The Rocky Mountains and the Great Plains define the landscape of Montana, a western state in the United States. Among its vast wilderness preserves is Glacier National Park, which borders Canada. Approximately 50 miles of Going-to-the-Sun Road demonstrates the park’s snow-capped peaks, lakes, and alpine hiking trails.
QUICK FACTS ABOUT MONTANA
- Capital City: Helena
- Largest City: Billings
- Nickname: The Treasure State
- Statehood: 1889; 41st state
- Population (as of 2020): 1,085,407
- Abbreviation: MT
- State bird: western meadowlark
- State flower: bitterroot
- Total Size Of The State: 147,040 sq mi (380,800 km2)
Approximately 12,600 years ago, the first people came to Montana. The land was later occupied by Native American tribes, including the Crow, Cheyenne, Blackfeet, and Kalispel.
During the famous 1805 expedition through the American West, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, accompanied by Native American guide Sacagawea, passed through the area largely unexplored by outsiders. Several decades later, settlers discovered gold in Montana, and people quickly came here for fortune. Due to its rapidly expanding population and mining value, it became a U.S. territory in 1864. 1889 marked the formation of the state.
Native Americans, on the other hand, felt that the settlers had encroached on their way of life. As a result, a coalition of Lakota Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapaho tribes defeated the U.S. troops at Little Bighorn in 1876. Although they won this battle, the Native Americans eventually lost, and settlers continued to settle on the land.
The Blackfeet, Crow, and Cheyenne are a few of the Native American tribes that still inhabit Montana.
Why Does It Have That Name?
Montana has so many mountains – at least 300 peaks over 9,600 feet tall! Its name comes from the Spanish word Montana, which means mountainous.
The Montana mountains were rich with gold and silver deposits as early as the 1800s, earning the state the nickname “Treasure State”.
Geographic Features and Landforms
In the north, Montana is bordered by Canada, in the east by North Dakota and South Dakota, in the south by Wyoming and Idaho, and in the west by Idaho.
Two very different regions make up the state’s geography. The Rocky Mountain region covers approximately two-fifths of the state. There is a 7,000-year-old glacier in Glacier National Park. Granite Peak, the highest point in the state, is also located in the region.
Montana is comprised of the eastern third of the Great Plains. Grassy hills, valleys, and grain fields dot the terrain here. The Great Plains Badlands are mostly barren areas covered in colorful and oddly shaped rock formations.
The Natural World
The wildlife in Montana is very diverse. Bighorn sheep, gray wolves, grizzly bears, and bison can all be found in its mountains. In addition, Pronghorns, coyotes, and badgers are among the animals that live on the plains.
Montana’s skies are filled with bald eagles, golden eagles, red-winged blackbirds, and mountain bluebirds. Make sure to look out for reptiles such as venomous vipers, alligator lizards, and skinks. You can also find chorus frogs, giant salamanders, and newts in Montana.
From the mountains to the plains, plant life changes dramatically. Pines, firs, and spruces grow in the Rockies. State flowers include Woods’ roses, twin flowers, and yellow daisy-like blooms called arnica. Plains prickly pear and rubber rabbitbrush are some of the most common plants in the plains.
Copper, gold, silver, and sapphires were once Montana’s top natural resources. The state still has precious metals and rocks to mine, but now its most valuable resource is oil. Talc, used in cosmetics, is also made in the state.
Some Fun Facts About Montana
- In Montana, local families have eaten a version of oatmeal since 1914: Cream of the West, a roasted wheat cereal.
- Yellowstone National Park‘s original entrance, erected in 1903 in Gardiner, Montana, is the world’s first national park.
- Montana is one of the only states with rivers emptying into Hudson Bay, the Pacific Ocean, and the Gulf of Mexico.
- The state is home to the actor Gary Cooper, the motorcycle stuntman Evel Knievel, and Jeannette Rankin, the first woman elected to stagecoach tour, and even check out stores with one-hundred-year-old items on display.