Often overlooked for more cosmopolitan and well-known US destinations, the state of Montana is a hidden gem with plenty of beauty and charm for travelers to enjoy and explore. Spending the summer in southwest, Montana has been quite the adventure and has opened my eyes to all that the area has to offer.
Any journey to this region starts with a flight in a remarkably small plane to the rustic lodge-like Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport. Walking off the plane feels like entering into the wild west.
Bozeman is very much a vibrant and charming city that is home to trendy restaurants, excellent secondhand shopping, and great outdoor activities. As a university city with a booming population, Bozeman is a centre of arts and culture where there is always something to do. If for some reason you do get bored, head just half an hour from the city in the summer to Hyalite Reservoir for camping and fishing and half an hour in the opposite direction in the winter to Bridger Bowl for some of the best skiing in the state.
Located forty minutes from Bozeman in the Paradise Valley is the town of Livingston. This town of only 7,000 is surprisingly lively. The small town centre is populated by old-fashioned brick buildings decorated with retro neon signs that give the feeling of traveling back in time. While it is quaint, it is also home to great food, locally brewed beer, and plenty of entertainment. There is also a high concentration of art galleries, which gives some added sophistication to the town. Its location in the Paradise Valley has attracted quite a few celebrities to the area, most notably John Mayer. The valley’s natural beauty and proximity to Yellowstone allows for a unique experience.
Not far from Livingston is the northern entrance to Yellowstone National Park, the oldest national park in the US. There is something for everyone in Yellowstone. You can raft down the Yellowstone River rapids. You can explore the geyser basins that resemble alien landscapes with bright, almost unearthly colored hot springs and impressive geyser eruptions. You can embark on a myriad of scenic hikes or you can gaze at the impressive wildlife that can cause traffic jams that could rival rush hour in any big city. Whether you prefer staying in a hotel or camping in a tent, there are accommodations for everyone. No trip to Montana is ever truly complete without a detour through Yellowstone.
Along with all its attractions, Montana is home to some of the most kind and welcoming people. It is also home to a diverse group, especially during the summer, when young people from all over the world come to work at local ranches, parks, and resorts. It’s not the first place you would expect to find so many people from all over the world, but once you’ve been there, you can understand why. With all that it has to offer, Montana should really be on every list of travel destinations you must visit.