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Montana travel guide

About Montana

Two stellar national parks, bountiful wildlife and super-friendly locals: make sure you book a return ticket to Montana, or you might be tempted to stay.

Straddling the US-Canadian border, Glacier National Park is the jewel in Montana’s crown. A land of mammoth mountains and ice-hewn valleys splashed with turquoise lakes, visitors can drive over the Continental Divide via the hair-raising Going-to-the-Sun Road, or choose from more than 1,100km (700 miles) of hiking trails, which crisscross the park. A classic route is the Highline Trail, where epic vistas and sightings of bighorn sheep, marmots and grizzly bears compensate for the vertigo.

Southwestern Montana is a gateway to another beauty: Yellowstone, the world’s first national park. The earth is alive here, with spewing geysers and bubbling hot springs simmering between mountains, rivers and canyons. Bison, elk, wolves and grizzlies roam this mesmerising landscape, which is worth visiting anytime of the year, particularly winter – hop on a snowmobile to see steaming thermal pools, snow ghosts and frost-mottled bison.

While you’re at it, bring your skis to one of Montana’s brilliant downhill resorts. Big Sky and Whitefish are up there with the best, but befriend the locals and they will reveal a clutch of smaller, low-key hills that most visitors miss.

There’s more to Montana than mountains, though. Head east to Montana’s High Plains, a region of buttes, prairies and meandering waterways. Follow the canoes of legendary explorers, Lewis and Clark, on a paddle through the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument or spot antelope, elk and 200 varieties of birds in the CM Russell National Wildlife Refuge. No wonder they call it the ‘Treasure State’.

Key facts

Area:

380,837 sq km (147,042 sq miles).

Population:

1 million (2015).

Population density:

2.7 per sq km.

Capital:

Helena.