Montana is among the top ten least populated states and the third-least densely populated state in the United States. One of the main reasons is its enormous area(ranked fourth in the USA) that is mostly occupied by mountain ranges, western prairie, and badlands. Most of these natural endowments are among the most famous landmarks in Montana.
The state also has an interesting cultural history and heritage that dates back to the indigenous peoples who first settled there thousands of years ago.
The Lewis and Clark Expedition is an important part of the state’s history as it pioneered the fur trade in the region and exposed the state to traders from various continents. Some of the reached by the pioneers are part of the historic sites in Montana.
We will strip down the numerous landmarks that Montana is known for, which are sure to inspire you to complete plans for a visit to this state.
Most Famous Landmark In Montana
Yellowstone National Park, West Yellowstone
Established in 1872, Yellowstone National Park is recognized as the world’s first national park. The park spans an area of 3,648.4 sq mi, extending to parts of Wyoming, Idaho, and, of course, Montana!
Montana sharing a part of the famous park makes the state a top attraction in the Western US. The Montana region of Yellowstone, though constituting only 3% of the park, comprises many trails, pathways, and captivating natural scenery that are worthy to explore. This not only makes the park one of the most famous Montana landmarks, but it also puts it top of the list.
West Yellowstone, sitting 267 km away, is the closest town to the park. Visitors can camp in the town while they spend their days exploring the park.
Helena, Montana Landmarks
Cathedral of Saint Helena
The Cathedral of Saint Helena, which opened in 1914, is one of the most important historical places in Montana. The gothic cathedral is modeled after Vienna’s Votivkirche.
The cathedral’s architectural style features rich symbols that are acknowledged in the Roman Catholic. The North tower contains 12 hand-cast bells, which symbolize the fifteen mysteries of the rosary. The 11,693 square feet of stained glass across all 59 windows depict scenes from the Old and New Testaments.
On April 30, 1980, the cathedral was listed in the National Registry of Historic Places.
Montana Historical Society
The headquarters of the Montana Historical Society is a educational destination that summarizes the history of Montana with exhibits of collections that were significant in forming the state’s history.
The headquarters was moved to Helena in 1874, and it was then located in the basement of the new Montana State Capitol Building. Now it sits adjacent to the State Capitol Building, with a noticeable sculpture in front of it.
The museum houses manuscripts and oral histories from as early as the 1860s. The museum’s impressive collection also includes displays of artifacts familiar with Native Americans, the state’s archaeological and ethnological artifacts, and its fine arts.
Montana State Capitol Building
One of the most imposing historical landmarks in Montana is the Montana State Capitol Building, located in the state capital of Helena.
The neoclassical building was designed by Charles Bell and Hackett Kent. In 1902, constructed of Montana sandstone and granite, the building was completed.
Visitors can immediately capture the beauty of the building marked by the dome crowning it. The interior is littered with artwork that shows the history of Montana. The building houses the Montana State Legislature and several libraries that guests can visit.
The capitol building is very accessible to the public and it has a relaxing feel, plus activities that can be enjoyed by an entire family.
Stairway To Heaven
Stairway To Heaven is a trail located 2.7 away from the city of Helena. The trail draws out a good number of people from the state capital to hike and bike.
For a trail bearing such a name, you would think the trail is very long, but it is actually 1.4 miles (2.2 km) long, which usually takes about 15 minutes. It is a very easy trail to hike, making it a popular natural landmark in Montana that caters to all ages.
You can trek leisurely and still be able to take in the beauty of the natural scenery.
Mount Helena City Park
Spanning 620 acres, Mount Helena City Park is the headline natural attraction in the capital of Helena.
The park encompasses Mount Helena, which comprises several miles of trails wound up to the top of the mountain where visitors are promised an incredible view of the area.
Most of the trailheads in the park are very easy to locate and visitors can get a posted map at the entry point, though it is recommended to have a GPS app when visiting for the first time.
Whitefall, Montana Landmarks
Whitehall is home to one of the few natural landmarks in Montana that you have to visit. This is because of an interesting phenomenon that you can experience there.
The rock formation in this area is connected in a pattern that makes it chime whenever you tap the rocks with a hammer. The ringing rocks are so unique that if you remove any pile, it doesn’t make any sound. Scientists are yet to give a definitive explanation for this occurrence.
The rocks in Whitefall, Montana are not the only rock formations that can ring in the US, but if you are close to Montana you wouldn’t regret visiting the site. Access is free year-round. This is one of the biggest Montana landmarks in Whitefall.
Lewis & Clark Caverns
This 3,000-acre park shows an interesting aspect of Montana’s history. It is one of the most famous historical sites in Montana.
The site holds both historical and geological significance. This is very close to the spot where the Lewis and Clark expedition camped in July 1805. The caverns were dissolved by limestone that was formed by organisms in a sea that was as old as 365 million years.
The caverns are open for guided tours every year, but it starts between May through September. The area also has a hiking trail that suits trekking. Other activities include fishing, camping, mountain biking, and bird watching, among others.
Butte, Montana Landmarks
World Museum of Mining
The World Museum of Mining sits on an inactive mine called the ‘Orphan Girl Mine’. The mine contained ores like zinc, silver, lead, and copper, which were mined for over 80 years.
The mining museum, which opened in 1965, exhibits a collection of more than 60 old mining items and artifacts.
Furthermore, guests can enjoy an underground tour deep in the mine or experience the lives mining families lived inside a reconstructed mining town. The detective sense in guests is awakened by the Paranormal tours in which guides narrate unclear events that happened in the mine and then help guests to prove/disprove the stories.
Granite Mountain Memorial
Granite Mountain Memorial is an important and meaningful monument in Montana. It commemorates the lives of miners who died in the tragic Speculator mine explosion on June 8, 1917.
168 miners died during an installation of electric cable in the Granite Mountain mine. This is a disaster that happened a few days after miners had protested over poor and risky working conditions.
The tragic event is the deadliest in rock mine history. The mine memorial was later erected at this historic site in Montana. Visitors can come and pay their respects to the dead and also read some of the notes the men wrote before they passed.
Our Lady of The Rockies
After his wife’s recovery from cancer, Butte’s resident built a 90-foot statue of Mary, the mother of Jesus. He had promised to erect the statue on one condition — that his wife survives cancer.
Construction of the statue began in 1979 and was completed in 1985. At its completion, it was the fourth-tallest statue in the United States. The base is 8,510 feet above sea level and 3,500 feet above the town. The statue overlooks the town of Butte and can be spotted from almost any part of the town.
This monument site in Montana also features a gift shop, which offers bus tours to the statue during the summer.
Other Famous Historic Sites In Montana
Montana Dinosaur Center, Bynum
Montana Dinosaur Center, also known as, Two Medicine Dinosaur Center is a captivating destination, equipped to wow interested visitors and dinosaur enthusiasts. The center is one of a few centers in the state dedicated to collecting and exhibiting remains of dinosaurs.
The museum houses the skeletal model of what is considered the world’s longest dinosaur, and the first baby dinosaur bones in North America.
There is a very rich education awaiting visitors at the center. The staff comprises of well-trained paleontologists who are ready to take guests on an interesting tour through the history of some of the dinosaurs.
The Garden of One Thousand Buddhas, Arlee
Garden of One Thousand Buddhas is one the most unlikely landmarks in Montana. Construction started in 2012, making the site one of the latest additions to the list of Montana’s landmarks.
The Garden, covering over 10 acres of land, is being built to be a pilgrimage destination and a place of worship for people of diverse faiths.
The building of the 1000 statues has been completed and will be planted when they are ready. This is one of a few Montana sites that are sacred, so it is well worth a solemn visit.
Museum of the Rockies, Bozeman
This museum was established to educate visitors about the history of Montana. It also covers the physical and cultural history of the Rocky Mountains and the people and animals
Museum of the Rockies is famed for its large and impressive collection of dinosaur remains, which is the largest in the United States. 100-year-old Tinsley House, designated a living history museum, is being preserved by the museum.
The museum rotates exhibits in such a way that visitors are keen to return and explore the many collections housed in the building.
Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, Big Horn County
Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument is one of the most important national monuments in Montana. It commemorates the 1826 Battle of Bighorn when a union of Indian Tribes defeated the US Military. This event is a key historical fact of Montana.
The site features a visitor center, where guests can access information detailing what happened during the battle. Guided tours are also offered to visitors, who can choose to tour the battlefield or the entire site.
‘Battle Talks’ are given by Park Rangers and re-enactments of the battle are performed regularly throughout the year. These features make the landmark one of the most attractive historic sites in Montana.
LANDMARKS IN USA
Other Natural Landmarks In Montana
St Mary Falls, Glacier National Park
St Mary Falls is the most famous feature in Glacier National Park. Glacier National Park is located in the Rocky Mountains of Montana, blessed with hiking trails, lakes, and valleys that make for outdoor activities.
St Mary Falls is a beautiful collection of waterfalls that cascades at 35 feet. To locate the falls, visitors must journey through 3.6 miles of St Mary and Virginia falls trail that crosses St Mary Falls and the nearby Virginian Falls.
This stunning natural Montana landmark offer a view of the park that is picturesque and breathtaking.
Big Sky Resort, Big Sky
Big Sky Resort is one of the best skiing destinations in the USA and one of the most sought-after landmarks in Montana for outdoor activities.
The winter season in Montana is different, in a good and exciting way. During winter, resorts in the state are automatically transformed into snowy sites which are perfect for winter sports.
Big Sky Resort stands out from other skiing sites in the state, thanks to its sufficient number of skiable areas and fame for having zero wait times on the slopes.
Other attractive activities on the site include snowmobiling, snowboarding, ice skating, dog sledding, and hunting.
Pompeii’s Pillar, Yellowstone County
Another site that easily makes the list of top monuments in Montana is Pompeii’s Pillar National Monument. The pillar’s significance is owed to the Lewis and Clark expedition who camped around the sedimentary rock and left their mark on it.
The pillar became a popular camping landmark as other famous pioneers and travelers stopped by and also left their mark on the 120 feet rock as they continued their journey.
The monument now attracts over 50,000 visitors yearly. There is a visitor center on the site, where guests can get valuable information on the expedition activities within the region and about the monument.
Earthquake Lake, Cameron
Tucked within the Gallatin National Forest, Earthquake Lake is a serene and picturesque destination, even though its existence was occasioned by a tragedy.
As its name suggests, the lake was formed after a 7.3 magnitude rocked Montana in August 1959, leaving 28 people dead. The earthquake is the most powerful to hit the state in recorded history.
The lake is around 190 feet deep and six miles long. Visitors who come here are often solemn and also do well to remember those who died in that tragic event.
Makoshika State Park, Glendive
Although the Mashiko State Park might not look like it, it is one of the most famous landmarks in Montana. The park offers an exciting ensemble of outdoor activities that are well worth the time.
It is the largest state park in Montana, spanning 11,000 acres(45 km²). Makoshika State Park contains fossilized remains of some known dinosaurs including the Tyrannosaurus Rex, etc.
Outdoor activities at the park include camping and hiking. Events are also a huge deal in the park, they include campfire programs, youth programs, and Montana Shakespeare in the Park.
Discovering More Landmarks In Montana
Although Montana does not have one of the biggest populations in the US, it boasts multiple sites of great interest. The landmarks in Montana and their attractions have contributed greatly to the fast growing tourism sector of the state.
The famous places in Montana are very lively with side attractions that will make your tour exciting. Most of the historical sites are also home to some of the most respected Montana monuments. These avails visitors the opportunity to learn about the people who have had immense contributions to the state.