Are you looking for national parks in Montana? You are in the right place. In this article, I will walk you through Montana national parks and tell you everything you need to know.
There is so much to do in Montana it’s a wonderful state. With glacial-clad peaks, green meadows, azure waters, historic towns, and a vibrant history it has a lot to offer.
And the Montana national parks are some of the best in the world.
There are National Parks, Monuments, Historic Sites, Recreation Areas and Battlefields in Montana. I’ve included all of these in this article.
There are also two other National Trails shared with other states that I have also included.
Montana’s national parks attract nearly 4 million visitors a year. Glacier National Park and Yellowstone National Park are the most popular and are two of the must-see places in Montana.
So without further ado grab a drink, pull up a chair, and let me walk you through the national parks of Montana.
10 Best National Parks In Montana For Your Bucket List
Glacier National Park
Of all the Montana national parks Glacier National Park is one of the must-see Montana tourist attractions.
It’s hard to describe how awe-inspiring this place is. Think magical ‘Lord of The Rings’ film set and you have the vibe.
Here you will find glaciated meadows, alpine woodlands, over 100 lakes, and towering ice-clad peaks that just beckon to be explored.
The park sits along and Canadian/US border and has a massive million-plus acres to enjoy.
This is one of the parks in Montana that is thriving with wildlife and you could see bears and lynx so be prepared, even though sightings aren’t commonplace.
For all its beauty this is one of the national parks of Montana that you need to prepare to visit. Do some research before you go and make a reservation especially if you want to camp or backpack.
The park is easily accessible from Highway 2 in the south and Highway 89 to the east and it is open 24 hours 365 days a year.
There are three visitor centers on site with various opening times.
This is a really special park and gives you a sense of the past, what the landscape looked like without humans. It’s one of those places where you feel ‘small’ among all the grand and vast landscape.
You just have to go here.
Big Hole National Battlefield
I feel like this is one of those important places in Montana especially if you love history.
Big Hole National Battlefield is the sight of a battle in 1877 where 90 Nez Perce ingenious people and 31 soldiers and volunteers lost their lives.
While this might be a solemn chapter in American history I feel it’s important for us to remember and honour. This is the site that does that.
Within the Nez Perce National Historical Park, it stands as a testament to the brutal violence that occurred there.
In the visitor center, there is a film, museum, and bookstore that will acquaint you with what happened here.
From there you can walk the Big Hole National Battlefield Trails or take part in one of the Ranger programs.
This is one of the Montana national parks that while somber is worth visiting and honoring.
To extend your visit: Stay At River’s Fork Lodge
Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site
The state of Montana is what some might refer to as The American West and this site gives you a portal into that world.
Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site is a tribute to and guardian of the vibrant cattle industry that thrived in the 1850s.
It provides a window into the world of cattlemen and cowboys and their influence on America.
One of Montana’s national parks that celebrates history here we follow the story of Johnny Grant and Kohrs. He was a seasoned Canadian fur trader who sought fresh horizons in the cattle business.
This business he eventually sold to Kohrs, the renowned “Montana’s Cattle King.
He went out to establish substantial success which he lost in the horrific winter of 1886 when nearly half his livestock died.
Visitors today get to delve into this industry past and present and discover what life was really like for these cattlemen.
You can take guided tours, ranger-led programs, or just explore by yourself taking in all the historic buildings.
This is one of the national parks of Montana that is fee-free and open from May to September and most public holidays.
To Extend your visit: Stay At The Forge Hotel
Yellowstone National Park Is One Of The Most Well-Known National Parks In Montana
Of all the Montana national parks I am sure you have heard of this one. Spanning over three states Yellowstone was not only America’s first national park but most believe it’s one of the best in the world.
This iconic park spans 2.2 million acres and contains half the world’s active geysers as well as other geologic wonders like the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River.
If you only visit one of the Montana parks make it this one.
There is so much to do here I could go on and on forever and a lot depends on how much you want to explore the park.
Montana’s corner of the park, which only covers 3%, showcases the splendor of the Madison River, the Gardner River, and the captivating Gardner River Canyon.
Old Faithful Geyser is located in the Wyoming part of the park.
Wherever you visit you will have plenty of opportunities to observe wildlife, explore geothermal realms, and explore geological marvels. This is one of the best national parks of Montana.
There is a fee to enter which is currently $35 per vehicle. This is one of the best places to see in Montana.
Stay At Clubhouse Inn to extend your visit.
Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area
Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area is one of the places in Montana to visit. If the natural world is your thing then this vast wild landscape will be perfect for you.
Here there are over 120,000 acres to explore and wildlife galore. The panoramas here are breathtaking as this wild and untamed land rises around you.
This is one of Montana’s national parks that straddles the border with Wyoming.
The park’s main features are Yellowtail Dam, the meandering Bighorn River, the expansive Bighorn Lake, and segments of the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range.
Hiking, boating, and wildlife spotting are the main activities here. The landscape is also dotted with four historical ranches, offering insightful tours.
Bighorn Rams, mule deer, and even elusive black bears are not uncommon here
The park is separated into two sections and they are about a three-hour drive apart.
The North District in Fort Smith Montana mostly consists of water-based recreation and includes Yellowtail Dam Visitor Center, Afterbay Reservoir, and Three Mile River Access.
The park is free to enter.
Nez Perce National Historical Park
This is one of the Montana parks that is brimming with history. Nez Perce National Historical Park contains 38 important historic sites and areas.
This land was once home to the nimíipuu (Nez Perce) people and is strewn across the states of Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and Montana.
This park serves as a sanctuary, preserving the historical and cultural legacy of the Native American tribes that inhabited the region before the encroachment of European settlers.
This site lets you embark on a journey through time learning about the people who once inhabited this land. One of the national parks of Montana you will want to put high on your list.
The Montana area of this park hosts three significant sites associated with the Nez Perce National Historical Park.
Visiting these makes for a great weekend getaway in the Midwest.
These sites are the Big Hole National Battlefield, Canyon Creek, and the Bear Paw Battlefield and all are worth a visit.
This is one of the Montana national parks that is free to enter.
Ice Age Floods Geologic Trail Is One Of The Best National Parks In Montana
This National Park in Montana is a trail but it’s not just any old trail.
The Ice Age Floods Geologic Trail owes its existence to the cataclysmic Glacial Lake Missoula floods that surged forth during the waning days of the last glacial period and it’s stunning.
The state of Montana and the Pacific Northwest were shaped by a colossal ice dam that melted between 18,000 to 15,000 years ago. The landscape you see today was shaped by this.
This trail was the inaugural National Geological Trail in the United States and as well as incredible landscapes it offers lots more to see and do. And you can drive the trail as well as hike it.
The trail is free to enter but attractions along the way might charge a fee.
Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site
This is one of Montana’s national parks that stands as a testament to industry in the area. The Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site stands as a guardian of one of the era’s preeminent fur trading hubs.
This site was an official outpost of the American Fur Company and in its time sold $100,000 of goods annually. Buffalo robes beads, firearms, fabric, alcohol, and more were all traded here.
The site now showcases a partial reconstruction of the original fort and offers visitors a window into the bustling merchant life that characterized the 1800s.
This is one of the national parks of Montana that is free to enter and is open all year round other than on major holidays.
This park is on the MT/ND border.
Stay At Hampton Inn & Suites Williston to extend your visit.
Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail
When you think of Montana’s national parks you might not think of a National Trail but yes they are included.
The Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail covers sixteen present-day states.
The trail meanders through history and geography, inviting travelers to embark on their own journey for however short or long they want to.
In Montana, the trail goes through eight districts with Great Falls taking center stage.
The Great Falls area has so much to see and provides a great backdrop for a lot of recreational sports. The trail introduces you to the people, places, and stories that make up the complex legacy of the expedition
Places to see on the trail in Montana are Pompey’s Pillar National Monument, Travelers’ Rest, The Falls of Great Falls, Makoshika State Park, and the Fort Benton National Historic Landmark among others.
These are also some of the best places to see in Montana.
Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument
One of the national monuments in Montana the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument is of profound significance.
This area memorializes the US Army’s 7th Cavalry, Crow, and Arikara scouts and the Lakotas, Cheyennes, and Arapaho who died in battle on the 25th and 26th of June of 1876.
On the grounds of the Little Bighorn, the Lakota, Arapaho, and Cheyenne tribes waged a ferocious struggle during the Battle of the Little Bighorn, a pivotal event also known as the Last Stand.
This monument memorializing not only the 7th Cavalry of George Armstrong Custer but also the indigenous tribes who fought resolutely.
Through guided and self-guided tours visitors unveil the poignant history of this battlefield. You learn about the struggles, culture, and way of life for which these Native Americans fought for this land.
You will require an entrance pass to visit this national park in Montana which costs $25 per vehicle. The park opens daily apart from New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Packing List When Visiting National Parks in Montana.
If you are searching, here are some tips on how to pack lightly when packing to visit
A concealed travel pouch may be one of the most important items you bring along when exploring the best Montana ntional parks.
It is always important to protect your personal information. Identity thieves are everywhere.
This unisex RFID-blocking concealed travel pouch is lightweight and comes in several colors. It has lots of organization to give you peace of mind.
You can place it under your clothes next to your body to carry your ID safely.
If you have a pouch already that does not come with RFID protection, as I do, these RFID sleeves are the perfect solution.
If you are planning on taking a lot of pictures with your phone you will definitely want to consider an external charging battery.
This Anker high-speed phone charging battery is the exact one I carry with me on all of my trips.
I like that it holds its charging capabilities for several uses so I do not have to worry about it while out and about, and if I forget to recharge it at night, it will still be good to go the next day.
My daughter gifted me with this FugeTek selfie stick and tripod setup for my birthday. I absolutely love it! It is made of lightweight aluminum and is easy to use.
It has Bluetooth connectivity and is a breeze to use for taking Insta-worthy selfies while discovering island getaways in the US.
I never much believed in using packing cubes when traveling. That is until I tried them. Now I am hooked. These are the exact cubes I use to stay organized when I pack for a trip!
You will want to bring your own refillable water bottle with you.
I never leave home on a trip without my Bobble filtration bottle. The 18.5-ounce size is perfect for your adventures and it fits nicely in the pocket of a backpack.
The replaceable carbon filters ensure fresh drinking water whenever you want it.
Perhaps you are traveling a long distance and packing space is a premium in your suitcase, or in your car.
Then this collapsible silicone foldable water bottle would work well for you. Would not take up much space at all.
You will want a backpack or daypack with you to store snacks, your water bottle, phone, extra clothes, etc. while visiting National Pakrs of Montana. No matter the time of day or evening.
This foldable water-resistant backpack would be great. And it comes in many different colors.
As you can when it comes to national parks in Montana there are so many to choose from. National parks of Montana are incredibly beautiful and scenic and a lot are no cost.
Whether you visit one of the national monuments in Montana or one of the national parks in Montana and Wyoming I know you will have an amazing time. Please come back and tell me all about it.