People think Montana is prettiest in the summer between June and August. It’s warmer, or it’s ski season between December and March.
They’re not entirely wrong, but we think Montana has some amazing things to offer year-round! Depending on what kind of experience you’re looking for, you need to decide when to go.
Montana weather varies a lot from day to day and depends on which side of the Continental Divide you’re on.
Winters in Montana east of the divide are usually colder and windier, but summers are much warmer. Western Montana has slightly warmer winters, but cooler summers with colder nights.
The valleys in Western Montana often get inversions during the winter, which makes for cloudy days for weeks on end.
Generally, summer high temperatures (F) climb into the 80s, and winter lows are in the teens. On the other hand, it’s not unusual to have snow in June or September at higher altitudes, or for a day to start sunny and warm only to end with sleet and snow.
Because of this, no matter what time of year you go to Montana, you’ll want to layer up, so you can adapt to quickly changing weather.
Winter in Montana
Big Sky Resort in the south to Whitefish Mountain in the north (and plenty of other options in-between) Montana has world-class skiing and snowboarding options in the western part of the state, and many people come from all over the country and world to ski and snowboard here.
You can also try cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, dog sledding, and ice climbing in Montana if downhill skiing isn’t your thing. During Montana’s longest season, November through March, the snowfall is heaviest – so there’s plenty of time to enjoy a winter wonderland.
There are more people on the ski hills and at major resorts in the winter, but Yellowstone National Park and Glacier National Park are quieter. Yellowstone only has the road between Mammoth Hot Springs and Cooke City open, and Glacier only has the Going-to-the-Sun Road closed, but you can still get to some parts of the parks for a crowd-free experience. There are visitor centers in both parks that stay open in winter, so you can find out about skiing and snowshoeing trails.
Spring in Montana
It’s hard to plan a trip to Montana in the spring. There’s a lot of rain and sometimes snow. However, if you’re willing to be flexible and take the weather in stride, you’ll see Montana when very few tourists do – just make sure to pack for changing weather.
We love how vibrant Montana is in the spring because of all the rain. There’s a lot of green in Montana, from fields to hillsides to mountains to wildflowers. You’ll also find a lot of wildlife and baby animals.
Take a spring hike across Montana to see the state’s spectacular views. Just be careful around wildlife on the road and trails, and follow the signs.
Most rafting companies in the western part of the state start their trips in May and June, so you can take advantage of high spring river levels and peak rafting conditions.
Summer in Montana
Montana is often touted as a great place to visit in the summer, with its consistently warmer temperatures. Summer in Montana is awesome, but a lot of the major attractions that draw people to the state, like Yellowstone and Glacier, plus state parks, wilderness areas, and recreation areas, get crowded in the summer months. However, if you’re okay with crowds, you’re bound to have a great time in Montana this summer.
It may take a while to get to two of the country’s most popular national parks, but it’s well worth it to see all the wildlife, camp, hike, and other nature activities that go along with them. Throughout the rest of the state, there are hundreds of trails, campsites, rivers, and lakes less traveled and full of fun.
All summer long, Montanans are out enjoying these natural resources and recreation options!
Fall in Montana
As with spring, fall in Montana is a shoulder season, when the benefits of visiting aren’t as obvious, and the weather can be a little unpredictable. The fall, however, offers spectacular views and outdoor fun.
With the summer crowds thinned out, the air got crisp, and the leaves turned gorgeous shades of gold, red, and orange. It’s incredible in Montana any time of year, but it’s especially beautiful in the fall. Fall is the perfect time to hit the road after the crowds leave and before the snow flies.
As you drive, take some breaks to enjoy Montana’s crisp fall days. Fall is a great time for visiting Montana if you’re interested in fly-fishing, hiking, mountain biking, and rock climbing along Montana’s rivers and trails.