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Montana Stops on the Way

Great Falls is a Town to Fall For

Explore urban trails, waterfalls, craft beer and more in Great Falls, Mont.

Located along the Missouri River in central Montana, on the route Lewis and Clark took to explore the West, Great Falls, Mont., is bursting with places to explore.

Start your day in Great Falls by hitting the trails. Explore the River’s Edge Trail, 56 miles of mixed pavement and singletrack following the beautiful Missouri River. Pick up a trail map at Great Falls Montana Tourism at 15 Overlook Dr. and choose your adventure. You can walk or bike to view Great Falls’ five namesake waterfalls, and four dams, as well as the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, which has the largest collection focusing on the entire Corps of Discovery Expedition in North America.

Explore one of the town’s favorite sections of the trail by taking 15th Street north and turn east onto River Drive to get to the historic BNSF caboose. Hop on the trail to walk, bike or rollerblade to Giant Springs State Park, home North America’s largest natural spring. Walk across the open bridge to watch water flow at a stunning rate of 156 million gallons per day. Also in the park, you’ll find Roe River, the world’s shortest river. In one location, you can stand near North America’s longest river, the world’s shortest river and North America’s largest spring.

Walk across the open bridge in Giant Springs State Park in Great Falls, Montana
Walk across the open bridge in Giant Springs State Park. (: Great Falls Montana Tourism)

Interested in exploring the River’s Edge Trail on a bike? Head to Knicker Biker to rent one to explore the trail’s singletrack sections east of town or hop on a Bird scooter to see all the sites.

If you’re looking for stunning alpine scenery, head an hour and a half northwest of town to the Our Lake Trailhead. Hike three miles to this pristine alpine lake surrounded by breathtaking peaks. Add an optional mile stroll around the lake before turning back. The scenery is similar to Glacier National Park, but you won’t need a reservation to explore it.

The Rainboffalo: a selfy-worthy piece of environmental art along River’s Edge Trail in Great Falls.
The Rainboffalo: a selfy-worthy piece of environmental art along River’s Edge Trail in Great Falls. (Photo: by Marisela Hazzard courtesy of Great Falls Montana Tourism)

While you’re out exploring the trails, don’t miss Great Falls’ incredible outdoor art scene. You’ll find art pieces along the River’s Edge Trail to check out while you’re walking or biking and take in the downtown mural walk, which is added to each year during Montana ArtsFest in August. You’ll see incredible murals adorning the sides of buildings and alleys throughout downtown. Head out on The Great Buffalo Hunt to find 20-plus life-sized bison art pieces throughout town with themes like “Buffalo Nights” featuring the Northern Lights and “Rainboffalow,” a rainbow trout and bison hybrid. Find their locations online at VisitGreatFallsMontana.org/the-gre-buffalo-hunt.

After spending time on the trails, the waters of the Missouri River might start to look pretty inviting, especially on a hot day. Rent a stand-up paddleboard or kayak at Bighorn Sports or Montana River Outfitters. In town, put in at the Missouri River and float 12 miles south from Broadwater Bay boat ramp. Forty-five minutes from town, you can head to the extremely popular Holter Dam area where you can float 7 miles to Craig or go beyond Craig an additional eight miles to Mid Canon. Grab your fishing license and head to Broadwater Bay or West Bank for an afternoon searching for taunt lines.

Rafting the Missouri River near Great Falls, Montana
Rafting the Missouri River. (Photo: Great Falls Montana Tourism)

Ready to relax? Head to Mighty Mo Brewing Co. for local Montana craft beer. The barley used to brew the beers is all grown within 50 miles of Great Falls. You can also refuel on hand-crafted pizza and several varieties of mac and cheese – including mac and cheese on a pizza.

Looking for More Adventure?

Sluice Boxes State Park

Hiking in Sluice Boxes State Park near Great Falls, Montana
Hiking in Sluice Boxes State Park. (Photo: Great Falls Montana Tourism)

Just 34 miles from Great Falls, Montana, hike past former mines, historic cabins and limestone cliffs in Sluice Boxes State Park, a rugged, understated gem that’s dog friendly. Follow the trails past limestone cliffs and dip your toes into the clear, cool waters of Belt River that runs through the park. While bear encounters are rare, bring bear spray as a safety precaution.

Missouri River Breaks National Monument

Forty minutes northeast of Great Falls lies Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument, which spans 149 miles of the Upper Missouri River. A highlight is its striking White Cliffs area. Made of sandstone, this badlands area offers hiking, river floating, fishing and more. Be sure to plan ahead if you need a guide.

Canoes and kayaks adorn the shores of the White Cliffs, part of the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument.
Canoes and kayaks adorn the shores of the White Cliffs, part of the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument. (Photo: by Roland Taylor courtesy of Great Falls Montana Tourism)

First People’s Buffalo Jump State Park

First People's Buffalo Jump State Park near Great Falls, Montana
First People’s Buffalo Jump State Park. (Photo: Great Falls Montana Tourism)

Head 15 miles southwest of Great Falls, and you’ll see a mile-long sandstone cliff, which Native Americans used to hunt bison for more than 2,000 years. Stop at First Peoples Buffalo Jump State Park to explore what is North America’s largest bison cliff jumping site.

Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail Interpretive Center

Learn all about Lewis and Clark’s expedition and their time spent in the area at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center
Learn all about Lewis and Clark’s expedition and their time spent in the area at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center (Photo: by Marisela Hazzard courtesy of Great Falls Montana Tourism)

Along the River’s Edge Trail is the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail Interpretive Center where once inside, you can pull a canoe (made from the wood of a hollowed tree) against the Missouri River’s strong current to see what Lewis and Clark were up against when they passed through the area. But the center is unique in that it covers the entire 1804-06 journey the two men and their team took. It also tells the stories of their experiences with Plains and Northwest Native Americans. Discover more when you go on the center’s outdoor ranger tour.

C.M. Russell Museum

Museum visitors view a painting by C.M. Russell in Great Falls, Montana
Museum visitors view a painting by C.M. Russell in Great Falls, Montana (Photo: Great Falls Montana Tourism)

You’ll find a gorgeous museum dedicated to western artist extraordinaire C.M. Russell in Great Falls.

While artist Charles Marion Russell died in 1926, you’ll discover evocative scenes from the 1800s and early 1900s depicted across his broad canvases with splashes of bright-colored paint at the C.M. Russell Museum. You’ll find herds of boisterous elk and the haunting sunlit faces of three Native Americans witnessing a steamboat on the Missouri River for the first time.

While artists of Russell’s era like Thomas Moran and Frederic Remington traveled to the West periodically, Russell stayed, carving out a rich life in a corner of the West where the Great Plains roll up to the Rocky Mountain front. The museum, his home and log-hewn studio sit on the city block where Russell, his wife Nancy and son Jack lived.


Learn more at visitgreatfallsmontana.org