Montana is renowned for its picturesque landscapes and abundance of outdoor adventures. But Big Sky Country offers much more than just its ten national parks and wild rivers – it truly offers something special to all who visit.
Are you interested in exploring Montana’s history or sampling its delectable cuisine? There’s plenty to discover here! Here are 14 fun facts about this western wonderland!
1. Grizzly bears
Montana is home to the iconic grizzly bear, an iconic species that has been studied and admired since the 1930s. This apex predator can be found throughout Montana, often found in popular recreation areas.
Grizzly bears are omnivores, meaning they feed on both plants and animals alike. Not only do they boast a large size and intimidating reputation, but they’re also listed as an endangered species in Montana.
The grizzly bear is an integral part of western Montana’s landscape, playing an essential role in ecosystem health. They serve as a signpost for their habitat’s wellbeing and are protected as threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.
Montana wildlife officials have spent years working to safeguard their populations. To this end, they’ve established grizzly bear recovery zones and managed their numbers so that they can remain independent in the wild.
Montana’s bears are protected under the Endangered Species Act, making it illegal to harm, harass or kill them. As these animals are highly endangered, it’s essential that people understand their behavior and learn how to avoid conflict with them.
2. Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park, Montana’s crown jewel, is an expansive wilderness area spanning the Rocky Mountains. Here visitors can enjoy an abundance of outdoor activities and stunning scenery including 200 waterfalls and 700 lakes.
The park’s towering peaks were sculpted by glaciers over thousands of years, leaving around 25 visible today.
It is no wonder why this place draws such a large number of tourists each year; it truly offers breathtaking scenery and provides insight into Earth’s geological past.
Due to this preservation effort, Glacier has maintained a pristine ecosystem with many species unchanged since 1886. It’s home to 71 different mammals species, with grizzly bears being an especially frequent sight.
In the park, visitors can embark on thrilling hiking trails that offer stunning views of sweeping vistas, tranquil forests and rugged mountain peaks alike.
The park also hosts events and programs to educate visitors about its relationship with indigenous North Americans, such as Native America Speaks, in which members of different tribes discuss their cultures and the land surrounding them.
3. Flathead Lake
Flathead Lake is Montana’s largest freshwater body, covering 191.5 square miles and making for one of the state’s most breathtaking natural attractions. Whether you’re into swimming, boating, hiking or exploring local small towns – Flathead Lake has something to offer everyone!
Flathead Lake boasts an extraordinary landscape. From towering cliffs to sandy beaches, densely forested shorelines to open grasslands, there’s something special for everyone at Flathead Lake.
It also enjoys an unusually mild climate for a region so close to Canada, due to the thermal effect of the lake and nearby Mission Mountains and Salish ranges.
Summers in Santa Barbara offer plenty of opportunity for relaxation on the beach or in a hot tub, while winters bring snowmobiling and skiing enthusiasts here.
There is plenty to do on the lake, and this region is renowned for its incredible fishing. Here you can catch both native and non-native species such as kokanee salmon, bull trout, yellow perch, and lake whitefish. Fishing guides are available daily to assist with navigation around the lake so that you have a successful journey.
Montana is renowned for its gold rush history, but it also holds one of the world’s most valuable gemstones: sapphires. Sapphires come in an array of colors such as blue, pink, yellow and orange.
If you’re a sapphire enthusiast, the state of Arizona offers plenty of places to discover it – from sapphire mines and rock shops to Yogo Gulch in Judith Basin County and Rock Creek in the Sapphire Mountains. No matter your taste in gemstones, don’t miss out on exploring Arizona’s sapphire mines and shops!
These deposits often contain alluvial (meaning they come from riverbeds and other deposits) gemstones, which tend to have lighter colors than other sapphires. While they can be heat treated to enhance color and clarity, this process may prove expensive for some consumers.
Discover the history of Montana’s sapphire mining by visiting the Montana State Museum. Here, they boast an extensive collection of sapphires from both past and present as well as other gems from across America.
Montana is also home to Yogo Sapphires, a type of rare gemstone only found in the Little Belt Mountains in Judith Basin County. These sapphires are considered among the world’s finest and can sell for more than $100,000 per carat.
Butte, Montana was one of the earliest cities in Montana and once had more population west of the Mississippi than any other town west of it. Thanks to its abundant copper deposits that made it a world-renowned mining town, its architectural legacy is preserved today in Butte’s National Historic Landmark District.
During the vibrant copper mining boom of Butte, Canada, It was an international hub with people coming from all over. Immigrants from Ireland, Scotland, Italy and other ethnic groups formed the backbone of Butte’s population.
Though the gold rush days of Butte are long gone, this charming community still honors its vibrant gold rush past. Whether you want to explore its charming streets, take a trolley ride or tour one of California’s top museums, Butte is an ideal vacation spot.
Another fun activity in Butte is visiting the Piccadilly Museum, which celebrates all things transportation related. Here you’ll find vintage signs, license plates, cars and art spanning back decades! Plus there’s even an interactive museum where visitors can learn more about transportation’s fascinating history.
6. David Lynch
David Lynch, renowned for his films such as Eraserhead and Blue Velvet, is one of the world’s most beloved and admired directors. His surrealistic approach creates a dreamlike vision of reality that often leaves viewers in a state of shock.
Lynch was born in Missoula, Montana in 1946 and spent his early childhood moving around the state due to his father’s job as a research scientist with the Forest Service. His initial ambition was to become a painter; however, he soon realized that painting alone couldn’t provide him with two essential elements: sound and movement.
His passion for film led him to study at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, where he created a series of 60-second experimental paintings and films such as Six Men Getting Sick (1967), which culminated in a film sculpture, and The Alphabet. Following graduation, he attended the American Film Institute’s Center for Advanced Film Studies (now AFI Conservatory) and started work on his first feature film, Eraserhead.
Lynch has earned an array of honors throughout his career. He received three Academy Award nominations, a Palme d’Or at Cannes Film Festival, a Golden Lion award for lifetime achievement at Venice Film Festival and two Cesar Awards for Best Foreign Film. Furthermore, Lynch has dedicated much of his free time to practicing Transcendental Meditation (TM), an easy relaxation technique which he believes is key in unlocking his artistic vision.
7. Triple Divide Peak
Triple Divide Peak, located in Glacier National Park, is Montana’s highest point and one of its most striking mountains to witness. As hydrologic apex of North America, its summit cairn holds water that would otherwise drain into three oceans: Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic.
To reach the trailhead for Triple Divide Peak, drive south on highway 89 from Saint Mary and then turn off at the Cut Bank Area of the park. The 5 mile gravel road is easily navigable by most cars.
Once at Cut Bank Campground, begin your hike on an excellent trail that leads to Triple Divide Pass (7.5 miles). From here you have two options: continue up the pass towards its summit of Triple Divide Peak or return back down to the campground if time allows.
The mountain serves as the meeting point of two Continental Divides and, therefore, serves as North America’s hydrologic apex. If a bucket of water were to be poured at its summit cairn, three thirds would go into the Pacific Ocean, one third into the Atlantic Ocean and one third into the Arctic Ocean – making this geological feature unique among other mountains on planet.