Montana is a land full of legends. Listen to the names: Hellgate Canyon, Last Chance Gulch, Wild Horse Island, the Crazy Mountains, the Scapegoat Wilderness, Going-To-The-Sun Road. It is the birthplace of the Missouri River, the graveyard for Custer and his ill-fated Seventh Cavalry, and home to grizzly bears, ghost towns, buffalo, badlands, dude ranches, dinosaur bones, cowboys, Indians, glaciers, and hot springs. Big Sky Country is rugged, sparsely populated, authentic, high, and wide.
In the fall, Indian summer brings warm days and cool nights. Below snowcapped peaks in the major river valleys of western Montana, bald eagles descend by the hundreds to feed on spawning salmon. Hunting for deer, elk, and antelope begins. Fishing is at its best, whether it's for trout in one of many mountain streams or walleye in one of the best fisheries, Fort Peck Lake.
Winter brings its own delights. Mountain goats frequent roadside salt licks, and wildlife at the National Bison Range is easy to spot against a backdrop of white. There are hundreds of miles of cross-country and snowmobile trails, 15 downhill ski areas, and dozens of natural hot springs.
Spring means unsettled weather and a good time to visit the Charles M. Russell Museum, where many of the famous western painter's works hang, or the nearby Museum of the Plains Indian on the Blackfeet Reservation. Eastern Montana's prairies and badlands erupt with springtime wildflowers. Fishing for the strange prehistoric, boneless paddlefish is best in May and June.
Summer is time for float trips and fishing on Montana's rivers. Hiking is popular in the state's two national parks, 10 national forests, and millions of acres of wilderness and primitive areas. Montana's state recreation areas include the badlands scenery of Makoshika State Park and the ghost town of Bannack State Park.
Summer is also festival time. There are rodeos, like the College National Finals Rodeo in Bozeman or Wolf Point's Wild Horse Stampede; colorful powwows, complete with Indian games and dancing on Montana's seven Indian reservations; and one-of-a-kind events like Miles City's Bucking Horse Sale.
Montana's past is always present. Follow the Lewis and Clark trail across the state, and visit Butte, the mining town that for a few brawling years deserved her title of The Richest Hill on Earth. There are also fossil grounds, hanging trees, and buffalo jumps.
From its western peaks to eastern plains, Montana truly is breathtakingly beautiful, unspoiled, and unforgettable.