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Central Montana - Adventure on a Different Side of the State

 

A region quite different from the usual Montana experience, the area grows on you over time. After getting to know the landscape and wonderful people of Central Montana quite well, there are major differences to note:

 

First and foremost, the region is littered with island mountain ranges. Like no other mountains you have probably ever experienced, these outcroppings are separated from the massive chain of the Rocky Mountains and Continental Divide by undulating Great Plains and broad river valleys.

 

These remote oases capture sufficient moisture and are cool enough to support creatures (like trout) that seem anomalous from the semi-arid plains below. They afforded Native Americans spiritual refuge and promontories for spotting bison herds; along with wood, water, and other materials for 19th-century trappers, miners, homesteaders, and westward pioneers.

 

A Historical Playground in Lewistown

 

There is also an absolute treasure trove of Montana History to be found in this quite often overlooked region of the Big Sky Country. Lewistown being the most well-known city in the area, there is a literal geographical bullseye of the entire state of Montana found in the Yogo Inn. Originally the Milwaukee Train Depot of 1913, it’s covered in historical photos and stories galore.

 

Yogo Mines

Not far away is the World Famous Yogo Sapphire mine near Lewistown. Home of an extremely rare and much-coveted gemstone, (In fact, it just happens to be the only North American gem actually used in the Crown Jewels of England.) decades of riches have passed through the area, some of which are still shrouded in mystery, possibly waiting for discovery.

 

Hutterite Colonies

Another unique attraction not far from the grid is the Hutterite Colony which got its start in Montana at the King Colony. Living as homesteaders did, we offer tours here where visitors can learn to make soap, milk a cow, work a farm and live as they did 100 years ago. The Surprise Creek Colony near Stanford is another favorite, specifically of National Geographic, with Chokecherry Wine that is to die for! 

 

Havre Montana

Back in the day, immigrants began tunneling beneath the towns to get away from the dangers of above. Accidentally creating a more detrimental situation, the tunnel cities beneath some Montana municipalities still allow access and a glimpse into the world of bootleggers and outlaws. "Havre Beneath the Streets" features old opium dens and a house of ladies where Al Capone bootlegged all his whisky into the country from Canada. 

​Fort Benton

There is also the extravagant Grand Union Hotel in Fort Benton, the birthplace of Montana. When this hotel was built-it was the very finest hotel between Chicago and Seattle. The Missouri River was the primary source of transportation back then. Another absolute treasure trove of Montana history!

Montana Art

And of course, there's the legendary Western artist Charles Russell who was in a league of his own making. Scenes depicting his artworks are seen far and wide across the state, with his infamously painted buttes easily spotted in the area. You can check out his museum and studio in Great Falls, or take a tour of the area and discover the local haunts that were his literal inspiration.

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Sample Itinerary

Day 1:

  • Arrival in Lewistown and check into your hotel.

  • Visit the Central Montana Historical Museum to learn about the region's history and culture.

  • Take a scenic drive to the Judith Mountains and go on a guided hike to enjoy the natural scenery.

  • Have dinner at a local restaurant featuring regional cuisine.

Day 2:

  • Wake up early and have breakfast.

  • Take a day trip to the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument and go on a guided river tour to explore the area's canyons and see the diverse wildlife.

  • Have a picnic lunch on the riverbank and take a short hike to enjoy the natural scenery.

  • Return to Lewistown in the evening and have dinner at a local restaurant.

Day 3:

  • Wake up early and have breakfast.

  • Visit the Charlie Russell Chew Choo and take a scenic train ride through the Montana countryside.

  • Have lunch at a local restaurant featuring regional cuisine.

  • Visit the Lewistown Art Center and explore the exhibits on the region's art and culture.

  • Have dinner at a local restaurant featuring regional cuisine.

Day 4:

  • Wake up early and have breakfast.

  • Take a scenic drive to the Big Snowy Mountains and go on a guided hiking tour to enjoy the natural scenery.

  • Have a picnic lunch in the mountains and take a short hike to explore the area's flora and fauna.

  • Return to Lewistown in the evening and have dinner at a local restaurant.

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Day 5:

  • Wake up early and have breakfast.

  • Visit the Upper Musselshell Museum to learn about the region's history and culture.

  • Go on a guided fishing tour on the nearby rivers and streams.

  • Have lunch at a local restaurant featuring regional cuisine.

  • Visit the Maiden Rock Trail and go on a guided hike to see the area's unique geological formations.

  • Have a farewell dinner at a local restaurant featuring regional cuisine.

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