For anyone who wants to experience the authentic American West and its unspoiled wilderness and history, Montana may be the last frontier.
Traveling through lush forests, past snowcapped mountain peaks and along glaciers, you will re-live the history of the trailblazing days of Lewis and Clark. Great Falls is known as the Gateway to Montana, and you’ll find all kinds of excitement both in and outside the city. Take part in the limitless activities, enjoy the breathtaking sights of the Rocky Mountains, crystal blue waters and rushing waterfalls, or immerse yourself in nature and wildlife. However you choose to explore this genuine Montana city, it’s all just a flight away.
A World of Water
As you step off the plane, you’ll find the western hospitality as welcoming as a summer day. To make the most of the warm weather, just 20-minutes south of the Great Falls Airport in the cool and clear Upper Missouri River is one of the densest populations of river trout in the United States. This stretch of scenic cliff-lined canyon provides exceptional viewing of bald eagles, golden eagles, osprey, and bighorn sheep. The river flows softly through these canyons. Trips of many lengths are possible, and raft or kayak rentals are available in Great Falls, making this an ideal day with young adventures.
For a less adventurous day on the water, try Electric City Water Park. As you plunge down 20-foot-tall waterslides or lounge poolside beneath an evening sun, every minute will be a well-earned reward.
Nature’s Finest at Glacier National Park
If you prefer the earth beneath your feet, the view west of Great Falls is adorned with the shining white peaks of Glacier National Park. The three eastern entrances to the park boast some of North America’s most scenic hikes. Whether you enjoy a strenuous 10-mile walk on Grinnell Glacier or a more leisurely stroll to the ice-blue pools of Virginia Falls, you will see why this is called the Crown of the Continent. The east side of GNP also offers abundant wildlife viewing including bison, grizzly bears, and mountain goats at the appropriately named Goat Lick.
Those seeking a more solitary experience will find there is nothing more authentically Montana than the Bob Marshall Wilderness. Just west of Great Falls, you can hike “The Bob” and its more than 1.5 million acres of unspoiled backcountry while surveying waterfalls, lakes, and an abundance of wildlife.
An Urban Trek to Unforgettable History
For visitors who like the feel of pavement beneath their feet, the River’s Edge Trail offers 60 miles of paved trail, including 25 miles of single-track mountain biking. Stroll the River’s Edge Trail past Black Eagle Falls, one of the great falls of the Missouri, to the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center for an array of authentic American history. The center hosts the West’s largest display of artifacts and exhibits about the expedition, details noteworthy encounters the explorers had with Plains Indians and even offers to outfit your kids in genuine explorer costumes so they can live the story themselves.
Continuing along the River’s Edge trail for a quarter-mile, trekkers will reach Giant Springs State Park. Also visited by Lewis and Clark, this park is tucked along a picturesque stretch of the Missouri River and hosts the largest spring in North America. An onsite fish hatchery offers summer tours, making this an ideal location for a summer picnic in the park’s cool grass.
If you’re an art aficionado, visit the world’s most immersive experience into the life and art of Charles Marion Russell (1864-1926) at the C.M. Russell Museum. Walk in his shoes as you explore the gallery or his preserved home and studio. Russell is considered by many to be the foremost artist of the American West, and his sketches, sculptures, and million-dollar paintings of cowboys, Indians, and landscapes will bring the past to life around you.
After an adventure-packed day, soak up the last delightful drops of this journey with a well-deserved refresher at one of the area’s microbreweries. For more information on Great Falls and the journey that awaits you, visit GenuineMontana.com.