After spending just a few minutes in Montana, you’ll see exactly how it earned the nickname Big Sky Country. With a diverse landscape that ranges from rugged mountains to dense evergreen forests to vast plains, there’s one thing each region shares: incredible terrain underneath a blue swath of sky. Whether you’re heading to Glacier National Park or a lesser-known natural area, the unparalleled beauty of this state will stay with you for a lifetime.
Of course, any trip requires a place to call home for the week—or longer, when there’s this much to see and explore. Vacasa offers cozy Montana cabin rentals for the outdoor adventure of your dreams. So grab your camera and your sense of adventure! Here are five of the most scenic places to visit in western Montana.
One of the most breathtaking parks in the country, Glacier comprises 1,500 square miles of soaring mountains, crystalline lakes, and wildflower-dotted meadows, all traversed by the Going-to-the-Sun Road. The 50-mile drive hugs cliff sides, winds past tumbling waterfalls, and provides a front-row seat to Glacier’s most spectacular landscapes. Don’t miss Lake McDonald, the largest in the park. Its stunningly clear waters reveal a chorus of multi-colored rocks extending out into the depths.
As the flagship mountain of Big Sky Resort, Lone Mountain commands an incredible majesty: snow-frosted evergreens below and the deep blue sky above. Its snow-capped slopes are flanked by two other mountains, and from the 11,000-foot summit you can see clear to the rippling peaks of Yellowstone. Whether you’re trekking up a trail, whipping down a ski run, or riding the sky tram to base camp, you’ll be greeted with panoramic views at every turn.
Flathead Lake’s water is so clear that sometimes it’s hard to tell where the land ends and the reflections begin. Tucked away in the shadow of Glacier National Park, Flathead offers all the beauty of Glacier’s alpine lakes without the difficulty of reaching them. And as the largest freshwater lake in the western United States, there’s plenty of space to enjoy the water without ever feeling crowded. Kayak, paddleboard, or swim through some of the clearest water you’ve ever seen, or try your hand at fishing for the lake’s trophy-sized trout.
If there’s one western Montana location that encapsulates the very best of the state, it might be the picturesque town of Whitefish. Located north of Flathead Lake, Whitefish offers pristine lakes, snow-smothered peaks, and the friendliness of a quaint mountain village, all within minutes of each other. Mountain bike through verdant green meadows in the summer, ski down a 2,300-foot vertical drop in the winter, or stroll through downtown’s vibrant foliage in the autumn. No matter what time of year, it’s not hard to see why visitors and locals alike consider Whitefish one of western Montana’s most beautiful destinations.
If you’re seeking a day deep in nature’s solitude without the long drive, then this picturesque hike near Big Sky is for you. Beehive Basin Trail is the best of both worlds: while the trailhead is less than 20 minutes from Big Sky, you’ll feel totally apart from the rest of the world. The trek is part of Lee Metcalf Wilderness and takes you meandering through dense forests, past flowing creeks, and over wildflower-dappled meadows, with views of snow-capped Lone Mountain. By the time you arrive at the basin surrounded by towering peaks, you’ll feel totally reset and invigorated. After your hike, you can treat your tired muscles to a nice soak in the hot tub of your vacation home.