Background: Big Sky Resort
Photo by Jim from Lexington, KY

Living in Montana

Montana - Big Sky Country

History, Geography, Homes, and State Resources of Montana

Montana USA Map
Montana USA Map

The close-knit communities of Montana, sensational landscape, and abundance of recreational opportunities have made the state a big magnet for people thinking of relocating. As the fourth biggest state in the nation in size of area, there is no lack of superb places for you to select from. To benefit from of everything this incredible state offers, think about relocating to one of Montana's fastest growing cities

First explored for France by François and Louis-Joseph Verendrye in the early 1740s, much of the region was acquired by the U.S. from France as part of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Before western Montana was obtained from Great Britain in the Oregon Treaty of 1846, American trading posts and forts had been established in the territory.

The major Indian Wars (1867–1877) included the famous 1876 Battle of the Little Big Horn, better known as “Custer's Last Stand,” in which Cheyenne and Sioux defeated George A. Custer and more than 200 of his men in southeast Montana.

Much of Montana's early history was concerned with mining, with copper, lead, zinc, silver, coal, and oil as principal products. Butte is the center of the area that once supplied half of the U.S. copper.

Climate

The state's eastern and western regions are separated by the Continental Divide and have unique climates. The west tends to have a milder climate than the east, with warmer winters, cooler summers, lighter winds, and rainfall that is more evenly distributed throughout the year.

Average daytime temperatures vary from 28 °F in January to 84.5 °F in July. The variation in geography leads to great variation in temperature. The highest observed summer temperature was 117 °F at Glendive on July 20, 1893, and Medicine Lake on July 5, 1937. Throughout the state, summer nights are generally cool and pleasant.

Demography

  • Montana Geography, Facts and History
  • Montana Facts & Trivia
  • Montana Flags
  • Famous People from Montana
  • Montana Timeline
  • Montana Official Song
  • Education

    Montana Colleges. The Montana University System (MUS) was launched on July 1, 1994, when the Montana Board of Regents of Higher Education restructured state colleges and universities Universities, with the aim of streamlining state higher education in the wake of declining state funding. It has sixteen campuses divided among the two states University Systems and Community Colleges.

    Economy

    The largest industries in Montana are agriculture (including both crops and livestock), travel and tourism, timber, and mining. Agriculture is an essential part of Montana's economy. It contributes over two billion dollars to the state annually.

    Montana State Flower - Bitterroot
    Montana State Flower - Bitterroot

    Montana State Tree - Ponderosa Pine
    Montana State Tree - Ponderosa Pine

    Flora and Fauna

    There are three major life zones in Montana: subalpine, montane, and plains. The subalpine region, in the northern Rocky Mountains, is rich in wild flowers during a short midsummer growing season. The Montana flora consists largely of coniferous forests, principally alpine fir, and a variety of shrubs. The plains are characterized by an abundance of grasses, cacti, and sagebrush species. Three plant species were threatened as of 2003: Ute ladies'-tresses, Spalding's catchfly, and water howellia.

    Game animals of the state include elk, moose, white-tailed and mule deers, pronghorn antelope, bighorn sheep, and mountain goat. Notable among the amphibians is the axolotl; rattlesnakes and other reptiles are found in most of the state. Thirteen species were listed as threatened or endangered in 2003, including the grizzly bear, black-footed ferret, Eskimo curlew, two species of sturgeon, gray wolf, and whooping crane.

  • Montana State Bird (Western Meadowlark)
  • Montana Official State Flower (Bitterroot)
  • Montana Official State Tree (Ponderosa Pine)
  • Government

    Montana State Capitol
    Montana State Capitol
    The Montana State Capitol is the state capitol of Montana. It houses the Montana State Legislature and is located in the state capital of Helena at 1301 East Sixth Avenue. The building was constructed between 1896 and 1902 with wing-annexes added between 1909 and 1912. The building, constructed of Montana sandstone and granite, is in Greek neoclassical architectural style, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The exterior of the dome is covered with copper. Atop the dome is a feminine statue affectionately dubbed "Lady Liberty."..

    The only elected officers of the executive branch are the governor and lieutenant governor (who run jointly), secretary of state, attorney general, superintendent of public instruction, and auditor; each serves a four-year term. Without exception, the governor is limited to serving eight out of every 16 years. Candidates for governor must be at least 25 years old, a citizen of both the US and Montana, and must have resided in the state for at least two years.

    To vote in Montana, one must be a US citizen, at least 18 years old, and a state and county resident for 30 days prior to election day. Restrictions apply to convicted felons and those declared of unsound mind.

  • Montana Official Website
  • Attractions

    Montana is well-known for its numerous outdoor activities, including an array of winter sports; water sports such as fishing, canoeing, and kayaking; as well as hiking and biking. Often referred to as Big Sky Country, its spectacular, rugged scenery and plentiful wildlife, particularly around the Rocky Mountains in the west, is also popular for scenic drives and activities such as bird watching (the state's very name suggests a strong connection to nature, and is taken from the Spanish for mountain: montaña).

    Although the fourth largest state, it's one of the least populated, ensuring plenty of wide-open space to explore outside of its larger cities, such as the capital, Helena. Montana is also the perfect place from which to access magnificent Glacier National Park, and the North and Northeast entrances of Yellowstone National Park, both containing rich environments to backpack, hike, and explore

  • Montana Official Travel Information Site
  • Amusement Parks

    Amusement Park Drive In, Laurel
    Big Sky Water Park, Columbia Falls

    National Parks

    Yellowstone National Park
    Yellowstone National Park
    Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, Fort Smith, MT, WY
      The vast, wild landscape of Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area offers visitors unparalleled opportunities to immerse themselves in the natural world, and experience the wonders of this extraordinary place. With over 120,000 acres, one can find an astounding diversity in ecosystems, wildlife, and more than 10,000 years of human history to explore.
    Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site, Two States: MT, ND
      Between 1828 and 1867, Fort Union was the most important fur trade post on the Upper Missouri River. Here, the Assiniboine and six other Northern Plains Indian Tribes exchanged buffalo robes and smaller furs for goods from around the world, including cloth, guns, blankets, and beads. A bastion of peaceful coexistence, the post annually traded over 25,000 buffalo robes and $100,000 in merchandise.
    Glacier National Park, Northwest Montana, MT
      Come and experience Glacier's pristine forests, alpine meadows, rugged mountains, and spectacular lakes. With over 700 miles of trails, Glacier is a hiker's paradise for adventurous visitors seeking wilderness and solitude. Relive the days of old through historic chalets, lodges, and the famous Going-to-the-Sun Road. Explore Glacier National Park and discover what awaits you.
    Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site, Deer Lodge, MT
      Wide open spaces, the hard-working cowboy, his spirited cow pony, and vast herds of cattle are among the strongest symbols of the American West. Once the headquarters of a 10 million acre cattle empire, Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site preserves these symbols and commemorates the role of cattlemen in American history.
    Ice Age Floods National Geoligic Trail, WA,OR,ID,MT
      "At the end of the last Ice Age, some 12,000 to 17,000 years ago, a series of cataclysmic floods occurred in what is now the northwest region of the United States, leaving a lasting mark of dramatic and distinguishing features on the landscape of parts of the States of Montana, Idaho, Washington and Oregon." Public Law 111-11, March 30, 2009
    Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail, Eleven States: ID,IL,IA,KS,MO,MT,NE,ND,OR,SD,WA
      Between May 1804 and September 1806, 31 men, one woman, and a baby traveled from the plains of the Midwest to the shores of the Pacific Ocean. They called themselves the Corps of Discovery. In their search for a water route to the Pacific Ocean, they opened a window into the west for the young United States. Read the Lewis and Clark Pups blog, the Newfie News!
    Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, Crow Agency, MT
      This area memorializes the U.S. Army's 7th Cavalry and the Sioux and Cheyenne in one of the Indian's last armed efforts to preserve their way of life. Here on June 25 and 26 of 1876, 263 soldiers, including Lt. Col. George A. Custer and attached personnel of the U.S. Army, died fighting several thousand Lakota, and Cheyenne warriors.
    Nez Perce National Historical Park, four states ID,MT,OR,WA
      For thousands of years the valleys, prairies, mountains, and plateaus of the inland northwest have been home to the nimí·pu· (Nez Perce) people. Extremely resilient, they have adapted and survived the settling of the United States. Explore these places. Learn their stories.
    Yellowstone National Park, ID,MT,WY
      Visit Yellowstone and experience the world's first national park. Marvel at a volcano’s hidden power rising up in colorful hot springs, mudpots, and geysers. Explore mountains, forests, and lakes to watch wildlife and witness the drama of the natural world unfold. Discover the history that led to the conservation of our national treasures “for the benefit and enjoyment of the people.”

    Montana National Forests

    Bitterroot National Forest - 1,594,579 acres
      Bitterroot National Forest is located in the Bitterroot and Sapphire mountains, reaching its highest point at 10,157 feet at Trapper Peak. The forest is named for the bitterroot plant.
    Kootenai National Forest - 1,810,361 acres.
      Kootenai includes the Cabinet Mountains and the Kootenai and Clark Fork rivers. The Noxon and Cabinet Gorge reservoirs are on the Clark Fork within the forest. The Northwest Peak Scenic Area is in the Selkirk Mountains.
    Custer National Forest - 1,189,465 acres.
      Custer National Forest includes the Beartooth Highway and the Capitol Rock and the Castles National Natural Landmarks. The forest's Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness includes Granite Peak, the highest point in Montana at 12,807 feet.
    Gallatin National Forest - 1,849,701 acres
      Bordering the north side of Yellowstone National Park, Gallatin National Forest contains parts of both the Absaroka-Beartooth and Lee Metcalf wilderness areas. Quake Lake was formed on the Madison River when an earthquake launched a landslide across the river in 1959.
    Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest - 3,362,638 acres
      The largest National Forest in Montana, it encompasses several mountain ranges of the Rocky Mountains. The forest includes the Anaconda-Pintler and Lee Metcalf wilderness areas and sections of the Continental Divide Trail and Nez Perce National Historic Trail.
    Helena National Forest - 982,385 acres
      The Continental Divide Trail travels almost 80 miles through the forest, which surrounds Montana's capital city. The Elkhorn Mountains are the only Wildlife Management unit in the National Forest System
    Lewis and Clark National Forest - 1,871,490 acres.
      Located in north-central Montana, this forest includes seven mountain ranges and large portions of the Bob Marshall and Scapegoat wilderness areas. The forest operates the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center in Great Falls.
    Lolo National Forest - 2,237,961 acres
      Located west of the Continental Divide and containing parts of four wilderness areas, this forest has 700 mi (1,100 km) of trails and over 100 named lakes. There are at least 20 fish species, 60 mammals, 300 birds, and 1,500 plants in the forest.
    Flathead National Forest - 2,413,573 acres
      Bordering Glacier National Park, Flathead is home to grizzly bears, bull trout, and Canada lynx. The forest manages four wilderness areas, including the Bob Marshall and Great Bear wildernesses.

    Sports

    Montana has no major league sports franchises because the state's relatively small and dispersed population, however a several minor league teams play in the state. Baseball is the minor-league sport with the longest heritage in the state, and Montana is currently home to four Minor League Baseball teams, all members of the Pioneer League: the Billings Mustangs, Great Falls Voyagers, Helena Brewers, and Missoula Osprey. Montana Sports

    Taxes

    Montana Tax Facts
    • Income tax: 1% - 6.9%
    • Sales tax: None
    • Property tax: 0.85% average effective rate
    • Gas tax: 32.25 cents per gallon of regular gasoline, 32.50 cents per gallon of diesel

    Transportation

    Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport
    Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport Chronicle File Photo
    Montana Airports. There are 123 airports in Montana for the public to use. The airports in Montana receive many tourists, as the state is also known as the, "Land of the Shining mountains". The airports in Montana provide friendly assistance to travelers to make their journey pleasant.

    The international airports in Montana are the Great Falls International Airport at Great Falls, the Glacier Park International Airport at Kalispell and the Missoula International Airport at Missoula. The other international airports in Missouri are general aviation airports. They are the Glasgow International Airport at Glasgow, the Whetstone International Airport at Port of Del Bonita and the Ross International Airport at Sweetgrass.

    The Missoula International Airport is among the more efficient airports of Montana. The terminal in this airport has a restaurant, a bar and it also has a conference room to hold business meetings in. The airlines that serve this airport are Northwest Airlines, SkyWest Airlines, Allegiant Air, Bigsky Airlines and Horizon Air.

    Rail

    Railroads have been an important method of transportation in Montana since the 1880s. Historically, the state was traversed by the main lines of three east-west transcontinental routes: the Milwaukee Road, the Great Northern, and the Northern Pacific. Today, the BNSF Railway is the state's largest railroad, its main transcontinental route incorporating the former Great Northern main line across the state. Montana RailLink, a privately held Class II railroad, operates former Northern Pacific trackage in western Montana.

    In addition, Amtrak's Empire Builder train runs through the north of the state, stopping in Libby, Whitefish, West Glacier, Essex, East Glacier Park, Browning, Cut Bank, Shelby, Havre, Malta, Glasgow, and Wolf Point.

    Roads

    The state highways in Montana are the state highways owned and maintained by the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) in the U.S. state of Montana.

    Historically, U.S. Route 10 was the primary east-west highway route across Montana, connecting the major cities in the southern half of the state. Still the state's most important east-west travel corridor, the route is today served by Interstate 90 and Interstate 94 which roughly follow the same route as the Northern Pacific. U.S. Routes 2 and 12 and Montana Highway 200 also traverse the entire state from east to west.

    Montana's only north-south Interstate Highway is Interstate 15. Other major north-south highways include U.S. Routes 87, 89, 93 and 191.

    Montana Housing

    The median home value in Montana is $227,500. Montana home values have gone up 8.5% over the past year and  predictions are they will rise 1.6% within the next year. The median list price per square foot in Montana is $199. The median price of homes currently listed in Montana is $319,000. The median rent price in Montana is $1,290.
  • Montana Association of Realtors
  • Montana Board of Realty Regulation
  • Montana Real Estate Listings
  • Montana Cities & Towns

    Montana is divided into 56 counties and has 129 incorporated municipalities consisting of cities and towns. Montana's municipalities take up only 1.2% of the state's land area but they are home to 53.8% of its population The largest municipality by population in Montana is Billings with 104,170 residents, while the smallest municipality by population is Ismay with only 19 residents. The largest municipality by land mass is Anaconda, a consolidated city-county, which covers 736.53 square miles, while Rexford and Flaxville are the smallest at 0.10 square miles each.
  • Montana Cities and Towns
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