A few years ago I was interviewed for an article in NationalGeographic.com about the five must-do local activities for outdoor enthusiasts visiting Montana in spring.
Living in Montana, I never liked spring. While the rest of the northern hemisphere is dancing in daffodils and turning in tulips, Montanans are wading through sleety, sludgy, cold, gray days. There isn’t enough snow to cross-country ski or snowshoe and the trails aren’t dry enough for hiking. What’s a mountain lover to do?
When the writer from National Geographic called, I recommended a prairie hike.
“Some of Montana’s best spring hikes aren’t on mountain trails. Instead, head to the short- and mixed-grass prairie lands in the southwestern, central, and eastern part of the state to hear songbirds, see wildflowers, and take in wide vistas. “Montana’s prairies cover a big chunk of the state, offer relatively easy access, and help visitors truly understand why we call this Big Sky Country,” says Livingston outdoor enthusiast Melynda Coble Harrison, who chronicles her family’s adventures at TravelingMel.com.
“One of Harrison’s favorite prairie hikes is just outside Billings at the Four Dances Natural Area. Here, it’s only a half-mile walk through native sagebrush and grassland to a rocky river-cliff overlook providing expansive views of Billings, the Yellowstone River, and the Pryor Mountains. Whatever prairie you choose (pick up a Bureau of Land Management map to find the closest public lands), Harrison suggests packing binoculars, bird and wildflower identification guides, plenty of water and food, and—in any kind of weather—rain gear. “Montanans know how fast a sunny day can turn into a storm, especially in spring,” she says.”
Read more about our day at Four Dances Natural Area and the Pictograph Caves.
Other fun things to do in spring in Montana (from the article) are:
- Go Shed Hunting
- Cross the Kootenai Falls Swinging Bridge
- Rock Out at the Ringing Rocks
- Take a Medicine Rocks Photo Safari
Read about the other four recommendations on Nat Geo website.