The Best Time to Visit Montana

Montana glacial lake with canoes

Peter Adams Photography

The best times to visit Montana are in the summer months between June and August, when the weather is sunny and warm, and between December and March when it’s ski season. As Montana is a destination that is all about outdoor fun, these are the times where you can play in nature with an optimal climate.

Whenever you decide to go, use this guide to help plan your trip to this state known for its big adventures, wide open spaces, national parks, wildlife, and endless things to do outside.

Key Events & Festivals

Montana has many festivals and events that take place year-round, but summer is the most active time of year. If you plan on traveling to attend one of these fun happenings, get an early start on booking accommodations or camping spots, especially within the national parks, which can fill up fast. Outside of Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks, crowds are usually not a huge problem when visiting Montana during a special event or festival. Hotel prices, however, do increase over the summer and winter months when more tourists visit the larger cities and towns in the state.

Montana also has national and regional public holidays. July 4 is a significant holiday where most towns have a parade and evening fireworks display. Commerce, however, is generally unaffected and still operates as usual.

The Weather in Montana

The weather in Montana varies significantly across the state, divided by the Continental Divide, with the eastern part experiencing chillier and windier weather. The temperature also changes with the elevation and topography—the mountains on the western side have distinct climate patterns and snowfall.

Summer in Montana, with its moderate temperatures, is quite lovely. However, late spring and early summer are prone to rain and thunderstorms. July has peak summer temperatures of 85 degrees F on average while winter sees an average low of 0 degrees F. November through February sees the coldest temperatures, so if you’re not planning on skiing or enjoying the outdoors, you may want to avoid visiting during this time. Both times are popular to visit, however, so it’s essential to dress for the weather when visiting.

Peak Season in Montana

The peak season to travel to the American frontier, is during the summer months, particularly July and August. You’ll find that Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks are well-visited and, in many cases, over-crowded during this time. Book your accommodations early as many hotel rooms and campsites are full, especially inside of the national parks, and be prepared for higher accommodation prices. Outside of the parks, however, crowds aren’t an issue, and you’ll find lots of wide-open spaces with few tourists.

January

While the weather in January is typically the coldest and darkest month of the year, with the average highs between 22 and 32 degrees F, this month also experiences the most snow.

Events to check out:

  • While tourism isn’t at its peak, January is a great time to visit Montana if you’re a skier or snowboarder. Big Sky Resort hosts many events throughout the season like SnoBar, a Saturday night dance party with DJ music and drinks served at a bar made of snow. 

February

This month experiences frigid temperatures—warm layers are a must. Average highs are between 5 and 40 degrees F. Snowstorms and blizzards are common, which increases the need for caution when driving on the icy roads, especially through mountain passes.

Events to check out:

  • The Whitefish Winter Carnival organizes several events this month, including a gala, Penguin Plunge, Kiddie Carnival, Rotary Pancake Breakfast, Grand Parade, and Pie Social.
  • Skijoring, a competition where a horse runs at top speed while pulling a skier over snow and ice, is a popular event throughout the western half of the state during the winter months.

March

March is still quite cold and snowy, with temperatures around 40 to 50 degrees F during the day and 15 to 30 degrees F at night. Tourist season is relatively low during this month, which is a great time for deals on accommodations and activities.

Events to check out:

  • Even though the population of Butte, Montana, is only around 35,000, the number of people that wander the streets during St. Patrick’s Day increases exponentially. Visit for the St. Patrick’s Day parade, watch the Irish step dancers, listen to bagpipers, and drink your weight in green beer.

April

Bring warm layers, rain gear, and weather-appropriate footwear during this month in Montana, where the weather is quite wet, often still snow laden, and chilly at night.

Events to check out:

  • The Department of Native American Studies and the American Indian Council at Montana State University in Bozeman hosts an annual powwow that is widely attended. Visitors can see cultural dancing, drumming, and booths full of Native American food, crafts, and art.
  • The International Wildlife Film Festival, held annually in Missoula, is also an important event. Filmmakers showcase their work, highlighting conservation efforts for wildlife and their environment.

May

This month is the start of quite comfortable weather. While you should always be prepared with layers, you can expect sunny and relatively warm wildflower-filled days.

Events to check out:

  • For some cowboy fun, visit Virginia City for the annual Memorial Day Horseback Poker Ride. Ride horses, catch candy at the parade, and celebrate the opening of the season.
  • At the end of May, Whitefish hosts Feasts Whitefish, home to Distillers’ Fest, Restaurant Week, Burger Battle, and The Grand Gala.

June

The weather in June is typically dependably, warm, and sunny. This is a great month to visit ahead of the peak of tourism.

Events to check out:

  • Visit Livingston this month for the Western Sustainability Exchange, which happens at the beginning of June. Hand-pick fresh fruits and vegetables at the Livingston Farmers Market, wander through stalls of arts and crafts, listen to live music, and enjoy family-friendly programming.
  • The Battle of Little Bighorn is a major tourist destination in the state and in June you can witness a reenactment positioned along the Little Bighorn River to learn about the history of the battle.

July

This month is the start of peak season in the state of Montana, when the weather is the most pleasant. Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks are well-visited, and you’ll have to plan ahead if you plan on staying inside the parks.

Events to check out:

  • For nearly 70 years, locals and visitors have been attending the North American Indian Days Powwow in Browning, Montana. This is a celebration of culture through dance, music, and crafts.
  • The Sapphire Quilt Club hosts a large quilt show each year in Stevensville, Montana. Hundreds of quilts will be on display and there will be a silent auction and educational learning opportunities.
  • The Livingston Roundup Rodeo is a family-friendly annual event that includes a downtown parade plus a full rodeo with events like barrel racing, bull riding, steer wrestling, and team roping.
  • For music fans, the Montana Folk Festival in Butte is one of the largest free music festivals in the northwest, with performances from over 200 artists.
  • Under the Big Sky is a large ranch-style music and arts festival held in Whitefish.
  • The Red Ants Pants Festival, a large music, art, and culture celebration, held in White Sulphur Springs.

August

This month experiences the warmest weather, with daytime temperatures across the state in the 70 to 90 degrees F range. The days are long, sunny, warm, and dry.

Events to check out:

  • The Sweet Pea Festival is one of the largest celebrations of the arts in the state. Music, dancing, theatre, and family-friendly programming bring visitors to Bozeman each summer. Sweet Pea also organizes the Sweet Pea Juried Art Show, Bite of Bozeman, Music on Main, Sweet Pea Run, and Sweet Pea Parade (held during July and August).

September

The temperatures get a little cooler this month, especially at night, and the deciduous trees begin to turn color.

Events to check out:

October

Fall colors are in full swing this month and taking a drive throughout Montana’s mountain and prairie regions is a highlight.

Events to check out:

  • As in most states across the nation, Oktoberfest is a popular time for festivals and events (held in September and October). Visit Whitefish for the Great Northwest Oktoberfest, Red Lodge for their Oktoberfest, Great Falls for Oktoberfest in the West, and Townsend for the Fall Fest and Oktoberfest
  • If you want to drive the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park, this month will be your last opportunity to do so before sections are closed for the season.

November

The weather in November is quite unpredictable, with colder weather and biting nighttime temperatures.

Events to check out:

December

This month, you can really see what it’s like to be a Montanan as families take part in many holiday events, brightening up the streets and mountain towns. The weather is frigid, typically between 25 and 32 degrees F during the day.

Events to check out:

  • Whitefish, Bozeman, Helena, Missoula, Billings, and more all have Christmas strolls this month. Montana Trolley leads Christmas light tours in Kalispell. The Nutcracker is performed in Missoula at Garden City Ballet
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