Now Boarding: Explore Montana’s history and hikes

Jared visits his old hiking grounds in Great Falls, Montana, where he first started his career in news.
Published: Oct. 1, 2023 at 3:07 PM MST
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GREAT FALLS, MT (3TV/CBS 5) — Great Falls is in central Montana, a few hours south of Glacier National Park and a few hours north of Yellowstone. While millions of people pack the national parks each year, Montana is a massive state full of other less-crowded spots to enjoy.

The Missouri River winds through Great Fall. You’ll find more than 50 miles of trails for hikers and bikers, which make up the River’s Edge Trail system. The trails will take you by Giant Springs State Park and all five of the waterfalls that give Great Falls its name. The waterfalls on this stretch of the Missouri River famously delayed the Lewis and Clark Expedition in the early 1800s, and you can learn all about it from the signs along the pathways.

Within an hour’s drive, you can choose from a number of different hikes near Great Falls to explore rocky peaks, waterfalls, and more. A favorite spot for hiking, swimming, and fishing is Sluice Boxes State Park, created by a creek carving a valley through the limestone.

South of the city, you can hike to First People’s Buffalo Jump, which is both a state park and a National Historic Landmark. Along the trail, you’ll learn about the tribes of the Northern Plains driving bison off the cliff centuries ago.

While only around 60,000 people call Great Falls home (plus a few thousand more on Malmstrom Air Force Base), the downtown area has plenty of hotels and local restaurants.

For more than a decade, Allegiant Air has offered direct, nonstop flights from Phoenix-Mesa Gateway. The flights to Great Falls operate several days a week, year-round, and will get you from the Valley to Montana in just over two hours!

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