7 Awesome Adventures to Do This Fall in Montana

Underneath Montana's famous big sky lies rugged mountains, wild rivers, gorgeous plains and more adventurous destinations than you could tackle in two lifetimes.

By: The Outbound Collective + Save to a List

That's what we love so much about this state: whether you're looking for an adventure to challenge your body and mind, or simply looking to relax in the beauty of nature, Montana has it all. 

It's tempting to say that every destination is a little off-the-beaten-path in Montana, but there are some spots that are tucked further out of sight, waiting to be discovered. Here are a few of our favorites.

Adventure by Sally Henkel

This 47-mile trail along the spine of the Swan Mountains in northwest Montana is a backpacker's dream but also calls out to day hikers who are looking for an off-the-beaten-path adventure. Head on an out-and-back trek for as long as you'd like, or go all-in for a four- or five-day backpack. It's particularly beautiful in the fall when the Western Larch trees turn golden before losing their needles for the winter.

Adventure by Lucas Boland

Flathead Lake, south of Kalispell, is the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi, and a paddler's delight. Launch from the North Flathead Yacht Club to enter into a quiet cove that's ideal for casual paddlers, and enjoy a beautiful view of the Mission Mountains. 

Adventure by Jen Weir

The hike to Cataract Falls is short, sweet and worth every step. Located in the Lewis and Clark National Forest, the trail crosses Elk Creek numerous times before ending at a waterfall that cascades over the rocks. The views of the Rocky Mountain front are stunning.

Adventure by KayDee Johnson

Stretch your legs south of Billings on the Upper Layout Creek Trail. The trail climbs gradually over scrubby, open slopes before topping out with a panoramic view into the valley below. You can either turn around and head back down or extend your hike by exploring the open terrain. The top is a great spot to enjoy a picnic and snap some photos.

Adventure by Jackson Smith

The Madison River runs for over 180 miles through Montana and Wyoming and should be on every fly fisher's list. Ply the water for rainbow trout, brown trout and mountain whitefish, but don't forget to sit back and take in the wild scenery, too. For beginner fishers, or those who are looking to snag that perfect spot on the river, guide services are readily available.

Adventure by Seth Langbauer

10,742-foot Beehive Peak is perfect for a day of scrambling. Technical climbing is required to reach the summit, but the mountain is a playground for those who'd rather keep two feet firmly planted to the ground, too. The ascent includes crossing boulder fields, scree and route-finding through an open basin. Be sure to practice Leave No Trace and explore responsibly.

Adventure by Ross Perkins

If Montana happens to catch late-fall, early-winter snow, head to the Idaho/Montana border for a winter wonderland adventure at Lolo Pass. Snowshoe, backcountry ski, snowmobile, or just take a drive to enjoy the beauty of the remote and wild area. Be sure to travel with at least one adventure buddy, and be prepared...like most mountains in the winter, this is avalanche territory.

Cover photo by Sally Henkel

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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