There are fewer places on the planet that are geared up quite so perfect for outdoor enthusiasts than Montana. If you love nothing more than breathing in the cool crisp air, feeling your calves ache after a day’s hiking and just taking in the magical vistas of the landscape around you, then you should make Montana a destination that you visit. While most people tend to take their annual holiday in the summer months, Montana has a wealth of activities to offer in the winter. This isn’t a state that shuts down or enjoys a low season. The fourth largest state in the U.S. enjoys welcoming visitors all year round. You might think that you have to be a skier or a snowboarder to enjoy this mountainous region in the snowy months. Nothing could be further from the truth. While there are plenty of runs and chances to go off piste for the winter sports advocate, there is also a wide range of activities that don’t involve whipping out the salopettes.
Montana is geographically stunning. From snow-capped rocky outcrops to raging rivers and from scenic forest trails to peaceful lakes, the state has something for every calibre of outdoors enthusiast. Take a look at these awesome reasons why you should venture to Montana this winter.
From Makoshika to Yellowstone, the national parks that encompass Montana’s breathtaking scenery are a sight to behold. In the winter months, the landscape changes from a forest of lush green and yellow hues to a blanket of white. Come mid-December the roads are closed, and the major tourist destinations within Yellowstone National Park have become nearly inaccessible but not quite.
If you have a thirst for adventure and fancy putting on some snowshoes, a guide can take you to see the beautiful Old Faithful geyser in all its winter glory. Although bitterly cold, if you wrap up warm, you’ll be able to experience the awesomeness of the park without the usual crowds. You may even get to experience the thrilling delights of a snowmobile. As you tour the park in your skis rather than your walking boots you can still venture to the hot springs and ache to slide in for a little dip to warm up. The opportunity to visit Yellowstone in winter is a hard opportunity to pass by and one that will make many happy winter memories for years to come.
The people of Montana won’t mind if they’re described as a tad individual. Their hospitality and a warm welcome are second to none, and they love showing off the beauty of their home state. With this comes a sprinkling of oddness and eccentricity that makes the Montana residents hugely endearing. Ski-Joring festivals across the state run from December to February and involve a series of races. These are not ordinary races. A horse complete with rider pulls a skier around a slippery and snow-laden race track. Quite the unique sight to behold, you’ll only ever be able to experience this in the winter months.
The British-like Drinking Establishments
In the twenty-first century, a new way of brewing beer has become very en vogue. The emergence of the microbrewery means that hundreds of smaller artisan beer companies have been able to brew their own ale. Fruity concoctions, pale ales and traditional stouts have been bottled to sell across the state. Many of these breweries have set up small bars from which customers can sample a tipple or two. Resembling something of an Austrian chalet, they are laid back establishments where you can while away the evening hours before heading outdoors for a spot of stargazing. Even in the winter months, these breweries can see an influx of tourists on the weekend, so your best bet is to venture out in the week for a spot of more relaxed beer tasting.
If you find that you have had enough of the old snowshoes, you might want to experience a more authentic mode of transport. By taking part in a dog sled excursion, you can hop on board a sledge and have a small army of huskies transport you through the magical winter landscape. Through mainly forest terrain, you’ll be able to head out on a twelve-mile tour with an expert rider and experience the scenery in a unique way. With a stop for lunch at one of the many eateries within the national parks and with regular chances to chat with like-minded people, you may find this sort of adventure an experience of a lifetime.
There is no better state to experience winter wildlife than Montana. You may think that the ideal vacation for those holidaymakers who always have a pair of binoculars around their necks ready to spot the next wild mammal to appear on the horizon is an African safari. You’d be wrong. While safaris are wonderful, nothing quite beats the majestic beauty of seeing an elk grazing within a winter prairie or spying a grizzly bear trying to break through the ice sheet on top of one of Montana’s many rivers. If you do venture off the beaten path, you’ll need to have your wits about you. Trekking through the snow out in the wilderness, you may come across wolves or mountain lions. Coyote sightings aren’t uncommon during the winter and have been known to approach humans much more readily than is comfortable. It always pays to heed the advice of park rangers and only go out to explore when it’s safe to do so. Better still take an expert with you, so you’re safe at all times.
No list would be complete without the mention of skiing. Downhill, slalom and cross-country skiing varieties are available within the state. The particular powder of snow that Montana enjoys means that the trails don’t become too impacted or icy. In January the snow is renewed almost daily, and the temperatures remain constantly cool meaning that nasty slush-like ice patches don’t have a chance to form. If you enjoy hiking or walking, cross-country skiing could be another activity that you might want to have a go at. With nearly eighty public trails of varying difficulty to explore, you could find yourself heading cross country through a forest or mountain pass with nothing but a backpack and your ski poles to hand. The trails are relatively empty meaning that you can enjoy the peace and quiet of nature without the worry of stumbling across any noisy or less respectful tourists than yourself.
If the faster and more thrilling pace of downhill skiing is more your thing, you might fancy taking a look at the mountain resorts and runs of Whitefish and Bridger Bowl. Both challenging in their gradient, obstacles and off-piste environment, there are fewer more exhilarating and adrenaline-inducing activities to partake in during winter in Montana. For the more novice skier, Big Sky Resort has a greater variety of more gentle runs and has some of the finest instructors in the world to help improve your technique on the snow.
Forget the traditional summer holiday and consider making winter the preferred season of your vacation. Montana is rich in its geographical beauty, magnificence and wonder. Take a jaunt to this magical winter wonderland and no doubt it will cast its spell on you beckoning you to return for many more winters to come.
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