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Montana for the Family

by Erich Martin

Nov 5, 2019

Robert Crum | Dreamstime.com

Destinations / North America

Few states are better suited for seclusion and nature viewing than Montana. With multiple national parks, close proximity to Canada, mountain towns, city attractions and Wild West pursuits, it’s the perfect family getaway.


Become a Ranch Hand

First off, consider one of the quintessential Montana activities of visiting a dude ranch. There are plenty of family-friendly stays, including working ranches, resort ranches and dude ranches. Dude ranches offer horseback riding, fly fishing, hiking and much more. Working ranches let the whole family see what life as a cowboy is like, from cattle drives to work around the farm.


While ranch visits lay the foundation of spending time outside, there is so much more to do than pretending to be a cowboy with the family.


Cattle farm in Southwest Montana. Photo: Patrick Ryan | Dreamstime.com


Become Jeremiah Johnson

Unsurprisingly, hunting and fishing are a huge draw for Montana. Kids need to be of an appropriate age and complete the requisite hunting safety classes to get a license in the state, but once that’s taken care of, guides make getting a trophy to brag about pretty easy.


Fishing is less restrictive, but guides are still around to make sure no one leaves without a catch. Check out Montana’s tourism website to find guides, specific hunts and everything there is to do in the state’s great outdoors.


Visit National Parks

One of the best things for families to do together is visit a national park. National parks receive their distinctions for good reason. Montana is home to Glacier National Park and part of Yellowstone National Park. Only a tiny piece of Yellowstone is actually in Montana, but this is a great spot to do some wildlife viewing, including trying to spot wolves around dawn and dusk.


Wild Goose Island in St. Mary Lake in Glacier National Park. Photo: Jason Kolenda | Dreamstime.com


Check Out Montana Wildlife

If watching wild animals is one of your family’s favorite activities, Montana offers plenty of this on its own. No matter what part of the state you’re visiting, there is wildlife to see and guides to help you. Use this website to see where you can find wildlife and hire guides.  It is possible to spend your entire Montana trip ogling wild animals and going out of your way to see the natural sights.


Ghost Towns

The state isn’t known for metropolises, but there are still plenty of cities and towns. Before you head to the population centers, check out some of the state’s ghost towns, most found in Southwest Montana, to really make your family feel like you stepped into the Wild West.


Need a hub for your Montana trip? For a spot near the state’s natural wonders with some city attractions of its own, Billings is your city. This is the most populous city in the state and is nearby places to watch wildlife, go fishing, hunting or to a ranch with the family. Some of the state’s best restaurants and hotels are in Billings. The kids will love Big Dipper Ice Cream, while parents can stop at one of the many distilleries, breweries and saloons for a quick drink.


For more of a historic perspective, check out Belt, in central Montana. This city is on the National Register of Historic Places. All over town, visitors can find markers to learn more about the role this city played in shaping Montana and the Midwest as a whole.


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