Valdosta Daily Times

Features

May 12, 2013

Billings, Montana: Where the old West remains alive

- — Montana bills itself as “Big Sky Country,” a pretty accurate claim in our opinion. The self-described Treasure State is blessed with mountains and hills for recreation, prairies for farming and ranching, and lakes, rivers, and streams for boating, fishing and swimming. Stand in the middle of the state and it seems as if you can see a thousand miles in any direction.

Montana is home to two of our country’s best-known national parks, Glacier and Yellowstone, although the latter is sort of a stretch since a relatively small portion of the park creeps over Montana’s southern and western borders from Wyoming. Still, Montana can claim at least a sliver of America’s first national park. Drive east of the Rockies and the Montana prairie appears to stretch to the Atlantic Ocean.

In addition to outstanding natural wonders, Montana offers a large array of historical sites, museums, dude ranches, rodeos, fairs, parks, and more. There is certainly plenty to do and see in Big Sky Country. Even Ben Cartwright and his sons might have sold the Ponderosa and moved here if only they had the opportunity to witness Montana’s beauty.

Visiting Big Sky Country

Travelers considering a visit to Montana typically think mostly of the Rockies that fill the western portion of the state. Trip planning centers around locations such as Whitefish, Missoula, Bozeman, Kalispell, Flathead Lake, Glacier, Yellowstone, and, perhaps, Butte. Most fail to consider locales east of the mountains. We’ve listened as travelers complained about the long drive across Montana during a trip to their mountain destinations. These are the same people who would almost certainly complain about driving through Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Texas, and the Dakotas. In Texas, they have a point.

We are here to tell you there is more to Montana than the western quarter of the state. Actually, a lot more, and it’s less crowded, less touristy, and likely less expensive. You can even see greater distances because there are no mountains to block the view. Best of all, visiting central and eastern Montana puts you in a land where the old west remains a vibrant part of the culture.

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