Montana is situated in the northwestern United States, in the Rocky Mountains region. The weather in Montana is typically unpredictable, with unseasonal cold (or warm) conditions possible at any time of the year. Montana has impressive mountains, national parks and scenery, historic American Indian sites and battlefields. Points of interests include the Glacier National Park, the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, and three of the five entrances to the enormous Yellowstone National Park. To travel around the state, book a bus or train ticket. As Montana is a large state, you will need to rent a car to get around and explore most of it. For additional attractions and points-of-interest, follow the link: visitmt.com.
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Garnet Ghost Town. Photo via Flickr.
Add some local history to your cultural exchange experience by visiting a nearby historical site or tourist attraction when living and working in the U.S.
Garnet Ghost Town was once a thriving mining town in the late 19th century, but it was abandoned after gold mining declines. Visitors can now see over 30 historic buildings and take self-guided tours of the area. Garnet is located in central Montana near Missoula.
The Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site in Deer Lodge focuses on cowboys and their role in American history. Guided tours, daily events and outdoor activities like trail walks, wagon tours, cowboy talks, blacksmith talks and tours of the ranch house.
Little Bighorn Battlefield commemorates an important battle in American history, the Battle of Little Bighorn, when Sioux and Cheyenne tribes defeated U.S. troops and fought against the expansion of the U.S. onto Native American land in June 1876. Today visitors can watch an informational video, see museum exhibits, visit the Indian Memorial, take a self-guided walking tour of the area’s nature trails, or take a driving tour of historic sites from the battle.
The Miracle of America Museum has an eclectic selection of artifacts from American history, including artwork, military displays, motorcycles and the biggest buffalo ever recorded in Montana. The museum is located two miles south of Polson and is opened year round.
The Museum of the Rockies at Montana State University in Bozeman has an impressive collection of dinosaur fossils, exhibits on Indians and local history, a planetarium, and a living history farm.
Pompey’s Pillar National Monument is a rock pillar in southern Montana that contains an inscription from William Clark of the famous Lewis and Clark expedition. Native American petroglyphs are also visible on the pillar. The monument is located about 25 miles east of Billings, the largest city in Montana.
The Yellowstone Wildlife Sanctuary is home to many native Montana animals that have been injured or cannot be returned to the wild. Visitors can see over 60 animals, including bobcats, bison, black bears, mountain lions, coyotes, eagles and owls when visiting the sanctuary in Red Lodge.
- Bittercreek Outfitters Trail Rides
- Gates of the Mountain Boat Tours
- Glacier Park Boat Tours
- Last Chance Ranch Wagon Rides
- Montana Whitewater Rafting and Ziplines
- Windsinger Sailing Adventures
- Montana Tourism
- Helena – Montana’s Capital
- Montana’s Cultural Treasures
- Visit Billings
- The Digital Nomad - Montana
The United States offers a wide variety of cultural learning opportunities through the arts. Dance, music, theater, opera, art museums and festivals are just some of the options available to international visitors who wish to experience the U.S. and its culture.
Art & Cultural Museums
- Bigfort Museum of Art & History, Bigfork
- C.M. Russell Museum, Great Falls
- Hockaday Museum of Art, Kalispell
- Holter Museum of Art, Helena
- Lewistown Art Center, Lewistown
- Missoula Art Museum, Missoula
- MonDak Heritage Center, Sidney
- Montana Museum of Art & Culture, University of Montana, Missoula
- Paris Gibson Square Museum of Art, Great Falls
- Stumptown Art Studio, Whitefish
- Yellowstone Art Museum, Billings
- Albert Bair Theater, Billings
- Ballet Montana, Helena
- Bigfork Summer Playhouse, Bigfork
- Bozeman Symphony, Bozeman
- Grand Street Theatre, Helena
- Intermountain Opera Bozeman, Bozeman
- Montana Actors’ Theatre, Great Falls
- Montana Repertory Theatre, University of Montana, Missoula
Bobcat Stadium. Photo by BelgradeBobcat.
Many Americans are passionate about sports – and not just baseball and football! Get a glimpse into this part of American culture by watching or participating in a favorite U.S. sport or recreational activity in your local area.
Montana has no professional sports teams due its small and scattered population, but international visitors can watch American sports at college games or minor league sporting events.
Montana State University and University of Montana are sports rivals, but there are several other colleges with sports programs in Montana. Examples of athletic programs at colleges and universities include:
- Battlin’ Bears, Rocky Mountain College
- Carroll Fighting Saints, Carroll College
- Montana State Bobcats, Montana State University
- Montana Grizzlies, University of Montana
- UGF Argos, University of Great Falls
Minor League Sports
- Billings Bulls (hockey)
- Billings Mustangs (baseball)
- Bozeman Icedogs (hockey)
- Great Falls Voyagers (baseball)
- Helena Bighorns (hockey)
- Helena Brewers (baseball)
- Missoula Maulers (hockey)
- Missoula Osprey (baseball)
The United States is home to a variety of landscapes and climates to suit all types of outdoor activities. The courageous traveler can find extreme sports and outdoor adventure tours, while others may want to keep both feet on the ground in a national park or forest. Whatever your interests, take advantage of the many outdoor activities available during your time in the United States.
Glacier National Park includes two mountain ranges, over 130 lakes, 700 miles of trails and over a million acres of forests, meadows, peaks and valleys, and almost 70 species of mammals, including wolves and grizzly bears. Hiking, cross-country skiing, horseback riding, camping and rafting are available in the park. Tours of the park in “Red Jammer” tour buses or on guided hikes are also available.
Parks in the Billings area offer many outdoor activities, including basketball, soccer, baseball, tennis, swimming and jogging. Search for a park and nearby recreation on the Parks and Recreation website.
Ski Montana offers information on the many ski and snowboard resorts, cross-country skiing trails, and snowmobiling trails available in Montana, including resorts with inexpensive lift tickets.
Yellowstone, the first national park in the United States, is a must-see. The park is located in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming and offers many outdoor activities and sightseeing opportunities for international visitors, such as camping, biking, boating, horseback riding, fishing, hiking and much more. Waterfalls, geysers (like Old Faithful), hot springs and the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone are some of the top natural attractions at the park.
American Bison. Photo by Jack Dykinga.
One of the best ways to experience cultural exchange is through food and cooking. Visitors will enjoy exploring the regional specialties and local cuisine during their time in the United States.
There are more livestock than people in Montana, so meat is common in Montana cuisine, such as beef, chicken, lamb and hogs. Big game like bison, elk and venison (deer), plus fresh fish like trout and walleye are also popular. Montanan cuisine has also been influenced by its ethnic heritage, which includes German, Scandinavian, Irish, English and Native American groups.
Find fresh produce, like huckleberries, at a local farmers’ market in Montana. Handmade goods are also often sold at these community markets.
- Wine and Food Festival, Great Falls, March
- Taste of Bigfork, Bigfork, April
- MSU-Billings Wine & Food Festival, Billings, May
- Whoop-Up Days & Rhubarb Festival, Conrad, June
- Strawberry Festival, Billings, June
- Bite of Bozeman, Bozeman, July
- Huckleberry Festival, Trout Creek, August
For a unique and local perspective on American culture, be sure to check out festivals and events near your cultural exchange program location. These events are a fun and interesting way to interact with locals and to learn more about American culture by experiencing it firsthand.
The Big Sky Documentary Film Festival in Missoula focuses on non-fiction films from both American and international filmmakers. About 125 films are shown during the festival and over 75 artists attend the festival. Panel discussions, workshops and other events are also held during the February event.
The Red Lodge Winter Carnival in March celebrates skiing and all things winter with events like live concerts, funny contests and much more. The event is held at Red Lodge Mountain Resort in Red Lodge, Montana.
The Big Sky Big Grass Festival takes place each winter at the Big Sky Resort in Montana. This bluegrass festival offers a great taste of American music culture, as it highlights some of the country's greatest bluegrass musicians.
Watch international kayakers race on the “Wild Mile” of Swan River at the Bigfork Whitewater Festival in May. Entertainment is also available in the town during the festival.
Hot Springs Homesteader Days in June celebrates Montana’s homestead heritage with arts and crafts, sports events, food, a two-day rodeo and other family events in Hot Springs, MT.
The Montana Folk Festival is a free outdoor music festival in Butte, Montana when over 250 artists perform for three days in July. Arts and crafts, ethnic foods, food vendors, art demonstrations and workshops and other events are also available during the festival.
Summerfair is the largest arts and crafts festival in the region. The event is hosted by the Yellowstone Art Museum and attracts over 10,000 people each year in July. Artists, food vendors, community groups and family activities are available at the two-day event near Billings.
Livington Summerfest is an outdoor music festival held in Livingston at Sacajawea Park along the Yellowstone River. The event lasts for three days and also includes arts and crafts, food, kids’ activities and other fun events.
Employers may be able to assist with housing during your time in the United States, but this is not always possible for all participants. When looking for housing during your cultural exchange program, consider the cost of the accommodation, the distance to your work place and the amount of time you will be in the United States.
It's also important to avoid fraudulent housing. It is highly recommended that you secure short-term housing upon arrival (e.g. in a hostel) and conduct your housing search once you are in the U.S. Never give your financial information to a stranger over the Internet. Browse the Housing Information guides for InterExchange participants below for more tips and advice.
General Housing Information
- Housing information for Work and Travel USA participants
- Housing information for Career Training USA interns and trainees
Montana Housing Resources
Some examples of housing and accommodation resources for Montana participants include:
- Craigslist - Montana
- American Homestay Agency
- Hostelling International
Public transportation options can be hit or miss, depending on your location in the United States. Buses are a common transportation option for short and long-term travel in the U.S., while some areas will also have trains, subways and other options.
Public Transit Systems
There are several public transit systems in urban areas of Montana:
Visit the Montana Department of Transportation for or a complete list of public transportation options in rural communities in Montana.
The following bus companies operate in Montana and to other locations in the United States:
- Greyhound – connects to a nationwide system
- Northern Transit – Shelby to Great Falls
- Rimrock Trailways – Montana and North Dakota
- Salt Lake Express – Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and Utah
Amtrak’s Empire Builder train travels to many stops in northern Montana, including Whitefish, East Glacier Park, Shelby, Malta and others.
Participants in Montana can use the following resources in case of an emergency or extreme weather event in their area:
Emergency Management Agencies
- Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA): www.fema.gov and www.ready.gov
- Montana FEMA updates: @femaregion8
- National Weather Service
- Weather – Billings and Southern Montana
- Weather – Glasgow and Northeastern Montana
- Weather – Great Falls and Central Montana
- Weather – Missoula and Western Montana
Interact with others and expand your skill set by volunteering in your local community. Volunteer organizations are often looking for short-term volunteers or for individuals to help with a single event, making it a great option for InterExchange participants who wish to add to their cultural exchange experience during their time in the United States.
The Montana Food Bank Network asks volunteers to repackage food, sort through donations, help out at special events and help in the office. Both individuals and groups are welcome to sign up.
Build Montana provides volunteer resources and helps groups and individuals find the right volunteer opportunity based on location, interest and availability. One-time, ongoing and full time positions are available.
The Western Montana Volunteer Center allows volunteers to find a local volunteering opportunity with many types of nonprofits in Western Montana.
Habitat for Humanity builds houses for families in need in many locations in Montana, including Billings, Southwest Montana, Missoula and Flathead Valley. Volunteers need little to no experience to help with Habitat for Humanity and both groups and individuals are welcome.