Montana is known for big skies, but that doesn’t mean you need a big budget to visit. Experiencing miles of highway and towering mountains shouldn’t translate to a high credit balance, either. Here are a few tips for traveling on a dime in Montana.
Montana may seem like the land of big trucks and rugged off-road vehicles, but that’s not a requirement for on-pavement travel in summer. Don’t be afraid to go economy to save a few bucks if your route will keep you to paved roads (which many rental car agreements require, anyway). If you’re not feeling comfortable with the thought of driving mountain roads when the snow falls, signing on with a tour or group outing may be the best bet. And though we’re pretty rural here, areas like Bozeman and the Flathead Valley do have Uber and other rideshare apps.
When you want to save money, it pays to take advantage of lodging that offers convenient amenities at a lower cost. Bozeman, Livingston, Gardiner, and Bigfork all have affordable hotel options with extras like laundry service, in-room mini-fridges, complimentary breakfasts, and zippy free WiFi to make you stay even more comfortable for your wallet. Campgrounds such as Bozeman Trail Campground are also affordable options if you’re able to bring camping gear or an RV. Many offer similar amenities to a hotel for a lower price if you’re not opposed to glamping for a few nights. For more on how to find affordable accommodations in Montana, take a look at the Highline Adventures properties.
When you come to Montana to visit famous national parks like Glacier and Yellowstone, it’s easy to think that you need to book an in-park accommodation to get as close to the action as possible. But that can be pricey, and it means you miss out on experiencing the local culture and community of neighboring towns. By staying in a gateway community—those small towns and cities near the entry to national parks like Bigfork, Gardiner, or Bozeman—you’re supporting local businesses, getting a taste of Montana life, and saving money at the same time.
There are plenty of tasty local spots to try for casual dining, craft brews, and locally roasted coffee. But that doesn’t mean that you need to eat out for every meal. It’s easy enough to stop by the supermarket and pick up gourmet ingredients for a picnic, and the same goes for trail snacks and brown-bagging while you’re peak bagging. When you’re eating outside with views of the mountains, the atmosphere is finer than a Michelin star restaurant.
Hiking, mountain biking, backcountry skiing, snowshoeing, and even just soaking in grand landscapes all come without a cost of admission. If you have your own gear, bring it along. But if not, you can get great deals on purchasing or renting a lot of the necessary items once you arrive. That goes for bikes, snowshoes, ATVs, skis, and sometimes even camping gear. And don’t worry—the fresh mountain air is always free.
To get inspired for your Montana adventures and find out more about everything the Treasure State has to offer, check out the rest of the Highline Adventures Blog.