100 Seal

The Montana Outdoors Best 100

July-August 2013

Why a “Best” 100?
One problem with Montana—though you can hardly call it that, even if it is true—is that the state is so darned big and diverse. There’s actually too much of it to take in. In a lifetime, a person couldn’t hike all the hikes, hunt every game species, catch all the different coldwater and warmwater fish, spot the state’s 468 bird species, and see all the geologic marvels and scenic wonders that adorn calendars and tourism brochures. Two lifetimes. Twenty lifetimes.

So a person—resident and visitor alike—can be left wondering exactly which of these many things he or she should see and do. What are the essential experiences that allow a person to say, Yes, I’ve seen and fully taken part in the best of what Montana’s outdoors has to offer? Where would you even begin?

That’s where we come in. Over the past year Montana Outdoors asked naturalists, tourism experts, backcountry guides, outdoor writers, and other FWP staff members to select what they would consider Montana’s essential out-of-doors sights and activities. We received hundreds of suggestions, then narrowed those down to what we’re calling the “Best 100.”

If you want, call it a bucket list. We prefer to think of it as a catalog of outdoor opportunities—things people can see and do to fully appreciate Montana’s mountains, forests, prairies, rivers, lakes, and the fish and wildlife that live there.

We made sure to select as many sights and activities as possible that are open to people of all ages and abilities—across the state and throughout the seasons. Some, such as seeing the Chinese Wall or driving Going-to-the-Sun Road, are unique to Montana. Others, like tying a fly, picking huckleberries, or listening to sage-grouse “boom,” are things you can experience elsewhere but are nevertheless intrinsic to our state’s outdoors culture.

In keeping with FWP’s mission, most of what’s on the list has something to do with fisheries, wildlife, native plants, or natural landscapes.

For lack of space, we had to pass up many must-see sights or must-do activities. No doubt we failed to mention one of your favorites. If so, let us know. We hope to compile another “best” list down the road.

In the meantime, we hope this special issue of Montana Outdoors introduces you to places you never knew existed. Or reminds you of activities or places you once heard about but forgot. Or inspires you to try a completely new activity, maybe even something a bit out of your comfort zone.

As for whether this list truly represents Montana’s “best” 100, well, who can say? All we know is that if someone wants to experience the highlights of our state’s outdoors, this is not a bad place to start.Bear bullet

Tom Dickson is editor of Montana Outdoors.