Official State Travel Site



general Montana is a vast and varied state of mountains, canyons, river valleys, forests, grassy plains, badlands and caverns. Its Big Sky covers a land area of more than 147,000 square miles, making Montana the fourth largest state in the nation. In area, it can accommodate Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania and New York, and still have room for the District of Columbia. Yet, Montana's population is just 917,621 (2003 estimate), making it the sixth least-populated state. Charming small towns, as well as historic cities, serve as gateways to Montana's natural wonders. There are fewer people living in the entire state of Montana than in the city of Phoenix. In Montana, there is room to breathe. And nowhere is the air fresher.


climateGenerally, Montana's weather is milder than many visitors might expect. After hearing about record low temperatures from some of our more notorious recording stations, like West Yellowstone and Cut Bank, some nonresidents think of Montana as an icebox. Unlike many areas of the nation, however, where winter settles in for keeps, Montana's cold spells are frequently interrupted by Chinook winds and mild periods.

The beauty of Montana's weather system is that whether it is hot or cold, Montana is dry, not humid, and, therefore, neither oppressively hot nor oppressively cold. Average annual precipitation is 15 inches, varying from 9.69 to more than 100 inches. Average daytime temperatures vary from 28 degrees in January to 84.5 degrees in July.

Sales Tax and Accommodations Tax

climateAs of the print date of this publication, Montana is one of only five states without a sales tax. The four-percent accommodations tax, or "bed tax" levied in the state provides the sole funding for tourism promotion efforts in Montana. (An additional 3% selective use tax is also levied on the cost of accommodation for a total tax of 7%.) Some communities have adopted a local "resort" tax.

Wildlife Watching

wildlifeMontana's magnificent wildlife; birds, mammals, fish, reptiles and amphibians are a part of Montana's heritage. You'll find them in marshlands, mountains, prairies and even in our urban communities. Montana is home to nearly 1,000 species of animals. Populations of elk, deer and pronghorn alone outnumber Montana's citizens. With a pair of binoculars and a healthy appreciation of living things, you can discover the diversity of wildlife that calls Montana home.

Montana's Watchable Wildlife Program promotes the conservation of fish and wildlife and their habitats through enhanced public understanding, viewing and appreciation of Montana's wildlife heritage.

Sites offering particularly noteworthy wildlife viewing opportunities are marked all across the state; just look for the brown and white "binocular" signs. Experts say the best time to see wildlife is right at dawn or dusk. A companion viewing guide, Wildlife Viewing Guide of Montana, that provides details about every Watchable Wildlife stop in Montana is available in bookstores.

Famous Firsts for Montana


Yellowstone National Park is the world's first national park.

Glacier National Park is the world's first international peace park, shared with Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta, Canada.

Janette Rankin, in 1916, was the first women elected into the U.S. House of Representatives.

Montana's first major gold strike occurred at Bannack on July 28, 1862.

Montana's first Territorial Capital was Bannack in 1864.

Fort Peck Dam in eastern Montana is the largest hydraulically earth filled dam in the world. The dam's spillgates were the first cover photos for Life magazine.

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