As a new resident of Montana, I can’t wait to start crossing things off this Montana Bucket List. Having lived in Wyoming the last four and a half years we’ve already done quite a bit of exploring, but this list will certainly add some fun ideas to our summer weekend camping adventures and our winter weekend getaways. This list was featured in the Great Falls Tribune recently and it includes some amazing places we’re excited to explore. To put my own spin on it I will be documenting each item to help share the beauty of our scenic new state. It will certainly take a few years (or a lifetime!) to complete, but in this case it’s definitely about the journey, not the destination!
99. Look at the colors of the Berkeley Pit in Butte from the observation tunnel or above the city at the Our Lady of the Rockies statue.
98. Pose for a picture with Cut Bank’s 27-foot-tall penguin.
96. Stop for a burger at the Two Dot Bar.
95. Wander through the Daly Mansion and arboretum in Hamilton.
94. Watch a planetarium show at the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman.
93. See the mounted white wolf at the Basin Trading Post in Stanford.
92. Ride a train, across the Hi-Line, through Glacier National Park or near Lewistown.
91. Attend North American Indian Days in Browning.
90. Listen to elk bugle and defend harems at the Slippery Ann Elk Viewing Area in the Charles M. Russell Wildlife Refuge in late September and early October.
89. Spend the Fourth of July in Choteau, with a parade, rodeo, community lunch and fireworks on a day full of small-town fun.
88. Watch changing light illuminate the colorful cliffs of the Bighorn Canyon on the Montana/Wyoming border.
87. Feed the fish at the Giant Springs Heritage State Park and Fish Hatchery.
86. Check out the fort in Fort Benton.
85. Whether in winter or summer, ride the chairlift at Whitefish Mountain Resort for spectacular views of the Flathead Valley and access to recreation opportunities by ski, board, foot, zip line or bike.
84. Visit Virgelle.
82. Smell the grass of the Sweet Grass Hills near Sunburst on a warm summer day.
81. Chuckle and marvel at the Montana Bale Trail around Hobson and Utica every September.
80. Take in the sights and sounds of a threshing bee.
79. Dine and dip at Chico Hot Springs just north of Yellowstone National Park.
78. Indulge your sweet tooth at the Sweet Palace in Philipsburg.
77. Talk to 4-Hers and admire their animals and other projects at a county fair.
76. Eat Rocky Mountain oysters. At least one bite.
75. Drive U.S. Highway 2 from Idaho to North Dakota.
74. Hike through the capstone formations of Makoshika State Park in Glendive.
73. Throw an atlatl, an 8,000-year-old weapon once used in Montana.
72. Belly up to the bar for beans or beer at the Jersey Lilly Saloon in Ingomar.
71. Wander through the Sporting Eagle Saloon, opium den, a Chinese laundry, bordello and other historical spots on the Havre Beneath The Streets Underground Tour.
70. Spend the night at a historic Glacier National Park lodge or chalet.
69. Circumnavigate Canyon Ferry Lake, with a burger break in York.
68. Pan for gold.
67. Know enough about C.M. Russell to have a favorite among his paintings. Bone up at the C.M. Museum.
66. Eat a Viking — a fried, battered meatball on a stick — at the Montana State Fair.
65. Steep in cowboy culture at the legendary Augusta American Legion Rodeo.
64. Spot a wolf in the Lamar Valley in Yellowstone National Park’s northeast corner.
63. Step out of the car during a night drive over Roger’s Pass near Lincoln to watch the stars far from city lights.
62. Stand in silence at the Sleeping Buffalo Rock near Saco.
61. Listen to an old-timer speak of Montana as it was long ago.
60. Pick cherries along Flathead Lake.
59. Shake the hand of the sorehead in Rudyard, pop: “596 nice people and one old sorehead.” At the very least, have a cup of coffee in the Sorehead Cafe.
58. Learn the words to our state song, “Montana” by Charles Cohan:“Montana, Montana, Glory of the West. Of all the states from coast to coast, you’re easily the best…”
57. Ride in a combine during harvest in Montana’s Golden Triangle.
56. Catch a trout.
55. Golf, play tennis, fish, ride horses, bike, raft, ride a zip line, ski or snowboard: Whatever your sport is, use it as an excuse to play at Big Sky Resort in the Gallatin National Forest.
54. Make your way to Wolf Point for the Wadopana Celebration, the oldest traditional pow-wow in Montana.
53. Know how to react in a bear encounter.
52. Chow down on chicken-fried steak and pie at the historic Crazy Mountain Inn in Martinsdale.
51. Tour the Montana Historical Society in Helena.
50. Stand on a ridge above the Little Bighorn River and listen to the wind blow while you ponder the Lakota and Cheyenne and U.S. Cavalry companies that clashed at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in late June 1876. Follow the walking tour, listen to an interpretive ranger and wander through the visitors center south of Crow Agency.
49. Spot the ancient petroglyphs at Pictograph Cave State Park in Billings.
48. Cross the border into Waterton Lakes National Park, on the Canadian side of the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park.
47. Learn how to identify five Montana wildflowers.
46. Memorize the John Steinbeck quote: “I’m in love with Montana. For other states I have admiration, respect, recognition, even some affection. But with Montana it is love. And it’s difficult to analyze love when you’re in it.”
45. Find a fossil.
44. Stop at the intersection of Montana highways 1 and 569 and decide if you want to turn south for Wisdom or north for Opportunity.
43. See the alpine glow as daybreak briefly colors the mountains of Glacier National Park.
42. Whoop it up at an old-fashioned, small-town community dance.
41. Take in the sights of the Miles City Bucking Horse Sale, a legendary wild weekend every year in May.
40. Spend the night in Montana’s oldest continuously operating hotel, the 112-year-old Kempton Hotel of Terry.
39. Watch the Montana Legislature in session.
38. Explore Missouri Headwaters State Park near Three Forks to see where the mighty river is born.
37. Sample the tasty treats of the Parrot Confectionery on Helena’s Last Chance Gulch.
36. Hoot, holler, whistle and hiss at a Virginia City Players vaudeville show at the historic Virginia City Opera House.
35. Take in the view from a fire lookout.
34. Listen to water surge over the largest undammed waterfall in Montana, Kootenai Falls between Troy and Libby.
33. Cheer, tailgate and revel in the rivalry at a Montana/Montana State Cat-Griz football game.
31. Grab a hot chocolate and cheer on competitors in the Race to the Sky, a 350-mile sled dog race that ends in Lincoln.
30. Hike along the Garden Wall in Glacier National Park.
29. Wander through the Charles M. Bair Family Museum in Martinsdale.
28. Skydive at Lost Prairie near Kalispell.
27. Drive across the Koocanusa Bridge north of Libby. It’s the tallest and longest bridge in Montana.
26. Shop for art at the annual Western Art Week in Great Falls.
25. Drive into the Elkhorn Mountains near Boulder to see Elkhorn Ghost Town. Don’t miss the cemetery.
24. Wander through the Ross Creek Giant Cedars Grove in a rainforest atmosphere near Troy.
23. Take part in branding day on a ranch.
22. Dance at the Red Ants Pants Music Festival in White Sulphur Springs. (Can’t hardly wait for this one!)
21. Support a favorite Montana musician.
20. Eat huckleberry pie in five different Glacier National Park area restaurants. For comparison purposes.
19. Explore the Lewis and Clark Caverns near Whitehall.
18. Feel haunted at the Big Hole National Battlefield west of Wisdom and the Bear Paw Battlefield south of Chinook.
17. Drape yourself in green, pour a Guinness and join the revelry on St. Patrick’s Day in Butte.
16. See layers of time and history at Havre’s Wahkpa Chu’gn Buffalo Jump.
15. Watch the mermaids swim at the Sip ’N’ Dip Lounge in the O’Haire Motor Inn.
14. Read “The Last Best Place: A Montana Anthology,” Ivan Doig’s “This House of Sky,” A.B. Guthrie’s “The Big Sky,” James Welch’s “Fools Crow” and Norman Maclean’s “A River Runs Through It.”
13. Make music at the Ringing Rocks of Pipestone.
12. Get to know all of Montana’s seven Indian reservations.
11. Watch snow goose and tundra swans take off from Freezout Lake between Choteau and Fairfield during spring migration.
10. Follow the Montana Dinosaur Trail to at least a few of the 14 dinosaur museums and field stations that sprinkle the state.
9. Float the wild and scenic stretch of the Missouri River.
7. Hike in the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area.
6. Take a roadtrip and stop at every historical highway sign.
5. Visit all Montana’s tiny corner towns: Yaak, Alzada, Westby and Sula.
4. Follow the Yellowstone River to its confluence with the mighty Missouri.
3. Connect with points from the Lewis and Clark trail across the state, such as Pompey’s Pillar near Billings.
2. Drive over the Fort Peck Dam.
1. Explore Glacier National Park by foot, by boat and by red bus.