Top Five Movies Filmed in Montana

Sit back, grab some popcorn, and get ready to see the Land of the Shining Mountains on the big screen

Author: Shane Cox

*All movie art credit belongs to IMDB

5. What Dreams May Come (1998)

Poster What Dreams May Come

There is an easy way and a hard way to see Heaven. The easy way is to live in Montana.

Led by legendary actor and comedian Robin Williams, this movie showed us the true meaning of the word “soulmate”. In this romantic fantasy, William’s character travels through Heaven and Hell to rescue the soul of the woman he loves. Along the way, he will reunite with his old dog Katie and his children who tragically died in a car accident and no I’m not crying I’m just SWEATING THROUGH MY EYES OK!!! (Seriously, it is a great movie, but have a box of tissues on hand)

Glacier Park

Some of the most beautiful shots in the movie were filmed in Glacier National Park. While shooting, Williams decided to take a break and tour the area. (Traylor, 2014) He later said:

“If it isn’t God’s backyard, He certainly lives nearby.”

RIP Robin. There will never be another like you

4. Forrest Gump (1994)

Forrest Gump Poster

Movies and Montana goes together like peas and carrots…

Montana makes a brief yet beautiful cameo in this legendary picture. During the running sequence, the shot of Forrest running though a field of golden wheat was taken just outside Cut Bank, MT. The scene then cuts to him jogging across a stone bridge at the St. Mary Entrance to Glacier National Park. (Movie-Locations: Forrest Gump, 2020)

Though Big Sky Country is only onscreen for few seconds, it was almost left out of the movie entirely! The studio, worried that the project was going too far over budget, threatened to pull the plug in the middle of production. Hanks and Director Robert Zemeckis decided to cover the cost of shooting the iconic running scene and save what is now one of the most beloved movies of all time. (Ashton, 2020)

As if we needed another reason to love Tom Hanks

3. The Untouchables (1987)

Untouchables Poster

That’s the Montana way…

Chicago is great. But when you want your protagonists to charge the bad guys guns blazing while on horseback you pack up production and go to the Treasure State.

Based on real events, the movie follows Elliot Ness as he forms a team of special agents to take down the infamous gangster Al Capone. The movie’s (arguably) best scene takes place at Hardy Bridge just outside of Great Falls. (Movie-Locations: Untouchables, 2020)

This film is criminally underrated. In fact, you should stop reading this list right now and go watch it. Go ahead, I’ll wait…

2. The Revenant (2015)

Revenant Poster

The movie that FINALLY gave poor Leo his Oscar

While the movie is set in Montana and South Dakota, most of it was filmed in Canada. However, one of the film’s most pulse pounding scenes was shot in the rapids of Kootenai Falls, just downstream from Libby. In this scene Hugh Glass (played by DiCaprio) uses the waterfall to escape from a party of pursuing Arikara hunters. (Movie-Locations: Revenant, 2020)

I just gotta say…y’all know that scene where Leo eats a raw bison liver? Yeah, that wasn’t special effects. Real Liver. Real Reaction. He also actually crawled inside of a dead horse. All I’m saying is that if DiCaprio wanted to live in Montana he would fit in around here just fine. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Honorable Mention: Return to Lonesome Dove (1993)

Lonesome Dove Poster

A Cowboy’s Odyssey 

This 4-part mini-series, while technically not a movie, deserves a place on this list. The sequel to the epic adventure Lonesome Dove follows Captain Woodrow F. Call’s return from Texas to his ranch in Montana.

This series is the perfect binge watch for fans of John Wayne and Clint Eastwood movies. The filming locations span across the state and include Butte, Cardwell, Virginia and Nevada City, Laurel, and Billings. (Return to Lonesome Dove: Filming and Production, 2020)

Fun Fact: My Dad worked on the Set #2 of this movie while he was in college. He was paid $100 a day to pick up and hide barb wire fences so they were not caught on camera. He and his coworker would spend their free time hunting rattlesnakes to turn into boots and hatbands to sell to the California crew.

I’m sorry, but my Dad is cooler than your dad. 🙂

1. A River Runs Through It (1992)

River Runs Through It Poster

I’ll never leave Montana, Brother

There is no other way to end this list than with the most iconic Montana movie of all time. While most of these entries only take advantage of the state’s amazing scenery, Montana provides the heart and soul of this beautiful story.

While the film was set in Missoula and by the Blackstone river, the scenes in town were filmed in Livingston, MT. Likewise, the fishing scenes were captured in Paradise Valley on the Yellowstone River,  the Gallatin River south of Bozeman,  and the Boulder River by Big Timber. (Movie-Locations: River Runs Through It, 2020)

So many elements of this movie make it special. Norman Maclean’s story was adapted by Richard Friedenberg and brought to life by director Robert Redford. The entire cast is amazing, with now legendary actor Brad Pitt standing out among the crowd.

If you were born under the Big Sky…you need to watch this movie. If you have, you know why I can’t put the feeling into words. This film reminds us where we come from. It reminds us of Home.


Ashton, W. (2020, January 2). Forrest Gump: 10 Behind-The-Scenes Facts About The Classic Tom Hanks Movie. Retrieved from Cinema Blend:

Movie-Locations: Forrest Gump. (2020). Retrieved from Movie-Locations:

Movie-Locations: Revenant. (2020). Retrieved from Movie-Locations:

Movie-Locations: River Runs Through It. (2020). Retrieved from Movie-Locations:

Movie-Locations: Untouchables. (2020). Retrieved from Movie-Locations:

Return to Lonesome Dove: Filming and Production. (2020). Retrieved from IMDB:

Traylor, A. (2014, August 11). Remembering Robin Williams in Montana: His Visit to Glacier National Park. Retrieved from 107.5 Zoo FM:’What,was%20directed%20by%20Vincent%20Ward


7 Reasons Why Butte is the Best City in Montana

When I proudly tell people I am from Butte, Montana, I find the typical response is a look of disgust with a quick and sarcastic apology. I have even had people tell me I should refrain from mentioning that. Butte is a unique town to say the least. 

Butte has an awful reputation that is commonly known across the Big Sky country. There are a lot of common misconceptions about my hometown and I am here to convince you otherwise. Butte is a city full of fascinating history and has a one of a kind story. These are my top 7 reasons Butte is the best town in Montana.

1.) Butte is full of firsts

Butte is the most historical city in Montana, by far. It was even one of the first cities west of the Mississippi River to get power! It was also one of the first mines to strike for a safe workplace and a union. Butte is one of the very few cities in the US with an open container laws, meaning you can walk around town with an open beer in your hand.

2.) The “Big M” mountain

The “Big M ” mountain is an extinct volcano located at the top of the city. In 1910, the engineering students of the Montana School of Mines built a 67 feet tall and 75 feet wide letter M on the southeast slope of Big Butte. This ‘M’ is lit up by 150 lightbulbs at night. And on a night any sports team from Tech wins, the ‘M’ flashes in a “V’ for victory all night.


3.) St. Partick’s Day

Butte has the largest St. Patrick’s Day celebration in the United States per capita. From a 57 float entry parade to drinking green beer, Butte knows how to celebrate. It is so huge and widely known that you can watch a 24 hour live stream online of the festivities!


4.) Oldest Chinese-American Restaurant in the US 

Butte has the oldest Chinese-American restaurant in America. Yes, you read that right, in Butte, Montana The Pekin Noodle Parlor is the oldest Chinese-American restaurant in the US currently running. This restaurant made its debut in 1911 and had been a tight family run business since.


5.) Butte is the Richest Hill on Earth

Butte gained its nickname “The Richest Hill on Earth” thanks to its mining of gold, silver, and copper. Mining has always been huge for this town. During WWI, the bullets used were composed of copper, meaning that Butte supplied the copper for ⅓ of the bullets used as well ⅓ of the copper supplied in the United States.


6.) Evel Knievel 

Butte is home to the famous Evel Knievel. Evel Knievel is a professional daredevil and stunt man. During his career, it is estimated that Knievel had suffered more than 433 bone fractures, earning an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records as the survivor of “most bones broken in a lifetime”. He has since been buried in Butte. 

7.) The Lady of the Rockies 

Now this is a tear jerking story. The statue was the brainchild of Bob O’Bill who promised the Virgin Mary he would build a statue if his wife recovered from the cancer from which she was suffering. His wife recovered and O’Bill, with the help of many in the city of Butte, began building Our Lady of the Rockies in 1979. With the help of 70 volunteers, the third largest statue in America was erected. This statue can be seen from anywhere in Butte and it is lit all night!

“Dear Daniel,”


Dear Daniel,

I told myself I would stop crying after I got the call. I told myself I would stop crying as the words crashed like waves into my ears over the line. I told myself I would stop crying when I heard my dad’s voice crack as he told me you were gone.

I told myself I would stop crying as my feet stumbled across the weathered bricks and the rain sizzled as it kissed the hot tears that rolled down my face. I told myself I would stop crying while my fingers shook as they hovered over each number to call anyone to get me out of there. I told myself I would stop crying as I sat on the bone-cold bench waiting for a bus that felt like it was never coming. I told myself I would stop crying as I sat on the bus not giving a single care about the stares that danced on and off of my red and puffy face.

I told myself I would stop crying as my feet drug me home through the puddles and I fell into the arms of a friend. I told myself I would stop crying as I stood in the center of my room bargaining with God to bring you back. I told myself I would stop crying when my sister’s voice came across the line asking if I was okay. I told myself I would stop crying when my answer was “no”. I told myself I would stop crying when the thought that you wanted this kept screaming from the peaks of the mountains in my head.

I told myself I would stop crying as I dressed myself to sing the National Anthem at the basketball game with the choir, because that is what you would’ve wanted. I told myself I would stop crying as I held myself together, feeling completely alone in the middle of a stadium filled with 5,000 people. I told myself I would stop crying when I thought about how I will never be able to sit at the piano and beg you to play every song that came to my mind. I told myself I would stop crying when I thought about all the music we didn’t get to share and the songs that we will never sing together.

I told myself I would stop crying when the shower became my sanctuary because the hot water and the tears looked the same. I told myself I would stop crying when I found myself on the bathroom floor crippled with realization and grief. I told myself I would stop crying as I opened the door only to fall into my roommate’s arms. I told myself I would stop crying as the nights became suffocating and, just like you, sleep said goodbye.

I told myself I would stop crying as my parents frantically made plans to get my sister and I home. I told myself I would stop crying at 40,000 feet as I imagined reaching into the frozen clouds for you. I told myself I would stop crying as my lungs inhaled the wet pacific air. I told myself I would stop crying when, for the first time, I wasn’t happy to be home. I told myself I would stop crying as the dark and surreal ride home drug on, as if to physically delay what was already the inevitable.

I told myself I would stop crying as I walked into the house you grew up in. I told myself I would stop crying as I walked past the couch, where so many times before, everyone gathered to catch a good laugh from your contagious humor. I told myself I would stop crying when it hit me that I only cried when I thought about you now. I told myself I would stop crying as your sister fell into my arms violently sobbing as I blurrily looked up to meet the heartbreak that filled your mother’s eyes.

I told myself I would stop crying when your three-year-old nephew went up to your sister to feel for her heartbeat just to make sure hers hadn’t stopped like yours did. I told myself I would stop crying when I cut the stems of the dozen yellow roses that would grace the top of your casket the very next day. I told myself I would stop crying when they asked me if I wanted to see you one last time. I told myself I would stop crying as kept telling myself that that’s not you lying there; that you’re in a better place; that you’re no longer suffering.

I told myself I would stop crying as I walked into the church and fought to hold in the sobs that struggled to escape my throat when I saw your picture sitting by itself on the stage. I told myself I would stop crying as I walked up to practice singing with your accompaniment for the first time, never thinking only one of us would be present for this moment. I told myself I would stop crying as I struggled to sing ‘My Heart Will Go On’ because, all the while, I was wondering how would my heart go on without you here.

I told myself I would stop crying just long enough to sing the song with you and for you, in front of the three-hundred plus people who showed up because they loved you. I told myself I would stop crying when I was wishing that you would’ve realized just how many people were in your corner, but now they all live with pain in their hearts from your absence. I told myself I would stop crying as your voice carried through the air in song and your whole life unfolded in videos and pictures before our eyes.

I told myself I would stop crying as we fought the crying sky to go and say our last goodbye. I told myself I would stop crying as I was handed one of the freshly-cut yellow roses. I told myself I would stop crying as I my hair stuck to my face with rain and tears; when there weren’t enough tissues and my feet were paralyzed, unable to move forward. I told myself I would stop crying as I walked unsteadily up to your casket so my yellow rose could join the others. I told myself I would stop crying as my fingertips grazed the blue paint that had an unsettling shine.

I told myself I would stop crying when little reminders of you popped up in everyday life, and when I would hurry myself to sleep so that you might visit me in my dreams. I told myself I would stop crying on what would have been your 31st birthday.

Then one day I couldn’t hold back any longer. I told myself to cry. I told myself to cry for your pain. I told myself to cry because I am in pain. I told myself to cry because “some things in life cannot be fixed, they can only be carried”, and that’s okay. I told myself to cry because I loved you. I told myself to cry because every tear is a testament to that love. I told myself to cry because I will feel better.

I told myself to cry when I went back to where you lay and laid down beside you as I watched the sky turn shades of pink and orange through blurry lenses. I told myself to cry as I dusted the fallen flower petals off of the granite where your name is neatly carved. I told myself to cry because I was angry. I told myself to cry because I was sad; because I am sad.

Dear Daniel, these tears are for you; every single one. Not a day, not a minute, not a second goes by that I don’t think of you, that I don’t wish this was all just a bad dream and it will be all over when I wake up.

Dear Daniel, I know that I have to love you enough to let you go, but the years God granted us with you will never be forgotten or taken for granted. I’m happy that you are no longer suffering and that pain doesn’t exist where you are now, but down here the deepest pain is felt.

I tell myself to cry because I miss you.

Daniel Heath Kennell was born on February 3rd, 1985. He was a son, a brother, a grandson, a nephew, an uncle, a cousin, and a friend. He was the star of his high school basketball team, an entrepreneur, a musician, a jokester, and a DJ. He was a smile on the face for anyone that knew him.

Losing Daniel is a wound that will never truly heal. This letter outlines every moment of grief from my first-hand account in the tragic loss of my beloved cousin. There are good days and bad days. These words have taken ten months to get out, but they are written in hopes to continue healing and in the hopes that they might help others to not feel so alone in the absence of a loved one. Through my grief, I found it so hard to let down my guard and fully feel-out my pain because I was afraid to cry. Through it, I had to learn that it’s okay to be vulnerable; that it’s okay to cry.

If you or someone you know is battling with depression or suicidal thoughts and you need help, in the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Know that you are not alone.