What Is the Best Time to Travel to Montana?

It depends on your planned activities, but the best time to visit Montana is early July.
Written by Jessie Devine
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
Updated on Jun 01, 2022
If you want to connect with nature, hear great country music, and hit some of the best rivers in the US, go to
. January is perfect if you like winter sports, but look into early July if you want to explore the outdoors.
Montana is a top destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Besides containing some of the best trails, rivers, and ski resorts in the world, the state is home to two national parks and hosts top country music and arts festivals. It is also the original home of twelve tribal nations, whose cultures you can learn about all over the state.
But with so many activities and the differences between Montana’s four seasons, it can be difficult to decide when to go. Luckily,
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The best times of year to travel to Montana

Deciding when to visit Montana depends on what you want to do when you get there. If you want to visit some of the state’s famous ski areas, you’ll have to go in winter. But if it’s hiking, swimming, and camping you’re interested in, aim for early July

Peak season: July and August

Summer in Glacier National Park
The good: Best time of year for outdoor activities, music festivals, and more
The bad: Smokey skies, lots of tourists
The weather: Mid 70s to low-90s
Summer is Montana’s peak season, and it’s easy to see why. The state is home to
Glacier National Parks
and has some of the largest expanses of untouched wilderness in the country. Beautiful places like the
Bitterroot Valley
are lush and green this time of year, surrounded by breathtaking mountains and ready to be explored.
Outdoor enthusiasts will find what they’re looking for in Montana, which offers hiking, horseback riding, camping, fishing, and—possibly one of the most Montana things of all time—river floating—that is floating down one of Montana’s many rivers in an innertube with your friends and a cooler full of goodies.
If you’re looking for a Montana cultural experience, summer is a great time to hit up the
Montana Fair
or a local community picnic. Also, check out the
Arlee Espapqeyni Celebration
, the state’s biggest powwow, which happens every 4th of July.
Other popular summer events include the
Under the Big Sky Festival
in July and the
Headwaters Country Jam
in August.
Pro Tip If you want to try a river float, go in early July when the spring runoff has calmed, but the river isn’t yet so low that your bum scrapes the rocks.

Off-season: December to March

Snowy road through Glacier National Park, Montana
The good: Good skiing and snowboarding
The bad: Lots of snow
The weather: Very cold—frequently reaches subzero temperatures
Montana is home to popular ski areas, including
Lost Trail Powder Mountain
Big Sky Resort
Whitefish Mountain Resort
, and many more. If you’re a skier or a snowboarder, visit Montana during the winter. Sledding and snowmobiling are also popular activities during this time.
But if you don’t like snow, steer clear. This is the coldest time of year, with temperatures dipping below zero and snowfall piling up by the foot.
Pro Tip If you do find yourself in Montana during the winter and you’re not a winter sports fan, try soaking at one of the
natural hot springs

Shoulder season: April and May, October and November

A moody morning in Montana
The good: Lower rates, fewer tourists, mild weather
The bad: Lots of rain in spring, fewer outdoor activities
The weather: 50s and 60s
Spring and fall make up Montana’s shoulder season, the times between the peak- and off-seasons. Visiting during these times, you’ll avoid peak tourist season and the worst of the winter weather. 
The spring tends to be rainy, and it’s not a great time for someone with allergies.
However, fall is a beautiful season in Montana, with cool weather, crisp mornings, and color-changing leaves. There are harvest festivals and fall celebrations, like the Bitterroot’s
Apple Day
and Butte’s
. You can also pick up pumpkin-flavored baked goods at any local coffee shop and head over to the
Montana Book Festival
Montana Film Festival
is also in the fall!
Pro Tip Coming from a Montana native, my favorite time of year in Montana is October!

The cheapest time to travel to Montana

The absolute cheapest time to visit Montana is late January. This is when the holiday season is over, tourists are headed home, and the state is at its coldest. 
This is great news if you want to hit the ski hills, but if you’re looking for something a little less frigid, try March. The snow is starting to melt and temperatures are milder—while rates are still pretty low. If you don’t mind getting muddy, you can even try a nature walk somewhere like the
Lee Metcalf Wildlife Refuge
(it’s free!).
Pro Tip Nature walks are fun in Montana’s early spring, but this is not the time to head into the mountains if you’re a beginner.

Find the best month for your visit to Montana

Still not sure when you should visit Montana? Look at the table below.
Best month to visit
Hiking, camping, outdoor activities
The weather is the best during July. The rain has stopped, but the skies haven’t filled with wildfire smoke.
Country music festivals
July and August
The biggest country music festivals in the state happen in July and August.
American Indian cultural events
biggest powwow
in the state happens in Arlee on the 4th of July.
While there are many great months for fishing in Montana, June offers the best weather and water conditions for beginners.
Skiing or snowboarding
January has the best flight rates and the most snow of the year.
Community and arts festivals
October or November
The fall sees book and film festivals as well as many fun harvest celebrations
Pro Tip There will be fun things to discover no matter when you come, so pick a month and gear up for an adventure.

How to find savings on car and rental insurance

Montana is a huge, rural state, so you’ll need a car to get around. Whether you’re driving or
renting a car
at the airport, it’s important to make sure you have good car insurance before you get there.
Licensed broker and insurance genius
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On average, Jerry users save about $887 a year on car insurance. That’s a good chunk of money to put toward your Montana vacation.
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