There's been a lot of discussion lately in Montana about the must see things to do in the state. A large state newspaper even put together a bucket lists of things to see and do in the state, which only lead to an even larger list after readers complained that they left so many things off the list.
Long before this discussion started I was putting together my own list of people, places, and things I wanted to see and do while I was in Montana making photos. Many on my list (not here) have already been checked off, such as witnessing the return of snow geese to Freezeout Lake near Fairfield, or dip my feet in the cold waters of St. Mary's Lake in Glacier National Park, or attend a cattle branding, or see a stampede of buffalo. My list of adventures that I have already seen is long, but there's still much more to see and do in this very large state.
Since everyone on the Internet likes list, here is my latest list of 100 Things to see and Do in Montana. It should prove handy for those who already live in the state and for those who will visit Montana on vacation and wonder what else there is to do.
1. Hike to Iceberg Lake in Glacier National Park.
2. See the wild horses in the Pryor Mountains.
3. Spend a night in a fire lookout in the middle of nowhere.
4. Learn to cast a fly rod and go fly fishing in the Missouri River near Craig, Montana.
5. Float the entire 59-mile length of the Smith River from Camp Baker to Eden Bridge.
6. Attend North American Indian Days in Browning, Montana.
7. Camp among the buffalo on the American Prairie Reserve.
8. Boat into the middle of Lost Lake before the sun comes up.
9. See beargrass in full bloom at Glacier National Park.
10. Photograph the inside of Bighorn Canyon.
11. Take a boat down the Missouri River through the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument from Fort Benton to Fort Peck.
12. Photograph a mountain lion.
13. Hike to Triple Falls in Glacier National Park.
14. Watch fireworks on the 4th of July on Flathead Lake.
15. Climb to the top of Square Butte south of Geraldine, Montana and photograph the mountain goats there.
16. Eat dinner and spend at night at the Grand Union Hotel in Fort Benton, Montana.
17. Go to the Miles City Bucking Horse Sale.
18. See the ancient grove of Ross Creek cedar trees in Kootenai National Forest near Libby, Montana.
19. Attend all four days of the Red Ants Pants Music Festival in White Sulphur Springs, Montana.
20. Encounter a prairie rattlesnake and live to talk about it.
21. Pick huckleberries.
22. Take my time exploring the entire length of the Beartooth Highway and backpack the Beartooth Traverse.
23. Spend a night at the Triple Creek Ranch hotel near Darby, Montana.
24. Photograph pine trees in the winter near Whitefish, Montana that are so heavy with snow they bend over.
25. Ride Amtrak's Empire Builder from East Glacier to Whitefish.
26. Cross Flathead Lake by boat and visit Wild Horse Island.
27. See Piano Pat at the Sip 'n Dip Lounge in Great Falls, Montana.
28. Spend a weekend unplugged at the Judith Mountains Cabin near Lewistown, Montana.
29. Eat lutefisk and Norwegian meatballs at the annual Sons of Norway dinner in Great Falls, Montana.
30. Attend the Montana Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Lewistown, Montana.
31. See (and photograph) the northern lights.
32. Climb to the tip of Birdtail Butte in rural Blaine County, Montana.
33. Visit Butte, Montana on St. Patrick's Day.
34. Spend Christmas deep inside Yellowstone National Park.
35. Photograph the bighorn sheep at Koo-Koo-Sint.
36. Ride and dine on the Charlie Russell Chew Choo.
37. Drive the entire length of the Hi-Line (U.S. Highway 2) in one day.
40. Catch a walleye in Lake Elwell.
41. Eat breakfast at the Echo Lake Cafe in Bigfork, Montana.
42. Watch a Montana high school six-man football game.
43. Attend the Fort Union Rendezvous near Sidney, Montana.
44. Participate in an Indian sweat lodge ceremony.
45. Soak in the Boiling River at Yellowstone National Park in the winter.
46. Visit the St. Mary Mission in Stevensville.
47. Sail a boat on Flathead Lake.
48. Take a helicopter tour of Glacier National Park.
49. Eat steak on Friday night at the Highwood Bar.
50. Attend the Whitefish Winter Carnival in February.
51. Go bowling at the Silver Dollar Saloon Bowling Alley in Philipsburg, Montana.
52. Go ice fishing on Lower Lake in Beaver Creek Park south of Havre, Montana.
53. Catch crawfish in Fresno Reservoir and have a crawfish boil.
54. Drive a combine and cut wheat somewhere in Montana's Golden Triangle.
55. Photograph the Jerusalem Rocks in Toole County after a freshly fallen snow.
56. Spend a day on a Hutterite colony.
57. Have a beer at Glacier Brewery in Polson, Montana.
58. See Kootenai Falls.
59. Eat a buffalo burger at Ted's Montana Grill.
60. Hike in the Bob Marshall Wilderness.
61. Attend the Riverfront Blues Festival in Libby.
62. Photograph sage-grouse during spring mating season.
63. Explore the caverns of Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park near Whitehall, Montana.
64. Drive the entire length of the Lake Koocanusa Scenic Byway.
65. See a powwow at Fort Belknap Indian Reservation inside Mission Canyon.
66. Go swimming in Lake McDonald.
67. Get stuck in gumbo.
68. Attend the Crow Fair and Rodeo near Hardin, Montana.
70. Attend the Virgelle Mercantile Outdoor Antique Flea Market in Virgelle, Montana.
71. Spot and photograph a wild grizzly bear (safely).
72. Go elk hunting in Meagher County, Montana.
73. Spend a weekend in beautiful Red Lodge, Montana.
74. Pick cherries in the Flathead Valley.
75. Participate in a paleontology dig somewhere in Montana.
76. Watch Montana farmers stack hay with a beaverslide.
77. Spot a black footed ferret in the wild.
78. Witness a bareback Indian horse race.
79. Go winter camping in Glacier National Park.
80. Cross the Missouri River on all of its rural ferries.
81. Attend the annual Running of the Sheep in Reed Point, Montana.
82. Visit the C.M. Russell Museum in Great Falls, Montana.
84. Hike into the Bear's Den near the Sweetgrass Hills in northern Montana.
85. Visit Little Bighorn Battlefield.
86. See William Clark's inscription on Pompey's Pillar.
87. Visit Polebridge, Montana.
88. Ride a snowmobile into Yellowstone National Park in the winter.
89. Eat a cinnamon roll baked by the women from the Chinook senior center.
90. Spend a weekend exploring downtown Bozeman.
91. Visit Sun River Wildlife Management Area.
92. Photograph the autumn leaves on the east side of Glacier National Park, along Highway 93 south of Darby, and near Kalispell.
93. Take a boat through the Gates of the Mountains near Helena, Montana.
94. Take a tour of Glacier Distilling's whiskey operation in Coram, Montana.
95. Spend a week taking in the beauty of the Bitterroot Valley.
96. Spend a night camping at Seeley Lake.
98. Go dog sledding in Whitefish, Montana.
99. Climb to the top of the M near Missoula.
100. Touch all of the last remaining glaciers in Glacier National Park before they are gone.
Those items already checked off my list...
- Attend a cattle branding.
- Hear the elk bugle at Slippery Ann in Phillips County.
- Witness the return of snow geese to Freezeout Lake near Fairfield, Montana.
- Watch the sun rise over Mount Grinnell at Glacier National Park.
- See the buffalo rounded up at Fort Belknap Indian Reservation.
- Drive the entire length of the Beartooth Scenic Byway.
- See a moose in the wild.
- Dip my feet in Saint Mary's Lake.
- Attend Rocky Boy's annual powwow.
- Witness a cattle drive.
- Drink a bottle of Moose Drool and Pig's Ass Porter.
- Go camping in the Missouri Breaks.
- Smell the spring grass in the Sweet Grass Hills.
- Eat a huckleberry ice cream cone (Snowy Mountain Coffee in Harlowton, Montana).
- Visit Lamar Valley in Yellowstone National Park during mating season.
- See a herd of pronghorn antelope.
- See the Jerusalem Rocks near Sweet Grass, Montana.
- Attend a rancher's rodeo.
- Drive the entire length of Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National Park.