Montana: 10 things you didn’t know
1. No sales tax, statewide
Montana is one of five states that do not have a statewide sales tax. However some communities do have a resort tax and all lodging facilities collect the 7% accommodation tax.
2. Montana Brewers Trail
Montana’s vast farmland provides ample area for wheat and hops production (and it shows) in the Montana Brewers Trail. Over 40 craft brewers call Montana home – Relish Pigs Ass Porter, Prickly Pear Pale Ale, Coldsmoke, Farmer’s Daughter Strawberry Blonde, Clothing Optional Pale Ale and Mountain Man Stout to name a few.
Try the only walking brewery tour – in historic downtown Billings, where 4 breweries are within walking distance of each other. Missoula’s Big Sky Brewing (and Montana’s largest brewer) offers perennial favorites of Moose Drool, Trout Slayer and Slow Elk brews.
3. Montana Dinosaur Trail
Dinosaur fossils. Montana has so many, in fact, that you can trace them across the state on the 14 stops of the Montana Dinosaur Trail. Not to be missed is the Fort Peck Interpretive Center, with its life-size Peck’s Rex, one of the most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex skeletons ever found. Another notable location is the Museum of the Rockies, home to the world’s largest collection of dinosaurs and a paleontology lab as well as exhibits on Western history and American Indians.
4. Makoshika State Park, Glendive
To the Sioux Indians, Makoshika (pronounced ma-KO-she-ka) meant “bad earth” or “bad land.” Today as Montana’s largest state park, the pine and juniper studded badland formations house the fossil remains of such dinosaurs as Tyrannosaurus Rex and Triceratops.
You’ll find the visitor centre at the park entrance with exhibits explaining the site’s geologic, fossil, and prehistoric sites. Hike, bike or camp in the canyons, crags and unique gumbo cap rocks that form the pristine skyline.
5. Fort Peck Lake and Museum
Fort Peck Dam, the world’s largest hydraulic earth-filled dam, and its enormous lake full of fish, set a dramatic scene for anyone looking for outdoor recreation. Fort Peck Lake boasts 1,500 miles of shoreline, and you’ll find peace and quiet accompanied by a few friends and plenty of walleye, smallmouth bass, ling and chinook salmon. Visit the Fort Peck Interpretive Center and Museum to learn more about the building of the Dam as well as exhibits on paleontology and experience Peck’s Rex
6. Mountain Biking – Helena and beyond
Montana’s trails are becoming well known for mountain biking. Helena is a designated Ride Center by the International Mountain Bicycling Association, only one of the 17 communities around the world with this distinction.
Bozeman, Missoula, Butte and beyond offer trail access to national forests that abound with everything from screaming single track to historic rides to National Recreation Trails. Montana’s weather is perfect and the scenery unmatchable.
7. Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument
This National Monument covers 375,000 acres of public land that holds a spectacular array of plant life, wildlife, unique geological features and endless recreation opportunities. It includes an ecosystem that parallels the Upper Missouri National Wild and Scenic River where Lewis and Clark camped, pioneers lived and wildlife abound today.
This remote location retains unspoiled, natural settings that form a backdrop for outstanding recreational and cultural opportunities.
8. World Museum of Mining and Butte-Anaconda National Historic Landmark
Once known as the “Richest Hill on Earth”, Butte is steeped in mining history and cultural diversity. Its colourful history can be seen in its ethnic neighbourhoods, preserved Victorian uptown business district and stately mansions. You can also visit one of the few museums in the world located on an actual mine yard, the Orphan Girl Mine and may be the most realistic you’ll ever experience. Above ground, explore over 50 exhibit buildings, countless artifacts and 66 primary exhibits in the mine yard, you can easily spend a couple of hours to an entire day lost in the unfolding story of Butte’s mining heyday.
9. Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site, Deer Lodge
The 1,500 acre Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic site, near Deer Lodge, illustrates the development of the Northern Plains cattle industry from the 1850s to recent times. This was the headquarters of one of the largest and best-known 19th century range ranches in the country. Guided tours of the house, self-guided walks and exhibits are available, free of charge. Grant-Kohrs Ranch Days held in July, is the annual celebration of the Cattleman’s West, which includes roping, branding, chuck wagon cooking, blacksmithing, traditional cowboy music and poetry.
10. Bair Family Museum, Martinsdale
Step into Montana history, the sprawling Bair family ranch house is a visual record of memories that began in the Yukon gold rush, ending when Charles M. Bair became one of the largest sheep ranchers in the world.
As a result of the wealth and unique family interests, this 26-room home features eclectic art and French furniture, English silver, western paintings, Indian artifacts and Chinese porcelain, blending the cultures of Europe and Montana. The home is a monument to beauty, hard work and good fortune.