From dinosaurs to giant snowflakes, here are 50 facts about Montana that'll make you want to get to Big Sky Country ASAP

By: Amanda Orcutt


1. Fort Keogh holds the record for the largest snowflake ever observed, which was an astounding 15 inches in diameter.

Montana Facts

Source: Flickr user Benimoto

2. In Fort Benton, a cowboy once insisted on riding his horse to his room in the Grand Union Hotel. The manager objected, so the two exchanged gunfire. The Horseman was killed and, later, fourteen .44 slugs were found in his body.

3. The Montana Yogo Sapphire is the only gem from North America that’s included in the Crown Jewels of England.

4. There are more cattle in Montana than there are people.

Montana Facts

Source: Flickr user Theglobalpanorama

5. On Highway 59, south of Miles City, Harry Landers has topped almost 1 mile of his fence posts with over 300 boots.

6. Popular American daredevil Evel Knievel was from Montana.

Montana Facts

Source: Flickr user Lisa Brewster

7. The O’Fallon Museum in Baker boasts the largest steer in world, Steer Montana. He grew to be nearly six feet tall and weighed 3,980 pounds.

8. In Montana, you can use the word “ditch” to order a drink. The phrase means “with water.” I.e. a “whiskey ditch” is a “whiskey and water.”

9. Successful animator and producer Brad Bird, who worked on well-known projects like “Rugrats,” “The Simpsons,” and Disney’s “The Incredibles” was born in Kalispell.

10. Montana was the site of the first placement of a Gideon bible in a hotel room.

Montana Facts

Source: Flickr user Peter Gene

11. According to chlorofluorocarbon dating, the water at Giant Springs takes 26 years to travel underground before returning to the surface.

12. Montana is home to the largest migratory elk herd in the nation.

13. The first luge run in North America was built at Lolo Hot Springs in 1965.

14. Scot Schmidt, the first professional extreme skier, was born in Helena.

15. Travelers Rest in Lolo was a stopping point on the Lewis and Clark Expedition. It’s the only site on the Lewis and Clark Trail that has physical proof of the explorers’ presence.

16. Montana holds the record for the most dramatic temperature change to occur over a 24-hour period. In 1972 in Loma, the temperature rose from -54˚F to 49˚F.

17. The Museum of the Rockies has one of the largest collections of dinosaur fossils on Earth. It’s also home to 13 T-Rex specimens, more than anywhere else in the world.

Montana Facts

Source: Flickr user Tim Evanson

18. Montana is the only state in the US with a triple divide, which allows water to flow into the Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, and the Hudson Bay.

19. Although Montana is now home to over 8,000 moose, the animal was once thought to be extinct in the Rockies south of Canada.

20. Infamous sheriff and outlaw Henry Plummer constructed the first jail in Montana.

21. In 1888, more millionaires per capita were living in Helena than any other city in the world. Most made their fortunes off of gold.

Montana Facts

Source: Flickr user Carsten Schertzer

22. Jordan is one of the most isolated county seats in the country. The town is 175 miles from the nearest airport, 85 miles from the nearest bus line and 115 miles from the nearest train.

23. A portion of Yellowstone National Park, the first national park in the country, is in Montana. The park has 1000-3000 earthquakes each year and is home to one of the Earth’s few super volcanos.

Montana Facts

Source: Flickr user David Ooms

24. Montana is the 4th largest state in the US, by area. You can fit Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania and New York within its borders and still have room for the District of Columbia.

25. Despite its large size, Montana is only the 44th most populated state in the nation.

26. Great Falls is the largest waterfall on the Missouri River.

27. Montana has the largest grizzly bear population of all the lower 48 states.

Montana Facts

Source: Flickr user Sharon Mollerus

28. Not surprisingly, Montana has also named the grizzly bear their state animal.

29. The name of Montana’s largest state park, Makoshika, meant “bad earth” or “bad land” to Sioux Indians. But, despite its name, it’s a paradise for geologists. The park has over 11,000 acres of layered rock formations that include fossil remains of dinosaurs like the Tyrannosaurus Rex and Triceratops.

Montana Facts

Source: Flickr user Capture the Uncapturable

30. Miles City is known as the Cow Capital of the West, where cowboy traditions live on through events like the annual Bucking Horse Sale.

Montana Facts

Source: Flickr user Emil Kepko

31. At 12,807 feet, Granite Peak is the highest natural point in Montana.

32. Wild buffalo can still be viewed at the National Bison Range, just north of Missoula.

33. Glacier National Park has 250 lakes within its boundaries.

Montana Facts

Source: Flickr user Loco Steve

34. Fort Peck Dam is the largest earth-filled dam in the world

35. The Rocky Mountain Front Eagle Migration Area is one of the best places to view golden eagles in the country. More golden eagles have been seen in a single day than anywhere else in the US.

Montana Facts

Source: Flickr use USFWS Mountain-Prairie

36. Montana’s name comes from the Spanish word for “mountain”.

37. The first territorial capital of Montana, Bannack, is still preserved as a ghost town.

Montana Facts

Source: Flickr user Skakerman

38. Out of the 56 counties in Montana, 46 are considered “frontier counties,” with average populations of 6 people or less per square mile.

39. Beaver Creek Park in Hill County is the largest county park in the US.

40. Famous western artist Charles M “Charlie” Russell called Montana home.

Montana Facts

Source: Flickr user Smithsonian Institution

41. Montana’s state motto is “oro y plata” which means “gold and silver” in Spanish.

42. The Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National Park is considered one of most scenic drives in the country.

43. Due to its ample mining history, Butte is known as the “richest hill on earth”.

Montana Facts

Source: Flickr user Woodleywonderworks

44. It’s possible to see up to about 1,700 nesting pelicans at the Bowdoin National Wildlife Refuge.

45. The Battle of the Little Bighorn, often referred to as Custer’s Last Stand, took place near the Little Big Horn River in Montana Territory. It was the most prominent action of the Great Sioux War of 1876.

46. The Yellowstone River, the longest undammed river in the lower 48 states, runs through Montana.

Montana Facts

Source: Flickr user Dave_mcmt

47. The town of Ekalaka was named after the daughter of famous Sioux chief, Sitting Bull.

48. There are eight different federally recognized Native American tribes living in Montana.

Montana Facts

Source: Flickr user Woody H1

49. Montana has not just one but two state gemstones: sapphire and agate.

50. At 585 feet high, the smokestack in Anaconda is one of the world’s tallest free-standing brick structures.