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Overview

It's easy to overlook the plains of eastern Montana, which stretch from Great Falls to the Dakota border. True, this part of Montana is not highly developed as a tourist destination but if you're looking to experience the authentic West of cowboys and cattlemen, this is about as real as it gets. The prairies' long history begins in prehistory. The Missouri River badlands contain a significant repository of Cretaceous-era dinosaur fossils, and the Dino Trail loop tour links local museums and digs open to visitors. Little Bighorn Battlefield is still haunted by the ghosts of Custer, his cavalry, and the Sioux and Cheyenne warriors who clashed ...

It's easy to overlook the plains of eastern Montana, which stretch from Great Falls to the Dakota border. True, this part of Montana is not highly developed as a tourist destination but if you're looking to experience the authentic West of cowboys and cattlemen, this is about as real as it gets. The prairies' long history begins in prehistory. The Missouri River badlands contain a significant repository of Cretaceous-era dinosaur fossils, and the Dino Trail loop tour links local museums and digs open to visitors. Little Bighorn Battlefield is still haunted by the ghosts of Custer, his cavalry, and the Sioux and Cheyenne warriors who clashed here in June, 1876. The open range brought cattle drives north from Texas in the 1880s, establishing Miles City as the "Cow Capital of the West." In these parts, you don't talk about the Old West, because it's still present — dude ranches, rodeos, country fairs and friendly western bars will get you in touch with your inner cowboy.

Judy Jewell
About the Expert

Judy Jewell and W.C. McRae are frequent collaborators: together they have written Moon Handbooks to Montana, Utah, and Zion-Bryce and updated the Moon Handbooks to Oregon and Coastal Oregon. Judy wrote the Compass American Guide to Oregon.

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Judy Jewell for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    May-Oct for best weather, July-Aug for fairs and rodeos