10 Unique Things to Experience in Great Falls, Montana (2023)

Located in the north-central plains of Montana, Great Falls sits on the banks of the Missouri River and takes its name from one of the nearby five waterfalls on the mighty Missouri River. Known for its rich heritage including a considerable influence from the of 1805-06, Great Falls is home to the CM Russell Museum Complex, the , the shortest river in the world and the largest freshwater spring in the United States, offering a true basecamp to art and adventure for guests. The true western charm of the area is readily evident in the area’s festivals, restaurants, and breweries. Here are 10 unique ways to explore Great Falls.

1. Go Local at the Annual Lewis & Clark Festival

Each June, the rich area history of Great Falls is celebrated at the Lewis & Clark Festival. With reenactments, hands on learning, live music and a glimpse into the past, the Lewis & Clark Festival celebrates the tenacity of the expedition. A perennial favorite of the Festival’s events is the river boat cruise at the Gates of the Mountains, a stunning site of historic significance south of Great Falls on the Missouri River. Meriwether Lewis waxed poetic about the area in his journals, writing, “In many places, the rocks seem ready to tumble on us. At each bend in the waterway, great stone walls seemed to block passage, only to open like gentle giant gates as the expedition drew near. I shall call this place: Gates of the Mountains.” The cruise is led by a local Lewis & Clark scholar, who provides a rich area narrative throughout the two-hour ride.

2. Take in Western Art Week

10 Unique Things to Experience in Great Falls, Montana (1)

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Western artists, enthusiasts, and art buyers descend upon Great Falls for its annual art festival.

Each March, western artists, enthusiasts, and art buyers descend upon Great Falls, making this community the Western Art Capital of the World! Oil, watercolor, sculpture, and contemporary art—all celebrating the rich cultural heritage of the West—are placed on display throughout town. Visitors can interact with artists in various showrooms, watching them create new works of art in a live setting, and “quick-draw” events challenge the artists to creative custom works of art in a short timeframe. Experience the famed First Strike Friday Night Live Auction at the Russell, which always draws a lively, passionate crowd, then relax at one of the many after-show venues throughout town.

3. Gaze at Mermaids at the Famed Sip ’n Dip Lounge

10 Unique Things to Experience in Great Falls, Montana (2)

Sit back and enjoy your drink at this Montana legend.

Great Falls may seem an unlikely location for a bar voted by GQ Magazine as the “#1 Bar in the World worth flying for,” but one visit to the Sip n Dip Lounge makes the reasoning quite clear. Clear as water, that is. Sit back and enjoy your drink at this Montana legend while watching live mermaids swim in a pool built into the wall behind the bar; the glass wall makes viewing easy. The bar’s infamous lounge singer, Piano Pat can often be found playing at the Piano Bar, and from June to September an outdoor patio offers the opportunity to soak up Montana sunshine and sip on Montana’s Best Tiki drink

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4. Cowboy Up at the Montana PRCA Circuit Finals Rodeo

Perhaps nothing is more innately western than rodeo. From the thrill of bull riding to the precision and speed of barrel racing, these ranch-rooted events draw in visitors from around the globe. Every January, the Montana PRCA (Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association) Circuit Finals Rodeo comes to Great Falls inside the Pacific Steel and Recycling Four Season’s Arena, bringing in its wake a host of cowboys, cowgirls, horses, cattle, and western celebration. Watch as contestants pit their skills, wit, and competitive ability against each other in a series of heart-stopping events. The Miss Rodeo Montana pageant, an auction, and a dance round out the busy week of activities.

5. Explore Giant Springs State Park, the Largest Freshwater Spring in the US

Discovered by the Lewis & Clark Expedition in 1805, aptly named Giant Springs flows at an impressive daily rate of 156 million gallons of water. The water comes from the Madison Aquifer in the nearby Little Belt Mountains, taking approximately 26 years to reach the springs. Water temperature remains at a steady 54 degrees year-round, resulting in stunning steam during the winter months. The most-visited state park in Montana, Giant Springs draws more than 300,000 visitors a year and offers 4,500 acres for exploration, including more than 20 miles of singletrack trail to hike and bike. Miles of paved trails offer a relaxed option for those so inclined, and visitors often spend their time fishing and viewing the diverse, dramatic landscapes.

6. See the Shortest River in the World

The Roe River, flowing a mere 200 feet between Giant Springs and the Missouri River, is recognized in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s shortest river. Originating from the largest freshwater springs in the U.S., the Roe becomes surprisingly deep as it enters the Missouri, gaining depths of six to eight feet. The river competes with Oregon’s D River for the title of world’s shortest, but a campaign by Great Falls schoolchildren in 1988 resulted in the Roe taking the title. Ironically, the world’s shortest river flows directly into the longest river in Montana, the Missouri River.

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7. Explore the CM Russell Museum

The vast plains and open country surrounding Great Falls served as powerful inspiration for famed cowboy artist, and humanitarian, Charles M. Russell. A visit to the C.M. Russell museum affords travelers the opportunity to explore one of the nation’s largest collections of Russell’s paintings, sculptures, drawings, and illustrated letters. The complex includes the artist’s original house and log cabin studio, which were designated a National Historic Landmark in 1965. The museum also features five permanent galleries, each dedicated to celebrating Russell’s love for documenting the daily life of local cowboys and Plains Indians. Even a quick visit will grant a new appreciation for the region’s impressive history.

8. Sip Local Brews at Local Microbreweries

Housed in a renovated historic building in downtown Great Falls, Mighty Mo Brewing Company is the perfect place to refuel after a day of adventure in north-central Montana. The energetic atmosphere showcases the pride these local brewers take in their craft, and lead brewers Casey and Reanna can be seen working throughout the day. The name Mighty Mo comes from the nearby Missouri River, running through the middle of town. The company’s beer is brewed using Missouri River water. Beer names are all related to the river itself, including the flagship beer “Dam Fog,” coined after the fog-like mist that rises from the Great Falls of the Missouri River when the water falls from the dam. Other options for beer-lovers in town are the Front Brewing Company, Black Eagle Brewing, and Harvest Moon Brewery. For those looking for locally brewed beer, the barley used in the brewing process is grown and malted in this region—making the beer in this area about as locally grown as possible.

9. Hike the River’s Edge Trail

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The River’s Edge Trail covers 58 miles of the Missouri River in and around Great Falls.

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The award-winning River’s Edge Trail runs a vast 58 miles (and growing) along both sides of the Missouri River, offering spectacular views of local parks, waterways, hydroelectric dams, reservoirs, and the surrounding prairie. Walkers, runners, and bikers can pause to explore stops including Giant Springs Heritage State Park and Fish Hatchery and the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, and rest stops are dotted along the length of the trail. Paved urban trails, including a 3.5-mile loop in the heart of the city, are all wheelchair accessible and make up about a third of the total 58 miles. Dog and skate parks offer opportunities for those so inclined, and the riverside picnic areas are popular for lunch and dinner breaks.

10. Enjoy a Sunset at Benton Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Covering an impressive 12,383 acres just 12 miles north of Great Falls, Benton Lake National Wildlife Refuge is not a lake per say, but actually a 5,000-acre shallow wetland—and an oasis for water birds. Well-known in birdwatching circles, the area draws up to 150,000 ducks, 2,500 Canada geese, 40,000 snow geese, 5,000 tundra swans and as many as 50,000 shorebirds during the impressive spring and fall migrations. More than 28 species of mammals also call the area home, including badgers, squirrels, white-tailed and mule deer, and pronghorn antelope. The refuge offers vast views in every direction, making it the perfect place to sit back and take in a western sunset.

Originally written by RootsRated Media for Great Falls.

Featured image provided by Great Falls Montana Tourism

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FAQs

What is Great Falls Montana known for? ›

Great Falls straddles the Missouri River and is known as the "Electric City" because of its numerous dams and power plants. Great Falls is a community with grand traditions, rich history and superb recreational and cultural amenities for the entire family.

Is Great Falls Montana worth seeing? ›

Great Falls is well-known for its waterfalls, which make it a stunning place to visit. It is also one of Montana's best cities, with plenty to see and do. For visitors to the state's north-central area, it offers a taste of Montana's city life without the crowds.

What does Great Falls Montana have to offer? ›

Great Falls' boasts over 57 parks and 40 miles of River's Edge Trail along the scenic Missouri River. The City's premier park, "Gibson Park" features live music during summer months, a walking path, a playground, as well as a duck pond.

Is there a big waterfall in Great Falls Montana? ›

The dam raised the total height of the water to 177 feet.
...
Big Falls (Missouri River waterfall)
Big Falls
LocationNear Great Falls, Montana
Coordinates47°34′07″N 111°07′27″W
TypeSegmented block
Total height87 ft (27 m)
6 more rows

Where is the best view of Great Falls? ›

Overlook 3

Two viewing platforms provide the best view of Great Falls. This overlook is the last place that the Falls can be viewed. Overlook 3 does have an accessible trail.

What is the nickname of Great Falls? ›

Known as "The Electric City", Great Falls has a long tradition of history which began with the famous expedition of Lewis and Clark in 1805.

Can you drink at Great Falls? ›

Alcoholic beverages are prohibited in Great Falls Park.

Are there bears in Great Falls Montana? ›

Many species, like the grizzly bear and golden eagle, have vanished from other Western states but remain relatively plentiful in the wild spaces of Central Montana. You don't have to drive far from Great Falls to see some of our famed locals.

How many casinos does Great Falls have? ›

Great Falls Casino Stats
Casinos:75
Casino Hotels:2
Venues:40
Restaurants:45
Table games:2
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Which waterfall is in Jurassic Park? ›

Manawaiopuna Falls (colloquially known as Jurassic Falls) is a privately owned waterfall in the Hawaiian Islands, located in Hanapepe Valley on Kauai Island. It is 122 metres (400 ft) tall. It featured in the background of several scenes in the 1993 Steven Spielberg film Jurassic Park.

How long is the hike to Jurassic Falls? ›

The falls stand at 400-feet, and are virtually untouched by civilisation. If it's adventure that you're looking for, hikes through the muddy and wet, rich jungle vegetation are carried out by the Robinson family – you will need to set aside at least 4 to 6 hours for the hike, and be sure to bring plenty of water!

What is the most powerful waterfall in America? ›

1: Niagara Falls, New York

Niagara Falls is not only one of the famous waterfalls in the world but also the largest waterfall in the US in terms of volume. It is comprised of three different waterfalls - Horseshoe Falls, American Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls.

What movies were filmed in Great Falls MT? ›

Filming Location Matching "Great Falls, Montana, USA" (Sorted by Popularity Ascending)
  • The Untouchables (1987) R | 119 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller. ...
  • Unsolved Mysteries (1987–2010) ...
  • Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974) ...
  • Telefon (1977) ...
  • Holy Matrimony (1994) ...
  • The Slaughter Rule (2002) ...
  • Northfork (2003) ...
  • The Stone Boy (1984)

Can you see the Northern Lights in Great Falls? ›

GREAT FALLS — AURORA ALERT! The Aurora Borealis - also known as the Northern Lights - is out overnight (into the morning of July 23, 2022) and may be visible as far south as the yellow line!

Do you have to pay for Great Falls? ›

Great Falls Park Annual Pass: $35.00

Pass is valid at Great Falls Park and C&O Canal National Historical Park for entrance fees only. Admits the pass holder and occupants of a single, private non-commercial vehicle OR pass holder and three person (16 and older) where per person entrance fees are charged.

Where is the waterfall in Great Falls? ›

The Great Falls | Ryan Dam

After traveling a two-lane road that provides views of the expansive high plains and agricultural land, you will arrive at the viewing point of the Great Falls, located at 160 Ryan Dam Road.

What is the crime rate in Great Falls Montana? ›

Great Falls Annual Crimes
ViolentTotal
Number of Crimes2663,265
Crime Rate (per 1,000 residents)4.4054.02

What's the fastest growing city in Montana? ›

From July 1, 2020, to July 1 2021, Kalispell added 3,681 new residents. However, Bozeman wasn't far behind, adding 3,211 new residents in the same time period. Bozeman is the #3 fastest growing micropolitan area in the country. The #2 fastest-growing micropolitan area in the country is Jefferson, Georgia.

What Indian tribe is in Great Falls Montana? ›

The Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians is a band of the Chippewa Indians headquartered in Great Falls, Montana. The Little Shell enrollment total is 4,500 tribal members. The tribe is recognized by the State of Montana.

What should I wear to Great Falls? ›

Great Falls Park Hiking Tips

With plenty of hiking trails ranging in difficulty, Great Falls Park knows variation. Wear lots of sunscreen, bring enough water for the whole trail and back (recommended amount: 1 gallon), and wear over-the-ankle hiking shoes.

Is Great Falls water clean? ›

Great Falls Water Treatment Plant Manager Wayne Loveless and Water Quality Specialist Eva Maydole are two of the many experts who ensure that, from the Missouri River to the household faucet, Great Falls water is safe to drink.

Is Great Falls open at night? ›

Great Falls is open from 7 a.m. until dark daily.

What months are bears most active in Montana? ›

When can you see a bear? If you want to give yourself the best chance to see an active bear, September and October are the best months. Bears are most active during this period, preparing for their lengthy hibernation. Some of the most popular activities for bears include snoozing, wandering, and fishing.

What big cats live in Montana? ›

Montanans share the outdoors with three rarely seen native wild cats: the bobcat, the Canada lynx and the mountain lion.

What time of day are bears most active in Montana? ›

Make a lot of noise when hiking in the bear country, so a bear can hear you and run away. If you can't avoid the encounter, use a bear spray to deter bear attacks. Bears are most active early in the morning, late in the day, or after dark.

Does Great Falls have sales tax? ›

There is no sales tax in Great Falls, since Montana has no state sales tax and no local sales taxes apply.

How many waterfalls are in Great Falls? ›

When many people think of the Great Falls of the Missouri River, they imagine one large waterfall. But Montanans proudly explain there are five separate falls of the great river, extending approximately 10 miles that drop the water level a total of 612 feet.

How far is geyser from Great Falls? ›

There are 40.38 miles from Geyser to Great Falls in northwest direction and 45 miles (72.42 kilometers) by car, following the US-87 and US-89 and MT 3 and MT 200 route. Geyser and Great Falls are 48 minutes far apart, if you drive non-stop .

Where is graffiti waterfall? ›

Graffiti Waterfall is located in nearby Riverside. It's near Lake Hills Reserve, and in fact you'll see a sign for that if you attempt the hike. Please note that Lake Hills Reserve is not a park or wildlife preserve; it's a neighborhood.

What waterfall is in Hunger Games? ›

The Pool Scene - Bridal Veil Falls (2.1 miles from Fawn Lake access area) is the location where Katniss jumps in a pool of water after being burned. There are also a couple of quick shots of other tributes running across the rock beside the falls as they chase her.

Can you swim in Jurassic Falls? ›

no swimming allowed! Ground time for the falls is approximately 25 minutes.

How long is dragon's tooth hike? ›

Trail Length: 1.20 miles. Blazes: Blue blazes on Dragons Tooth Trail and white blazes after converging with the Appalachian Trail. Trail Difficulty: Moderate.

Is the Jurassic Park tour worth it? ›

Overall, I really enjoyed this experience and would have to recommend it to Jurassic Park fans, especially those who really like the newer Jurassic World. It's just such a fun experience to see where so many big movies were filmed and the scenery is simply stunning.

How deep is the drop on Jurassic Park? ›

When built, the 85-foot plunge was the largest theme park water descent ever constructed.

What is the deadliest waterfall in the world? ›

Kaieteur Falls
Kaieteur
TypePlunge
Total height741 feet/226 metres
Number of drops1 (highest flow single drop waterfall of the world)
Longest drop741 feet/226 metres
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What is the prettiest waterfall in the United States? ›

1. Niagara Falls, New York. Not just one but three waterfalls create the magnificence that is North America's largest falls, Niagara: Horseshoe Falls, American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls. They straddle the US and Canadian border formed by the Niagara River, and no matter your vantage point, they are wondrous.

Where are the 3 tallest waterfalls in the US? ›

The Tallest Waterfalls in America

The three tallest waterfalls in the United States are in the Hawaiian Islands. The two tallest, Olo'upena Falls and Pu'uka'oku Falls, both descend the same steep cliff into the Pacific Ocean on the north coast of the Island of Molokai.

What is the main industry in Great Falls Montana? ›

Plus, Great Falls is known for its thriving architecture, engineering, design and construction scene with dozens of firms hiring. On this page, check out major employers who are often hiring and dive into your fullest career potential in Great Falls.

Is Great Falls Montana a good place to live? ›

Living in Great Falls offers residents a dense suburban feel and most residents own their homes. In Great Falls there are a lot of bars and parks. Many families and young professionals live in Great Falls and residents tend to lean conservative. The public schools in Great Falls are above average.

What is living in Great Falls Montana like? ›

Currently rated as one of the best places to live in Montana, Great Falls low crime rates, low cost of living, and bountiful gardens makes it a coveted city in the state. Known as the Electric City because of its numerous power plants and dams, Great Falls remarkable outdoors makes the city an amazing place to live in.

What is the fastest growing city in Montana? ›

From July 1, 2020, to July 1 2021, Kalispell added 3,681 new residents. However, Bozeman wasn't far behind, adding 3,211 new residents in the same time period. Bozeman is the #3 fastest growing micropolitan area in the country. The #2 fastest-growing micropolitan area in the country is Jefferson, Georgia.

Where is the richest place in Montana? ›

Richest Cities in Montana
RankCityCounty
1WhitefishFlathead County
2ColstripRosebud County
3CulbertsonRoosevelt County
4BozemanGallatin County
6 more rows

What is the safest city in Montana? ›

Kalispell and Bozeman share the honor of Montana's safest city (within the population parameters), each earning a -0.17 Safety Index score. Of the two cities, the larger city of Bozeman looks more impressive on paper, with a 2.78 per 1,000 violent crime rate that is below state and national averages in the category.

What is the coldest month in Great Falls Montana? ›

Great Falls's coldest month is January when the average temperature overnight is 11.3°F. In July, the warmest month, the average day time temperature rises to 82.0°F.

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