Montana Vacations for the Whole Family

Montana's nickname is "Big Sky Country." With its wide-open, unspoiled landscapes, blue skies, spectacular national parks and wildlife and its very own dinosaur trail, a Montana vacation is a great choice for families. While a winter vacation in Montana can be fun, the best time of year to enjoy Montana vacations is the late spring, summer or fall months.

Museum of the Rockies, Bozeman
Founded in 1959, The Museum of the Rockies at the Montana State University in Bozeman is dedicated to the cultural and natural history of the northern Rocky Mountains. There are a number of permanent exhibits, including an extensive collection of dinosaur fossils. There is also a Living History Farm, in which visitors can experience everyday life in an early 20th century homestead as well as a Planetarium. The museum, planetarium and gift shop are open every day. The Living Farm is closed from mid-September to mid-June. Combination tickets are sold for $9.50 for adults and $6.50 for school children. Ages 4 and under are admitted free. Tickets are also sold individually for the museum or planetarium.

Bannack State Park
Just 18 miles west of Dillon is Bannack State Park, a registered historic landmark and authentic ghost town. The town was constructed on the site of Montana's first big gold strike in 1862. The 50 buildings lining the town's main street have been preserved rather than restored. Walking tours are available at the visitor center. The park and ghost town are open from January 1 to December 13; however, the visitor center is only open from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Mineral Museum, Butte
The Mineral Museum is located on the campus of the Montana Tech Campus in Butte. The museum's collection consists of more than 1,300 mineral specimens from Montana's rich mining history, including a 27.8-ounce gold nugget and a 400-pound smoky quartz crystal, as well as minerals from around the world. Particularly fascinating is the Fluorescent Room, where a number of minerals exhibit fluorescent colors under ultraviolet light. The museum is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Call ahead to reserve a guided tour and inquire about ticket prices.

Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park, in the northwestern corner of the state, covers 1.4 million acres of spectacular wilderness beauty. There are more than 50 glaciers in the park itself and many miles of hiking trails. There are plenty of activities for children including the Junior Ranger program for children ages 6 to 12, guided boat tours (operated by an outside vendor) and the education cabin at the Apgar Visitor's Center, which has exhibits specially designed for children. Since the park is so large and fairly remote, it's wise to plan an overnight stay at one of the many small historic lodges along the Going to the Sun Road, the main road that runs through the park from East to West. The entrance fee to the park is $10 per car. The park is open year round but park services are only available from late May through September.

Great Northern Carousel, Helena
The Great Northern Carousel contributes to the old-fashioned atmosphere of downtown Helena and is open year round. The 40-foot wide enclosed carousel features 37 hand-carved animals including buffalo, bighorn sheep, grizzly bears, rabbits, otters, fish, horses and a dinosaur along with a chariot and spinning tub. Flashing lights and organ music complete the experience.

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