Explore Hidden Gems: 5 Charming Small Towns in Western Montana

Nestled among the rugged peaks of the Rocky Mountains, western Montana is a region of extraordinary natural beauty and rich cultural heritage. While many visitors come to this part of the state to explore the famed Glacier National Park or ski the slopes of Big Sky Resort, some of the region’s most charming destinations are its small towns. 

These communities offer visitors a chance to experience Montana’s legendary hospitality and laid-back lifestyle while exploring historic Main Streets, local museums, and the great outdoors. Let’s take a closer look at some of the best small towns in western Montana, each with its own unique character and attractions. From the mining town of Anaconda to the fly-fishing mecca of Ennis and the Native American community of Arlee, these western Montana towns are sure to enchant visitors with their rugged beauty and warm hospitality. 


Arlee is a small town located within the Flathead Reservation in western Montana. The town is home to the annual Arlee Powwow, held around the fourth of July each year. The powwow celebrates the cultural heritage of the Salish and Kootenai tribes. Be sure to stop by the National Bison Range located nearby on Highway 200. Or make a stop by the Garden of 1,000 Buddhas for a Montana experience like no other.


Anaconda is a historic town known for its copper mining heritage. The town features a well-preserved main street and several historic sites, including the Washoe Theater, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Visitors can also explore the nearby Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness Area, which offers hiking, fishing, and hunting opportunities. When visiting, you won’t be able to miss the enormous smelter stack that looms over the town. “The Stack” was established by the Anaconda Mining Company, which mined copper ore in the nearby area. Now a state park, you can visit the Stack and learn about the rich mining history in this area.


Ovando is known as the Jewel of the Blackfoot Valley. This tiny town in western Montana is a hidden gem for outdoor enthusiasts. The town is located near the southern end of the Bob Marshall Wilderness and houses the big Blackfoot River, which winds through the vast ranch land. There are many opportunities for hiking, paddling, and horseback riding. Don’t forget to check out the main street, which features 100-year-old buildings with shopping and restaurants. 


This historic town in the Bitterroot Valley dates back to 1841 when Roman Catholic missionaries established Saint Mary’s Mission, making it the first non-indigenous permanent settlement in what we know today as Montana. Flanked by the Bitterroot and Sapphire mountains, Stevensville boasts incredible wildlife, outstanding views, and a plethora of outdoor recreation opportunities. After an epic day floating and fly-fishing on the Bitterroot River, visitors can enjoy a historic Main Street and downtown area with more than 40 buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places, numerous gift shops, restaurants, two breweries, and a distillery; all within a few blocks of each other. 


Ennis is a picturesque small town in southwestern Montana, just 60 miles southwest of Bozeman. Ennis is known for its world-class fly fishing on the Madison River. The town is surrounded by the scenic Madison Range and The Tobacco Root Mountains, making it an ideal destination for outdoor enthusiasts and hunters. While there, explore the town’s charming main street, which features local shops, restaurants, and galleries.

No matter where the roads lead, you’ll be sure to find rich history across western Montana. There are many, many other small towns throughout Montana but these are just a few “close to home” for Xplorer Maps. It’s always nice to “Get Lost” everyone once in a while!