Helena is Montana’s Capital City, boasting a rich history that was spurred by the Gold Rush in the late 19th Century. In addition to a history that will pique your interest, the Helena Area is home to numerous lakes, an incredible trail system, and charming communities. Explore the museums, main streets and mountains that make Montana unique.
Helena Area Communities
Augusta sits at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, nestled beside the Bob Marshall Wilderness. The wide open spaces that surround Augusta have lured cattlemen to the area for decades making this the ideal location for a western vacation. This charming community is located in the most northern corner of Southwest Montana and offers a wide range of wildlife viewing opportunities.
Boulder is surrounded by the Elkhorn Mountains and settled nearly halfway between Butte and Helena. Its central location made Boulder a prominent stagecoach stop, but the town lived on after the stage faded. Boulder is home to Boulder Hot Springs as well as a number of radon health mines and Elkhorn State Park.
Canyon Creek sits just 6 miles north of Marysville and Great Divide Ski Area directly on Montana Highway 279 between Helena and Lincoln. This small community features an Antique and General Store as well as a post office. For recreation, Canyon Creek is not far from the Marysville/Austin Snowmobile Trail, Stemple Pass Ski Trail, and the Helena National Forest.
Clancy made it on the Montana map as a silver mining camp in the 1870s. While many boom towns quickly disappeared, resident Henry Hill saved the town with his woolen mill. Clancy rests just 12 miles south of Helena. You’ll find Park Lake and the Sheep Mountain hiking and climbing area nearby. Don’t miss the Jefferson County Museum located in the old red schoolhouse.
The community of Craig is all about fishing! Settled along the Missouri River, you won’t have to look very far for guides, outfitters, and a good ol’ fishing tale. Craig offers a perfect combination of stunning scenery and world-class trout fishing. You’ll find Holter Lake just upstream, offering additional recreation and camping access.
When East Helena first came to be, it was a stagecoach stop known as Prickly Pear Junction. In 1888, the lead smelter which operated until 2001 was built. Namely, East Helena is a suburb of the Capital City but they feature one of the best rodeos in Montana and have a 4th of July fireworks display that rivals even Butte. Canyon Ferry, Holter, Hauser, and Lake Helena sit nearby.
For William Henry Hrrison was established by an act of congress in May 1892. Fort Harrison is located just outside of Helena, Mntana’s capital city. The Fort is home to the Montana National Guard, US Army Reserve, and US Navy Reserve. You will also find the Veterans Administration Hospital, Montana Military Museum and Service Club.
Montana’s Queen City of the Rockies is home to stunning architecture and a rich history that began with the gold rush. In 1864, four prospectors gave it “one last chance” to strike it rich and established Helena. Hike or bike on the extensive trail system in the South Helena Hills, visit the stunning Cathedral of St. Helena, dig into Montana history at the Historical Society, or follow in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark at Gates of the Mountains.
Jefferson City’s crown jewel is that of Tizer Gardens and Arboretum, Montana’s only botanic garden. Jefferson City can be found in the footprint of the Elkhorn Mountains. There are a number of recreational opportunities including fishing accesses like Tizer Lakes and Elkhorn Ghost Town State Park.
Marysville is just down the hill from Great Divide Ski Hill and is often referred to as a semi-ghost town. While there are a number of residents, many of the buildings remain unchanged from the 1880s and 90s and are listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. The Marysville House is a local favorite and the perfect place to enjoy a meal after a long day on the slopes.
Just south of Helena sits Montana City, a small suburb that began as a placer mining camp in the wake of Last Chance Gulch’s success. There are a number of businesses and the popular Montana City Grill located in the community. After spending the day recreating in the Beaverhead-Deer Lodge National Forest, consider resting your feet in Montana City.
Radersburg came into existence in the 1860s as a mining town. The charming small town stands today as an access point to the Elkhorn Mountains. Most notably, you’ll find Crow Creek which leads to Crow Creek Falls which is a perfect afternoon hike. The community’s biggest claim to fame is that actress Myrna Loy was born there in 1905.
Toston sits along US Highway 287 between Townsend and Three Forks. Settled along the banks of the Missouri River, we know the Corps of Discovery made their way through this area. In fact, between the Toston Dam and the south end of Canyon Ferry Reservoir they made nine camps. Today you’ll find a recreational site and ample access to the river.
Located on Canyon Ferry Reservoir, Townsend has long been considered a fishing community and is increasingly popular among ice fishermen. The reservoir offers camping, boating, swimming and more. Townsend’s small town hospitality makes grabbing a pint or a bite to eat a welcoming experience. Unique to Townsend is Goos Bay where you can watch glass be handblown or purchase their pieces.
Winston sits along Montana Highway 287 and the shores of Canyon Ferry Reservoir. Winston is a small agricultural community that exemplifies true Montana values. The Big Bull Bar brings locals from near and far and the Stonehouse Distillery sets this community apart. Recreational opportunities abound and many visit the area for camping, fishing, hiking, and hunting.
Wolf Creek makes the perfect place to pause and take a deep breath before setting off on any number of adventures. Just east of Wolf Creek, sits Holter Lake offering camping, boating, and fishing. The Missouri River provides some of the best blue ribbon trout fishing in the state. Don’t miss the stunning Gates of the Mountains, a prominent destination on the Lewis and Clark Trail.
We’re committed to keeping Montana’s outdoor spaces, communities, residents, and visitors safe. As you enjoy all the area has to offer, please join us in following these guidelines for responsible recreation.
- Know before you go
- Practice physical distancing
- Plan ahead
- Play it safe
- Explore locally
- Leave no trace
- Build an inclusive outdoors