Encircle Montana: Your journey through Big Sky Country begins in Glacier National Park in the north and ends at the doorstep of Yellowstone National Park in the south. Along the way you will visit nine locations that are highlights of Montana.

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Wild Horses Resting in Meadow at Glacier National Park, Montana

This mare was nuzzling her foal in an open meadow. They looked so peaceful and content. Wild horses are one of about 15 types of large animals living in and around Glacier National Park in Montana. You might also be lucky enough to see a bighorn sheep, black bear, moose, elk, deer, lynx or mountain lion. Plus, there are 70 species of smaller mammals residing within the one million acres of wilderness.

1 Saint Mary Lake in Glacier National Park near St. Mary, Montana

Wild Goose Island is the centerpiece of Saint Mary Lake. This is the second largest among 130 lakes within Glacier National Park’s million acres. The Going-to-the-Sun Road flanks the northern side of this ten mile lake. Access is closed about eight months a year because snow often drifts as high as 80 feet. In the background is Little Chief Mountain. This 9,500 foot peak marks the beginning of the Rocky Mountains.

Wild Goose Island Lookout, Going-to-the-Sun Rd, Browning, MT 59417

2 Teton County Courthouse in Choteau, Montana

Teton County, Montana, is a cluster of small towns located where the Rocky Mountains meet the Great Plains. They are encircled by barley and wheat fields. They also have plenty of livestock, probably more than the population density of three people per mile. In the middle of a grassy roundabout in Choteau is the county courthouse. This government building was constructed with sandstone in 1906.

1 Main Ave S, Choteau, MT 59422

3 Grain Elevators Storing Malting Barley in Fairfield, Montana

The Golden Triangle is Montana’s premier grain area. Fairfield touts itself as the Malting Barley Capital of the World. Their biggest customer is Anheuser-Busch. The brewing company carefully manages the whole process. This includes selling the seed, providing agronomist advice, monitoring the fields, supervising the storage in these grain bins and testing each truckload.

Central Ave W & Park Way Fairfield, MT 59436

4 Old Milwaukee Passenger Train Depot Station in Great Falls, Montana

A logo atop the Milwaukee Depot Station’s tower in Great Falls, Montana, is a remnant of an aggressive, expensive and disastrous decision to “Go west, young man.” The Milwaukee Road started in 1847. During its first 50 years, the company laid tracks like a spider through the plains. Then they spent $46 billion in today’s dollars to reach Seattle. That decision would cost them several bankruptcies before being acquired in 1985. A side note about this sign is the missing word “Pacific.” This was added to their name after the western expansion was complete.

101 River Dr N, Great Falls, MT 59401

5 Arduous Journey Sacajawea and Baby in Papoose Statue in Great Falls, Montana

The Lewis and Clark Expedition discovered the Missouri River’s Great Falls in 1805. Traveling with them from 1804 to 1806 was Sacagawea. She was a Lemhi Shoshone woman who was the explorers’ interpreter and guide. Clark called her “Janey.” In the middle of the trip from North Dakota to California, she gave birth to a son. He was nicknamed “Little Pomp.” This 9 ½ foot sculpture by Carol Grende is called “Arduous Journey.” The tribute depicts Sacajawea and her baby Jean-Baptise in a papoose. The statue was dedicated in 2010 at the Missouri River Federal Courthouse in Great Falls, Montana.

125 Central Avenue West, Great Falls, MT 59404

6 Montana State Capitol Building in Helena, Montana

During dedication ceremonies on July 4, 1902, the Montana State Capitol in Helena was called a “Temple of Democracy.” That pride reflected their 25 year effort to become the 41st state on November 8, 1889, after President Lincoln created the Montana territory in 1864. Their motto “Oro y Plata,” was adopted in 1865. This means gold and silver in Spanish. The phrase is a reference to the mining rushes in towns like Last Chance Gulch, which is now Helena.

1301 E 6th Ave, Helena, MT 59601

7 Montana State Capitol Statehood Centennial Bell in Helena, Montana

The Montana State Capitol in Helena has a large, vibrant rotunda featuring murals of four early settlers. The paintings include the Native American and gold miner shown here. Among its sweeping arches and French Renaissance décor are a total of 31 historic murals. Simply beautiful! This Centennial Bell was placed on the second floor in front of the Senate in 1989. Every year since, it has rung in honor of the Montana elementary History Teacher of the Year.

1301 E 6th Ave, Helena, MT 59601

8 Montana State Capitol Building Composite in Helena, Montana

Two photos of Helena, Montana, are: The Liberty statue atop the copper dome and granite-sandstone façade of Montana’s State Capitol built in 1902; and The interior rotunda and dome including paintings of a fur trapper and cowboy (shown) plus a Native American and a gold miner.

1301 E 6th Ave, Helena, MT 59601

9 Cathedral of Saint Helena in Helena, Montana

The Votive Church in Vienna (Votivekirche) has stunning neo-Gothic architecture and was the inspiration for building the Cathedral of Saint Helena, Montana in 1914. The church features double spires rising 230 feet and 59 stained glass windows from Bavaria, Germany. A major benefactor was Thomas Cruse. His funeral was the first one in the church before the project was finished. The cathedral was consecrated in 1924.

530 N Ewing St, Helena, MT 59601

10 Spinning Steel Sculpture and Bozeman Building in Bozeman, Montana

Star Trek fans might remember the frequent references to Bozeman in the Next Generation, Voyager, Generations and First Contact. This is where the TV and movie producer, Brannon Braga, was born. The Montana city is also where warp drive is created in 2063. This invention leads to humanity’s first contact with the Vulcans. Until then, Bozeman is a college town in an area once called, “Valley of the Flowers” by the Native Americans.

S Rouse Ave. & E Main St, Bozeman, MT 59715

11 Town Cafe Marquee in Gardiner, Montana

If you are leaving Wyoming through Yellowstone’s North Entrance and need a family pit stop, then visit Gardiner, Montana. It has wooden, Wild West façades and marquees for its bars and shops. Many of the storefronts provide rocking chairs for watching passing cars or the mule deer, elk, bison and other wildlife meandering through this small frontier town of 850 people.

118 E Park St, Gardiner, MT 59030

12 Carnegie Library in Lewistown, Montana

When Andrew Carnegie sold his steel empire in 1901 for the equivalent of $6.2 billion, he wrote, “No idol is more debasing than the worship of money.” During his remaining 18 years, he became a generous philanthropist. He gave away over 75% of his wealth. Carnegie strongly believed books, knowledge and hard work were the keys to success. This outlook motivated him to provide grants to build over 2,500 libraries. Almost 1,700 of them were constructed in small U.S. towns. This library in Lewistown, Montana, was built in 1905.

701 W Main St, Lewistown, MT 59457