Don’t be surprised to see a personable pup working alongside her National Park Service ranger-partner when you travel the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park. “Bark Ranger” Gracie is a well-trained border collie tasked with keeping wildlife away from (human) park visitors in busy areas like the Logan Pass parking lot. She’s specially trained to move wildlife like bighorn sheep or mountain goats away without any physical contact. She intimidates them with her stare and moves them just far enough away so they can still be seen and photographed by visitors. Gracie does not work with predators like bears, and she has proven more effective than traditional hazing techniques like shouting or arm-waving.

Habituation occurs when animals have repeated contact with and lose their fear of humans. Habituated wildlife may appear tame, but they are still wild animals and can be aggressive or dangerous.

When she’s not working, Gracie and her handler often chat with visitors about staying a safe distance away from wildlife. They are wildlife safety ambassadors and even have an Instagram account. You might see her working in her orange vest at Logan Pass during the summer, happily posing for a selfie – or just enjoying belly rubs.

“Bark Ranger” Gracie looks back at Ranger Mark Biel while watching a herd of bighorn rams grazing just downhill from the Logan Pass parking lot in Glacier National Park in July 2017. Gracie and Ranger Mark prevented these sheep from ever entering the parking lot. Courtesy National Park Service/Alice W. Biel

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Ramona Holt grew up as a promoter of the West, having participated in kids’, intercollegiate and professional rodeo. For 30 years, Ramona and her husband, Bill, traveled throughout the Western United States, Canada and Australia promoting professional rodeo and the West. In 1989, when Montana celebrated its centennial, she had the honor of starting the first parade prior to the Western Montana Fair. Today, as a trustee representing Western Montana for the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center, she recommends people and ranches to be honored each year. The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association honored her as the “Notable Lady of the West” at its World of Rodeo Reunion in Las Vegas in 2018.

Her life has been dedicated to telling the story of the Western way of life through many avenues, including the Missoula Chamber of Commerce, Destination Missoula and Glacier Country Tourism. Ramona says, “The best way to perpetuate our beloved Western way of life is to encourage our youth to participate in 4-H, FFA and rodeo. These programs develop responsibility, dedication and the desire to do your very best.”

Open by appointment, the Holt Heritage Museum – located in Lolo, Montana – houses rodeo and Western artifacts including 20 horse-drawn vehicles and boots from famous celebrities.

Ramona Holt’s Her life has been dedicated to telling the story of the Western way of life through many avenues. Courtesy

For more information on Western Montana’s Glacier Country, visit

Western Montana’s Glacier Country has several unique and off-the-beaten path attractions that often go under the radar. Here are three that shouldn’t be missed as you travel through the region.

The Garden of One Thousand Buddhas

This public park, and breathtaking sight to see, is located in the middle of the Jocko Valley just north of Arlee, off of Montana Highway 93, on the Flathead Indian Reservation. One thousand hand-cast Buddha statues circle the central figure of Yum Chenmo (the Great Mother). Guided tours are available April through October, or self-guided daily from 9 a.m. to dusk. Admission is free.

The Garden of One Thousand Buddhas.

Miracle of America Museum and Pioneer Village

This museum houses a large collection of curiosities throughout several buildings. Items include a winged monkey from “The Wizard of Oz,” an alien autopsy and a two-headed calf. Make sure you allot enough time to see it all! Located in Polson on the south end of Flathead Lake. Open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission: $10; $5 children ages 2-12.

Miracle of America Museum and Pioneer Village

National Bison Range

Located off Montana Highway 200 is one of the oldest wildlife refuges in the nation. With more than 18,000 acres, the range is home to 350-500 head of bison, as well as black bear, bighorn sheep, pronghorn antelope, elk and whitetail deer. The refuge is enjoyed from the comfort of your own vehicle during daylight hours on two different scenic drives. Be sure to bring along your binoculars for the best viewing opportunities. Admission: $5 for private vehicles; $25 for bus or tour groups.

National Bison Range.

For more information on Western Montana’s Glacier Country, visit

Montana’s iconic destinations like Glacier National Park and its gateways to Yellowstone are certainly worth a visit, but when you want to travel off the beaten path and discover unique wide-open spaces, Montana has no shortage of options. After all, our state is all about discovering nature and breathtaking views, and getting outdoors to explore our hiking trails, waterways, and scenic roadways.

Seeley-Swan Scenic Drive

Take one of many scenic routes throughout Montana, taking time to enjoy the scenery and wildlife viewing at your own relaxed pace. The Seeley-Swan Scenic Drive south of Glacier Park on the way to Helena or Missoula takes you through two forested valleys surrounded by mountain peaks. It is dotted with small lakes and tiny towns. Stop at Holland Lake to paddle with a canoe on this peaceful hidden lake, or take a hike along the lake’s shore and through the forest to Holland Falls. This area sits next to the Bob Marshall Wilderness and is full of deer and elk, so take time to share their solitude. Numerous lakes along this route offer welcoming and peaceful picnic sites for travelers.

Hiking at Holland Lake. Courtesy Montana Office of Tourism and Business Development

Pioneer Scenic Byway

The Pioneer Scenic Byway is the perfect motorcycle route to discover scenic valleys, peaceful meadows and soaring mountain peaks, in an area that typically has few visitors. Along this route you will find hot springs, abandoned homesteads, small creeks and rivers where gold-seekers once panned for gold; and Coolidge, a ghost town you can explore on your own. Just south of this route is Bannack State Park, the best-preserved ghost town in Montana. Take a self-guided walking tour through Bannack or overnight in the teepee here. Numerous hiking trails and fishing holes are available in this area for independent-minded adventurers who want to get away from busier sites and enjoy Montana’s beautiful open spaces.

Log cabin at Coolidge Ghost town. Courtesy Montana Office of Tourism and Business Development

Missouri River Country

In Missouri River Country in Montana’s northeast corner, you’ll find plenty of room to explore. Fort Peck Lake is the largest lake in Montana, and with 1,600 miles of shoreline, you can surely find an out-of-the-way spot to relax and view wildlife, enjoy water recreation, or visit a nearby wildlife refuge or nature trail. History here goes back before the first Native Americans made their home here – back to the days of dinosaurs. Visitors today can experience the history of this region at many cultural sites, museums and historic towns. Take time to stargaze in this region’s spectacular night sky from just about any vantage point. We proudly consider ourselves to be in “the middle of nowhere,” yet the small towns here are welcoming and friendly.

Families explore Fort Peck Reservoir located near Fort Peck, Montana. Courtesy Montana Office of Tourism and Business Development

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River City Roots Festival

Held annually the last weekend in August, draws more than 15,000 individuals to the heart of Downtown Missoula for a variety of fun activities and exceptional music. This two-day FREE festival features first-class art and entertainment for both residents and visitors.

Credit: Glacier Country Tourism

Under the Big Sky Concert Music & Arts

The 2nd annual celebrations will be held July 18 – 19, 2020 in Whitefish with musical guests that include, Jason Isbell, Brothers Osborne and Emmylou Harris. This annual event celebrates the tradition of gathering friends and family together under open skies to listen to music. The festival explores the breadth and legacy of Americana, taking in both traditional and contemporary takes on our country’s rich musical traditions, across two stages in naturally formed amphitheaters on Big Mountain Ranch, Whitefish.

Credit: Glacier Country Tourism

North American Indian Days

North American Indian Days, an annual celebration held the second week in July over four days is the largest and most impressive of Blackfeet tribal events. The celebration hosts Native Americans from every region of the United States and Canada. Featured events include traditional drumming and dancing contests, the crowning of Miss Blackfeet, a parade, fun run, PRCA Rodeo events and more.

Credit: Glacier Country Tourism

For more information on Montana’s Western Glacier Country, visit

As winter winds down and we look forward to the variety of warm season activities in Montana, our communities start preparing for Montana’s many fun, unique events and outdoor adventures.

We celebrate our western traditions with rodeos throughout the summer. Some of the more popular rodeos include Montana’s Biggest Weekend Rodeo in Dillon held on September 4-5, 2020. The Livingston Roundup Rodeo is held July 2, 3 and 4 and is a prime example of a traditional Montana rodeo and is one of Montana’s largest PRCA rodeos. The Central Montana Fair and Rodeo in Lewistown is held July 22-23, 2020, and features traditional rodeo action as well as a concert and demolition derby.

Miles City Bucking Horse Sale, Miles City

One of the biggest summer celebrations in the state is Montana Fair held in Billings August 7-15, 2020. This family-friendly event features carnival rides and games, rodeo events, nightly concerts, livestock and crafts displays, and food vendors. It will celebrate its 90th anniversary in 2021.

Attending a traditional powwow on one of Montana’s seven reservations will give you a sense of the culture and traditions celebrated by the tribes. Hear the drums beating as colorfully dressed dancers show their skillful moves in the Grass Dance or Fancy Dance. The Crow Fair Celebration is the largest Native American event in Montana, and one of the biggest powwows in the country. Held August 14-17, 2020, this celebration includes parades, a four-day powwow, rodeo and horse races.

Sweet Pea Arts Festival

Sweet Pea Arts Festival in Bozeman celebrates the arts with concerts, dance and theatre performances, arts and crafts, juried art show, art workshops and local food, in downtown Bozeman. This year’s festival is held August 7-9, 2020.

Bozeman. Credit: Montana Office of Tourism

Big Sky Draft Horse Expo

Big Sky Draft Horse Expo held in Deer Lodge on June 26-28, 2020 is all about the big horses and mules who pull wagons through intricate patterns in the arena. It is Montana’s only draft horse and mule show and honors the tradition of draft animals.

Montana Folk Festival

The Montana Folk Festival in Butte is held July 10-12, 2020 and offers an incredible variety of musical performers on multiple stages underneath Butte’s iconic mining headframes, all overlooking the majesty of the surrounding valleys and mountains along the Continental Divide. And it’s free!

Montana Folk Festival. Credit: Montana Office of Tourism

The Magic City Blues Festival

The Magic City Blues Festival in Billings is held July 31 and August 1, 2020 and is an urban festival in a rural state. With artists like Buddy Guy, Steve Miller and ZZ Top performing at past festivals, this is must-see musical event.

Visit Montana and enjoy the best of our summer entertainment! VISITMT.COM

Montana is packed full of winter activities. With 15 ski areas and countless trails for downhill or cross-country skiing, fat tire biking, dogsledding, snowmobiling, sleigh riding and ski-joring, as well as fabulous apres-ski experiences, Montana is a winter enthusiast’s dream destination.

Montana is well known for providing dry powder and a lack of lift lines so you can ski or board all day long and not spend time waiting to get back up the mountain. Big Sky Resort provides about two acres per skier on its busiest day! New this year for Big Sky skiers is Headlamp Night Skiing – a private guided tour of Andesite Mountain. Countless stars twinkle overhead as you ski down freshly groomed runs guided by headlamps as bright as a car’s headlight. Also new is a way to ski Big Sky before anyone else – with First Tracks & Everett’s Breakfast. If you are an early riser head to the slopes at 8am and carve fresh tracks followed by a gourmet breakfast. Both experiences include a ride up Ramcharger 8 – the Resort’s new eight-seat chairlift with heated seats and a weather-proof bubble.

Off the slopes enjoy the exhilaration of dogsledding in nearby mountains or a relaxing horse-drawn sleigh ride dinner at Lone Mountain Ranch. Apres-ski options can include any number of restaurants, clubs and bars in Big Sky where you can re-live the day’s adventures. The Carabiner Lounge at the base of the lifts offers live music and a lively atmosphere. The new Wilson Hotel in Big Sky Village is conveniently near shops and restaurants.

  • Insider Tip: In April be entertained at Big Sky’s Pond Skim, a hilariously entertaining event where costumed participants attempt to ski or snowboard across an unfrozen pond by whatever means they can.

Nearby Yellowstone National Park is magical in wintertime. Wildlife is easy to spot on a snowcoach or snowmobile tour starting from West Yellowstone, Montana, located at the West Entrance. Expert guides show you what makes a Yellowstone winter experience truly memorable.

Red Lodge Mountain’s ski run offers views of the Beartooth Mountains, with a friendly small-town attitude. Charming Red Lodge has plenty of restaurants and bars to keep folks busy after a day’s adventures. Downtown’s Pollard Hotel makes a convenient base for exploring.

The first two weeks in March are dedicated to enjoying everything winter in Red Lodge during Winter Carnival. This event includes National Finals Ski-Joring, the Torchlight Parade down the slopes of the mountain followed by fireworks, live music downtown, and the entertaining “Cardboard Classic” race down the mountain of homemade crafts made only of cardboard, duct tape and glue.

At Whitefish Mountain Resort winter is celebrated enthusiastically. Night skiing on the slopes or dining at 7,000 feet at the Summit House are unforgettable. There are 200 on-mountain lodging choices. Enjoy dining at Café Kandahar’s intimate setting or enjoy 15 beers on tap including Montana-made favorites at Ed & Mully’s. Downtown Whitefish offers many unique restaurants and lodging options and is only a short drive to Glacier National Park. Park rangers provide guided snowshoe hikes in the park (they will even rent you snowshoes). Many in-park cross-country trails give you the chance to spot wildlife in wintertime silence.

  • Insider tip: Some of the best apres-ski memories can be made on the rooftop deck at the Firebrand Hotel in downtown Whitefish.

Plan your adventure to one of Montana’s unique wintertime destinations! VISITMT.COM

Ski, dog sled, or take a horse-drawn sleigh ride in Glacier Country

In Western Montana, winter comes in wild and free, dropping an average of 300+ inches (7.6 meters) of light and fresh snow on the Rocky Mountains as it creates a place that can only be called one thing: a powder utopia.

For downhill ski and snowboard enthusiasts, there are more than 7,000 acres (2,832 hectares) of terrain across six ski resorts. Visit our world-class ski area, Whitefish Mountain Resortranked The Best in the West for Overall Satisfaction by Ski Magazine readers—offering access to six new runs across 200 new acres (80 hectares) of terrain. Additionally, Chair 5 has been relocated to the East Rim giving guests access to early and late season ski conditions found on the upper mountain.

For adrenaline-pumping winter fun off the mountain, Western Montana’s outfitters and guides offer exhilarating winter activities like snowmobiling, backcountry skiing in Glacier National Park, cat skiing and dog sledding. Montana’s Glacier Country is also home to plentiful cross-country ski and snowshoe trails. Round out a winter day with a horse-drawn sleigh ride or a soak at one of our natural hot springs resorts.

Western Montana also has a variety of accommodations—ranging from cozy to luxe—and is easily accessible via international airports in Missoula (MSO) and Kalispell (FCA).

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Photo: Noah Couser, courtesy of Glacier Country Tourism

Western Montana is a nature lover’s paradise and has many must-see attractions. Not only is the Fall scenery breathtaking, but the Fall season offers many opportunities for outdoor adventure along with relaxing hospitality. The Rocky Mountains run through this area, and the color changes contrast with the towering peaks and is reflected in the alpine lakes and rivers throughout this area.

Flathead Lake, Indian Reservation, & more

Flathead Lake is the largest freshwater lake in the western United States and offers lots of recreation from its shores. It sits on the edge of the Flathead Indian Reservation, home to three Indian tribes. On a drive through this reservation from Missoula to Kalispell, visitors can explore The People’s Center in Pablo where they can learn about the culture of these tribes through educational programs and a museum gallery. Or explore a mission church built by Native Americans in St Ignatius, or drive through the National Bison Range in Moiese and see bison against a backdrop of fall colors in the distant mountains.

Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park’s Going-to-the-Sun-Road is a must-do attraction especially when fall colors are so striking. This 50-mile long two-lane road brings travelers up and over its highest point at Logan Pass, where spectacular views of the glacier carved valleys and nearby mountain peaks will take your breath away. Drive yourself or sit back and enjoy the scenery on a red bus tour. Or tour with a Blackfeet tribal member and learn about the cultural significance of their original ancestral territory that has become today’s Glacier National Park.

Bitterroot Valley

The Bitterroot Mountain Range separates Montana from Idaho and creates the scenic Bitterroot Valley in the southwestern corner of Montana. In this valley are small townswith unique histories, such as Stevensville, the first permanent settlement in the state. Near Darby is Triple Creek Ranch, one of Montana’s luxury guest ranches where guests ride horseback, practice archery, tennis or fly fishing, and later relax with a massage then dinner prepared by a renowned chef. After exploring a Farmers Market in Florence or Hamilton, take a hike in these spectacular mountains or through the Lee Metcalf Wildlife Refuge, then enjoy an afternoon beer with a local at one of many local breweries in the valley that are known for their friendly atmosphere. Sip a Huckleberry Honey Wheat Ale at Bitter Root Brewery in Hamilton while enjoying views of the nearby towering Bitterroot Mountain range. This valley offers lots of horseback riding, hiking, biking and river rafting. The pace is relaxed and crowds are few – except for wildlife which can be spotted anywhere in this part of the state. The Ravalli County Fair in early September is known for its family atmosphere and historical ties to rural Montana life and is just one of the events held in this area. Western Montana is a must-see place to explore in Fall!

Cover Photo: Glacier NPS
Photos: Visit Montana

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Montana’s unique western culture is everywhere. Across the state there are reminders of how Native American tribes fought to preserve their ancestral way of life as eastern explorers and settlers came out west. Early explorers crossed Montana to discover new routes and later found gold and other riches that gave Montana its nickname “The Treasure State.”

The towns that grew with the gold rush and were later abandoned when the gold ran out can still be visited today. These ghost towns are living examples of the real Old West. The cowboy way of life continues at ranches across the state and visitors can enjoy participating in daily chores on a working or guest ranch. Come and explore Montana’s unique culture!

Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument in Crow Agency, Montana. Photo credit: Montana Office of Tourism

Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, where General Custer had his Last Stand, marked a victory for the Sioux and Cheyenne Indians. Tour here with a Crow tribal member who offers an enchanting and accurate interpretation of the battle. Traditional Native American ways of life can be experienced at Montana’s Powwows, such as Crow Fair near Billings, or at North American Indian Days in Browning. Seven Indian tribes in Montana celebrate their traditions with dance, drumming and traditional dress during these family-oriented celebrations.

First Peoples Buffalo Jump State Park in Ulm, Montana. Photo credit: Montana Office of Tourism

Near Great Falls is First Peoples Buffalo Jump State Park. Believed to be the largest buffalo jump in North America, this prehistoric bison kill site features breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and plains. Learn about Glacier National Park’s natural features with Sun Tours offers interesting narrated tours from the Blackfeet Indian perspective on the Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National Park.

Historic Fort Benton. Photo credit: Montana Office of Tourism

Fort Benton is a picturesque community along the Missouri River where you can follow the footsteps of fur traders and others, explore the Historic Old Fort, a Homestead Village and other museums.

Bannack State Park in Montana. Photo credit: Montana Office of Tourism

Visiting one of Montana’s ghost towns is like stepping back in time to the era of gold, saloons and vigilantes.  Experience the quiet solitude of Bannack State Park, the site of Montana’s first major gold discovery in 1862 where over 50 buildings line the Main Street, most of which you can enter and recall Montana’s formative years.

Watch history come alive at Virginia City and Nevada City. Both towns have been largely restored and preserved and have become living examples of the real Old West. Original buildings, dating from the territorial days, are filled with merchandise and implements used when gold camps flourished in the West.

Downtown Butte, Montana. Photo credit: Montana Office of Tourism

The community of Butte is located virtually on the Continental Divide, surrounded by mountains, and lies on some of the world’s richest mineral reserves. Once known as the “Richest Hill on Earth”, Butte is steeped in mining history and cultural diversity. Tour the Berkeley Pit, a huge copper mine, take an underground mine tour or a Trolley Tour, an easy and fun way to learn the history of this fascinating town.

World Museum of Mining in Butte, Montana. Photo credit: Montana Office of Tourism

World Museum of Mining. Visit one of the few museums in the world located on an actual mine yard – go underground in the Orphan Girl Mine on a guided tour to learn what miners endured.  Above ground, explore over 50 exhibit buildings in the old west mining town, and countless artifacts and exhibits in the mine yard.  You can easily spend several hours to an entire day lost in the unfolding story of Butte’s mining heyday. 

Gates of the Mountains in Montana. Photo credit: Montana Office of Tourism

Near Helena is the Gates of the Mountains area, once explored by the Lewis and Clark Expedition. On this two-hour excursion boat tour on the Missouri River, great towering walls of limestone still stand guard over the river while Bighorn sheep and Mountain Goats scamper in the rocks high above the water. From the vessel you can take a look at Indian pictographs painted on the rock wall, proof that indigenous people lived here long before Meriwether Lewis named it the Gates of the Mountains. The tour’s main attraction, though, is the inexhaustible scenery – wooded slopes, rugged rock formations, and the placid beauty of the timeless Missouri.

Lewis & Clark National Historic Interpretive Center in Great Falls, Montana. Photo credit: Montana Office of Tourism

Lewis and Clark explored the West and came through Montana both on their way to the Pacific and on their return trip. The town of Three Forks marks the nearby headwaters of the Missouri River, discovered by Lewis and Clark, and features the Headwaters Heritage Museum. Lewis & Clark National Historic Trails Interpretive Center in Great Falls, focuses on the Lewis and Clark expedition, the relations between the Corps of Discovery and the many Indian tribes they met over their 2 year journey and the month-long portage around the five waterfalls on the Missouri River near Great Falls.  

Pompeys Pillar National Monument is a sandstone butte that bears the only physical evidence of Lewis & Clark’s Expedition. Captain William Clark carved his name and date here in 1806.  The Visitor Center features exhibits that relate to the journey of Captain William Clark and his detachment, including Sacajawea and her son Pomp, down the Yellowstone River Valley in 1806.

Havre Beneath The Streets in Havre, Montana. Photo credit: Montana Office of Tourism

Havre Beneath the Streets is an historical underground tour available during the summer. When fire destroyed most of the town, business owners moved underground to carry on business until the town could be rebuilt. Step back in time into Sporting Eagle Salon, a Chinese laundry and a bordello.

Featured photo: Streetscape view of Virginia City, Montana. Photo credit: Montana Office of Tourism

For more information, contact:
Montana Office of Tourism & Business Development
301 South Park
Helena, MT 59620 USA