A huge landlocked state in the northwestern area of the USA, Montana is the county’s fourth-biggest state. Known for its dramatic mountains, exciting wildlife, and abundant ways to get back to nature, Montana appears near the bottom of lists that detail the most densely populated states and the most populous states. That means there’s a lot of land mass with relatively few people to get in the way of your awesomely scenic pictures!
The majority of the state’s counties are classed as frontier counties. In some areas, there’s more chance of encountering a powerful bird of prey, herds of moose, sheep, deer, or elk, muscular bears, or swift coyotes than there are of seeing people.
One of the nation’s nine Mountain States, Montana shares borders with North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Idaho, as well as with the Canadian provinces of Alberta, Columbia, and Saskatchewan.
The earliest inhabitants were the Plains Indians, and there are still seven Indian reservations throughout the state. Many areas are considered sacred by indigenous groups.
Montana has more different types of mammal than any other state in the US. Another fun fact is that a beautiful sapphire from the state is the only gem from North America to be part of the magnificent English Crown Jewels. Even the UK wants a (literal) piece of Montana!
Named after the Spanish word for mountain, some of the state’s famous treasures include sections of Yellowstone National Park, Glacier National Park, the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, rolling prairies, the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center, and the Museum of the Rockies. There are good reasons why state nicknames include The Last Best Place and The Treasure State!
There is something to do no matter the season, with plentiful outdoor activities and adventures to enjoy. Drive along deserted highways, explore remote and dramatic places of natural wonder, feel at one with the mountains, discover cultural sites, and get well and truly off the beaten path as you travel around Montana.
Covering more than 147,000 square miles, the state has many secrets just waiting to be found. Here are some of the best hidden gems in Montana to fuel your inner explorer:
1. Jim’s Horn House, Three Forks
Kicking off the list of Montana’s secret gems is a privately owned collection of antlers, gathered over 60 years by a local man, Jim Phillips, from Three Forks. You will need to ask politely to be given permission into the shed where he keeps his astounding collection; contact him in advance, don’t just show up at his home unannounced!
If you do manage to gain access to his treasure trove you will see more than 15,000 lost antlers displayed in his shed. Antlers have fascinated Mr. Phillips since he was a young boy, and he started journeying into the woods and backcountry at the tender age of ten years old to collect antlers that had become detached from their animal owners.
None of the majestic antlers have been purchased; Jim Phillips preferred to grow his collection naturally, keeping a keen eye open for stray horns and foraging in the wild. Additionally, he doesn’t hunt actual animals—only antlers that have already been shed by moose, deer, antelope, elk, and the like.
It’s little wonder that Mr. Phillips has come to be known in local circles as The Antler Man!
2. St. Ignatius Mission, St. Ignatius
Built in the early 1890s, St. Ignatius Mission is located at the site of an older catholic mission that was established in the 1850s. As well as being steeped in history, the still-active church is also a visual delight.
On the National Register of Historic Places, the clay-brick church was built in a Gothic revival style. While attractive from the outside, boasting a 100-foot-tall bell tower, it’s the interiors that really make this Christian place of worship so appealing.
Step through the doors and you’ll be wowed by the sight of more than 50 stunning murals. Detailed and colourful, perhaps even more impressive is that the pictures were created by not an artist, but by one of the mission’s cooks.
Brother Joseph Carignano wasn’t just a whizz in the kitchen; he was also highly talented with a paintbrush. The gorgeous scenes show various events from throughout Christ’s life, embellishing the ceilings and walls, with the coloured-glass windows adding even more vibrancy to the interiors.
3. Boiling River, Yellowstone National Park
Located in Montana’s section of the amazing Yellowstone National Park, many visitors to the world’s first national park totally miss this little hidden gem. While you may in a dash to see more famous places in the expansive park, like Old Faithful and the Grand Prismatic Spring, the Boiling River is another natural wonder that is sure to impress.
Within easy reach of the park’s northern entrance, the Boiling River combines hot water from the geothermally heated waters of Mammoth Hot Springs and a cold flow from the Gardner River. The result is a warm river that is hot enough to soothe and delight yet cool enough to make bathing not only possible but pleasurable.
Stepping into the river is like easing yourself into a large hot tub, only with much more scenic vistas and a feeling of truly being connecting with nature. You’ll need to hike for about half a mile to reach the bathing spot but the inviting waters will make the effort more than worthwhile.
4. Beartooth Mountains
The Beartooth Mountains are a small mountain range in the southern part of central Montana. The lesser-visited alpine paradise boasts scenes of jaw-dropping natural and rugged beauty. You definitely want to make sure that your camera batteries are fully charged for a trip here!
Found within the huge Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness, the mountains feature many jagged peaks, challenging trails, and pristine lakes. You can also feast your eyes on the state’s highest peak: the 12,807-foot-tall Granite Peak.
The remote region wasn’t truly explored until the 1870s. The valleys had, however, long been used by Native American groups for hunting and taking shelter in the windy winter months. Home to around 400 plant species and a large number of diverse animals, the mountain range is one of the most biologically varied mountain groups in the country.
Soaring natural walls and pinnacles of jagged granite reflect in the sparkling waters of the lakes, with patches of verdant foliage contrasting against the deep blue hues of the water and sky. Every turn yields more glorious views. There are various trails throughout the remote mountains; set forth and discover.
5. Garden of One Thousand Buddhas, Arlee
As if the spectacular nature and revered Native American grounds aren’t enough to make you feel truly Zen, the Garden of One Thousand Buddhas is almost certain to give you a spiritual experience. Looking more like something you’d expect to find far away in Asia than in the US state of Montana, the unusual garden has been pleasing the public since the start of the present millennium.
The garden aims to spread the teachings and ideals of Buddhism, such as compassion, wisdom, forbearance, tolerance, and joy, in Montana.
Although the park is still working on reaching its target of 1,000 Buddha statues, it is still an aesthetically pleasing garden with a good array of Buddha images in various poses and a tranquil aura that is great for meditation and contemplation.
Covering ten acres of land, statues are arranged in a traditional wheel-like formation, a pattern that represents the cycle of birth, life, death, re-birth, according to Buddhist principles. Arranged around a towering statue of Yum Chenmo, a central figure in Tibetan Buddhism, you can also see numerous small pagodas.
6. Sand Creek Clydesdales Ranch, Jordan
A tranquil place to stay in the countryside of Jordan (the cowboy-country town in Montana, not the Middle Eastern country), Sand Creek Clydesdales Ranch is a great place for anyone who wants to get away from the world for a few days.
The road leading to the property sets the scene for things to come, with cow-filled pastures and plenty of wildlife all around. The atmosphere of the old west is still very much alive in this neck of the woods, and exploring the beautiful terrain by horseback is an ideal way to have fun, discover, and live a little of the local heritage.
The friendly family that owns the property will let you accompany them as they perform their day-to-day tasks around the working ranch if you so desire. In addition to the cattle, horses, and donkeys that call the ranch home you may spot wild prairie dogs, foxes, deer, turkeys, and rabbits.
The comfortable wooden cabin gives you self-catering freedom, with its well-equipped kitchen, and plenty of privacy.
Read more: https://www.thecrazytourist.com/28-amazing-hidden-gems-in-montana/