The Pacific Northwest is home to large cities like Portland, Spokane, Seattle, and Tacoma. The main impression most people have of the region though is as a place to go where areas of little development or a lack of crowds can be enjoyed. Western Montana fits that bill perfectly. There are small cities there but they don’t block out the views of the pristine lakes, thick forests, mountain peaks, and many protected natural areas there. There are also some great historical sites to see when you travel through that part of the region.
Going to the Sun Road
Glacier National Park is one of the top attractions in Montana. It’s a little hard to get to, sitting way up near the Canadian border and off in the northwestern part of the state. When you go there, the main thing you have to make sure you experience is Going to the Sun Road. The best way to do this is to book passage on one of the park operated historic red bus tours. This means you don’t have to drive and it frees you up to safely soak in the scenery and even snap a few photos.
Old Montana Prison
To get up close and personal with a real feature leftover from Montana’s wild west days, venture on over to Deer Lodge and check out the Old Montana Prison. This is now a preserved historical site and museum that you can tour on your own or as part of a guided experience. From the looks of it, you will be shocked to know that it held prisoners as recently as the late 1970s. The prison began its run in 1871 and for over 100 years it isolated prisoners from Montana society. This really is something to see and experience. Places like this just won’t be around forever.
Thompson Falls Dam
Thompson Falls was established as a town in 1910. Today, it is a quaint small Montana town that delivers that perfect look at what small town life is like in the region. Thompson Falls Dam was built in 1915 and the water that backed up behind it largely submerged the system of waterfalls that the town was named for. The system of dams, four in total, is a very cool sight to see and there is a park right out in the middle of them that lets you enjoy the local scenery. Thompson Falls Dam is proof that small local sights of interest really can be hidden gems.
Lolo Pass sits southwest of the city of Missoula on US Highway 12. If you are traveling to or from Montana from the west and are looking for a more interesting route than what you will see driving on the freeway that is Interstate 90, try Highway 12 over Lolo Pass. This will lead you out of Montana, through Idaho, and get you into Washington in the southeastern corner of the state. Because the route is a little bit out of the way, Lolo Pass just isn’t taken by a great many travelers. It provides you with an interesting look though of the western slopes of the Rocky Mountains, the Bitterroot Mountain Range, and the valleys they give way too. The scenery of Lolo Pass is very unique and can be a real treat.
Wild Horse Island
Wild Horse Island is a state park in Western Montana that most people never get a chance to see. Wild Horse Island is the largest island in Flathead Lake and is entirely covered by state park land. You can visit there as part of a guided tour and learn about the island’s history. Long ago, the Salish-Kootenai Indians used Wild Horse Island as a place to pasture their horses so that they would not be stolen by other tribes. You can also visit there if you either have your own boat or have rented watercrat and are checking out the water of Flathead Lake. You can have fun right along the water’s edge or get out and explore the island via a good number of hiking trails there. A visit to Wild Horse Island is something you will remember for a very long time.