Montana is a state in the Western United States. The western third of Montana contains numerous mountain ranges. Smaller "island ranges" are found throughout the state, for a total of 77 named ranges that are part of the Rocky Mountains. The state's name is derived from the Spanish word montaña (mountain). Montana has several nicknames, none official, including: "Big Sky Country" and "The Treasure State", and slogans that include "Land of the Shining Mountains" and more recently, "The Last Best Place". Montana is ranked 4th in size, but 44th in population and the 48th in population density of the 50 United States.
The economy is primarily based on agriculture, including ranching, wheat and other small grain farming. Other significant economic activities include oil, gas, coal and hard rock mining, lumber, and the fastest-growing sector, tourism. The health care, service and government sectors also are significant to the state's economy. Millions of tourists annually visit Glacier National Park, the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, and three of the five entrances to Yellowstone National Park.
Average daytime temperatures vary from 28 °F (−2 °C) in January to 84.5 °F (29.2 °C) in July. The variation in geography leads to great variation in temperature. The highest observed summer temperature was 117 °F (47 °C) at Glendive on July 20, 1893, and Medicine Lake on July 5, 1937. Throughout the state, summer nights are generally cool and pleasant. Temperatures decrease as altitude increases, and extremely hot weather is less common above 4,000 ft (1,200 m).[dubious – discuss] Snowfall has been recorded in all months of the year in the more mountainous areas of central & western Montana, though it is rare in July and August.
Montana is slightly larger than Japan. It is the fourth largest state in the United States after Alaska, Texas, and California the largest landlocked U.S. state; and the 56th largest national state/province subdivision in the world. To the north, Montana shares a 545-mile (877 km) border with three Canadian provinces: British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan. The state borders North Dakota and South Dakota to the east, Wyoming to the south and Idaho to the west and southwest. The weather in Oregon looks exactly like the weather from Montana.
Popular destinations in Montana
Big Sky: Big Sky is an outdoors person's dream, nestled high in the Gallatin National Forest, presided over by Lone Mountain and just a few miles from Yellowstone Park. The Big Sky Ski Resort offers ample activities for all seasons, with exhilarating skiing and snowboarding in the winter and scenic lift rides during the summer.
Bozeman: Bozeman is the gem of Big Sky Country, bustling with activities for all seasons. Winter brings powder to the peaks at Bridger Bowl Ski Area and nearby Big Sky Ski Resort, while the spring brings high waters and thrilling rafting on the Gallatin River. Summer is splendid for backpacking the Gallatin Divide, and fall colors bring nearby Yellowstone Park to life as the wildlife come out to mate.
Billings: Lewis & Clark, Custer, Sitting Bull and Calamity Jane may be long gone, but they are not forgotten in Billings. Museums, galleries and landmarks honoring these legendary characters from the Old West dot the city, making it a history buff's dream destination. Surrounded by six breathtaking mountain ranges, Billings also offers plenty of opportunities for fresh air recreation, including hiking, biking, golf and viewing rare Montana wildlife.
Missoula: Peacefully tucked away in the heart of the northern Rocky Mountains, Missoula is the perfect spot for a weekend of history, culture and outdoor fun. Home to the University of Montana, one of the most architecturally distinguished academic institutions in the country, the city offers a number of intellectually stimulating attractions.
West Yellowstone: This Rocky Mountain enclave in southwestern Montana is an outdoor enthusiast's dream, offering snowmobiling, cross-country skiing and dog sledding in winter; trout fishing in fall; birding, biking and hiking in spring; and summer parades and rodeos.
Whitefish: Whitefish serves up a heaping helping of rustic charm amid the rugged beauty of the Rockies. Nestled at the foot of Big Mountain and within a short distance of Glacier National Park and the Canadian border, the area offers no shortage of outdoor activities for all seasons, from skiing Whitefish Mountain Resort in the winter to cycling, horseback riding and whitewater rafting in summer.
Kalispell: The rugged beauty of Montana is on prominent display in Kalispell, a small but vibrant city stretched along the Continental Divide, just minutes from Glacier National Park and Flathead Lake. This friendly town offers a balance of city and outdoor adventure with museums, theater, community events and a variety of lodging, shopping and dining options all within close proximity of unlimited recreational opportunities.
Great Falls: Anyone with an interest in history and a love of the great outdoors will enjoy a getaway to Great Falls. Steeped in the traditions of the Old West and chock-full of historic buildings and important landmarks, the city itself is a living museum. But there are also real museums to explore.
Nightlife and bars
24TH ANNUAL LEWIS & CLARK FESTIVAL
4201 Giant Springs Road
Great Falls, MT 59405
3-D INTERNATIONAL RESTAURANT AND LOUNGE
1825 Smelter Avenue
Black Eagle, MT 59414
34TH HUCKLEBERRY FESTIVAL
Trout Creek Park
Trout Creek, MT 59874
36TH INTERNATIONAL WILDLIFE FILM FESTIVAL
718 South Higgins Avenue
Missoula, MT 59801
ALBERTA BAIR THEATER
2801 3rd Avenue North
Billings, MT 59101
ALPINE THEATRE PROJECT
600 2nd Street
Whitefish, MT 59937
AN RI RA MONTANA IRISH FESTIVAL
ANDIAMO ITALIAN GRILLE
1 Lone Mountain Trail
Big Sky, MT 59716
Things to do and visit
Miracle of America Museum: The mind-boggling Miracle of America Museum, located just 2 miles south of Polson, is worth seeing. At turns random and fascinating, it consists of 5 acres cluttered with the leftovers of American history. Wander past weird artifacts including the biggest buffalo (now stuffed) ever recorded in Montana.
Going to the Sun Road: A strong contender for the most spectacular road in America, the 53-mile Going-to-the-Sun Road is a national historic landmark that skirts near shimmering Lake McDonald before angling sharply to the Garden Wall – the main dividing line between the west and east sides of the park.
Chico Hot Springs: Twenty miles south of Livingston, off US 89 en route to Yellowstone, unpretentious Chico Hot Springs has garnered quite a following in the last few years - now attracting celebrity guests from Hollywood. They, along with many regular folks, come to this relaxed place to soak in the two suave open-air mineral pools (admission for nonguests $8.50).
Big Sky Resort: Outdoor enthusiasts can explore the expansive beauty around the Gallatin River, running through the Gallatin and Paradise Valleys, for days. Big Sky Resort, with multiple mountains, 400in of annual powder and Montana's longest vertical drop (4350ft), is the valley's foremost destination for skiing.
Plonk: Where to go for a drawn-out three-martini, gossipy lunch? Plonk serves a wide-ranging menu from light snacks to full meals, mostly made from local organic products. In summer the entire front opens up and cool breezes enter the long building, which also has a shotgun bar and pressed-tin ceilings.
John Bozeman's Bistro: Bozeman's best restaurant offers Thai, Creole and pan-Asian slants on the cowboy dinner steak, plus starters like lobster chowder and a weekly 'superfood' special, featuring especially nutritious seasonal vegetarian fare.
Depot: The Depot has a reputation for consistently good steaks served in upscale cowboy contemporary environs. The beef menu is almost as long as the wine list.
La Tinga: Simple, cheap and authentic, La Tinga is no-frills dining at its tastiest. The tiny order-at-the-counter taco joint makes a delicious version of the Mexican pork dish it is named after, and lots of freshly made tacos starting at just $1.50, or choose the daily lunch combo deal for less than $7.
Iron Horse Brewpub: Rather swanky for a brewpub, the Iron Horse includes a plush upstairs bar complete with a saltwater aquarium. It's popular with students for its microbrews and traditional American pub grub.
Bozeman Hot Springs: Located in the same geothermal ecosystem as Yellowstone, the area around Bozeman is home to around a dozen of Montana's 61 hot springs.