1. Lewis and Clark Caverns: Montana’s first State Park, the Caverns showcase Montana’s unique geology. A tour of the Northwest’s most impressive limestone caves takes about two hours, and involves roughly two miles of hiking, most of it inside the caverns themselves, which stay at 50 degrees no matter what the weather is like outside. However, there is a handicap accessible option. The park also has miles of biking and hiking trails. Tours start May 1, but the Park is open all year.
2. First Day of Fishing and Tap into Ennis: Ennis, one of the most legendary fishing towns in the west, celebrates the opening day of the fishing season with Tap into Ennis, one of the only combined Spirit and Brew fests in the state, featuring only Montanan breweries and distilleries. Fish all day, and then come back to town and indulge in Montana’s best alcohol. May 16.
3. Grant-Kohrs Ranch: Spring means baby animals at the Grant-Kohrs Ranch. This National Historic Site celebrates 150 years of agriculture in Montana with guided tours of the historic ranch house, ranger-led talks about the history of the ranch and agriculture, self-guided walking tours, and plenty of hands on kids’ activities. Open year-round.
4. Old Butte Historical Walking Tours: There are a number of ways to tour Butte, but the Old Butte Historical Walking Tour gives you an up close and personal look at this historic mining city, taking you down alleys, through buildings, and even underground to the speakeasies and jail old Butte. Most tours last about two hours, and reservations are required. Remember that you’ll be walking the entire time, and tours are not handicap accessible. Call for reservations.
5. Tizer Gardens: Montana’s only fully certified botanical garden and arboretum, Tizer Gardens is one of the hidden gems of Southwest Montana. The gardens contain thousands of plants, shrubs and trees from around the world, and spring is a perfect opportunity to see some of the early-blooming wonders, or to buy plants for your garden at home. Nursery opens April 11, Gardens open in May.
6. Big Hole National Battlefield: Open from sun-up to sunset, the Big Hole National Battlefield commemorates a battle between the U.S. Calvary and the Nez Perce under Chief Joseph, and is part of the Nez Perce Trail. Visitors to his historic site can watch a 30 minute video oriented them to the area and history, and then follow one of several self-guided tours. In addition, the area makes an excellent place to picnic and fish.
7. Tour the State Capitol and visit the Montana Historical Society Museum: Perfect for rainy spring days when the weather won’t cooperate, the State Capitol and the MHS Museum are right across the street from each other. Hour-long tours of the Capitol focus on the art, architecture, and history of this beautiful building, frequently voted one of the most beautiful state capitols in the U.S. Montana’s Museum, right next door, showcases the history of Montana, with displays highlighting every era of the state, and one of the largest collections of C.M. Russell paintings in the world.
8. Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge: Located in Montana’s extreme south, this nearly untouched wildlife refuge is one of the most ecologically diverse in the whole system. From the grasslands of the Centennial Valley, through the wetlands of the lakes, and into the Continental Divide of the Centennial Mountains, Red Rock Lakes NWR is home to a diverse array of wildlife, and in the spring, that means babies. Trumpeter Swan cygnets, elk and moose calves, deer and pronghorn fawns, hundreds of species of birds, and carpets of new wildflowers welcome visitors. Spring at the NWR doesn’t get under way until mid-May and early June.