Guidebooks and tourism websites usually tout Montana’s wide open spaces, wild and rugged terrain, and seemingly endless blue skies. The scenery in this western state is breathtakingly gorgeous. But the stunning natural landscape isn’t all there is to enjoy in Montana. There are some weird things in Montana!
Join us for a tour of some lesser-known attractions that may not show up in every brochure. These ten stops off the beaten path will help you see the Big Sky State in a new light.
Are you ready? Let’s go!
Why Is Montana a Place You Should Visit?
If the concept of “getting away from it all” appeals to you, Montana is an excellent place to visit. The state covers over 140,000 square miles and has more than a million residents. This means there are vast expanses of land with zero or very little development.
However, it’s not completely desolate. Busier population centers like Billings, Great Falls, Missoula, and Bozeman, have eased comfortably into modern times. They tend to attract interesting people who are fun to encounter. Many are people who wanted to see the American west for themselves and loved it so much that they put down roots.
What Is Montana Famous for?
Most people probably know Montana for its wildlife and vast wilderness areas of untamed wilderness. The state has two fabulous national parks. Yellowstone, which also extends into Wyoming and Idaho, is the first and most extended national park. Glacier National Park is less than half its size but is still enormous at 1,583 square miles.
Montana is where the mountains meet the plains, so visitors also know it for its cattle and cowboy culture. Others associate Montana with its rich deposits of valuable minerals like gold, silver, copper, and zinc.
10 Unusual Things in Montana You Should See
Many places we love to visit are products of human development and innovation. Our memorable tour of Montana includes a few natural features, but most wouldn’t exist without human involvement. The unusual and weird things in Montana are well worth a visit.
#1 The Berkeley Pit
This curiosity is an industry byproduct on the eastern edge of Butte, in southwestern Montana. It’s interesting to view, but don’t get too close.
Location: At the end of Park Street in Butte, MT
About: You might not think of a big toxic pond as a go-to attraction, but most visitors rave about its beauty. Ironically, it’s a few miles from the World Museum of Mining.
The site is filling with water now, but for almost 30 years, it was the site of a highly productive open-pit copper mine. There’s a viewing stand and a small admission fee to see this oddball piece of Montana’s mining history.
#2 Garden of One Thousand Buddhas
This unusual collection of stone monuments is a work in progress.
Location: 34574 White Coyote Rd, Arlee, MT 59821
About: A Tibetan Buddhist had a vision many years ago to build this inspirational garden north of Missoula. So far, there are around 125 hand-crafted stone statues. They are in a careful pattern that evokes the eight spokes of the Dharma Wheel.
There was a spiritual vibe in this valley even before this transformation began. It’s the longtime home of the Salish and Kootenai Native American tribes.
#3 The Montana Vortex and House of Mystery
This slice of Americana is a classic offbeat stop near Glacier National Park.
Location: 7800 U.S, Hwy 2 E, Columbia Falls, MT 59912
About: You’ll look at things from a different angle at this timeless attraction. This “mystery spot” is a puzzling place where the standard laws of physics and gravity don’t seem to apply.
A visit is good for some laughs and may even challenge your scientific understanding. As a bonus, it’s just 13 miles outside Glacier National Park.
Traveler’s Tip: Are you brave enough to Feel the Power at the Montana Energy Vortex?
#4 Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park
This gorgeous park is just south of Interstate 90 between Butte and Bozeman.
Location: 25 Lewis & Clark Caverns Road, Whitehall, MT 59759
About: The limestone caverns are the undisputed star of this 3,000-acre park. You can take the two-hour deluxe guided tour or opt for a shorter one that’s a little under an hour.
With 10 miles of hiking trails, you do ample walking in the open air, too. The park also has RV and tent camping and is famous for canoeing and fishing along the Jefferson River.
#5 The Barstool Ski Races
Sometimes you find the best ideas, or at least the most entertaining, in a barroom. This is one of them.
Location: on Main Street in Martin City, MT
About: The annual Barstool Ski Races prove that the people of Martin City and surrounding communities have a sense of humor. To win this zany competition, contestants must navigate an icy slope, beer in hand, on bar stools with skis.
The crowd-pleasing spectacle dates to a spirited and good-natured challenge in 1978. It’s become the signature event of a somewhat rowdy annual celebration, Cabin Fever Days.
#6 Pompeys Pillar
This massive sandstone outcropping near Billings is a national monument and has historical significance dating centuries.
Location: 3039 Hwy 312, Pompeys Pillar, MT 59064
About: If you ever wanted to retrace the steps of Lewis and Clark, here’s one place to do it. Captain William Clark carved his signature into stone here in 1806. The outcropping is two acres at its base and 120 feet tall.
The surrounding park covers 51 acres along the banks of the Yellowstone River. It’s a quick detour off Interstate 94 and an excellent way to brush up on an intriguing segment of Montana history.
#7 The American Computer and Robotics Museum
You don’t have to be a computer nerd to enjoy this tour, but it certainly helps!
Location: 2023 Stadium Dr #1A, Bozeman, MT 59715
About: As technology rapidly changes, this museum has to update constantly. It was initially the American Computer Museum, but its renaming reflects the growth in robotics and artificial intelligence. Here you’ll find ancient and modern artifacts, some quickly obsolete, that show the evolution of how we save and share information.
This is what you might expect in Silicon Valley, so why Bozeman? Simple: it’s the home of computer collector George Keremedjiev, who founded the museum in 1990.
#8 Castle Ghost Town
In the late 1800s, this was one of Montana’s boomtowns. Nearly 2,000 people called it home, including Calamity Jane.
Location: off U.S. Highway 294 near Lennep, MT
About: Silver mining brought a rush of people to Montana, hoping to strike it rich. This community enjoyed a brief but profitable boom starting around 1882.
At its height, the Castle mining camp had a school and businesses with more than a dozen saloons. Its most famous resident was the legendary outlaw Calamity Jane. Historians believe she moved here to escape the more renowned mining town of Deadwood, South Dakota.
This ghost town is on private property, but you can catch glimpses from the highway.
Traveler’s Tip: Check out The Curious Case of the Missing Town in Montana.
#9 Grasshopper Glacier
Millions of grasshoppers in ice? Yes, it’s true!
Location: in Custer Gallatin National Forest in Park County, MT
About: It’s a sad fact that glaciers are rapidly receding, so there aren’t as many grasshoppers in this unique location. At one time, Grasshopper Glacier held millions, and they were a species long extinct.
A geologist made the startling discovery in 1914. Researchers believe the insects perished in a storm, and snow and ice encased them. To see them, drive along the incredibly scenic Beartooth Highway, then a four-mile hike.
#10 Historic Dumas Brothel Museum
This handsome brick building has a surprisingly recent and lurid past.
Location: 45 E Mercury St, Butte, MT 59701
About: Businesses that offered prostitution, which some called bordellos or houses of ill repute, were a mainstay of the Old West. They were a sign of the times.
This Victorian-era structure in Uptown Butte remained open illegally until 1982 and is now a museum. That 92-year stint puts it in the record books for longevity. It isn’t open anymore, but you can take a guided tour.
Have Fun Exploring Montana’s Quirky Travel Spots
In many places in Montana, you may feel like you’re stepping into the Old West. Even the cities can feel remote. But there’s plenty to do besides admiring the mountains and trying to catch a glimpse of bison, elk, or bighorn sheep.
Another characteristic of Montana is that the people there share a strong sense of adventure. Some are the personalities behind these, and other unique travel stops. They’re the ones who make Montana more fun for visitors and send us home with incredible memories.
Where will you go on your next adventure to Montana?
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