Editors' Picks: 20 of the Best Things to Do in Montana!

Montana's name derives from the Spanish word for "mountain" - and it is undoubtedly one of the wildest, most rugged states in America. It's home to the largest population of grizzly bears in the "lower 48," a thriving cowboy culture and some of the most breathtaking terrain anywhere (43 state parks and 25 scenic drives).

The Treasure State is where Custer made his last stand at Little Bighorn, where buffalo still roam, and where Hollywood icons Gary Cooper and Myrna Loy were born.

If you're feeling adventurous, check out our list of 20 of the coolest things to do in Big Sky country.

1. Miles City Bucking Horse Sale

For over 50 years, folks have come to have a gander at the best "bucking horses," many of whom will become legends on the national rodeo circuit - and to watch some serious cowboy action as they give 'em a test-drive. It's a whole lot of ornery fun. (Miles City)

2. Museum Of The Rockies

They have an exceptionally large collection of dinosaurs - but visitors are surprised at their excellent planetarium, exhibits on Native peoples and more. No surprise, because its affiliated with the Smithsonian. (Bozeman)

3. Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center

It was opened as a sanctuary for wild animals that were either orphaned or too comfortable around humans. You'll have an incredible chance to watch grizzly bears, wolves and more in a natural setting, foraging for food, playing and, in the case of the wolves, howling in packs. (West Yellowstone)

4. Ringing Rocks

In several places in the world, there are unique geologic formations that "chime" when you tap them with a mallet or wrench. Butte is home to one of these strange piles. Have a whack and hear them "sing."

5. Greycliff Prairie Dog Town State Park

Who doesn't love these little guys? Within these 98 acres, you can observe prairie dogs as they pop out of their burrows and go about their day. (Greycliff)

6. Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument

During two days in June of 1876, the Army's 7th Cavalry (including Lt. Col. George Custer) faced thousands of Lakota and Cheyenne. This somber area memorializes one of the iconic moments of American history.

7. Drive The Going-to-the-Sun Road

This spectacular 52-mile highway winds through Glacier National Park, and features many places to pull over and take in amazing scenery. There are also opportunities for hiking.

8. Hike Ousel Falls

You reach these lovely falls via an easy 15-minute walk, which offers lots of chances to stop for gorgeous photo ops. Take your time - and take your camera! (Big Sky area)

9. Pictograph Cave

There are actually three caves, covered in illustrations drawn by Native Americans over 9,000 years. Fascinating and beautiful. (Billings)

10. Augusta American Legion Rodeo

Held every summer since 1937, it's one of the biggest one-day rodeo events in the state - and is considered a major attraction. Yee-haw! (Augusta)

11. The Annual Bison Roundup

Outside of the bald eagle, is there any other animal more associated with America than the bison? Once numbering as low as 100, the bison has rebounded thanks to aggressive conservation efforts. The roundup is a way to check the health of the herd. (Moiese)

12. Yellowstone

America's first national park is one of the most popular attractions in the world, stretching across three states (Montana being one of them). There are plenty of places at the Montana entrance to hike, take in some amazing views or just have a leisurely picnic.

13. Visit An Authentic Ghost Town

Bannack State Park has done a great job of restoring and preserving one of Montana's earliest towns - now deserted. There are 60-some buildings that will give you a taste of life back in the state's gold rush days. (Dillon)

14. The World Museum of Mining

It's a fantastic look at Montana's mining history, with the most popular part being an underground mine tour. (Butte)

15. Hike The Highline Trail

Inside Glacier National Park is this challenging - yet rewarding - trail that in some places, ascends nearly 1,000 feet over less than half a mile. But the views are astonishing. So if you're up to it, put it on your bucket list.

16. Winter Sports in Big Sky

The Big Sky resort is one of the hot destinations in the state for all things snow-related (snowfall is about 400 inches per year). The skiing is simply off the hook.

17. Ride A Fat Bike

Fat bikes - with their big tires that make it easier to ride over snow - are becoming a favorite way to explore the winter landscape. The beautiful Flathead Valley is a popular location for this fast-growing sport.

18. C.M. Russell Museum

Charles M. Russell is known as America's "Cowboy Artist" - and this fantastic museum features a huge collection of his paintings and artifacts. You can also check out the log cabin that served as his studio. (Great Falls)

19. Do Some Dog Sledding

Take a dog-sledding tour. There are numerous outfits in the Whitefish area that let you either sit back and enjoy the view - or try your hand at leading the team.

20. Take A Brewery Tour

Warm up at any one of the many different craft breweries popping up throughout the state. A tour is just the thing to sample a wide variety of artisan brewers.

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