Like many towns in the region, Helena was founded by miners looking for gold in Last Chance Gulch. This particular vein was more successful than most and by the turn of the century Helena had more millionaires per capita than any town in the United States. It had also become the state capital, which helped preserve much of the town’s architecture and shaped Helena into the diverse town it is today. You’ll find cultural events, fine shops, historic sites and a splendid state capitol building all in Helena. But make sure you get outside of town too. The area boasts plenty of wildlife and recreational opportunities along the Missouri River corridor.
Last Chance Gulch and Tour Train
Historic buildings on the site of Helena’s famous gold strike where $3.5 billion in gold was removed in two years. Enjoy historic shopping area, art galleries and dining. The best way to see the sites of Helena is on the one-hour train ride providing tours of the Capital City, complete with a lesson in Helena’s colorful history. 406-447-1535, 888-423-1023. View more details about Last Chance Gulch Pedestrian Mall and the Last Chance Tour Train
State Capitol Building
Recently renovated example of Greek Renaissance architecture as well as an important part of Montana’s past and future. Inside, murals depict Montana history. 406-444-2694. Click for details
Cathedral of St. Helena
Modeled after the Votive Church in Vienna, Austria, its 230-foot spires dominate the Helena skyline. The interior is even more impressive. 406-442-5825. Click for details
Original Governor’s Mansion
Visit this 1888 Queen Anne-style mansion that was the official governor’s residence between 1913 and 1959. 406-444-2694. Click for details
Montana Historical Society Museum
Located across from the capitol and founded in 1865 to preserve Montana heritage. Includes paintings by famous cowboy artist Charlie Russell. Also the center for tours of historic Helena sites. 406-447-4710. Click for details
In the 1880s, Reeder’s Alley provided housing to miners working the "Last Chance" mining camp. Pick up a map and take a walking tour. 406-449-6522. Click for details
Montana Military Museum
Montana’s official military repository, a rich collection of memorabilia, artifacts and archives, ranging from Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery through modern time. Located at the Fort Harrison complex in Helena. 406-324-3989.
Lincoln Lodge and Community Hall
Both log buildings in the town of Lincoln are on the National Historic Register. The lodge is an 18-room hotel. 406-362-4949.
Upper Blackfoot Valley Historical Society Museum
This museum collection of displays and Lincoln Gulch Gold Mine artifacts shares the valley’s heritage with visitors. Behind the Hi-Country Trading Post in Lincoln. 406-362-4949. Click for details
Elkhorn Ghost Town
Among the lonely remnants of this ghost town is Fraternity Hall, a favorite subject of photographers. South of Boulder off Highway 69. Seasonal access. 406-444-3270. Click for details
St. Joseph’s Catholic Mission Church
Colonial-style church dating to 1875, reflecting the roots of many local settlers from Canton, New York. The church reached its present location in Townsend in 1952 when Canyon Ferry Reservoir was filled. 406-266-4101.
Archie Bray Foundation
Archie Bray Foundation
Established in 1951 on the site of a brick factory, the Bray attracts artists from around the world. Tour the studios and grounds of this unique endeavor in the ceramic arts. 406-443-3502. Click for details
Holter Museum of Art
Contains the best in regional fine arts and crafts, with new shows opening every six weeks. It hosts nationally known and local artists. 406-442-6400. Click for details
Myrna Loy Center
Offers new performance and art experiences with a link to the past vaudeville touring companies that frequented Helena between the 1880s and 1920s. 406-443-0287. Click for details
Producing up to ten performances a year, this is one of Montana’s best live theater experiences. Located in a historic church built over 100 years ago, renovations have been made to ensure modern comforts. 406-442-4270. Click for details
Montana Shakespeare Company
Sit under the starry skies and watch some of the most captivating theater in the heart of downtown Helena. Shows run regularly throughout the month of July. 406-449-4466.
Alive @ Five
Every Wednesday throughout the summer months, a different downtown block hosts events filled with food, drinks, live music and other entertainment. The event is free and for all ages. 406-447-1535.
Great Northern Carousel
Hand sculptured, this amazing work of art features 38 animals and original stained glass from the historic Old Broadwater Hotel of Helena, dating back over a hundred years. Enclosed, the carousel can be enjoyed year-round. 406-457-5353. Click for details
The Helena area is home to various cultural productions and performances throughout the year. For more information contact the Helena Chamber. 406-442-4120. Click for details
Gates of the Mountains
Gates of the Mountains
Spectacular canyon north of Helena named by Meriwether Lewis for the illusion created by the steep limestone cliffs that seems to open as you travel the Missouri River. Seasonal boat tours available. 406-458-5241. Click for details
Rocky Mountain Front Migration Corridor
Rogers Pass east of Lincoln is a migration route for eagles in October/November. As many as 125 bald eagles and 800 golden eagles have been counted at one time.
This rugged wilderness area is north of Lincoln and adjacent to the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area. 406-449-5201. Click for details
Sun River Canyon
Ruggedly beautiful landscape in this area northwest of Augusta. Superb range for game animals and other wildlife including one of Montana’s largest herds of bighorn sheep.
Tizer Botanic Gardens
Situated in the heart of the Elkhorn Mountains, the gardens are seven acres of perennials, annuals, roses, wildflowers, herbs, vegetables and more than 12,000 bulbs. There are also theme gardens, shade gardens and a Lewis and Clark garden. Located in Jefferson City, 18 miles south of Helena. 406-933-8789. Click for details
Canyon Ferry Wildlife Management Area
Waterfowl and wildlife viewing including abundant ducks, swans, geese and osprey. Take Highway 12 east through Townsend one mile, then left on North Harrison Road and follow to the end. 406-444-2535. Click for details
Elkhorn Wildlife Management Area
129,000-acre wildlife area managed by the National Forest Service. Near Townsend, the area is home to many indigenous animals including big game. 406-444-2535.
Canyon Ferry Lake
Holter and Hauser Lakes/Beartooth Wildlife Management Area
Created by dams on the Missouri River near Helena, these lakes are perfect for fishing, swimming, camping and water-skiing. Elk, deer and bighorn sheep flourish in the wildlife area. 406-444-2535. Click for more details about Holter Lake and Hauser Lake.
Canyon Ferry Lake
Large reservoir on the Missouri River near Townsend offers camping, sailing, boating, swimming, fishing and rockhounding. Ice fishing and ice boating are popular in the winter. 406-444-2535. Click for details
- Bill Roberts Golf Course - City-owned golf course that offers an intermediate challenge. 406-442-2191. Click for details
- Green Meadow Country Club - A good challenge for the more experienced golfer with narrower fairways lined with mature trees. 406-442-5750. Click for details
- Fox Ridge Golf Course - Located in the Helena Valley. Helena’s newest course offers 18 holes of par three as well as 18 holes of regulation. 406-227-8304. Click for details
Great Divide Ski Area
Great Divide is a Great Big Place with over three miles of terrain from end to end including 140 named trails, open glades, bowls and a terrain park. Family-owned, friendly and affordable. 406-449-3746. Click for details
Bob Marshall Wilderness Area
One million-acre wilderness area with trails including the upper Sun River and the Blackfoot Valley on the other side of the Continental Divide. Contact a local guide before tackling the "Bob." 406-449-5201.
Helena Big Horns
Helena’s Junior League hockey team. Season runs October-March. Call for schedule. 406-457-2817.
Blackfoot and Little Blackfoot Rivers
Fine fishing opportunities abound in both rivers, with the Blackfoot also popular with white-water rafters. Headwaters are near Lincoln and Ovando. View more details about the Blackfoot River.
Missouri River - The best fishing is from Toston Dam to Townsend, downstream from Canyon Ferry Lake and on to Hauser and Holter Dams.
Other Helena Area Communities
Augusta sits on the northern edge of Southwest Montana and is a gateway to the immense Bob Marshall Wilderness and adjoining Scapegoat Wilderness. Known as a friendly town in a scenic location, there are restaurants, motels and a full array of visitor services. 406-562-3247. View Augusta information and listings
This town, named for the massive rocks scattered around the valley, was established in the 1860s as a stage station and later became a major trading center. Home to Boulder Hot Springs, Elkhorn Ghost Town and radon health mines (including Free Enterprise, Sunshine, Earth Angel and Merry Widow), used to relax and treat arthritis, lupus, asthma and other ailments. While health mines do not guarantee any cures, some visitors claim that their health has improved from breathing the gas within the mines. Don’t miss the architecture of the old courthouse, dedicated in 1889. 406-225-3381. View Boulder information and listings
Jefferson City was named after President Thomas Jefferson by Lewis and Clark. The town began as a stage stop for passengers and freight between Fort Benton and Virginia City. In the early years, this area yielded millions of dollars in gold and silver. 406-933-8789. View Jefferson City information and listings
The Continental Divide bisects this area. To the east is the Sun River Canyon, to the west is the Blackfoot River Valley and to the north is nothing but pristine wilderness. In town, there are several buildings on the National Historic Register including Community Hall. The Blackfoot Valley Historical Society Museum is also worth a visit. Lewis and Clark Pass can be accessed near here, visit the Helena National Forest ranger station for directions and a map. View Lincoln information and listings
Outdoors-oriented town located at the end of Canyon Ferry Lake, near where the Missouri River pours in. It is virtually untouched and home to excellent hunting and fishing opportunities, also the site of two Lewis and Clark areas mentioned in the journals. The city hosts the Montana high country cattle drive three times each summer, a working cattle drive which actually moves herds to pasture. See the Chamber of Commerce for maps and information on the local museum, St. Joseph’s Catholic Mission Church and historic mining and scenic areas in the nearby Elkhorn and Big Belt Mountains. 406-266-4101. View Townsend information and listings
Small ghost town and community northwest of Helena. Once a booming gold camp with several buildings listed on the National Historic Register. View Marysville information and listings