Montana is one of the most beautiful states and most traveled to states for many reasons. If you are an outdoor type of person this is literally heaven to you! Here is my list of 7 great Montana summer destinations, let me know what you think should have made the list!
Flathead Lake – Flathead is the greatest lake in the state in my opinion, because of its amazing views, mountain scenery, and endless opportunities for camping fun! At nearly 200 square miles, Flathead is the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi so there’s plenty of room to do all your water activities. If you don’t have a boat or Jet Ski there are watercraft rentals available to you! Flathead is the dream Montana destination if you love fishing and camping.
Gardiner/Yellowstone National Park – Yellowstone is an amazing place to go if you want to see wildlife, mountains, rivers, and plenty more. The Yellowstone River is one of the most majestic rivers to see so this is why it’s a must see. If you’re brave, book a whitewater rafting trip with Flying Pig Adventure Co. with affordable prices of $42 for an adult for an 8 mile trip!
Missoula – This town has everything to offer from night life to hiking. During the day check out Cara’s Park in downtown Missoula to see some Montana surfing! At night check out one of the many breweries in town or one of the bars like the Meagher Bar for great drinks! There are many hiking spots within a couple miles of town, with the most well-known hike being the “M” which is quite an easy hike that results in great views of the town.
Anaconda – If you’re looking to play some golf, make your way to Anaconda to the Old Works course. This course is the first Jack Nicklaus signature course in Montana, and the course lives up to his name and credibility. Old Works is located on the largest Federal EPA Superfund waste sites in the U.S., and is built over one of Anaconda’s first copper smelting sites. The course is kept in pristine condition and the mountain scenery surrounding the course makes for a great time on the links.
Glacier Park – Glacier National Park is one of the top parks in America for a reason. Great scenery, wildlife, tourist attractions, and great hiking. One of the most popular things in the park is Going-to-the-Sun Road that winds up the mountain and offers views of the mountain range for miles and miles. When you take this drive make sure to stop and hike the Highline Trail to get to even more beautiful Montana treasure.
Garnet Ghost Town – Garnet Ghost Town is an awesome little piece of Montana history located about 40 miles from Missoula and 20 miles from Drummond. Garnet was an old mining town in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. The town burned down in 1912 and was restored in 1970. If you’re interested in learning about gold mining history and Montana history this is an amazing spot to travel to!
Smith River State Park – This is one of the most popular and most demanded park in western Montana, being so popular that you need to get a permit to float the river. If you can get a permit you will not regret it as it is one of the most beautiful floats you could do. To preserve the quality of the river, only non-motorized watercrafts are allowed on the river. Smith River is one of those remote places that you can just get lost and block out the real world for a few days so I would highly suggest making this trip!
The blog that brings you all my favorite adventures that I’ve experienced in Montana. Below, you will find all the information that I’ve used and what I’ve done throughout my time here. With all these adventures that I have experienced have made Montana one of my favorite places on earth.
Here is a list of my favorite adventures that I have experienced in Montana (Scroll down to find more information about them)
Hiking & Backpacking
Rock Climbing (Indoor & Outdoor)
Skiing & Snowboarding
Hiking and Backpacking
One of the best ways to experience this beautiful state is by hiking in the great outdoors. There are so many amazing places to explore including my all-time favorite, Glacier National Park. This national park is located in the north-western part of the state and it extends up into Canada. I’ve traveled to Glacier many of times and every journey has been more beautiful than the last.
Here is the website where you can find a ton of information if you’re interested in taking a trip up there any time soon.
Freestone Climbing gym is the best climbing gym in Missoula. I love going there after my classes to free my mind with some climbing. It’s got awesome people and enough routes that will keep you coming back for more day after day.
Here is their website, go check them out if you like to climb!
Montana has some of the best whitewater kayaking in the country. This is where I learned to kayak a few years ago and it will always hold a special place in my heart. One of my favorites, and usual after class run, is the Alberton Gorge section of the Clark Fork River. This is an amazing section of class III-IV rapids just 30 minutes west of Missoula. There is also the Blackfoot River that is just north of Missoula that offers great scenery and whitewater in the spring.
Here is where you can find more information on my favorite run as well as the current flows for this section.
There is a reason so many people come to Montana for the mountains. THE SKIING IS UNREAL. From the local Snowbowl just 20 minutes north of Missoula to the massive Big Sky Resort a few hours away there is enough powder to go around. These are 2 of my favorite places to ski, yet there is so many more places out there that I’m excited to go explore.
I just started mountain biking around Missoula last year, and I have no idea why I didn’t start a lot earlier! Not only is it a great leg workout but it is a blast to go out and explore the single tracks throughout the mountains. My favorite trials start from Sawmill Gulch just up the street from where I live in the Rattlesnake Recreational area.
Here is a great website with tons of information on trails just outside of Missoula!
From cool summer nights to frigid winter days hot springs are a great choice for an adventure. There are awesome hot springs spread out all over Montana. My favorite one has to be the Boiling River hot springs in Yellowstone National Park. If you haven’t been there, it is a MUST if you live in, or are even passing through Montana.
Here is a website that has information about all the hot springs in Montana.
I grew up loving the outdoors just outside of Portland, OR. While growing up my parents always took me and my two brothers out to go skiing and hiking along with many other adventures throughout my life, and because of this I began to have a deep appreciation for everything around me. This made it a very easy decision when I was comparing colleges all over the country. I have to say moving to Montana to attend the University here in Missoula, MT has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. I have only widened my appreciation for nature and all the things you can go do in this life. I can’t wait to go on more adventures in the future and I can only hope to see you out there!
With only 1,023,579 (2014) people in the 4th largest state in the U.S., it’s hard to imagine that in a place like San Francisco, with 852,469 people (2014), there are some bazillion coffee houses pulsing throughout the peninsula. This guide examines the top 15 coffee houses in the treasure state.
Let’s take into account of the space of Montana for a second. It’s pretty big-meaning that if everyone got their own piece of land, it would be 6.8 miles square. So it is difficult to navigate a coffee scene that is divided by this much space and not buildings.
We also gave brownie points to brew spots where they had roasted their own coffee. Montana has a small intimate economic environment and so it’s no surprise that the roastery business seems like nurturing a relationship rather than performing business. A lot of coffee shops examined were using similar beans and similar espresso machines. The key diffferences between coffee shops then become softer and less factual than geography and roastery. In researching our sample size, which included 70+ coffee shops around the state, the cheeky question of ‘on average, what quantity of espresso beans do you use each day for crafting espresso drinks to drink on site?’ was asked. Some were reluctant to reveal this number, others felt no pressure, and for some it is difficult to estimate. However the specificity of this question can be referenced to provide a general inference for how much revenue is made with those beans, kind of like through-put in a manufacturing plant.
“To recognize, develop and promote specialty coffee.”
After accounting for the coffee shops location, and the to roast or not to roast question, the ability and efforts of the cafe to include the community and share coffee knowledge was taken into consideration. Some cafes or roasters do not have the capacity to utilize traditional coffee engagements, but other forms of community involvement were taken into account based on the audience of each individual organization and their geography, again.
The Best of the Last Best Place
This cafe is a weird one. It is a jack of all trades by far. Nestled over the river and through the woods, literally, this little shack is the place of gathering over a good espresso for many. There are plenty of specialty coffee spots around the state but this one tops the list for being geographically located right next to Glacier/Waterton National Park. Canadians and Montanans enjoy lattes and, the local favorite, a bear claw whilst gazing at the iconic scenery. The espresso machine is a bit old, like the character of the building, and the town, and the park, but that is what makes it so infinitely beautiful. Give the latte a try and breathe in the freshest air in the state and try and tell me you hate it. Just try.
Coffee Factory Roasters-Redlodge
This tiny ski town is similar to those trickled along the continental divide. The powder falls and the mountaineers crowd the area. This little roastery becomes a port to skiers and boarders alike, fueling them for the day’s new runs. The tourists that arrive in the summer for the idyllic drive up the mountain and nearby pig racing attraction often stop and chatter about with the locals. In the winter, after the mountain warms and the ice melts and the lifts stop, the crowd slowly and sometimes sorely, saunters back to the coffee shop for a warm up.
Rock Creek Coffee Roasters-Billings
Rock Creek Coffee Roasters is one of the older roasters in the area. It has a perfect location in the heart of the downtown of Montana’s largest city. Inside, the roasting is done right next to where the drinks are served. Bags of beans, roasted and not, are scattered throughout the cafe making a meaningful impression on those who visit. The company has stayed true to its italian roots in keeping drinks simple and not adding all the ‘loaded extras.’ If coffee isn’t your best friend, but after this place it might be, they offer a small selection of bottled beverages and light snacks. If anything, stop by, grab a latte, and shmooze with the barista over that week’s upcoming concert next door.
Rockford Coffee Bar and Roasters-Bozeman
Cyclists and coffee experts gather at this local watering hole. Rockford coffee bar is a mecca for integration of roasts and espresso drinks. The roaster boasts the nickname ‘Bozeman’s coffee of choice.’ This is a true statement based on the number of people in the coffee bar at any given time of day. The roaster sells their beans online so those traveling or those who stopped in and fell in love with their techniques-like I did-can have the fresh roasts delivered straight to their door just after roasting has ended.
Wild Joe’s Coffee Spot-Bozeman
Wild Joe’s sounds like a safari or something not related to coffee other than the word Joe. But do not be fooled by the name. WJ’s is spot in the heart of downtown Bozeman and is sure to ignite a curiosity for coffee in anyone. The interior features a coffee bar structure as you order from the barista and further along the cafe are a wide variety of seats expanding all the way to the back of the building. In the back, is the best area. The cafe features local coffee information and new updates on brew methods and where their coffee source is currently. I read a fascinating article about the history of coffee from 1974 while waiting for my latte. While the store doesn’t roast their own beans, their impeccable coffee knowledge and adoration are something to be admired. I highly suggest stopping in after a snowy day on the mountain.
While this coffee picture wasn’t from the actual cafe it still represents the attention to detail at Sunrise Coffee. Pat, the owner, and coffee specialist has dedicated a day once a month to sharing coffee expertise. The Coffee Lab, as he calls it, is a workshop like orientation to explore variations and brew methods of coffee. This cafe is a hidden gem and rightly so for the treasure state. Not too many locals know about it, but the cafe is slowly joining the local coffee hype.
Off The Leaf Coffee Company-Billings
Anyone and everyone seems to know of Off The Leaf in Billings. You’ll be hard pressed to find someone that hasn’t gathered at the 819 location. Started in 2008 and still going strong, the company uses profits to help fund nonprofits, both local and those pertaining to coffee growing. The bar is also home to a pay it forward board on which locals pay in advance for others drinks. Thus many firemen and policemen can be found reading the newspaper with their morning cup. If you ever have time, try out their new location just down the street for a more intimate feel. This new location also has a drive through, so if you’re on your way out of town it’s a quick minute for one of the best coffees around.
Morning Glory Coffee-West Yellowstone
When I spoke to the owner of this wayside cafe located just feet from the oldest National Park in the country I was enamored with his affection for the industry. In such a rural area, but also highly trafficked during seasonal periods, it is rare to find such a commodity. The owner was extremely aware of the coffee scene nationally and has been in past years a member of the Specialty Coffee Association of America. The coffee house also features Montana Made goods and Teas. It is the ultimate spot for Yellowstone visitors, souvenir hunting, and coffee lovers.
International Coffee Traders-Bozeman
International Coffee Traders is the perfect study sanctuary. Located less than a block away from Montana State University, this roaster and cafe is a picturesque sample for any prospective student magazine or publication. But don’t let their demographic fool you, their coffee is just as in top-notch as any Blue Bottle-esque cafe. While they don’t offer any cupping classes they do encourage coffee passions and anything related to the nearest ski hill.
Gil’s goods is a one part to a menage a trois of entrepreneurial endeavours. The coffee part comes from the restaurant slash bakery. The building is part of an old hotel, The Murray, and is definitely a must see if you’re ever in Livingston. The small town encourages tourism and travel, especially being on the gateway to Yellowstone National Park. This shop provides the perfect pick me up and one of the best lattes in the area. You might even be lucky enough to bump into Kesha or Leonardo, like some of the locals have.
Colter Coffee is the epitomy of western when it comes to a cup of Joe. The coffee collective of Kalispell knows too well that Colter Coffee is the center for good coffee. If you’re looking for a true western experience and happen to be near Glacier National Park, I highly encourage going here. The company was one of the firsts in the area to integrate light roast coffee. The friendly barista’s will always tell you about the weather, what activities are going on that weekend, and always, always share their love of coffee.
Montana Coffee Traders-Whitefish
Montana Coffee Traders roasts their own beans making it a highlight of the Whitefish downtown scene. The company has locations across the northwest region of the state. Since 1981 the company has been roasting beans out of its iconic farmhouse. A fact the company likes to share is that the beans are roasted at the same altitude as they are grown. The company also sells to multiple coffee houses and retail organizations across the state. Polebridge Mercantile, a middle-of-no-where-place we will see later, is a recipient of the beans.
Black Coffee Roasting-Missoula
Quonset huts are corrugated galvanized steel structures that usually aren’t utilized as coffee houses. But when Black Coffee Roasting Company expanded it seemed like the perfect design for a unique experience in sharing coffee. The shop now features other beverages other than their homemade beans but with local ingredients. The simplicity and minimalism is the perfect interior to harbor a specialty coffee crowd. The shop does not offer wifi to explicitly create a more meaningful and intimate environment.
Revel Coffee Roasters-Billings
The most hipster of the selection of coffee shops in the state. You’ll be fortunate to find this one if you have time in Billings, MT. The craft coffee connoisseur and owner of the biz is Gary Theisen. He’s been featured in Sprudge and noted in numerous local publications. His goal is to change the perception of coffee and roasting strategies. He began roasting when he was fifteen and continues to share his passion and insatiable curiousity with customers frequently. His operation is small but no less in quality. His coffees are featured around the community in various restaurants, retail locations, and other coffee houses.
Cold Smoke Coffee-Bozeman
Fairly new into the coffee scene, Cold Smoke arrived in Bozeman, MT in 2011. The coffee house was started from a passion to share coffee. The roaster and cafe promotes awareness of where the sources come from. The roastery is off site, but I’m sure with a nice smile and little conversing about the love of coffee, owners Caleb and Laura would let any coffee aficionado in for a tour. With regular cuppings and various other community engagements this little cafe can easily boast being, if not number one, in the top five coffee house around the state.
While this coffee shop list is not exhaustive, the shops in here were specifically looked at for the three above engagements. This survey was conducted only on studies basis and was not paid for by any organization. Photos taken from Instagram accounts of businesses or related location tags.
James Rahr is a Marketing Major at the University of Montana. He anticipates graduating in the Fall of 2016. Coffee is a passion of his.