With domestic travel booming, Montana in the Great American West is enjoying its moment in the spotlight. Bursting with small-town charm and home to the soaring peaks of the Rocky Mountains, Glacier National Park, the rolling plains, dramatic badlands, and Yellowstone National Park, it’s easy to see why nature lovers are flocking to Montana to experience its epic landscapes, hiking trails, alpine lakes, hot springs, and enchanting wildlife. Here are our picks of the best places to stay, explore, eat, and lose yourself in “The Last Best Place.”
Our Favorite Montana Hotels
It might be famous for its naturescape, but there’s no shortage of upscale hotel options that honor Montana’s rich cultural heritage. Here’s our pick of the best.
The Resort and Ranch at Paws Up, Greenough, MT
If you’re up for an authentic working cattle ranch experience, the sprawling rustic mountain Resort and Ranch at Paws Up in western Montana’s Lewis and Clark country is a luxurious woodland sanctuary. Stay in your own timber ranch, lodge or chic safari-style luxury tent, and spend your days horseback riding, fly fishing, and exploring the endless forests and Blackfoot River under Big Sky Country.
Curated experience: Book the Morning Jingle to saddle up at sun up and ride out to the pastures to round up the herd with real life ranchers.
Beauty + Wellness: If all that wilderness adventure leaves you longing to be pampered, head to their on-site Spa Town, a colony of ten Cowboy Classic Head Massage or Altitude Head and Neck massage in their
The LARK, Bozeman, MT
The old cowboy town of Bozeman is the gateway to Montana’s wild west. If you’re looking for a small city escape within walking distance to the charming historic downtown Bozeman, check into The LARK. Once a humble 1950s motel, the property underwent a major upgrade in 2015, transforming it into a bright, modern designer open-air boutique hotel complete with an outdoor fire pit and local art in every room.
Beauty + Wellness: Don’t leave Montana without trying the therapeutic experience of a soak in one of famed natural hot springs. Bozeman Hot Springs has 12 different pools with temperatures ranging from 59 to 106 degrees and dry and wet saunas.
Sage Lodge, Pray, MT
Bed down in rugged luxury on the banks of the Yellowstone River at Sage Lodge, a short 35-minute drive from Yellowstone National Park and Bozeman. Check into an angler-inspired lodge guest room or your own private ranch house and roam the scenic landscapes, peaks, and rolling rivers of Montana’s Paradise Valley in the Northwest. Nature enthusiasts can get active fly fishing, hiking, biking, hunting, or cross-country skiing.
Curated experience: The most adorable hike of all time might just be Llama Hike at Sage Lodge. The guided hike takes place entirely on the property, and for lunch, you’ll be treated to the adventure of a picnic with llamas grazing nearby.
Eat + Drink: Come nightfall, cozy up for a drink, and Montana-inspired meal (all meat and produce are sourced from local farms) and at the Fireside Room in front of a crackling fire with Paradise Valley are your backdrop.
Collective Retreats Yellowstone
The luxuriously inclined camper will love the backcountry glamping experience and at Collective Retreats Yellowstone nestled in the Moonlight Basin of Big Sky Montana. Stay in chic summit style tents that come complete with an en-suite bathroom and rain shower, glam chandelier, wood-burning stove, private deck, and plush linen bedding.
Curated experience: The retreat is located just an hour from Yellowstone National Park and a few miles from the stunning Gallatin River, so there’s no shortage of pristine hiking trails, panoramic views, and outdoor adventures which the property will curate specifically to your desire.
Eat + Drink: Wake up each day to a complimentary breakfast of fresh scrambled eggs, house-made granola, and pancakes at the Three Peaks Lodge. In the evening the chef will curate a multi-course menu to be enjoyed outdoors under the stars.
Channel the old world cowboy charm at Bozeman
Wake up and get active in nature
The best of Montana’s untouched natural beauty should be experienced under the warmth of summer sun. Start your day with a hike, there are many trails within a few miles of downtown Bozeman that promise a scenic fix. And if you’re up for a mid-morning adrenaline rush with a view try a curated whitewater rafting experience by Get Your Guide. The guided raft trip by Collective Yellowstone leads you through the famous rapids of Gallatin Canyon. In between the high intensive adventure moments of pure adrenaline, there’s plenty of time to relax back and enjoy the scenery of Lone Mountain. Keep your eyes peeled to spot elk or bears on the shore.
Afternoon history exploration
Bozeman is a small charming town that’s home to just 50,000. Take a leisurely afternoon stroll on Main Street past the quaint shops and cute restaurants. Drop into Montana Honey Bee Company, a locally owned store specializing in natural gourmet honey of the edible and natural skincare variety. Next visit Meridian Boutique for a fashion fix. The high-end boutique has a carefully curated selection of contemporary pieces and luxe cashmere from established and up and coming brands like Cashmere360, Vince, Equipment, Smythe, and BlankNYC. For a dose of nostalgia make sure you pop into Cactus Records to view their impressive collection of 1970s vinyl records. When the urge for a caffeine pick-me up-strikes Treeline Coffee Roasters is the place. Rated the best coffee shop in Montana by Food & Wine Magazine, they’re well-known for their single-varietal coffee beans grown by female farmers in the tiny African country of Burundi.
A rustic culinary experience
A not-to-be-missed restaurant in Bozeman is The Emerson Grill and its wine bar next door The Emerson Grill North, an acclaimed neighborhood haunt serving home-style American and Italian fare. Upscale rustic with a romantic ambiance, the restaurant is outfitted with timber banquets, clay walls, maple flooring, high ceilings, a reclaimed steel bar, and outdoor patio shaded by trees for the stifling summer months. The menu is created using locally sourced and organic ingredients and the signature highlights are the bison skirt steak and handmade fettuccine bolognese. Wash it down with microbrewed regional and Italian beer or wine from their extensive selection.
The Most Memorable Montana Day Trips
Explore Palisade Falls
The scenic drive to the trailhead climbs through Hyalite Canyon and Hyalite Reservoir, which is only 25.3 miles from downtown Bozeman. One of the most popular kikes in the area, Palisade Falls is an iconic Bozeman experience. The 16.2-mile, out-and-back climbs 3,789 feet and is rated as difficult. Along the way, the trail follows a meandering stream and features several crossings, before entering a meadow section with an overlook to Hyalite Lake. Then the real work begins with an exposed, steep climb to the summit. The Hyalite Peak Trail is popular with hikers, trail runners, backpackers, and even horseback riders.
Experience the Old West at Livingston
If you want to spend the day losing yourself in Old World ambiance, swing east from Bozeman and take the 28-minute jaunt through Bozeman Pass, to Livingston, Montana. Nestled between the rugged Crazy and Absaroka mountain ranges on the banks of the Yellowstone River, the charming former railroad town founded in 1882 is home to artists, writers, ranchers, past and present. Poet and author Jim Harrison called it home and Jeff Bridges is a local. Main Street is lined with historic 19th-century brick buildings, but there’s more to downtown than just one street. There are several blocks littered with local shops, restaurants, and breweries ripe for exploration. One of our favorite places to dine in Livingston is Neptune’s Brewery, but the Rib and Chop House is also a classic that should not be missed. Wind down after a long day walking the town with a refreshing beer at Katabatic Brewing. And if you want to make a night out of it, head to The Murray Bar, Pine Creek Cafe and Lodge, and the Old Saloon in Emigrant for live music in this beautiful bustling little town on the Yellowstone River.
Tick Yellowstone National Park off your bucket list
The world-famous Yellowstone National Park is just an over an hour drive from Bozeman. The best way to truly experience Yellowstone’s most magical highlights is with an expert guide who will grant you insider access to off the beaten path sites. Book The West Yellowstone Tour to explore the eruption of the famous Old Faithful geyser, tour the Lower Loop with stops at various must-see points of interest and stand in awe as you take in the majesty of the Lower Falls in the Grand Canyon area.