Known for precious gems, beautiful landscapes and its Wild West history, the Treasure State is aptly named. Student groups can pretend they are outlaws from Old West, interact with animals and explore abandoned mines as they journey throughout the state.
3 Museums Worth Visiting in Montana
Old Montana Prison Complex
Discover law in the Wild West at the Old Montana Prison Complex in Deer Lodge. The complex houses five museums inside the prison walls, including the Old Montana Prison, which was the first Territorial Prison in the western United States. Student groups can tour the maximum security cells and enclosed courtyard. The complex also offers tours to take groups on a ghost hunt around the facility.
Museum of the Rockies
Students can learn about the foundations of the United States by exploring everything from dinosaurs to colonization in the Museum of the Rockies. The museum houses one of the world’s largest collection of dinosaur fossils as well as dinosaur eggs, nests, and embryonic specimens. It also has a living history farm, where students can reenact what it was like to live the colonization period, and a planetarium, where student can learn about space.
C.M. Russell Museum
C.M. Russell was a cowboy, historian and artist in the early 20th century, and the C.M. Russell Museum in Great Falls is devoted to honoring his work. The museum’s collection spans the artist’s lifespan, including the artist’s home and studio, and student groups can be immersed in the art and life of Russell. The museum has a Discovery Gallery that provides an interactive space for students and features art activities, a fur-trade store, Indian Village and chuck wagon.
3 Tours to Check Out With Student Groups
Swan Mountain Llama Trekking
Located in Swan Lake, Swan Mountain Llama Trekking takes groups on day-long and overnight trips through Montana. Each member of a group gets paired up with a llama to help them make their way down trails through the Swan and Mission Mountain Ranges. Every group is led by a guide who educates on the flora and fauna of the region.
World Mining Museum
Dedicated to preserving a segment of American history, the World Mining Museum in Butte features an inactive silver and zinc mine named the Orphan Girl and many exhibits on the history of mining. The museum offers an underground tour that takes students on an adventure back in time as they are lowered 65 feet down into the 2,700-foot-deep Orphan Girl Mine and learn about how silver was once mined from its depths. Student groups can also pan for garnet to bring home with them.
Big Sky Resort’s Adventure Zipline Tour
Fly through trees and mountains with Big Sky Resort’s Zipline Tour. Begin with a whitewater rafting trip down the Gallatin River before harnessing up and racing down mountains on a zipline that hovers above the forest floor. Groups can also opt for a nature tour that begins with a 20-minute hike up Lone Mountain and consists of three ziplines, each showing a new aspect of the ecology of the mountains.
3 Nature Parks
Makoshika State Park
Montana’s largest state park, Makoshika State Park in Glendive, has everything from an archery site to a dinosaur trail. The visitors center houses interpretive exhibits featuring findings like the fossil remains of a triceratops and a tyrannosaurus rex. The park also boasts of scenic hiking trails and an outdoor amphitheater.
Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center
Students can learn about wolves and bears at Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone. Guided tours lead groups through the nonprofit, wildlife center and help students discover how animals interact with one another and survive in the wild. Students observe how the wolves socialize with their pack members and learn about grizzly bear eating habits by accompanying the naturalist into the bear habitat to hide food for the bears. The center also features birds of prey, such as hawks and eagles.
Glacier National Park
Not only does Glacier National Park in West Glacier have forests, meadows, mountains and lakes, but it also has Native American and early settler history. Ranger-led tours show the wildlife and ecology of the park with hikes, scavenger hunts and establish research plots to collect plant-life data. Groups feeling adventurous can go for a whitewater rafting tour through the park with Glacier Guides Montana Raft.
By Sara Stokes