Montana is known for its proliferation of blue-ribbon trout streams. Yet most folks don’t know the long and short of Montana’s rivers. The longest is the Missouri, which flows 1,029 miles from Three Forks to the North Dakota border. The Roe River was recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s shortest at 201 feet.
Makoshika: Pronounce it ma-KOE-sheek-ah. Montana’s largest state park, whose name meant “bad earth” or “bad land” to the Sioux Indians, is a geologist’s paradise. 11,400 acres of layered rock formations studded with pine and juniper house the fossil remains of dinosaurs such as tyrannosaurus rex and triceratops.
Plenty of movies have been filmed here. So if you’re out on the Gallatin River catching cutthroat trout, look down at the rock you’re standing on. Brad Pitt may have done the same in A River Runs Through It. Or talk calmly to a horse outside of Livingston and pretend you’re Robert Redford in The Horse Whisperer.
Choteau — Pronounce it “Show-Toe.” This cozy nest between the dizzying expanse of Montana’s wheat country and the spectacle of the Rocky Mountain Front is kind of like a rocking chair on the front porch of the Bob Marshall Wilderness. Stop at the Old Trail Museum and learn about the vast inland sea that covered this area and the herbivorous dinosaurs that roamed its shores.
Medicine Lake National Wildlife Refuge, which encompasses more than 30,000 acres in the northeastern corner of the state, is known for its white pelican nesting colony as well as attracting thousands of migratory waterfowl and prairie songbirds. For information on hunting, camping or fishing in the area and details on species you’re likely to see during spring and fall migrations, visit www.fws.gov/medicinelake.
Cuts Wood School is nationally recognized as a successful model for Native language immersion with a multi-generational approach. The school’s mission is to use the Blackfeet language as the tool (not object) within a local context to produce fluent speakers and future ambassadors of the Blackfeet ways.
Rapelje — If you want to sound like you’ve been around for a while, pronounce this town’s name, RAP-ul-jay. If it doesn’t look like there’s a road to this sweet spot in the heart of rolling ranch country, zoom in a little more on your map. There is indeed a road to Rapelje, and also a community cafe, so stop on in.
Havre — In spite of the fact that it was named after a French man, this hub of northern Montana is not pronounced like you learned in French class. Say it like this: HAV-uhr. Then once you learn to say it, learn what it’s like. Until you’ve experienced this country, you won’t know what all the talk about Big Sky really means.
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Public lands, state and national forests and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land constitute roughly 35% of the state, opening up much of the state for recreation and a myriad of other uses.