Big Sky, Montana

13 Most Beautiful Small Towns In Montana

Bordering Canada, the scenic northern state of Montana is rich in history and opportunities to engage in explorative outings. The mountainous region is full of natural escapes that are easily accessible from the vantage points of these beautiful small towns, each shining brightly with their own personalities. 


Historic centre of Livingston near Yellowstone National Park. Editorial credit: Nick Fox /

This small town is big on adventures, whether one chooses to spend a beautiful day out relaxing at the lake of the Sacajawea Park, or engage in a scenic hike along the Pine Creek to a rushing waterfall. Nestled in south-western Montana, there are many ranches around calling to out to visitors, as well as the famed lush tree canopies-lined roadways for scenic bike rides. The town is also bliss for culture and art fans, with the Yellowstone Gateway Museum as an attraction for the whole family, or viewing concerts and shows from the grassy plains around. 

Big Timber

Big Timber, Montana
Big Timber, a small Montana town located off of I-90, has a sign welcoming visitors and residents to town.

Located in southeast Montana, the deep history of Big Timber, roots back to the Northern Pacific Railway. From the namesake creek, to the Boulder River that is great for fishing and relaxing, to the scenic Crazy Mountains that define the backdrop of the town, nature is definitely its biggest attribute. The Custer Gallatin National Forest, the Natural Bridge Falls and Recreation Area with the roaring Big Timber Falls, and the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness provide a perfect opportunity for adventure hikes, explorative outings, and relaxation. 

Big Sky

Big Sky, Montana
Big Sky, Montana.

The tri-composition of Big Sky is unique to other small towns in the region, with each area having its own beautiful terrain on display. The meadow is part of a scenic alpine valley slowly transitioning into the mountain area with the Big Sky Resort and the Nordic trails of the Lone Mountain Ranch. The Gallatin River flows through the third section of the town, the craggy canyon, where people head for kayaking, white water rafting, and the ample of trout to catch. The Gallatin National Forest with numerous campsites allows one to observe wildlife, such as elk and deer, with the Yellowstone National Park just 15 miles away.  


Anaconda montana
Anaconda Smelter Stack in Montana is the tallest survivng masonry building in the world.

Not only does the town of Anaconda make the perfect postcard for the state, but cradled by Mother Nature, its downtown has a soothing aura, with calming trails around, for a truly relaxing visit. There are many outdoor excursions offered for an organized trip, but one cannot go wrong spending days-on at the beloved, shimmering Georgetown Lake while picnicking on the banks, or viewing lovely sunsets, graced by mountains in the background. The town's unique character also shines with many festivals, and the Washoe Theater with concerts and shows.


The Teton River with Ear Mountain in autumn at sunrise near Choteau, Montana, USA.

The atmospheric mountain town of Chateau within the Rockies seems to have done the impossible by having all of the big city draws in its tiny perimeter, but void of hassle, for a calming experience with a charming exterior. Affectionately named the "Front Porch of the Rockies", the beautiful landscape spread from the Flathead National Forest, to the Glacier National Park. More extraordinary sights can be obtained at the Dropstone Outfitting and the Freezeout Lake Choteau, while archaeology types would love to view the maiasaura-type fossil discovered in the nearby Egg Mountain, in a 3D display at the Old Trail Museum. 

Fort Benton

Set on the western bank of the Missouri River in the Chouteau County, the humble and authentic town is big on the American Western Frontier history, presenting it in a beautifully memorable way. Considered the birthplace of Montana as a fur trade center in Upper Missouri in 1846, one can become immersed in the old charms by walking along the steamboat levee, the streets lined with old buildings, and the ruins of Historic Fort Benton. The Museum of the Northern Great Plains also offers fine exhibits, while the Missouri Breaks Interpretive Center is set by the river for a cool history lesson of the local nature and culture. 


Hamilton, Montana
Hamilton, Montana, USA.

The large town of Hamilton is set within a beautiful adventure corridor of the region. Part of the lovely Bitterroot Valley, right off Highway 93 between Missoula and Idaho, tourists love to make a pit stop in this atmospheric town, or wander in, while based at one of the many campgrounds in the vicinity. Many hikers along the forest line, or those conquering major hiking trails, such as the Trapper Trail, one of the state's best, also like to visit the unique downtown area with character and historic charm, or get the insights into the culture at the Daly Mansion. 


Helena, Montana
Drone view of the Montana State Capitol, in Helena, on a sunny afternoon.

Part of the Lewis and Clark County set on the Missouri River, Helena is situated at the eastern foot of the Continental Divide at an elevation of 3,955 feet (1,205 metres), scenically back-dropped by two giants, Mount Helena at 5,462 feet (1,665 metres) and Mount Ascension at 5,360 feet 1,634 metres). The town benefits magnificently from its Prickly Pear Valley location, with the virile soils, and the surrounding rolling hills and lofty mountains attracting countless tourists. As a former ground for occasional hunting parties for the Natives, Helena today, is a mecca of agriculture and livestock, and the headquarters of the Helena National Forest, with the capitol building surmounted by a reproduction of the Statue of Liberty. 


Kootenay River near Libby
Kootenai River near Libby.

Part of the Lincoln County, Libby is a laid-back country town sitting within an unbelievable mountain terrain, with the jugged banks of the meandering Kootenay River in the backdrop that also passes through town for a quick dip on a hot summer's day. The Kootenai National Forest is great for hikers, with the Kootenai Falls just outside of town and a suspension bridge to linger on. Those in search for epic adventures would find one in the 94,000 acres of the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness Area to go exploring or backpacking.


Philipsburg, Montana.

Sat alongside the Pintler Veteran's Memorial Scenic Highway in southwest Montana, Phillipsburg is fifteen minutes away from the sparkling waters of Georgetown Lake to the south. Surrounded on all sides by the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, there are hiking trails, ski areas, and hot springs. The town is a must stop-over not only for the memorable vistas, but for being a harvest ground with unique resources. Having aided in establishing the town in the 1800s, the sapphire-embedded lodes are still abundant today, with visitors stocking-up on their own beauty charms at gem shops, and learning about the history of the Sapphire Country's prosperity.


Polson on a sunny day.

Set in the Lake County of northern Montana, Polson is the best place to see the beautiful rugged nature, as well as explore bits of Native American history, being part of the Flathead Indian Reservation. As a small lakeside town overlooking the south shore of the Flathead Lake, it has also become a base for recreational activities, such as diving, swimming, and any types of watercraft, with mesmerizing vistas. Its fertile ground makes it a trade center for cherries, also on the stands at its cute farmer's market, while the Wild Horse Island State Park is a fun place to explore with the whole family. 

West Yellowstone

West Yellowstone
West Yellowstone. Editorial credit: Matthew Thomas Allen /

The closest small town to the Yellowstone National Park, bordering it alongside the Madison River, it attains some of the magnificent natural features of the latter. As a basecamp to visitors, the town is made beautiful by the locals that also developed tons of amenities for a memorable pastime, including art galleries, and events like bluegrass festivals and farmers markets. The active would revel in the easy access to some of the best white water in Montana, for rafting and kayaking. During winter, the town's Rendezvous Ski Trails offers 35 kilometers of well-groomed cross-country ski trails.


Whitefish, Montana
Whitefish, Montana.

Set in the far north of Montana, Whitefish is the west entrance to the Glacier National Park, and is a town with a lot of vivre for some 8,000 residents, but times as many tourists that head its way to experience the rugged beauty of the northern state. The town's biggest appeal is the acclaimed Whitefish Mountain Resort, with over 3,000 acres of skiable terrain. For outdoorsy types, there is also an easy access to Flathead Lake to the south, as well as the surrounding Flathead National Forest.

It is no wonder, that so many of these smaller towns have such dominating names, well-representative of their grandeur vistas. Back-dropped by gorgeous peaks, these towns have successfully preserved their roots, while advancing towards modernity, to provide its visitors the best of the both worlds in the most unbelievable settings of the country. 


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