Did you make a New Year’s resolution to explore more of Montana? Our state has so many gems, it would be impossible to see them all in a lifetime — but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. Here’s a list of potential day trips (or overnight excursions, depending on where you live) to take this year.
1. Garnet Ghost Town
Located in Granite County about 38 miles from Missoula, Garnet is an old mining town with a rich history. It also happens to be very well-preserved and cared for, and it sits in a beautiful natural setting surrounded by hiking trails.
Butte's rich mining history, museums, fun festivals, and food scene make it a great place to spend a day. Dine on pasties from Joe's and stop by Pekin Noodle Parlor, Montana's oldest eatery.
3. Virginia City and Nevada City
Our liveliest ghost towns, Virginia City and Nevada City, really come alive in the summer. Montanans of all ages love exploring the historic buildings, shops, museums and theater.
4. Makoshika State Park
If you live in Eastern Montana and you've never been to Makoshika, you're missing out on some beautiful badlands. Not only is it our largest state park, but it's full of dinosaur fossils (including Tyrannosaurus Rex remains). But even if you're not a paleontologist, you'll appreciate the hiking trails and the historic landmarks.
5. Miles City
Miles City is a classic Western town, which makes it a perfect place for May's annual Bucking Horse Sale. But there's something for everyone in Miles City: The Tongue River Winery, Range Riders Museum, and tasty food at the historic Montana Bar will charm you.
The top attraction in this charming city is the annual Livingston Roundup Rodeo. But no matter when you go, you'll find plenty to do, see, and eat.
7. Kootenai Falls
Northwest Montana is incredibly beautiful, and this spot is no exception. Kootenai Falls is the largest undammed falls in the state, it's easy to reach (a short hike and a swinging bridge from the parking lot), and it's a perfect day trip excursion.
8. Virgelle Mercantile
Located in the heart of the Upper Missouri River Breaks near Loma, this antique shop and bed & breakfast is a historic treasure. Visiting truly feels like going back in time.
9. Bannack State Park
What can we say? We love our ghost towns in Montana. This one just happens to be our first territorial capital, and it's now a great place to learn about our local history. Some even say it's haunted.
If you live within a three hour radius of Stevensville, it makes an absolutely perfect day trip destination. Check out the historic St. Mary's Mission, shop for an abundance of antiques, and treat yourself to a meal at Mission Bistro.
11. The Gates of the Mountains tour (Helena)
If you have yet to take this boat tour through Montana's Grand Canyon, make 2019 the year you go. Tours begin again in May, and they're both affordable and beautiful.
12. Deer Lodge
The Old Montana Prison Complex is fantastic. And once you've explored it and enjoyed a few tasty slices at Prison Pizza, check out the charming historic downtown area.
We hope these suggestions have inspired some local getaways for 2019. When winter (finally) turns to spring,
here are some destinations to keep in mind.