Upon making reservations, it was important to me to find a shady spot for us to beat the heat. Luckily, a spot in Libby, Montana was available. As it turns out, we couldn't get enough of the area, so one week turned into two.
This trip was our first time in this state, and we were floored by its beauty. Crystal clear water, soaring bald eagles, and even roaming deer surrounded us in the magnificent state of Montana.
The city of Libby is small, but it has everything you need. Also, if you have the time, Yaak, Montana's only rainforest, is about an hour away. It's definitely worth a visit.
Things to Do Around Libby:
- Libby Dam
- Kootenai Falls and Swinging Bridge
- Yaak Area National Forest
- Smoking Gun BBQ
Our Average Cost Per Night: $47.00
Thompson Falls, MT
The city of Thompson Falls is small and quaint.
There isn't much happening, and I suspect that is just how they like it. The locals know each other by name. Even though I was an outsider, it was very easy to feel the warm welcome of Thomspon Falls.
Our RV Park also came with its own private beach. Just a quarter mile down the road was a state park. It was super easy to occupy our time. I even spotted my very first wolf track! Our stay was short and sweet. Thank you, Thompson Falls. I look forward to passing through again.
Things to Do in Thompson Falls:
- Thompson Falls State Park
Our Average Cost Per Night: $49.00
Hungry Horse, MT
With Glacier National Park just 13 miles away, we took the opportunity to visit Hungry Horse.
The city of Hungry Horse itself is quite small. When we arrived, there were wildfires nearby, but this didn't hinder the community spirit. There are a quite a few local gift shops where you will often find all things huckleberry.
Its local attraction, the Hungry Horse Dam, provided stunning views. There is a small visitor center with knowledgeable staff, and whether you drive, walk, or bike across the dam, you'll find plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy.
Just a short drive away is the town of White Fish. This city definitely reminded me of Flagstaff, AZ. Even in the summer, this small town ski village packs a lot of excitement and is absolutely worth a visit.
Things to Do Around Hungry Horse:
- Hungry Horse Dam
- White Fish Farmers Market
- Columbia Falls Downtown
- Piggyback BBQ, White Fish
Our Average Cost Per Night: $97.20
Glacier National Park
To my surprise, Glacier National Park would be somewhat of a disappointment.
Upon entering the park, it does feel like you're entering Disneyland. There's excitement in the air, a long line to the entrance, and people jumping out of their cars to take pictures. What we didn't know was that you must have a vehicle pass in order to enter. It was either that option or arrive before 6am or after 3pm. For $2, you can purchase these passes online, but they are usually sold out within an hour of being released. Day 1 Glacier Adventure: had to turn around and go home. Oh well, lesson learned.
Two days later, we finally arrived with everything needed to enter the park. We ventured on an early weekday morning, and it still felt overrun with tourists from around the world. I did get some great pictures, and saw some breath-taking views, but there wasn't too much available in the form of education. All the visitor centers and informational pullouts were uncomfortably packed, so I walked away without learning one new thing about this national park.
Overall, I'm happy to say I have been there, but I'm not sure if I will ever return again. My favorite part of it all? The picture I snapped of the chipmunk.
My tip: Check and see if a vehicle pass is required. They are released at 8am just before your desired visiting date. They sell out really fast, so be sure to snag yours right at 8am.
Things to Do in GNP:
- Going to the Sun Road
Our Cost for Visiting: $40
Great Falls, MT
The city of Great Falls was our last stop in beautiful Montana. It was a bittersweet goodbye, but we don't see ourselves calling this beautiful state our home.
Known as one of the bigger cities in Montana, Great Falls has plenty of activities to occupy your time. Growing up in the Bay Area, I noticed that this "big city" lacked the towering skyscrapers I personally associate with that term. Other than that, it does have all the big city amenities, including beautiful, well-landscaped parks, a well-preserved historic district, diverse museums, and even breathtaking landmarks.
Its best attraction was the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail Interpretive Center. There, you'll find a beautiful and informative museum that teaches all about their journey across America. What I found most interesting was learning about Lewis' mysterious death. After this grand journey, documenting, and exploring, it is assumed that he tragically took his life due to depression...or did he?
Another great thing about this Interpretive Center is that your journey doesn't end at this building. They offer you a map that will take you on a tour across Great Falls, leading you to all its major landmarks. If you're considering going, which I highly recommend, try going before Labor Day. Why? Well, because the Ryan Dam and its beautiful picnic area closes for the season after that holiday. If you go after, though, there will still be plenty to see. My absolute favorites were the Giant Springs and the Black Eagle Dam. The Giant Springs are a great place for a picnic with a stunning view. It even offers a small Trout Hatchery with show ponds where you can view and feed the fish. The Black Eagle Dam is unique. On your way there, you'll see a stunning overlook, then take a short drive and a short walk right up to its powerful falls.
Great Falls was a great stop and a beautiful farewell to Montana. I look forward to revisiting one day.
Things to Do Around Great Falls:
- Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail Interpretive Center
- Gibson Park
- C.M. Russell Museum
- Paris Gibson Museum of Art
- Smoked BBQ
Our Average Cost Per Night: $70