Montana: Big Sky Country

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Unspoiled natural places, authentic cultural experiences and distinctive communities draw travelers from around the world to America’s “last great place” ; Montana.

Here are five ideas to jump start your plan to visit Big Sky country:

1. Visit your national parks.  With Yellowstone to the south and Glacier National Park on the northern border, this Big Sky state offers the perfect launching point to explore two of our national treasures. Visit stops along the Lewis and Clark trail while you’re at it.

2. Colorful history.  Take a stroll back in time as you observe remarkable living history demonstrations, dine in century-old structures, enjoy ice cream in an old-fashioned parlor, and ponder tales of ghosts said to drift along the boarded sidewalks in Virginia City and Nevada City. City tours via fire engine trolley, carriage rides and a follies stage show make for a vintage flavored getaway.

3. Arts abound.  Helena, the state’s capital city with a rich mining history, is designated one of the country’s best small arts towns. The Montana Historical Society, founded in 1865, houses one of the country's most important collections of Charles M. Russell art as well as the work of  noted frontier photographer F. Jay Haynes. Don’t miss the Archie Bray Foundation, established in 1951 on the site of a brick factory. Tour the studios and grounds of this unique endeavor in the ceramic arts that attracts artists from around the world.  Ask about summer programs for adults and children.

 4. Big Sky bonanza.  Nestled in meadows and surrounded by forestland, Big Sky is an outdoor lover’s paradise.  A year round playground, this mountain town is home to Big Sky and Moonlight Basin ski resorts as well as fishing, mountain biking, golf, and rafting just to get the list started. Hiking is popular in the nearby Lee Metcalf Spanish Peaks Wilderness.

5. Cowboy up.  Attend a rodeo, stay at a guest ranch, participate in a round up. Ride horses into the hills, visit a stock yards. Throughout Montana, you’ll enjoy the chance to see real cowboys at work and learn about the rich culture that provides a time tested and colorful strand in our national tapestry.

Resource: The state’s official tourism web site provides trip planning tools, links to additional information (including all destinations and activities mentioned above ) and a special section just for kids. Contact: www.VisitMt.com; 1( 800 )847-4868.

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