Montana is one of the wildest and most beautiful states in the United States. Its majestic mountain ranges, clear blue lakes, and vast wildlands make it a popular destination for those seeking adventure in the great outdoors. Many of the small towns across the state also have rich histories as they were early settlements in the time of copper mining, fur trade, railways, and the expansion of the frontier lands. These 13 towns represent some of the most beautiful small towns in Montana.
On the banks of the mighty Yellowstone River sits Livingston, a picturesque small town located in southwestern Montana. Known for having impressive, scenic views Livingston is just north of Yellowstone National Park. The majestic mountains and the beauty of the rushing river, make this electric town a popular destination for adventurers, outdoor lovers, and hikers. It is also full of rich culture, a prominent art scene, theater, music venues, and a wide range of fine dining and food options. It is the perfect balance between the ruggedness of Big Sky country and culture.
2. Big Timber
Big Timber is in south central Montana, in Sweet Grass County. The town sits between both the Yellowstone River and the Boulder River. Big Timber draws its roots as a station on the Northern Pacific Railway and was an important timber town. It has since become a popular tourist destination for outdoor lovers. The nearby rivers provide great trout fishing opportunities, while the scenic landscape is ideal for hikes and camping. The town is a gateway to the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness and is also flanked by the Crazy Mountains, making for gorgeous views and offering expansive wildlands to discover.
The town of Philipsburg is in southwest Montana, only a short distance from the sparkling waters of Georgetown Lake. Phillipsburg also sits in the middle of the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest. The region is popular for skiing, hiking, and outdoor recreation. Philipsburg also has a number of hot springs which offer great places to relax and unwind. Though it is best known for its gorgeous vistas, there is also an abundance of sapphires and gems in the area. Jewelry lovers will find a wide range of souvenirs from Sapphire County.
4. Big Sky
There is no better place to experience Montana’s famous Big Sky Country than in the town of Big Sky. The town is stunning with the combination of the alpine valley, meadowlands, and mountain ranges. Explore the Lone Mountain Range and Nordic trails from the comfort of the famous Big Sky resort, or kayak, raft, or fish in the rapids of the Gallatin River. The town also sits beside the Gallatin National Forest which is a beautiful oasis of wildlife and nature.
Located in Deer Lodge County, Anaconda is yet another beautiful small town in Montana. In many ways, Anaconda represents the history and struggle of Montana’s copper mining industry and The Stack has become a popular landmark. Anaconda is also a beautiful and thriving town tucked inside the valley of the Deer Lodge National Forest. The town, and its neighbor Butte, is also surrounded by the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness which features towering mountain ranges, forestlands, and the continental divide. The rugged area is extremely popular for hikers, climbers, horseback riding, and hunting. Within the valley and lowlands, Georgetown Lake offers great fishing opportunities, as well as a picturesque view of the wilderness beyond.
Nestled at the foot of the Rocky Mountains and in the heartland of Montana is Choteau. Choteau is an ideal travel destination for outdoor lovers as it is close to not only the Rocky Mountains, but the Flathead National Forest, Lewis and Clark National Forest, and Glacier National Park. Visitors to the area can enjoy camping, swimming, hiking, skiing, fishing, hunting, and a wide range of wildlife. In the town itself, shopping, golfing, and dining are available as well. Choteau is also known for Egg Mountain, where scientists discovered a Maiasaura fossil. Dinosaur lovers and archaeologists will enjoy exploring the area and the related displays and attractions.
7. Fort Benton
Fort Benton is the oldest occupied settlement in Montana, and is often referred to as "the Birthplace of Montana". The town sits along the Missouri River and is within Montana’s Couteau County. Fort Benton is full of Western Frontier history and visitors can learn all about the rich past of Fort Benton at The Museum of the Northern Great Plains. Soak up the charm of Historic Fort Benton from architecture to exhibits. With scenic views and deep history, there is so much to see and discover in Fort Benton.
Located within the Bitterroot Valley, Hamilton, Montana is a charming and picturesque small town. Architecture and culture harken back to the early years of the 1800s, a history that you can check out at the Ravalli County Museum. Another prominent landmark is the Daly Mansion, home of the founder of the town. Live music venues, theaters, local breweries, and restaurants make for a lively nightlife. Those who love outdoor recreation can enjoy excellent hiking and backpacking opportunities throughout the Bitterroot Mountains.
Stevensville is another beautiful town along the Bitterroot River. The town boasts lots of nature and wildlife nearby, including local flora, fauna, and the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge. The area is a great location for hiking, exploring, and taking in scenic views. Stevensville is also known for its history and the picture-perfect St. Mary’s Mission building that still stands against the gorgeous scenery giving the town a postcard-like feel. Restaurants, such as Montana Distillery, and local shops make fantastic places to soak up the atmosphere of this small town.
Polson is in Lake County in northern Montana. The town overlooks the beautiful Flathead Lake and is part of the Flathead Indian Reservation. The area is popular with tourists and visitors interested in recreational activities. The lake is one of the most beautiful in Montana and is a popular swimming destination in the summer. Visitors to the area can also enjoy biking, hiking, camping, rock climbing, and unique attractions such as exploring a bison range or going on a llama trek in warmer months. In winter, activities include skiing, skating, dog sledding, and snowmobiling. Cultural attractions include local farmers' markets, museums, locally owned shops, antique stores, and plenty of places to eat, drink, and relax from a long day in the beautiful outdoors.
11. West Yellowstone
The town of West Yellowstone is one of the closest towns to Yellowstone National Park. West Yellowstone borders both the park and the Madison River, making for a quaint town tucked against a stunning landscape. Those who love getting the most out of the outdoors will find easy access to Yellowstone National Park, white water rafting and kayaking along the river, and ample hiking opportunities. In the winter the area becomes a popular destination for ski trips, and the Rendezvous Ski Trails contain some 35 kilometers of cross-country ski trails. The Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Centre is a great place for families and allows visitors the chance to learn about and observe some of the local animal life. The town itself is full of art and culture, from art galleries and music festivals to farmers' markets and local shops and bakeries.
Set in the far north of Montana, Whitefish sits at the west entrance to Glacier National Park. The area is full of the rugged beauty of the natural landscape that surrounds this charming small town, including the soaring peaks of the Northern Rockies. Ski lovers will appreciate the many skiing opportunities and luxury accommodations at the Whitefish Mountain Resort. In warmer months, enjoy the pristine Whitefish lake, or stroll through the streets of town for a wide range of cafes, restaurants, bars, and nightlife.
The main draw of Libby is the terrain. The mountains are picture-perfect, and the Kootenay River winds through it all. The Kootenai National Forest is also close by and is a gorgeous place for hikers. The area features the Kootenai Falls, as well as a suspension bridge which makes for great photo opportunities. For the more adventurous, the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness Area has over 94,000 acres of wildlands to discover. The town still has a friendly and tight-knit feel to it and hosts a number of festivals and events for both locals and visitors alike.
Whether you are looking for a town full of history, a quiet escape in a charming village, or a place to explore the wilds of Montana, these beautiful small towns are great travel and tourism destinations, with a wide range of activities, attractions, amenities and of course, natural landscapes to enjoy.