degrees Fahrenheit in September.

The weather is usually still mild at lower elevations. If you’re spending the night in the mountains or at either National Park, be prepared for the temperatures to drop as low as the 30s at night. And no matter where you are in Montana during September, a surprise early snowfall is always possible!

How Cheap are Flights to Montana in September?

The state’s peak travel season ends with August, so you may be able to score some cheaper flights to your destination city while still taking advantage of decent weather most attractions in the national parks being open. However, the exact cost of your tickets will depend on which airport you fly out of and which city you land in.

Also, even though it’s not peak season like in August, expect the prices to still be expensive. September still has lovely weather usually plus there’s the added benefit of some autumn leaf peeping with the start of fall fun in Montana.

In addition, September is a good time to gamble that Going-to-the-Sun Road will be open (but again you never know when that first snowfall will arrive and closes the road), but with fewer crowds. More on Glacier below…

What’s Open at Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks in September?

Most of Yellowstone National Park’s facilities are open at the start of September, but some begin to close as the month goes on. Lake Lodge closes in late September, and the only campground that stays open throughout the month is Madison.

You can rent a bike up until Labor Day weekend, boat through mid-September, and take a horseback riding lesson through early September. With fewer bugs and people than are visiting Montana in the summer months, September is still an optimal time to hike in Yellowstone and see its many geysers.

September is also a prime time in Yellowstone to see the elk rut. During this annual mating ritual, the male bulls in the park will let out their loud bugle call to attract the females. Just don’t get in between a bull and his female! They are quick to agitate during rut season, but it’s quite a thing to see and hear.

Glacier National Park offers a reduced entrance fee during the fall season due to most lodges and concessions being closed by the end of September. However, there are still gorgeous views to be seen and plenty of wildlife around with the benefit of fewer crowds to share them with.

It’s important to note that the park’s main attraction, Going-to-the-Sun Road, may possibly be closed sometime in September until the following year, depending on when the first snowfall comes. Though usually it’s able to stay open until sometime in October.

You can see all the open and close dates for past years for GTTSR here.

A plus side for Going-to-the-Sun Road in September is that you don’t need the separate vehicle registration ticket fo the last half of the month; click here for more info and the exact date the vehicle registration ticket fo GTTSR ends.

Campgrounds in Glacier National Park in September operate on a first-come, first-serve basis and are without plumbing or hot water. If you visit Montana in September with plans to go to Glacier, come prepared with ample food since there won’t be many open restaurants in the park, plus an open mindset since park accessibility can quickly change due to weather conditions.

Keep in mind that bears are still around in September and they are getting ready for hibernation — meaning eating as much as they can. So don’t forget the bear spray on any hikes you do in the national parks and other bear country areas in Montana (which is basically all of western and central Montana).

Other Things to Do in Montana in September

If you’ll be spending time near Montana State University in Bozeman and University of Montana in Missoula, you’ll be able to watch some college sports in September.

In Bozeman, you can also stop by the Museum of the Rockies, which features some fantastic dinosaur fossils and Montana history exhibits.

September is also the start of fall foliage season, particularly in the mountains where the temperatures drop earlier than in the plains.

Read More: Best Places to See Fall Color in Montana

We’re not hunters, but we know plenty of people in Montana who are, and September is an exciting time for them because it’s the start of hunting season. Montana is one of the best places to go hunting in the country thanks to all that wildlife roaming around wide, open spaces. Make sure you familiarize yourself with hunting rules and regulations for the state before you go.

Another pastime in Montana that will let you catch your own dinner is fly fishing, and September is one of the best times to try it.

Don’t Miss Seeing Montana in September

Visiting Montana in September means dealing with smaller crowds and milder weather while still being able to enjoy the national parks.

Even though some of the parks’ amenities might end up being closed for the season, you’ll still be able to hike, backpack, and explore the state’s college towns as the fall semester begins. Take advantage of the discounted lodging and airfare by visiting during the off-season and enjoy your time in Montana at the start of autumn!

Overall, September is a fantastic time to go to Montana. The weather is usually still mild, fall colors are starting to turn, and the crowds of the high season have departed. If you aren’t encumbered by school schedules, September may very well be the best time for you to visit Montana.

Read More: Best Activities to Do in Autumn in Montana

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