10 Things You Need to Know When Visiting Great Falls, Montana This Summer

Recreate Responsibly: Although we think it is pretty cool when people become famous, we don’t want our visitors going infamously viral in a bad when visiting Great Falls, Montana this summer. To help you save face, and possibly your skin, we have some tips on how to recreate responsibly:

  • Plan ahead. Know what’s open, what’s closed, and what experiences are altered. While websites are extremely helpful, they aren’t always the first place where updated information is published. Try calling ahead to see if there is anything you need to know before you arrive.
  • Be patient and kind with our businesses. Montana is being loved to death by people all over the world, and the influx of visitors and new residents, without the influx of our workforce, has put tremendous pressure on our businesses. Please know that they are trying their best and doing everything they can to increase their staff and give you the best experience possible.
  • While Glacier National Park is open on both the west and east side this year, there is a new ticketed entry program for the Going-to-the-Sun Road this season. It’s a $2 reservation that will allow one car access to Going-to-the-Sun Road for seven consecutive days. However, the tickets are sold out for the season. There is still hope, though! You can access Glacier National Park in other ways, and there will a 48-hour notice reservation offered at the end of May. The shuttle is also running!
  • Rental car stock is low, and when you are able to reserve a car, it will be more expensive than normal years. This isn’t happening just here in Great Falls or Montana, it is happening on a national level. So please, be prepared.
  • Remember, new people are trying new things outdoors. If you are an experienced outdoor enthusiast, please help answer questions to anyone that is new to the experience. They may enjoy the outdoors in a different way than you, and that’s fine. Let’s have an inclusive outdoors.
  • Leave no trace. Pack in it, pack it out. Take only photographs, leave only footprints. However you want to say it, don’t litter here, in Montana, or anywhere you go. You don’t want to be the butt of the “What do you call a person that litters?” joke. (Answer: Trashy.)
  • Four things that have right of ways: Driving, bowling, bears…and hiking. Trail etiquette is a thing, meaning that we should try and be polite to not only others while on the trails, but to the trail itself. Hike in a single file to minimize erosion. Again, don’t litter. People hiking uphill have the right of way; they get to decide if they are going to keep their rhythm hiking uphill or if they are going to take a breather and let the person on the top of the hill come down first. When dealing with bicycles, they move faster, and it may be easier for hikers to get out of their way, especially on twisting parts of the trail. However, bikers should always ring their bell and warn hikers of their presence. We may not have said it correctly on this episode, but bikers, pedestrians have the right of way, but we know it’s easier for us to get out of yours. When there is a horse involved, both hikers and bikers need to yield to the huge animals that do not know how to read these show notes. Horses are more difficult to maneuver, and have the right of way.
  • Explore locally. Get to know all areas of Great Falls, from the downtown area to our city parks. There is art, food, culture, and dam good time waiting. Just remember, be patient and kind and give our companies some grace during this hectic time.
  • Let’s keep our distance. Some people like their space from people and during their adventures. The state mask mandate is gone, and Great Falls doesn’t have one either, but let’s be mindful of our health and proximity to others.
  • Plan excursions and experiences that are within your skill level. Know your limits. You shouldn’t go white water kayaking during spring run-off if you have never done anything like that before. Research the trails before you go, make sure you have the gear needed and be prepared for emergencies. If you need help planning your trip, just email us, or call us at 406-761-4436.

Don’t Start The Spark: During wildfire season in Montana, it’s important to be fire aware. Before you spend time outside, know how to properly handle fires and prevent their spread. Always check the area’s current fire stage before heading out because activities could be restricted.

  • Know Campfire Safety. Know how to safely light, maintain and extinguish your campfire. Drown, stir, drown some more, then feel. If it is too hot to touch, it is too hot to leave. Never leave a campfire unattended. Check fire stage for restrictions.
  • Check Firework Restrictions. Fireworks are prohibited on public lands. Check local restrictions to learn more.
  • Dispose Cigarettes Properly. Throw away used cigarettes properly, not on the ground. Check fire stage for smoking area restrictions.
  • Maintain Your Vehicle and Secure Chains. Before you drive, make sure your vehicle is properly maintained. Low tire pressure, worn breaks, loose tow chains and metal parts could all cause sparks while driving. It’s also important to stay away from dry grass or brush. The heat from mufflers and exhaust pipes can also start a fire.
  • Act Responsibly Around Wildfires. If there’s a wildfire in the area, please:
        • Give firefighters and their equipment space.
        • Do not fly drones over or near the fire. Wildfires are a no-drone-zone.
        • Check current fire stages and restrictions.