91 Interesting Facts About Montana

Last updated on March 27th, 2023

74. For World War I, Montana contributed one of the highest numbers of soldier per capita of any state. It was higher than 25% of any other state on a per capita basis.

75. Did you know that during World War II, almost 30 Japanese balloons landed in Montana? However, no damage to life or property resulted from these balloons.

76. Montana is also home to the largest ICBM field in the U.S. covering 23,500 miles.

77. Interestingly, Montana has given its three electoral votes to Republicans ever since the early 1950s with the exception of Lyndon Johnson’s in 1964 and Bill Clinton in 1992.

winter road in Montana
Facts about Montana. Photo © Jacob Lynch

78. The small town of Summit, located on the southern border of Glacier National Park, sits at an altitude of 5,216 feet. In January, 1972, Summit set the state records for greatest snowfall in 24 hours; greatest snowfall in four days; greatest snowfall in five days; and the greatest snowfall in one month. A total of 131 inches fell during that month. Some of the records have since been broken, but it remains a blizzard of truly epic proportions.

79. In Maine, 82 percent of the state is forested (the most in the nation) and in North Dakota only 1 percent (the least). In Montana, 27 percent of the land is forested, with nearly all of it in the state’s western half.

80. The Sioux word for “bad earth” or “hell” gave us the name for Montana’s largest state park, Makoshika, near Glendive in eastern Montana. The park features badlands, hoodoo formations, and fossils, including Tyrannosaurus Rex and Triceratops.

81. The only state with more grizzly bears than Montana is Alaska. Today there are around 1,800 grizzly bears in Montana. Only 10 percent of grizzlies living in the northern Rocky Mountain region die of natural causes; the rest are killed by humans, either deliberately or accidentally. The grizzly became Montana’s state animal in 1982 when 52,000 schoolchildren voted on the issue. The runner-up was the elk. The only land mammal with a slower reproduction rate than the grizzly is the musk ox of Alaska.

82. Millions of bison used to roam the plains of Montana. It took only seven years to reduce their numbers from an estimated 60 million to just 541 left in the world by 1889. Today about 500 bison live at the National Bison Range in Moise, Montana, in addition to a number of privately-owned herds. Yellowstone National Park has between 3,000 and 5,000 bison at any given time.

83. The beaver is the largest rodent in Montana, weighing up to ninety pounds. Its teeth can grow an inch in a single month. The porcupine is Montana’s second-largest rodent, weighing up to forty-five pounds.

Insect on a Montana Bitterroot Flower
Insect on a Montana Bitterroot Flower. Photo © Frankljunior

84. The bitterroot is the Montana state flower. It can live for over a year without water and can be revived even after being boiled, dried, or pressed. Its Latin name Lewisia rediviva reflects its tenacity with “Lewisia” being for Meriwether Lewis who cataloged it, and “rediviva” meaning “one who lives again.”

85. Fort Benton is as far inland as a person can navigate by boat on any continent. Located 3,560 miles from the Gulf of Mexico, it’s known as the “world’s innermost port.” In the early days of river navigation, 20 percent of the steamboats that left St. Louis bound for Fort Benton via the Missouri River never returned to St. Louis. Fort Benton was the end of the line because five waterfalls blocked the Missouri River where the city of Great Falls is now. When Lewis and Clark portaged the 18 miles around the falls in 1805, the effort took them 31 days.

Middle Fork Flathead River in Glacier National Park, Montana, US.
Middle Fork Flathead River in Glacier National Park, Montana, US. Facts about Montana. Photo © Maksershov

86. In 1896 the U.S. government agreed to pay the Blackfeet Indian Nation $1.5 million for the tribe to relinquish all rights to their ancestral lands that now compose Glacier National Park. The government paid the fee at the rate of $150,000 per year for ten years. Today over 3 million tourists visit Glacier Park annually.

87. In the 1870s the invention of electricity and the popularity of indoor plumbing spurred a great need for copper to carry electrical current and water. Butte had a lot of copper. Thirty percent of the nation’s copper, and fifteen percent of the world’s copper, was supplied by Butte in the 1880s. In the process, what was once “the richest hill on earth” was transformed into the deepest lake in the state, called the Berkeley Pit. This toxic lake is about 1,800 feet deep. By comparison, the deepest natural lake in the state is Tally Lake near Whitefish, which is 500 feet deep.

Berkeley Pit and Yankee Doodle tailings pond
Berkeley Pit and Yankee Doodle tailings pond: Butte, Montana. Image credit – NASA

88. In the 1880s copper king William Clark, the richest person on earth, was earning $17 million a month from his mine holdings in Butte. Meanwhile, workers in his mines earned $3.50 per day. Wages remained $3.50 a day for nearly 40 years, until they got a raise in 1917 to $5.25 per day. Around 18,000 miners were working in 138 mines in Butte in 1917. A century later, the invention of fiber optic cable for communication and PVC pipe for plumbing led to the collapse of the copper market. There are around 250 miles of streets in Butte and over 2,500 miles of underground mining tunnels beneath the streets.

89. Chet Huntley, a famous newscaster born in Cardwell, Montana, was the driving force behind the construction of the Big Sky ski resort town, but died three days before the grand opening ceremonies in 1974. Today, Big Sky has more vertical feet of skiing than any other ski area in the nation, with 4,180 feet.

90. Montana has 14 ski areas operational, with a combined area of 14,000 acres of skiing and 548 downhill runs. It would take about 14 hours at a maximum capacity of 72,000 people per hour to give a lift to the entire population of Montana in the state’s 65 ski lifts.

91. With Deer Lodge as the county seat, Powell County has the greatest ratio of men to women in the state, with 162 men for every 100 women. Deer Lodge is the location of the State Penitentiary, where an average of 1,600 men reside. In second place is Toole County, with 129 males for every 100 females; this is the location of Crossroads Correctional Center, a privately owned prison with about 665 inmates.

Seismic Geyser
Seismic Geyser. Facts about Montana. An illustrative image. Image credit – James St. John

The Boiling River: the point where hot spring enters Gardner River is referred to as the Boiling River. Both hot and cool waters come together to create warm temperatures that are comfortable for swimming. It is a naturally hot tub and a great spot to soak up the beauty of Yellowstone.

The Big Sky County: Montana is referred to as the Big Sky County due to its many vantage points. Its horizon spreads out under the panoramic sky as in the case of the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest. There are several vantage points to see the migrating waterfowl. The 2.8 million acre draws skiers, hikers, fishers, and mountain bikers from all corners of the world.

Home to Unique Wildlife: there were two forests initially in Neihart-Helena-Lewis and Clark, which later combined to become a home of peculiar wildlife. People visit the national park to see a mountain goat, elk, bighorn sheep, deer, grizzly bears, black bear, gray wolf, bald eagles, peregrine falcon, blue grouse, and mountain lion, among others.

The Custer’s Last Stand: the Battle of the Little Bighorn occurred around the ravines and ridges Little Big Horn River. The fight was between the soldiers of the Lakota Sioux, the Northern Cheyenne tribe, and the 7th US Calvary Regiment. The war happens to be a symbol of the clash of 2 completely different cultures: the horse/buffalo culture from northern plain tribes and the industrialized US. The aftermath was the death of Custer together with his troop. A national monument was built to commemorate the Great Sioux War of 1876 and a clash of culture.

Lone Mountain in Big Sky, Montana.
Interesting facts about Montana. The sun sets behind Lone Mountain in Big Sky, Montana. Image credit – Eric Moreno

Views of 3 US States: there is a bountiful mountain experience at the Big Ski Resort. There are 4 cliffs, 36 lifts, and over 300 runs. On clear days, you can see three states – Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana as well as the Yellowstone and Tetons national parks.

3 Wonders of the Great Falls: in 2011, the oldest man (Walter Breuning) on earth was said to hail from the Great Falls. Secondly, the shortest river in the world is found here. The Roe River runs about 201 feet. Thirdly, the biggest fresh water spring in the United States (Giant Springs) is in Great Falls.

Giant Springs in Great Falls, one of the largest freshwater springs in the world, pumps out 7.9 million gallons of water per hour at a constant temperature of 54°F. The water has been carbon-dated at three thousand years old. It forms the Roe River.

Great Falls 2019, NPS.
Great Falls 2019, NPS.

A Smoke Stack So Big: the Anaconda Smelter Stack dates back to 1918 and was created for the smelting operation of massive copper. Standing at 585 ft high, the chimney is one of the tallest freestanding masonry work, so tall that the Washington Monument can fit in.

The Rimrock Hoodoos: one of the best adventures you can do in Billings is hit Swords Park Trail. After about 0.8 miles, you will get to the hoodoos or toadstools. The colors of the rocks make great backdrops for photos. You can wander around in all directions but you may not climb them. While heading back to the trailhead parking, you can retrace your footsteps via the dry wash.

America’s Biggest Skiing: located midway between West Yellowstone and Bozeman, the Big Sky Resort got its name from its layout. Its paths are carved on a magnitude of terrain with a big sky above. Crowds love the powder stashes that are scattered evenly as a result of consistent snowfall. The land around here is covered by snow more than the skiers themselves.

The Surfing Downtown of Missoula: an evening stroll at Missoula would be incomplete without stopping by the bridge downtown. Surfers come here to ride waves of the gentle Clark Fork River. The man-made waves are right at the city center for the enjoyment of both locals and international tourists.

Most Historic City of Montana: Butte-Silver Bow was the first biggest city in Montana and in the west of Mississippi River. The early days involved the rise of Copper Kings and a mining camp that led to the founding of the labor movement. After decades of reduced mining, the city turned into an urban renaissance with a beautiful landscape.

Dinosaur Trail, Havre: the H. Earl Clack Memorial Museum gives an opportunity to visitors to drive through a series of dinosaur sites. The remains of the 75 million-year-old dinosaur embryos have been preserved at Judith River Formation. This is an indication that the area was once covered by an inland sea.

Yellowstone Wildlife Sanctuary- A Haven for Rescued Animals: abandoned and rescued native wildlife find shelter at Yellowstone Wildlife Sanctuary. The orphanage never releases the animals back to the wild. So you can go and learn all about the history of bobcats, mountain lions, bison, eagles, wolves, elk, and black bears.

About the flag of Montana

Flag of Montana
The state flag of Montana.
The current flag of Montana is easily identifiable with its name in golden letters on top of a vibrantly illustrated circular seal set in a sea of deep royal blue. The flag is definitely a clear symbol of Montana’s pride in its history, natural resources and scenery, and its economy.  
Read on to know more interesting facts about the state flag of Montana.  
History of the Montana Flag 
The state flag was adopted in 1905 but its origins date back earlier, during the Spanish-American war.
The flag was originally designed with the state seal and carried the name of the First Montana Infantry. After the war, the flag was donated to the state and it was officially adopted as the state flag in 1905.
Upon its adoption, the text 1st Montana Infantry USV was removed from its face. However, it was only in 1981 when the word MONTANA (equal in height to one-tenth of the total vertical measurement of the blue field) was added to the flag. In 1985, the font was officially specified as Helvetica Bold. 
It shows Montana’s pride as a mining state 
Montana’s mining heritage is prominently displayed on its flag in the form of the pick, shovel, and plow.
Depictions of mountains and forests are also prominent which represent the state’s natural beauty and abundant wildlife.
Above the seal sits in gold text the state motto saying Oro y Plata or Gold and Silver, two of the things significant to the state economy and history. These illustrations are apt since Montana was also known as the Treasure State. 
The mountains on the flag reflect the state’s name 
Montana comes from the Spanish word for mountain which is not surprising since the state is home to numerous majestic mountains.
Montana has 300 mountain peaks that reach at least 9,600 feet in height, accounting for the unique Montana vistas that people are familiar with today. Mining and prospecting were also mainly done in these mountains. 
It was originally an infantry flag 
Montana’s state flag started out as the flag carried by the First Montana Infantry that fought Spanish forces in 1898.
The design of the flag was commissioned by Colonel Kessler of the First Montana Infantry. It contained an embroidered replica of the state seal against a dark background.
It was honored with official recognition as the state flag in 1905. 
Interesting Facts 
Montana is the only state in the United States that has adopted a Spanish motto.
During deliberations, the committee tasked with designing a seal decided that it should contain essential elements of Montana’s economy and its direction for the future.
The motto was chosen based on the wealth that gold and silver mining contributed to the state. One member of the committee suggested that the Spanish translation has a better ring to it and the rest of the committee agreed.
This version of the seal was approved by both houses and signed into law by Governor Sidney Edgerton in February 1865. 
Another interesting fact is that Montana’s flag was ranked third among the worst-rated flags by the North American Vexillological Association. This may be partly due to its blue background which makes it difficult to distinguish from other state flags that also have blue backgrounds. Flags with words and elaborate seals also rank low. 

Montana – quick facts and state symbols

State AbbreviationMT
State CapitalHelena
List Of 50 U.S. States And Their Capital
State SizeTotal (Land + Water): 147,042 sq miles; Land Only: 145,552 sq miles
(Estimate as of July 1, 2022, United States Census Bureau.)
State by number of formation41st state
State rank by population43rd
State rank by area4th
Number of Counties56
Complete list of 50 states and number of counties in each
Bordering StatesIdaho, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming
Official LanguageEnglish
Highest PointGranite Peak, 12,807 feet
Lowest pointKootenai River at Idaho border
1,804 ft (557 m)
Mean elevation3,400 feet above sea level
% Water1
Length 255 miles (410 km)
Width630 miles (1,015 km)
National ParksGlacier National Park
StatehoodNovember 8, 1889
Electoral Votes3
GovernorGreg Gianforte (R)
Lieutenant GovernorKristen Juras (R)
State BalladMontana Melody
State MottoOro y plata (Gold and silver)
State NicknameBig Sky Country
The Last Best Place
Treasure State
State TreePonderosa pine
State SongMontana
Nobel Prize WinnersBrian P. Schmidt (Physics, 2011)
Famous PeopleGary Cooper
Patrick Duffy
David Lynch
State BirdWestern meadowlark
State ButterflyMourning cloak
State FishWestslope cutthroat trout
State FlowerBitterroot
State FossilDuck-billed dinosaur
State GemSapphire and agate
State GrassBluebunch wheatgrass
State MammalGrizzly Bear
Latitude44° 21′ N to 49° N
Longitude104° 2′ W to 116° 3′ W
Time ZoneMountain Time Zone
Area Codes406
Last updatedApril 27, 2023