21 Charming Small Towns in Montana (2024)

Montana is the perfect destination for adventure seekers with its world-famous parks; Glacier National Park and Yellowstone National Park and the Montana small towns are seriously worth a visit.

You’ll feel wild and free with untamed land and strong ties to the wild west. 

Every town offers outdoor activities like horseback riding, fishing, hiking, and more. 

If you love archeology and paleontology, Montana also has some of the world’s best dinosaur fossils and artifacts. 

When we talk about the best small towns in Montana, we don’t just mean a town with a small population.

Instead, it’s about the charm and character you’ll find abundant in these beautiful, precious towns across the state.

Keep reading to find our curated lists of the best small towns in Montana!

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1. Whitefish: cute towns in Montana

Image: Downtown Whitefish, MT. -ted. [CC by 2.0] via Flickr

If you’re visiting Montana, Whitefish is the safest destination, no matter the time of year!

Located near the stunning Glacier National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, Whitefish has a solid range of your favorite outdoor activities.

In the winter, hit the slopes for some skiing or snowboarding with runs for all abilities.

Take advantage of the Whitefish Winter Carnival, where you can watch skijoring (skiing behind horses), admire snow sculptures, listen to live music and more.

But if summer is more your thing, don’t worry!

Opportunities for alpine hiking, climbing, mountain biking, backpacking and horseback riding surround the small town.

2. Hamilton

Image: Sapphire Mountains. Michael Schweppe. [CC BY-SA 2.0] via Flickr

Looking for the perfect blend of modern amenities and wild west charm?

Hamilton is the place for you!

This fast-growing small town is located in the Bitterroot Valley and is known for its scenic mountains, spacious public lands, and historic buildings.

Plus, it’s just a short drive from Missoula, so you can enjoy the peace of nature and the buzz of the city.

You’ll love the clean air and open spaces that inspire creativity and the wild west vibe that gives Hamilton its unique personality.

3. Stevensville

Image: st-marys-mission-stevensville-montana-may-2011-rogermpeterson-001. Forest Service Northern. [CC by 2.0] via Flickr

As the state’s first settlement, established by Jesuits, you’ll learn plenty about the town’s history by visiting St. Mary’s Mission.

You can also enjoy local drinks, like the Blacksmith Brewing Company’s famous India Pale Ale or the Wildwood Brewery’s popular stout. 

4. Bozeman: quaint towns in Montana

Image: Crystal Bar – Bozeman Montana – 2013-07-09. Tim Evanson. [CC BY-SA 2.0] via Flickr

Bozeman is a must if you’re looking for outdoor adventure, one of the best Montana small towns, breathtaking scenery, and a taste of Western culture.

The town’s main attraction is the stunning natural beauty in the surroundings.

You can explore miles of trails for hiking and biking or relax and soak in the breathtaking views of the Bridger Mountains.

The nearby Gallatin River also has some great fishing and rafting opportunities.

5. Ennis

Image: 2017 Mountain States – Ennis, Montana Domenico Convertini. [CC BY-SA 2.0] via Flickr

Remember the great gold rush?

Well, that’s what brought Ennis to fame. 

Although gold wasn’t discovered in Ennis, the influx of prospectors in other cities caused Ennis to grow and later become a thriving center for agriculture, trade and tourism.

Ennis has recently become famous for its ranch farms; around the outskirts, you see beautiful farmhouses and sprawling cattle farms.

The area has a history of cowboys and cattle drives.

The villagers also make beef, wool and other livestock items which are then exported.

6. Polson

Image: Polson (Flathead Lake). PJ Johnson. [CC BY-ND 2.0] via Flickr

Polson is a small town on the shores of Flathead lake.

This quaint town in Montana offers plenty of watersports activities such as fishing, boating and paddling.

There are beautiful places to camp or picnic on the shire, with a view of snow-covered mountains behind you.

7. Philipsburg: charming towns in Montana

Image: img274. daves_archive1. [CC by 2.0] via Flickr

Philipsburg, Montana, is a must-visit for anyone who loves gems and history!

This cute town in Montana was once home to a sapphire boom and is now filled with fantastic gem shops where you can find sapphires and other gems.

You’ll love exploring the charming streets lined with historic buildings and quirky shops.

Plus, you’ll see the gems being cut and polished right before your eyes in the shops.

8. Fort Benton

Fort Benton is a must-visit for history buffs and outdoor enthusiasts!

One of the oldest settlements in Montana, Fort Benton offers a glimpse into the town’s rich history.

Check out the iconic Grand Union Hotel, where Calamity Jane and Buffalo Bill once stayed.

Hike along the Missouri River for breathtaking pictures, or head to the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument for an unforgettable adventure.

Remember to explore the museum and exhibits at the Fort Benton Riverfront Park to learn about the area’s rich history.

9. Glendive

Image: Bell Street Bridge, Glendive, Montana 5. Tony Webster. [CC BY-SA 2.0] via Flickr

Glendive comes on the way to the main attractions in Montana.

Since it’s further from the mountains, it’s less rocky.

Tourists visit Glendive for the unique Makoshika State Park, the largest dinosaur park in the state and enjoy hiking, camping, and exploring the stunning geology.

10. West Yellowstone

West Yellowstone
Image: West Yellowstone, Montana. Ken Lund. [CC BY-SA 2.0] via Flickr

Looking for small towns or cities in Montana?

West Yellowstone is the closest town to the world’s oldest national park – Yellowstone National Park (as you can probably tell by the name!).

Immerse yourself in the wildlife by visiting the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center.

Here you’ll get to see live animals and learn about the measures for their conservation.

You’ll even spot healthy herds of elk or buffalo roaming the outskirts of town if you’re lucky.

In the winter, you’ll be in the heart of the snowmobile region; rent a snowmobile and enjoy the stunning winter landscapes.

11. Livingston

Livingston, Montana
Image: Murray Hotel, Hwys 10 and 89, Livingston, Montana. Jerry Huddleston. [CC by 2.0] via Flickr

Livingston is one of the slightly larger towns on this list.

But with a population of 7000, it’s still tiny according to US standards.

It’s a popular spot for fly-fishing; the town even has a fly-fishing discovery center. 

Another popular spot is the Livingston Depot, a former train station from 1902.

The station has been converted into a unique museum where you can gain further insight into the area. 

Livingston is half an hour away from Bozeman and is usually a stop for those commuting to the bigger city.

12. Anaconda

Anaconda, Montana
Image: Anaconda, Montana. Bitterroot. [CC BY-ND 2.0] via Flickr

Located at 1600 meters above sea level in Deer Lodge County, Anaconda offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains, forests, and scenic lakes.

If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, you’ve got to visit Lost Creek State Park, known for its dramatic cliffs and geological formations.

Meanwhile, the town itself is dotted with historic buildings dating back to the late 1800s, such as the Hearst Free Library and the Deer Lodge County Courthouse.

13. Choteau

Image: Choteau, Montana. Sam Beebe. [CC by 2.0] via Flickr

Choteau has all the charm of a midwest town, with an added rich archeological heritage.

To begin, Choteau is right next to the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex.

The Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest are also nearby.

But the real distinction of this town is its rich fossil heritage and association with the ‘Jurassic period.’

The Choteau area has produced many well-preserved fossils, including dinosaurs, turtles, fish, and other ancient creatures, providing valuable insights into the Earth’s distant past.

Today, Choteau is home to the Museum of the Rockies, which showcases many of the area’s fossils. 

14. Red Lodge

Red Lodge Montana
Image: Red Lodge Montana sshreeves. [CC by 2.0] via Flickr

Red Lodge, Montana, is the perfect getaway for anyone looking for adventure and fun.

You’ll love the scenic drive along the Beartooth Highway, which is considered one of the most beautiful drives in America.

If you’re planning a road trip, Red Lodge is a great place to go.

It’s one of the best little towns in Montana and has a bustling Main Street filled with local eateries and bars.

Whether you want to hike, bike, or relax and take in the stunning scenery, Red Lodge has it all. 

15. Big Timber

Big Timber
Image: 20210807 58 Grand Hotel & Restaurant, Big Timber, Montana. David Wilson. [CC by 2.0] via Flickr

Big Timber, located in Southeast Montana, attracts nature lovers, particularly those who love survival camping.

The Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness is home to wildlife such as Elk, deer, grizzly bears, black bears, mountain goats and lions.

The area attracts nature lovers with its sweeping tundra plateaus, deep canyons, sparkling streams and hundreds of alpine lakes.

The area is also known for its fly fishing.

Fly fishing uses an artificial “fly” to catch fish.

A fly is typically made of feathers, fur, or other materials tied to a hook and is thrown in the river to mimic insects in the water. 

Aside from wildlife, the town looks beautiful against the backdrop of the Crazy Mountains.

You can visit the Crazy Mountain Museum to learn about the history of the place. 

The town gets its name from the ‘Big Timber’ creek, which runs through the place.

16. Butte

Butte, Montana
Image: Butte, Montana. Nicolas Henderson. [CC by 2.0] via Flickr

Once a boom town during the Gold Rush, Butte has a strong mining heritage that you can discover at the World Museum of Mining.

You’ll learn about the history of mining, the strategies used to extract minerals from the ground, and the story of the Copper Kings.

The MBMG Mineral Museum is another good spot, featuring interesting rocks and gems.

Butte is also a melting pot of cultures, influenced by the immigrants who came to work in the mines.

Enjoy the diverse cuisines and music genres, and spot unique architectural buildings around town.

If you’re a fan of outdoor music festivals, take advantage of the Montana Folk Festival, a free celebration that attracts folk fans from all over the state. 

17. Virginia City

Virginia City
Image: Virginia City, Montana. Brenda. [CC by 2.0] via Flickr

Step back in time to experience the excitement of the 19th-century gold rush in Virginia City, Montana.

With live blacksmith demonstrations and historical recreations, you’ll feel like a prospector searching for gold!

This former hub of the region’s gold rush is now a National Historic Landmark District offering an excellent opportunity to explore Montana’s past. 

18. Libby

Libby, Montana
Image: Libby Montana (3). Richard Bauer. [CC by 2.0] via Flickr

Libby is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered by tourists.

With a population of just over 2,600 people, this quaint town offers a warm and welcoming atmosphere that is hard to come by in larger cities.

If you’re looking for a break from the hustle and bustle of daily life, Libby is the perfect place to unwind and connect with nature.

One of the biggest draws to Libby is its stunning scenery.

Surrounded by lush forests and glistening lakes, visitors can enjoy the great outdoors by hiking, fishing, or simply taking in breathtaking views.

The Libby Dam Visitor Center is a must-see for those interested in history.

It offers a fascinating look at the history of the dam and the Kootenai River.

In addition to its natural beauty, Libby is also home to a vibrant arts and culture scene.

The Libby Arts Center regularly hosts exhibitions and events showcasing the talents of local artists and musicians.

Visitors can also attend the Arts and Crafts Festival, which features a diverse range of handcrafted goods, live music, and food vendors.

19. Deer Lodge

Deer Lodge
Image: Deer Lodge, Montana. Ken Lund. [CC BY-SA 2.0] via Flickr

Not the most glamorous place on this list, Thompson falls has unique attractions that call to those who like to see unconventional places.

Though not touristy in the traditional sense, people come here to visit the Old Jail Museum.

As the name says, this old jail has been converted into a museum.

You get to see the intact cells and guard’s grounds and learn what life was like for the inmates back then. 

If you’re interested in Native American history, visit the Grant-Kohrs ranch to hear it from the locals themselves.

20. Columbia Falls

Columbia Falls is nestled in the heart of the Rocky Mountains and is a gateway for travelers on their way to the Glacier National Park and the Flathead River.

Aside from the usual fly-fishing and river rafting available at almost all the towns in Montana, the region has skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling and llama-guided hiking.

If you’re an adrenaline junkie, this is the perfect spot for you.

21. Eureka

Image: _MG_4180.jpg. USDARD LAPAS. [CC BY-ND 2.0] via Flickr

This tiny town has been culturally protected by the ‘Redwood curtain’ (massive old redwood trees), which explains why the place maintains its old-world charm.

Walk down any street, and you’ll see elaborate victorian architecture, including mansions dating back to the 1800s.

The shops, restaurants and art stores all maintain their rustic charm.

Locals embrace their unique culture with local events happening every day of the week, including rodeo events.

Hey! Want more ideas on the best small towns in the USA? Check these out!

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