15 Fascinating Facts About Montana

Were you aware that married women in Montana are prohibited by law from going fishing alone on Sundays?

Unofficially known as the “Treasure State” but officially as “Big Sky Country,” Montana became the 41st state to join the United States of America on November 8, 1889.

With a population of 1,068,778 people (as of 2019), it is the 43rd most populous state.

Montana shares borders with Wyoming, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Idaho and is the fourth largest state with 147,040 square miles (380,800 square kilometers) of land and water.

The capital of Montana is Helena and is situated in the western part of the state.

But let’s delve into some interesting facts about Big Sky Country!

Montana has been inhabited for over 12,000 years.

The Paleo Indians were the first to settle in the Americas.

At the end of the Ice Age, some 14,000 years ago, the first peoples crossed into North America from Russia via the Bering Strait.

The Anzick site near Wilsall, Montana, has the first archaeological evidence of human existence in the region, with the remains of a male infant carbon-dated to be between 11-13,000 years old.

Montana was home to several Native American tribes when Europeans first arrived.

For thousands of years, several different tribes have lived in the region now known as Montana, with some being nomadic hunter-gatherers.

When European explorers and traders arrived, they encountered various tribes, including the Cheyenne, Crow, Gros Ventres, Blackfeet, and Assinniboine in the central and southeast regions, while the Kootenai and Salish lived in the west, and smaller tribes such as Kalispel and Pend d’Oreille were closer to the western mountains.

France initially claimed Montana.

As Britain colonized the northwest of modern-day USA and Spain colonized the southern lands around modern-day Mexico, France also claimed a part of the Americas.

France’s North American claims were referred to as New France, with the most extensive territory later known as Louisiana, which stretched from Canada to Mexico.

France claimed vast land areas, including modern-day Montana, but little exploration, mapping, or settlement occurred in the majority of it.

The USA acquired Montana in 1804.

Napoleon Bonaparte ruled France at the turn of the 19th Century, with interests in other regions beyond central North America.

The US and France reached an agreement in which the entire French Louisiana, including Montana, was sold to the US for $15 million.

As a result, Montana came under US ownership on March 10, 1804.

Before the Lewis and Clarke Expedition, Montana was largely unexplored, with only a few French or Spanish fur trappers and traders passing through. However, President Thomas Jefferson wanted to learn more about the newly acquired Louisiana Territory, including the flora, fauna, and people who lived there. This led to the recruitment of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to explore the region, spending a significant amount of time in modern-day Montana during their three-year journey.

The first permanent European settlement in Montana was a Jesuit Mission founded by Father Pierre-Jean DeSmet in 1841. The Salish people had heard tales of Jesuit missionaries introducing new forms of agriculture, medicine, and religion, and after many attempts, they were successful in bringing a missionary to their village in 1831.

Montana Territory was founded in 1864 after a gold rush brought tens of thousands to the area to stake their claim. The discovery of valuable minerals led to the need for more organization, with Montana becoming its own territory after being split between other territories.

Montana’s name has a connection to the Spanish word montaña, meaning “mountain.” Early Spanish explorers named the whole mountainous westerly region of North America Montaña del Norte, and the name Montana was first proposed for the Territory of Idaho before being accepted for Montana Territory.

While most of Yellowstone National Park lies in Wyoming, parts of the park also lie in southwest Montana. In fact, Montana has more entrances to the park than Wyoming, including the West Entrance, North Entrance, and Northeast Entrance, with the North Entrance being the only one that allows year-round access to the park.

The biggest snowflake ever recorded fell in Montana.

Although snowflakes are usually small, the largest one I have ever seen is about half an inch (1.25 cm) wide.

However, Montana seems to have a talent for creating large snowflakes in the mountains. On January 28, 1887, a snowflake measuring 15 inches (38 cm) across was recorded in Montana!

Montana has the only remaining evidence of Lewis and Clarke’s trail.

Located near Billings, Montana, Pompey’s Pillar is a sandstone pillar that towers over the Yellowstone River.

Captain William Clarke named it after Sacajawea’s son, Pompey. The pillar’s sandstone walls contain petroglyphs, or animal drawings, created by ancient cultures.

Clarke also left his mark on the stone by signing it with his name and the date he passed through. This is the only known record of Lewis and Clarke’s journey.

Montana has the largest population of grizzly bears in the lower 48 states.

The grizzly bear is Montana’s state animal, and Montana is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including wolves, coyotes, moose, buffalo, elk, antelope, foxes and grizzly bears.

Some of the only free-roaming buffalo left in the world can be found in Montana.

Married women cannot fish alone on Sundays in Montana.

Unmarried women are also not allowed to fish alone on any day of the week. Other strange fishing-related laws include not being able to have a sheep in a car unless someone is chaperoning it.

In the capital city of Helena, it is illegal to throw anything from one side of the street to the other. And why is it illegal to drive a car with ice picks attached to its wheels in Whitehall?

Montana is famous for its water-related facts, such as Flathead Lake in the northwest, which is the largest US lake west of the Great Lakes.

The water from Montana’s mountains is unique and feeds into rivers that flow to the Pacific, Atlantic, and Arctic Oceans.

Montana’s sapphires are some of the finest in the world.

Yogo sapphires are found in Montana and are some of the most valuable sapphires in the world.

Montana’s Blue Stones

Back in Montana’s early gold rush days, small blue stones were discovered while prospectors were panning for gold. These stones were often overlooked and considered worthless until Jake Hoover had them appraised by Tiffany’s in New York. To everyone’s surprise, Tiffany’s declared them to be the most exquisite precious stones ever found in America and possibly the world.

Montana: A Haven for Outdoor Enthusiasts

If you are a lover of nature and the great outdoors, Montana should be at the top of your bucket list. With access to Yellowstone National Park year-round, an abundance of wildlife, and some of the best lakes in the western United States, Montana is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. The state’s rich wild-west history is an added bonus that sets it apart from many others.


1. What is Montana known for?

Montana is known for its stunning natural beauty, with the Rocky Mountains and Yellowstone National Park being two of its most famous attractions. The state is also known for its vast open spaces, outdoor recreational activities, and rich history.

2. How did Montana get its name?

The name Montana comes from the Spanish word “montaña,” which means mountain. The state was named after the Rocky Mountains, which dominate the western part of the state.

3. What is the state capital of Montana?

The state capital of Montana is Helena. It is a small city located in the western part of the state, and it is known for its historic architecture and outdoor recreation opportunities.

4. What are some of the famous landmarks in Montana?

Montana is home to several famous landmarks, including Glacier National Park, Yellowstone National Park, the Lewis and Clark Caverns, and the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument.

5. What is the climate like in Montana?

Montana has a diverse climate, with cold winters and hot summers. The eastern part of the state is generally drier and more arid, while the western part of the state receives more precipitation and is home to the Rocky Mountains.

6. What is the economy of Montana based on?

The economy of Montana is based on a variety of industries, including agriculture, mining, tourism, and manufacturing. The state is known for its natural resources, including coal, timber, and minerals.

7. What is the population of Montana?

As of 2021, the population of Montana is approximately 1.1 million people. The state is sparsely populated, with the majority of its residents living in urban areas such as Billings, Missoula, and Great Falls.

8. What are some unique facts about Montana?

Some unique facts about Montana include its status as the fourth-largest state in the U.S. by area, its abundance of wildlife such as grizzly bears and bison, and its history as a hub for cowboys and ranchers. Montana is also home to the largest snowflake ever recorded, which measured 15 inches in diameter.

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