Five Ways to Enjoy Fall in Montana
Montana offers a wonderous blend of exhilarating experiences, natural beauty, and western charm. And when the air turns crisp and the fall colors take the stage, it's even more enchanting. Experience the magic of fall in Montana with these five epic adventures:
Bike Through the Fall Colors
There's no better way to take in the beauty of the fall colors than by biking through Montana's unmatched trails and undiscovered country. Mountain bikers of all levels should check out Legacy Bike Park in Lakeside, which opened in 2021. The park offers 13 mountain biking trails that include singletracks, jumps, and berms that will keep even the best mountain bikers jamming all day. Don't miss the Legacy Liftoff Sept. 23-24, 2022, which will feature a bike competition for four different rider classes (from pro to 14-and-under riders), music, food, and camping.
Or, head to Butte and hit the South Continental Divide to Black Tail Ridge Mountain Bike Trail. This moderate trail is 11.8 miles long and offers a little bit of everything to get your thrills, including varying grades of ascents and descents, switchbacks and natural rock formations. Once you start to reach the summit of the southern portion of the trail, you can expect some spectacular views from all directions.
Casting Lines in Paradise
Fly-fishing is the perfect outdoor activity to unplug, unwind, and take in the surrounding beauty. And there is no better place to cast than Montana. The state boasts some of the best fly-fishing rivers in the U.S., including the Blackfoot River, Yellowstone River, and many others. What some don't realize is that Montana offers fly-fishing year-round. Fly-fishing in fall - and even winter - provides a unique experience underscored with beautiful scenery and solitude. Casting lines and floating the steady river current under the endless blue sky will feel like paradise found.
Montana weather in the fall can be unpredictable, so having the right gear and an expert guide are key. Montana Angling Company can lead fishermen and women to waterways like the Gallatin River, Paradise Valley Springs Creeks, the Madison River, and the Missouri River and help ensure they have an unforgettable fly-fishing excursion.
Fall Flavors and Festivals
Between each Montana adventure, you'll find world-class cuisine. The state has a surprising amount of four-star dining options that highlight local culinary flavors and incorporate the bounty of the fall harvest season. Locals and visitors from all over the world are drawn to these highly acclaimed restaurants:
Walker's in Billings has reinvented Montana's dining scene. Patrons experience a food adventure filled with regionally farmed ingredients in a funky space. Lucca's in Helena melds high-quality Italian food with impeccable service providing an unforgettable dining event. The menu changes seasonally, but the Shrimp Fra Diavolo is so popular, it's available year-round. Scotty's Table, located in the heart of Missoula, is committed to offering sustainable and environmentally friendly ingredients. Diners will be treated to a delicious meal in a modern environment.
Relax after a fun-filled day by grabbing a brew at one of the more than 90 breweries operating across the state. Head to the Billings Brew Trail to find Montana's only walkable brewery trail. The self-guided tour right in the heart of downtown is made up of six breweries, two distilleries, and one cider house, all within easy walking distance. Take this 1.5-mile brewery route and enjoy historic sites and beautiful fall landscapes along the way. While on the trail, be sure to stop at Angry Hank's Microbrewery and enjoy the flavors of autumn with a frosty mug of Oktoberfest beer.
Billings is also a great place to celebrate the bounty of Montana's fall harvest. HarvestFest, held on Oct. 8, 2022, is a community festival that marks the finale of the summer farmer's market and is filled with produce, pumpkins, baked goods, and food truck fare. It also features live music, an Oktoberfest beer garden and stein holding contest, an interactive children's area, face painting, and more.
Get Immersed in Indigenous Culture
Celebrate Native culture and traditions at the Poplar Indian Days Pow Wow Sept. 2-4, 2022, at the Fort Peck Indian Reservation. Enjoy traditional Native American dancing, food vendors, a community feed breakfast, teepee races, and two fun run/walks. All ages are welcome to attend.
Learn more about the Indigenous People of the Great Plains on the Indigenous Peoples Driving Tour. Stop at one of the 15 locations on the tour to hear stories about Indigenous life with the Fort Belknap Indian Community, Fort Peck Assiniboine, Sioux Tribes, and Chippewa Cree Rocky Boy Tribes.
Pay tribute to Native American Heritage Month in November with a visit to Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument on the Crow Reservation in southeast Montana. The site memorializes the Battle of the Little Bighorn, which took place June 25-26, 1876, between the Sioux and Cheyenne and the United States Seventh Cavalry Regiment led by Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer. Little Bighorn includes a visitor center, museum, and a walking tour with interpretive markers.
For those looking to turn up the spook factor this fall, Montana is full of haunted attractions that will send chills down your spine. With a number of well-preserved ghost towns and historically haunted hotspots, history lovers and families alike are sure to get in the Halloween spirit. For visitors who dare to be really scared, the Old Montana Prison in Deer Lodge offers eerie ghost tours throughout the month of October.
For a deeper dive into history, visit Montana's living ghost towns, Virginia City and Nevada City. These cities mark the site of the richest placer gold strike in the Rocky Mountains. Visitors can pan for gold, ride the rails, view historical reenactments and explore two of the state's most historic cities.
"As we head into the fall season, we'd like to remind everyone to use up those vacation days," said Scott Osterman, Director for the Montana Department of Commerce. "Fall is a beautiful time to visit Montana. The temps cool down, the crowds dissipate, and Mother Nature puts on a spectacular show providing the perfect backdrop for an awe-inspiring trip of a lifetime."