Montana is still one of the most popular vacation destinations in the country. Tourism is an important part of our economy and 'busy seasons' hardly exist anymore - it can be busy any time of year. There ARE tricks you can use while visiting Montana to save money, avoid headaches, and enjoy your vacation more.

'SHOULDER SEASONS' DO EXIST, AND NOT JUST SPRING OR FALL: Depending on where in Montana you want to visit, a little flexibility in your travel dates can be a total game changer for costs and availability. Not all regions of Montana are super busy at the same time. For example:

In Bozeman, Montana during the Sweet Pea Festival in early August, popular downtown hotels can start at $400 per night. If you can visit 30 days later, those same nice hotels are $300 per night. You also be able to book other accommodations in the Bozeman area for far less money.

Billings, Montana on the flip side, can be far more expensive to stay in July. Big Billings events such as the Strawberry Festival, the Big Sky State Games, and the Big Sky Balloon Rally create high demand and higher prices during July. But if you can visit in June or August, you'll find hotel prices to be much more affordable.

Kalispell, Montana holds more true to the 'traditional' travel shoulder seasons because of it's proximity to Glacier National Park and it's smaller airport vs. summer demand. May, June, July, and August are going to be far busier than April or September. But those 'cheaper' months can be absolutely stunning around the Glacier area.

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Spanish Peaks from Bozeman, Montana
photo - Michelle Wolfe

GETTING OFF THE INTERSTATE MIGHT BE THE BEST ROUTE: Summer is construction season for many states, but Montana can have a very limited amount of time to get major highway repairs done. Use road construction season to get off the highway and 'take the long way'. Montana was made for this kind of road trip.

Driving on more rural roads forces you to slow down a bit. You'll see more Montana landscape, have more chances to pull off the road to check things out, and probably far less traffic if you encounter road construction. Pay close attention to the Montana Department of Transportation updates and MDT maps. Apps like PassWarrior are excellent too.


GET UP EARLY AND EXPLORE WITHOUT CROWDS: Almost every Montana town is pretty sleepy in the morning. However, towns big and small always have fantastic, local breakfast joints. If you want to feel the REAL vibe of a place, get up early and go have breakfast.

How big is Montana? Even locals lose perspective of just how big Montana is. If you drove across Montana on I-90 the whole way, you'd drive 700 miles, and travel for approximately 10 hours (without major delays).

Yellowstone National Park to Glacier National Park: It takes a decent day of driving to get from one park to the other, under perfect driving conditions. It's about 400 miles and nearly 7 hours of drive time between them. If you DID drive that straight shot, you'd miss out on all the Lewis & Clark history, parks, and monuments in between.


SMALL TOWN MONTANA = BEAUTY AND FUN: Spending time overnight in Montana's smallest towns can be packed with surprisingly fun things to do, all on a smaller budget than the bigger cities. History buffs and river rats alike can have a good time. Consider:

Sunrise in Bozeman, Montana
photo - Michelle Wolfe

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