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Best and Worst Times to Visit Montana in 2022

Best and Worst Times to Visit Montana in 2022

If you’re seeking an immense, untainted wilderness, look no further than Montana. Because of its small population and abundance of animals, Montana really lives up to the phrase “vast, open spaces.”

Montana’s land area is approximately 145,000 square miles, making it a large and attractive state. If you asked us to describe Montana, we would use words like stunning, charming, and intriguing.

Montana is an incredible state, with breathtaking landscapes ranging from windswept grasslands to snow-capped mountain ranges. Thanks to its diverse topography, there are many opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors, ranging from towering mountains to vast prairies.

Regardless of whether you like to go on a guided trip or would instead explore the wilderness on your own, check out some of our travel tips, including the best time to visit Montana.

Why Should You Visit Montana

Glacier National Park looking gorgeous with purple flowers in the valley pictured during the best time to visit Montana

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Explore the state’s breathtaking landscapes, beautiful fauna, rich cultural legacy, and charming little towns in Montana, which give many possibilities to do so. Not yet convinced? Here are some of the reasons why you should visit Montana.

Stunning Beauty for All Seasons

Glacier and Yellowstone are the most popular destinations in Montana. Because of these national parks, the many state forests, and the wildlife reserves between them, Montana is a fantastic place to explore and learn more about nature.

Several lakes, rivers, and trails around the state during the summer provide excellent hiking, cycling, and rafting opportunities.

Read Next: Best Time to Visit Yellowstone and Best Times to Visit Glacier National Park

Fly-fishing Paradise

One fly-fishing experience in Montana is enough to transform even the most novice angler into a devotee. Big Sky Country’s glacial-fed streams provide an ideal habitat for the feisty fish that populate the state.

Just like those who consider it home. The book and movie “A River Runs Through It” was inspired by Montana.

The People

The folks that call Montana home are among the friendliest and most honest you’ll ever encounter. Residents of Montana come from a wide variety of cultural and occupational backgrounds, including members of Montana’s Indian nations.

In fact, the state is home to seven reservations and twelve tribes, hardworking cowboys, proprietors of small-town cafes, authors, and fly-fishing instructors.

The Food

We can all agree that eating is not the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about Montana. But the pleasure of sampling much of the cuisine in the state is an unforgettable experience.

Another surprise in Montana’s culinary landscape is its emphasis on locally sourced ingredients. Many of our chefs and restaurateurs in Western Montana focus on using fresh, regional ingredients wherever possible.

This means that dishes like morel mushrooms, buffalo, yak, and tagliatelle with Flathead cherries and huckleberries are common.

Rich Culture

Montana allows you to immerse yourself in the way of life that hasn’t changed since the 1800s. You’ll have the chance to ride horses, attend barn dances, and live the life of a rancher. During the summer months, rodeos may be seen all around the state.

Crow Fair in Billings and North American Indian Days in Browning are two examples of Montana’s powwows where Native American cultural customs are displayed.

Overall Best Time to Visit Montana

Goose Island in Glacier National Park pictured during the best time to visit Montana with a gorgeous dusk shot

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If you’re planning your next trip, the best time to visit Montana is from June through August, when the days are long and pleasant. The best time to go skiing is from December through March.

Montana is a state known for its love of the great outdoors since the weather is perfect for getting out and having a good time.

It’s high season, so make your hotel reservations as soon as possible. In addition, even if the national parks are overcrowded, you may still find a quiet corner to reflect.

Best Time for Festivals

Countless festivals occur all year in Montana, although summer is the busiest season. If you’re thinking about taking a trip to one of these exciting events, book your hotels and camping places as soon as possible.

National parks, in particular, fill up very quickly.

Crowds are seldom an issue while visiting Montana for a specific event or festival outside of national parks. When more visitors visit the state’s largest cities and villages in the summer and winter, hotel costs go up.

Best Time for Sightseeing

The months of June through August, which are warmer, are the best months for traveling and touring since it is almost sure that all of the must-see sites will be open during this time, and the weather will be more pleasant.

Best Time for Shopping

All-year-round! If you plan on doing any shopping, you should know that most stores are open 365 days a year. However, if you want to err on the side of caution, you can consider going during the shoulder or off-peak seasons.

Cheapest Time to Visit Montana

Empty street of Whitefish with clouds over the mountain range during the least busy time to visit Montana

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Shoulder seasons, which occur in the autumn and spring, are the greatest times to discover discounted rates on accommodations, and the weather is warmer than it is in the winter.

January is also a somewhat sluggish month, which means there is a greater likelihood of deals and discounts being offered. Additionally, traveling on a budget is easier during the low season, from April through June.

The mud season is what Montanans term the low season in other locations. Spring has arrived, bringing with it a plethora of stagnant water created by the melting snow. Off-roaders, 4WD enthusiasts, and car wash firms can all have fun during this time.

Businesses and tour companies take advantage of the low season to prepare for summertime, and many outdoor recreational sites conduct a soft opening before the influx of summer visitors.

Rainy weather is to be expected around this time of year, which may lead to slippery roads and less-than-impressive views. This is the time of year when they’ll be charging the lowest rates for hotels.

Least Busy Time to Visit Montana

Slender Asian woman holding her arms up over a lake in the mountains during the least busy time to visit Montana featuring fog in the valley

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Avoiding the crowds is most accessible during the shoulder season, which runs from September through November. Montanans like the shoulder season the most.

After all, tourists don’t go to Montana to escape the hustle and bustle. Summer crowds have generally dispersed, but it’s still nice to go out and explore the roads. Trails are open, and the weather is moderate.

This is the best time to visit Montana to see the state in its purest form. Additionally, October is when the leaves begin to change colors, with a dynamic shift towards red, yellow, and orange that competes with whatever New England offers.

However, there are drawbacks to consider as well.

Because schools have resumed their regular schedules, several establishments have had to let go of staff members. On the other hand, some of these establishments have taken advantage of the quiet period between summer and winter to carry out renovations.

Montana’s culture encourages a certain amount of self-reliance, even though service may be delayed and activities may be tougher to come by. It is also important to note that because of the unpredictability of Montana’s weather, it may rain in September, which may obscure the vistas.

Worst Time to Visit Montana

For a piece on the best time to visit Montana, Big Sky pictured with snow on the ground in the mountains

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The months of November through February are considered the worst time to go to Montana due to the state’s notoriously harsh winter weather.

There are several cold fronts when the temperature drops significantly throughout the winter months. Mountain paths are closed in the season because of the extreme cold and the heavy snowfall (up to 300 in) that they accumulate.

Most prairie communities get between 762 and 1270 mm of snowfall during winter. In many regions of Montana, winter days barely get above freezing, but the Chinook winds bring little escape from the bitter cold.

In the winter, tourists may take advantage of off-season special deals and winter activities to entice them to come to the area. In December, temperatures in Montana typically vary from 25°F to 32°F for highs and a subzero -1°F to 21°F for lows.

On average, Glasgow and Havre City in the eastern part of the state see below-freezing temperatures of 7°F, while Kalispell and Libby in the western half get temperatures as high as 21°F.

In the mountains, snowfall is heavy and often exceeds 50 in, and precipitation typically takes the form of ice-cold showers.

Things to Consider

During the best time to visit Montana, a trail and flowers on Mount Sentinel, in Missoula is pictured

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There are a few items to consider while planning a trip to Kalispell, Libby, Glacier, and other parts of Montana. Regardless of the time of year you intend to visit, here are some tips to help you enjoy the finest vacation ever:

  • You can fly straight to Montana. Book your flights in advance.
  • Don’t be scared to do road travel. Arrange your rental vehicle early. Get a guide.
  • Glacier National Park is the one destination in Montana that absolutely cannot be skipped by any means.
  • But, don’t miss the downtown Kalispell.
  • A trip to Missoula isn’t complete in the fall without a steaming mug of caffeinated beverage from Break Espresso, Butterfly Herbs, or Clyde Coffee. You can also ride on a very fantastic carousel in Missoula.
  • Bozeman is known for its booming culinary, coffee culture, historic ghost tours, and luxurious spas.
  • If you want to see breathtaking landscapes and bighorn sheep, you should take the nice route via Gallatin Canyon.
  • While in the Bitterroot Valley, stop by the restaurant that has won several awards for their sushi: Asian Cuisine in Hamilton and 2nd Street Sushi.
  • Go on a boat tour around St. Mary Lake. Eat at Johnson’s Café afterward.
  • Glacier Country’s breweries and distilleries are a terrific way to experience Montana’s thriving beer and spirits sector.
  • Mountain Meadows Gift Shop is a beautiful place to visit if you pass through Libby. They offer a superb selection of local gift goods and antiques, so there is a good chance that you will discover something of value there.
  • Put together a meal to eat at Holland Lake. After that, make your way over to Holland Lake Lodge to pick yourself a freshly baked cookie and some flavored drink for the trip back home.

Frequently Asked Questions

Canoes on Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park during the best time to visit Montana

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Suppose you and your family have been daydreaming about taking a trip to Montana. In that case, you should definitely check out some of the most frequently asked questions about visiting Montana before leaving.

Is Montana a safe place to visit?

When traveling around the U.S., you should make it a point to stop in Montana since it is, without a doubt, one of the safest countries there is.

You can anticipate having a pleasant and secure time no matter where you decide to go in this state, whether to check out the National Parks or one of the quaint little communities in the surrounding region.

What is the official language of Montana?

In 1995, Montana adopted English as the state and municipal government’s official language. Eighteen percent of the population of the U.S. over the age of five speaks a language other than English at home.

What is the ideal time to visit Montana?

The ideal months to explore Montana are between June and August (summer) and between December and March (winter) for the ski season.

What is the most visited place in Montana?

Because it houses the Montana State University and the entrance to Yellowstone National Park, Bozeman is one of the most visited towns in Montana by tourists.

It acts as a gateway to Yellowstone National Park. Although the natural landscape is a significant appeal to Bozeman, there is also a considerable focus on the city’s history, art, and cultural traditions.

What makes Montana stand out from other states?

Only Montana has all three mountain ranges that make up the Triple Divide Peak. Three oceans get water from this location: the Hudson Bay, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Pacific Ocean.

Is it possible to view the Northern Lights in Montana?

Even though seeing the Northern Lights in Montana isn’t something that happens every day, the state is home to some of the best opportunities to see them. If you find yourself in the heart of Big Sky Country, you should keep your eyes peeled for the fabled aurora borealis.

How many days should you spend in Glacier National Park?

The ideal amount of time to spend at Glacier National Park is between two and three days. Plan accordingly. This will allow you to trek one or two routes, drive the Going-to-the-Sun Road, and explore all parts of the park.

Does Montana have any natural hot springs?

One of the very best ways to take in the breathtaking scenery of the Big Sky area is to visit one of Montana’s many hot springs.

This is a state that is famous for its harsh terrain and its lengthy winters. The state’s western portion is home to several commercial facilities that provide natural hot spring pools and hotel and dining choices.

So, What’s the Best Time to Visit Montana?

Summer, especially July and August, is the busiest travel season and the best time to visit Montana. The national parks are pretty popular and may be very congested.

So it’s good to book early since many hotels and campgrounds fill up. Crowds aren’t a problem outside of the parks, though, and you’ll discover plenty of wide-open landscapes with few people.