Well known as Big Sky Country, it’s also known as the Treasure State for the billions of dollars of mineral resources extracted from the land, the Land of the Shining Mountains, as sun glistens off glacier capped peaks, and The Last Best Place, recalling the serene remoteness of much of the area.  Montana was part of the Louisiana Purchase, (Lewis and Clark spent more time in Montana in 1804-1806, than any other state) Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Dakota, before becoming the Montana Territory in 1864. The ancient lands of the Crow, Cheyenne, Blackfeet, Assiniboine, Gros Ventres, Kootenai, Salish, Pend d’Orielle and the Kalispell, gave way to French Canadian fur trappers who married into the tribes, the Blackrobes, Jesuit missionaries who began arriving in 1841, and prospectors heeding the call of gold and silver buried deep in the mountains.  The wide-open plains in the east, punctuated by rugged badlands, brought tens of thousands of homesteaders, cattle ranchers, and farmers, seeking free land, who have stayed the course throughout the history of the state.  The original Glacial Lake Missoula delivered 77 named mountain ranges, and man and mining left behind more than 60 ghost towns. Today, traveling the scenic drives in Montana, in some places, it will feel like you’re in the Pacific Northwest, in others, on the Great Plains. Still others are in the Rocky Mountains, Great art installations and historic sites in the cities abound and outdoor recreation in the mountains can be a daily adventure. Many small Western towns are a staple,  with farmers, ranchers and cattleman going about their daily business intertwined with visitors enjoying the authentic lifestyle. And then, there are very remote corners of the state where you’ll not see many people at all – the Last Best Places. 

Montana Scenic Byways, Scenic Drives & Heritage Trails