Montana is broken out into six different regions:
In the northwest of Montana is Glacier Country, which is home to Glacier National Park, Flathead Lake, Whitefish, Missoula, and the Bitterroot Valley. I think of Glacier as being at the top of the tourism pyramid; closely followed by Yellowstone Country.
Yellowstone Country is in the south-central area of the state. This region includes Bozeman, Big Sky, and three of the entrance towns to Yellowstone National Park. It sprawls east all the way to Red Lodge and Columbus.
West from Yellowstone Country, you’ll find Southwest Montana. Home to Helena, which is the capital city of Montana. You’ll also find Butte along with small towns and the eerily mesmerizing Bannack Ghost Town.
Head north a bit and you’re in the mountain ranges and valley of Central Montana, where rivers reign supreme and some of Montana’s most mesmerizing waterfalls and dams are in Great Falls. Plus, like the rest of Montana, Central Montana has lots of small towns to explore. Central Montana is also home to some incredible history in Fort Benton.
If you don’t care about mountains go to Southeast Montana where there are fewer tourists. You’ll discover understated beauty and underrated hidden gems. It doesn’t have the grandeur of the parks and western Montana, but it’s still a special place with history and friendly locals. Plus, lots of dinosaur bones!
We have lots of family in Southeast Montana so it has a special place in our heart. And while we totally get that it doesn’t have the majesty of the west, it is truly a heartland of small town charm and wide open spaces. There are lots of historic things to see, like Pompeys Pillar. Southeast Montana is also a big part of Montana’s Dinosaur trail. Yes, you can see some cool bones at the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, but if you’re a dinosaur fanatic, then you want to go to Glendive and Makoshika State Park in Southeast Montana.
The last region to discuss is Missouri River Country, which is located in the northeast part of Montana. This place is probably visited even less than Southeast Montana because there’s not a big interstate going through it like other parts of Montana have thanks to I-94 and I-90.
However, there is still lots to see and explore in Missouri River Country, and it’s definitely a good way to get in touch with small town life in Montana. If you like getting away from the tourists and experiencing small town life, you’re going to love Montana’s Missouri River Country. Plus, it has some of the best fishing and water recreation in the state thanks to the Missouri River and Fort Peck Lake.