Top 12 Montana National Parks You Must Visit In 2023!

Are you thinking about visiting Montana National Parks but are not really sure about which ones should you visit while you are there? Well, there is no need for you to worry. I have you covered!

There are a number of national parks that are located in the United States. Whether you want to check out the national parks in Wyoming or Zion, the list is endless. But if you want to try out a new place, Montana might just be the right one for you!

In this article, I will be focusing extensively on the best national parks in Montana that you must visit when you are in the states. So, if that is something that you want to know, keep reading the article till the end…

Best Montana National Parks That You Must Visit!

The fourth-largest state in the US, Montana, lies in the northwest of the country on the border with Canada. It is pretty sparsely populated. It boasts delightfully diverse landscapes. The west is very mountainous. While the east’s endless plains and prairies are only occasionally punctuated by breathtaking badlands and bluffs.

Hidden away among its wild and remote realms are incredible wildlife species. There are moose, grizzly bears, and mountain lions all inhabiting its numerous national parks and state parks.

Are you planning to travel to the States and Montana, to be specific? You need to check out this list of the best Montana National Parks that you need to visit in 2023:

1. Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area

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Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area sprawls over a vast zone and straddles both Montana and Wyoming. It is home to stunning scenery and landscapes. The area is made up of two delightfully distinct districts. It is a treat to explore, with a wealth of recreational activities to try out.

The main feature of the park is the breathtaking Bighorn Canyon. It towers over the large lake and roaring river of the same name. Its craggy cliffs form a formidable backdrop to the tranquil waters below, which offer fantastic fishing, kayaking, and boating.

Hiking and camping are very popular. However, the area also has a range of archaeological and cultural treasures to check out. As well as being home to historic ranches, a third of its area is located on the Crow Indian Reservation. Part of the park is a range for wild horses. Visitors can learn all about its history, geology, and nature at one of the site’s two centers.

2. Big Hole National Battlefield

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The Big Hole National Battlefield is the location of the battle that took place on August 9th and 10th during Nez Perce Flight of 1877. By early August, over 800 nimí·pu· (Nez Perce) and over 2,000 horses were passing peacefully through the Bitterroot Valley after crossing Lolo Pass into Montana. Their leaders believed the military would not pursue them even though many had premonitions warning otherwise. When the nimí·pu· arrived at ?ıckumcılé.lıkpe (known today as Big Hole National Battlefield) on August 7th, they did not know the military was close behind them. On the morning of August 9, 1877, U.S. troops surprised the sleeping nimí·pu· with a dawn attack on the encampment. And that is where and when everything happened that made this area a national historic place.

The park’s visitor center offers museum exhibits, a film, and a book sales area. The award-winning film Weet’uciklitukt: There’s No Turning Back, Battle at Big Hole provides an introduction to the Nez Perce Flight of 1877 and the battle that took place at this site. The film is shown throughout the day and is close-captioned. Audio and braille guides are available upon request.

Big Hole National Battlefield is one of the 38 sites that make up the Nez Perce National Historical Park. Together they tell the story of the nimí·pu· (Nez Perce). These sites are spread over much of the traditional homeland of the nimí·pu· in present-day Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington. Staff are located here at the Big Hole National Battlefield, as well as at the visitor center in Spalding, ID, and at the Bear Paw Battlefield. To visit all of the park sites could take a substantial amount of time and cover many hundreds of miles.

3. Glacier National Park

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Home to stunning scenery, landscapes, and nature, the gorgeous Glacier National Park can be found in the northwest of Montana on the border with Canada. Founded in 1910, it protects a vast swathe of unspoiled wilderness and fully deserves its nickname, the ‘Crown of the Continent’.

Very mountainous, it is home to two rugged ranges, with vast valleys and rocky ravines left behind by the gigantic glaciers after which the park is named. Dotted about these damaged yet delightful landscapes are over 130 twinkling turquoise lakes, with gorgeous waterfalls and sparkling streams found here and there.

As over half of the park is coated in verdant forests, it is a great place to go wildlife watching with moose, mountain goats and grizzly bears inhabiting its isolated areas. With scenic trails weaving their way amidst the towering trees and mountains and cozy campsites to stay at, Glacier National Park really is one of the most awe-inspiring places to visit in the whole of the States.

4. Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site

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Next on the list of the best Montana National Parks is Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site. Between 1828 and 1867, Fort Union was the most important fur trade post on the Upper Missouri River. Here, the Assiniboine and six other Northern Plains Tribes exchanged buffalo robes and smaller furs for goods from around the world, including cloth, guns, blankets, and beads. A bastion of peaceful coexistence, the post annually traded over 25,000 buffalo robes and $100,000 in merchandise.

Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site and its visitor center in the Bourgeois House are open daily throughout the year except for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Days. The Trade House, including the trade room and the clerk’s office, is open seasonally.

There are a number of things that you can do here. One of them is visiting the Fort Union’s Trade House, which was one of the most important buildings at Fort Union. It was in the Reception Room where Tribal leaders met with the American Fur Company Traders to discuss the terms of the trade and also where stories were told, and small feasts were held.

Apart from that, you can also plan a great trip with your kids as they can become a Jr. Ranger and Jr. Trader at this historic National Park.

5. Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site

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Located almost equidistant between Missoula and Bozeman is the Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site, which commemorates the cattle industry and cowboy culture of the American West. Lying on the banks of the charming Cottonwood Creek, this colossal living history ranch now offers a fascinating look into the frontier cattle era that shaped the nation.

Founded in 1862 by the Canadian fur trader Johnny Grant, the ranch was later bought as well as expanded by the successful cattle baron Conrad Kohrs. At its zenith, over 50,000 head of cattle roamed about his ranch, which sprawled as far as the eye could see.

Nowadays, visitors can tour around its historic buildings and see the ranch in operation. Blacksmiths as well as cowboys use techniques that would have been used in the 19th century.

6. Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument

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Lying about an hour’s drive to the east of Billings, this moving national monument and memorial commemorates the famous Battle of Little Bighorn. It was here on June 25 and 26, 1876, that General Custer made his ‘last stand’ and lost his life alongside many of his cavalry at the hands of the local Native Americans.

At the sprawling battle site, visitors can learn all about the epic encounter that came to symbolize the clash of cultures. The Native Americans fought to protect their nomadic way of life and stop themselves from being forced onto reservations. It was a short but momentary victory for the Native Americans against the ever-expanding advances of the US Army.

Through interesting and informative tours, you’ll learn all about the battle as well as its aftermath. Moreover, you will also learn about the legendary Lakota leaders Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull as well. In addition, you can visit the numerous markers and memorials scattered about what is now part of the Crow Indian Reservation.

7. Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail

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Also considered to be one of the best national parks in Oregon, the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail winds nearly 4,900 miles through the homelands of more than 60 Tribal nations. It follows the historic outbound and inbound routes of the Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1803-1806 from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to the Pacific Ocean. Follow the trail to find the people, places, and stories that make up the complex legacy of the expedition.

Boasting lots of large limestone caverns and stunning stalactites as well as stalagmites, Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park makes for a spectacular sight. Located just under an hour’s drive to the northwest of Bozeman, it is one of the most popular parks to visit in the state.

First documented by the Lewis and Clark Expedition, after which it is named, the caves cover a substantial underground area. It has illuminating tours that take you around its most fascinating features. Lit up by flickering candles and fairy lights, its subterranean sculptures and formations are a treat to explore.

Above ground is equally delightful. The state park’s lovely woods and shimmering streams lend themselves perfectly to hiking. It also offers mountain biking, and camping, with fishing and canoeing also on offer.

8. Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail

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Glacial Lake Missoula, a 3,000 square-mile body of water encircling Missoula, Montana, was a result of an ice dam in northern Idaho. It happened at the conclusion of the last Ice Age, between 18,000 and 15,000 years ago. Floodwater came out when the dam burst, traveling across Washington, Oregon, and the Columbia River before reaching the Pacific Ocean. The Ice Age Floods affected the people and terrain of the Pacific Northwest, profoundly.

The majority of geologists thought that glaciers and streams slowly eroded rock formations to create Washington’s Channelled Scabland. Geologist J Harlen Bretz postulated that cataclysmic floods were responsible for the formation of the Channelled Scabland after finding geologic data that contradicted this theory.

Bretz’s theory was initially mocked, but it was later proven correct thanks to new technology like satellite photography. By the 1970s, everyone agreed that the Ice Age Floods were to blame for the ravaged terrain of the northwest United States.

Today, the terrain is littered with remnants of these Ice Age Floods. It includes massive basalt coulees, dry falls, and big boulders. They have traveled hundreds of miles, high water lines, as well as tremendous current ripples. The Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail includes spectacular examples of cataclysmic flood geology, breathtaking landscapes, and locations for scientific study.

9. Lone Pine State Park

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Lying just to the southwest of Kalispell is the lovely Lone Pine State Park. It looms over the city and Flathead Valley. As it is home to wonderful nature and scenic trails, it is very popular with locals and tourists. It also has plenty of recreational activities on offer.

Founded in 1941, the park boasts delightful landscapes, with flower-filled meadows and lush forests coating its hilly confines. Reaching 1,110 meters in height, there are more than ten kilometers of trails to explore. It also has fabulous vistas visible from its upper reaches.

Besides hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding along its peaceful paths, visitors can go wildlife watching and birdwatching. In addition, there is an archery range and volleyball court to try out. Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are on offer in the winter months.

10. Bannack State Park

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Once a thriving mining town, Bannack became a ghost town as the seams of glittering gold ran out, and so did the prospectors moved on. Set in a scenic yet remote spot in the southwest of the state, the eerie yet enticing ghost town is now under protection as part of a state park.

Nestled away among Montana’s majestic mountains are more than 50 decaying buildings for visitors to explore, with log cabins lying alongside a school, hotel, and Methodist church. Although they have long been abandoned to the elements, most of them are in remarkably good condition. As such, it makes for an unsettling experience wandering around the empty streets.

One of the best times to visit is in July, during the ‘Bannack Days.’ Re-enactors transform the town into what it would have been like during the gold rush. The rest of the year, visitors can take tours of Bannack or rent bikes and set off hiking from the nearby campsite.

Read More: Top 8 List Of National Parks In North Carolina

11. Giant Springs State Park

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Giant Springs State Park lies just to the northeast of Great Falls on the banks of the Missouri River. It has sparkling springs all around, from which it derives its name. It is a top-rated place with many recreational activities on offer. That is mostly due to its proximity to the city and its peaceful and picturesque nature.

Blackfeet Nation has used Giant Springs for centuries. Moreover, it is one of the largest freshwater springs in the States. First described by the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1805, its waters originate in the Little Belt Mountains. It took around 3,000 years to travel the 100 kilometers underground to surface again at the springs.

Besides visiting the springs, visitors can wander around the park’s gorgeous green spaces. They explore the scenic shoreline of the river. As well as its picnic areas and playgrounds, it also offers some great fishing, boating, and birdwatching.

12. Yellowstone National Park

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Last but definitely not least, we have another immensely famous option. It is a very popular and widely visited Yellowstone National Park.

Most of Yellowstone lies within the wilds of Wyoming. Some picturesque parts of the popular park sprawl over into Idaho and Montana. An absolutely incredible place, it is awash with astounding natural sights. There are mighty mountain towers above sweeping valleys, verdant forests, and roaring rivers.

The oldest national park in the world came to be in 1872, delighting and dazzling countless generations ever since. Its diverse and dramatic scenery is spectacular. However, it is most known for its more than 10,000 geysers as well as hot springs. There are also thermal features dotting its craggy confines.

Of these, one of the most popular is the Grand Prismatic Spring due to its kaleidoscopic colors. Old Faithful never fails to amaze with the staggering size and scale of its spurting spring. Moreover, you cannot miss out on Yellowstone National Park. It has lots of wildlife residing within its remote realms and exquisite hiking, camping, and boating on offer.

Wrapping It Up!

In case you were searching for the best as well as must-visit Montana national parks, I hope that this article has been of help to you. If there are any other queries related to the same, feel free to let me know. All that you need to do is scroll down till you reach the bottom of the page. Then leave your queries and suggestions in the box below.

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Ankita Tripathy loves to write about food and the Hallyu Wave in particular. During her free time, she enjoys looking at the sky or reading books while sipping a cup of hot coffee. Her favourite niches are food, music, lifestyle, travel, and Korean Pop music and drama.

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Along the entire length of the trail into Mexico, there are museums, historic sites, churches, and remnants of the old trail. 5. Fort Union National Monument Image Source The territorial-style adobe remains of the greatest 19th-century military fort in the area are exposed to the wind. There is a broad valley of short grass prairie among the swales of the Santa Fe Trail. Fort Union served as a catalyst for political and cultural change in New Mexico and the Southwest for forty years. It happened from 1851 to 1891, whether those changes were wanted or not. North of Watrous in Mora County, New Mexico, is where you'll find Fort Union National Monument, a part of the US National Park Service. On June 28, 1954, the national monument was established. The site includes the remains of the third fort as well as the second of three forts that were built there starting in 1851. A network of ruts from the Mountain and Cimarron Branches of the previous Santa Fe Trail is also discernible. From a self-guided tour and a much interpretive trail where the guides take the visitors through the fort, to a short 0.5-mile walk with a special focus on some parts of the fort, the tourists can have it all here! The Fort Union National Monument opens at 08:00 a.m. in morning and stays open till eight in the night. You can visit this place on Saturdays and Sundays. 6. Bandelier National Monument Image Source Another of the region's top archaeological sites, the magnificent Bandelier National Monument, is located not far from Santa Fe. It is located on the Jerez Mountain slopes and has a tonne of amazing wilderness, as well as various Ancestral Puebloan sites scattered throughout its picturesque surroundings. It was established in 1916 and now preserves some of the state's most stunning, reachable, and substantial cliff homes. Visitors can explore caves, kivas, and ceremonial structures utilized by the Ancestral Puebloans for generations in Frijoles Canyon's magnificent peach-colored surroundings. There are Petroglyphs and rock art too. Even though it is the most well-known and picturesque location in the park, there are many more amazing things to see across the national monument, with delightful wildlife, landscape, and views everywhere you look. It also boasts a fantastic museum that displays ancient artifacts and finds from archaeology. 7. Chaco Culture National Historical Park Image Source Northwest New Mexico is home to the fascinating Chaco Culture National Historical Park, one of the most significant and magnificent pre-Columbian cultural sites in the whole United States. It is one of the best national parks in New Mexico. Its expansive site, located within the Navajo Nation, safeguards a large number of historically significant pueblos. Pueblo Bonita, built between AD 900 and 1100 from pieces of sandstone that have skillful placement. It was once the hub of Puebloan culture and trade. The ruins of several "great houses," and other smaller structures are there all across the starkly gorgeous Chaco Canyon. Many of these are aligned with the sun's and moon's light and shadow patterns. In the wake of a protracted drought in 1130, everyone left their homes. A network of old roads known as the Chacoan Roads connects the Chaco Culture National Historical Park to a number of formerly prosperous desert settlements. After visiting Chaco, go 75 miles north to the Aztec Ruins National Monument. It is a first-come, first-served campground at the end of a 21-mile dead-end dirt road. Here you will see another magnificent grand house and a recreated underground ritual space called a kiva. The backdrop is equally stunning as the extensive archaeological sites, which are fascinating to investigate. The barren desert steppe has enormous mesas and stunning buttes. Visit the museum at the site before leaving. Learn all there is to know about the Ancestral Puebloans who once lived in the dry area. 8. El Morro National Monument Image Source Imagine how refreshing it would be to reach water after days of sand-filled journey. El Morro (the headland) was a well-liked camping area for hundreds of years. This is because of a dependable waterhole concealed in the base of a sandstone bluff. Over 2,000 signatures, dates, notes, and petroglyphs are here from prehistoric Puebloans, Spanish, and American travelers. Make a pit stop at the El Morro National Monument while traveling. Two paths are there at El Morro National Monument. To select the path that's best for you, stop by the visitor center and speak with a ranger. The tourist center is where all routes start and end. Only when the visitor center is open can visitors access the trails of El Morro National Monument?. It is necessary to start hiking the Headland Trail by 3:00 PM. Before 4:00 pm, hikers who want to complete the Inscription Loop must start. Let me give you some advice if you intend to visit the El Morro national park and want to know what to do there. On the Headland Trail, you can go hiking. The Inscription Loop is part of this 2-mile track, which also leads to the top of the El Morro bluff. With a 224-foot elevation climb, the course is somewhat challenging. You can trek the Inscription Loop by taking a shorter trail. You can walk the half-mile trek to the pool You will pass through hundreds of Spanish and American inscriptions and ancient petroglyphs. The looping, half-mile asphalt trail is wheelchair accessible with some help. If you only have an hour or so to spend at the park, this is a fantastic option. It must begin at 4:00 p.m. at the latest. 9. Manhattan Project National Monument Image Source The Manhattan Project was a groundbreaking, top-secret government initiative during World War II that saw the United States race to create and use the first atomic weapons before Nazi Germany. One of the most significant historical moments of the 20th century was the American employment of these weapons against Japan in August 1945. The project gave birth to the nuclear era and left behind profound impacts, still felt today. Three key places across the nation served as the birthplace of the Manhattan Project: Hanford, Washington; Los Alamos; and Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The villages created to house the Manhattan Project personnel were private businesses and enterprises under contract with the project. Every community transformed into a hub of activity with theaters, shops, schools, hospitals, parks, and community gathering spaces. The population of Oak Ridge had increased to roughly 75,000 by 1945. Richland, a Hanford Site bedroom suburb, witnessed an increase in population to 15,000, while Los Alamos had an increase to 6,000. 10. Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument Image Source Less than an hour south of Santa Fe, Tent Rocks offers slot canyons, strangely beautiful rock formations, and breathtaking views—everything you could desire in a desert hike. Before opening up beneath the 100-foot conical hoodoos that give this national monument its name, the three-mile trail's first half winds through a slot canyon so narrow you can touch the walls on both sides. From there, the trail switches back up to the top of the mesa for a commanding view of the Jemez Mountains and the Rio Grande River Valley. In the Keresan language, Kasha-Katuwe translates to "white cliffs." The people of Cochiti Pueblo speak it, which also co-manages the monument. An eruption gave birth to the volcanic tuff that formed the white cliffs, hoodoos, and Slot Canyon. Tent Rocks does not allow camping and the route is only open during the day, although the Cochiti Lake recreation area is close by and has built campsites. It makes for a wonderful day excursion because it is a short drive from old Santa Fe. Wrapping It Up! In case you were searching for the best national parks in New Mexico, I hope that this log has been of much help to you. If there are any other queries related to the same, feel free to let me know. All that you need to do is scroll down till you reach the bottom of the page, then leave your comments and queries in the box below, And I will be there to answer them all for you! Read Also: Top 12 Montana National Parks You Must Visit In 2023! A Guide To National Parks In Georgia – Latest Guide Top 10 National Parks In Oregon That You Need To Explore 7 Best National Parks In Ohio You Should Know Before Going