Finding Adventures in Montana's Rocky Mountains


Written by Zach Lazzari on

Zach Lazzari is a freelance writer, fly fisherman, and explorer. He lives on the road full-time, chasing fish and wild places with his dog, Shale. Follow his journey at and @zachlazzari on Instagram.

montanaFinding Adventures in Montana's Rocky Mountains

Want to make the most of your next Montana vacation? Try these adventurous activities to maximize the experience.

Montana is made for adventure with remote wilderness areas, stunning mountains, wild rivers and plenty of trails to explore. Visitors often encounter wildlife while enjoying the expansive public spaces. And, while taking in the sites from overlooks and scenic byways is fun, consider amplifying the adventure with activities geared towards more high-energy experiences.

Rafting and Paddling

Montana has epic rivers and there are opportunities for both whitewater and flatwater paddling. Anglers often utilize rafts and drift boats to access secret fishing holes. Rivers like the Yellowstone, Gallatin, Blackfoot, Clark Fork, and Madison have great whitewater and fishing opportunities. Consider joining a commercial trip or a tour to learn the rivers and paddling techniques before setting off solo. Once you do hit these whitewater rivers with a raft or kayak, you’ll experience a complete rush, and it’s pretty likely you’ll be hooked forever.

For those who prefer a slower pace, flatwater paddling opportunities are abundant. You can paddle Flathead Lake or run the Wild and Scenic section of the Missouri River. The Missouri River route follows the same path used by the Lewis and Clark Expedition and the landscape is stunning.

Hiking and Backpacking

Get off the grid in one of the many wilderness areas in the state. You can take a casual day hike or push hard into the backcountry for days or even weeks. Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks both have backcountry experiences that are exceptional, but they’re just the beginning. The state is rich with National Forest lands and wilderness areas that are made for adventurous hikers. Red Lodge is a great basecamp community to consider as a base for backcountry trips, but as the mountain ranges are seemingly endless in the state, it’s a good idea to do your research to find even more basecamps and communities. The Flathead National Forest, Kootenai National Forest, Lolo National Forest, and Beaverhead Deer lodge National Forest are just a few of the expansive public land areas to begin your hiking adventures. The options are endless for hikers in Montana and you won’t be disappointed in any of them.

Fly Fishing

Anglers flock to Montana to test their skills against famous trout rivers. The Madison, Yellowstone, Big Hole, Gallatin, Blackfoot, and many more offer exceptional fishing throughout the spring, summer and fall months. Fly fishing from the shore is popular and you can also look into renting drift boats and rafts which are used frequently by locals and guides. The big rivers are just the tip of the iceberg here. Combine your hiking and backpacking trips with fly fishing to access remote backcountry lakes and streams.

Mountain Biking and Cycling

Cyclists will encounter plenty of roads with challenging elevation changes and extraordinary scenery. Cycling the Going to the Sun road in Glacier National Park is a major bucket list trip. The Hiawatha Trail is another fantastic option that is primarily flat and downhill. Mountain bikers can hit trails all over the state. Missoula has excellent single track trails adjacent to town in the Rattlesnake Recreational Corridor. The Bang trail Divide near Bozeman and the Reid Divide in Whitefish also provide epic single track mountain biking runs.

When you start planning the next Montana vacation, start with the activities you want to pursue and let them guide your travel route and destinations. The state is made for adventure and people of all ages can find something to enjoy while visiting the Rocky Mountains of Montana.

Get your packing on-point for any outdoorsy trip with this ultimate camping pack list.