When is the best time to visit Montana?
The best time to visit Montana depends on the holiday you want to have, with each season promising different activities; skiing and snowboarding in winter, hiking in summer, animal spotting in spring and scenic drives in autumn. The average temperatures in summer (around the mid 20°Cs) make it the most popular time to visit, but this also means cities and national parks are crowded and accommodation and activity prices increase. While in the mid to late teens (think 12°C-19°C), the spring and autumn temperatures are still warm enough to comfortably enjoy the great outdoors without being too hot or cold.
In winter, average temperatures can reach below freezing, especially in the northern part of the state. However, these chilly conditions make it perfect for visiting ski locations such as Whitefish Mountain and Blacktail Mountain and resort towns like Big Sky Resort and Discovery Ski Area.
Summer in Montana
Best for: hiking, biking and camping
Montana doesn't get as hot as some other states, with June, July and August only averaging a handful of days over 32°C. So, while it can get hot, temperatures in summer are more likely to hover around the mid 20°Cs range, making it the perfect time to enjoy activities such as hiking, biking and camping.
One thing to be aware of when travelling in summer is the humidity levels. Montana's humidity increases to 45% in July so the air's likely to feel stickier and the temperature may feel warmer than it actually is. Keep this in mind if you're spending long periods of time outside doing strenuous activity and bring plenty of water with you to keep your body properly hydrated.
Autumn in Montana
Best for: participate in Halloween activities, scenic drives and buzzing cities
While the rainiest month in Montana is in summer (June), autumn sees the most rainfall compared to the rest of the year. September is autumn's rainiest month experiencing an average of 1.3 inches, closely followed by October with 1.1 inches and November with 0.9 inches. We admit this doesn't seem like a lot, but autumn is responsible for 34% of Montana's annual rainfall so remember to pack an umbrella for those inevitable rainy days.
Autumn coincides with the beginning of a new University term so expect cities like Billings, Bozeman and Missoula to buzz with energy. Halloween is also a celebration Montanans take very seriously so if you're travelling in October, make sure you plan some spooky activities and visit some local festivals to get into the holiday spirit. Autumn also brings with it the changing of nature's colours from green to a hue of browns, reds and oranges, making scenic drives through the state's national parks a must-do.
Winter in Montana
Best for: skiing, snowboarding and hot chocolate drinking
Despite the cold temperatures in Montana, winter is almost as popular a season as summer to visit because of the state's large mountainous regions and numerous ski resort towns. January is the coldest month in Montana, with an average nighttime temperature of -11°C (colder than most of the states in America) and roughly 29 freezing days. But with freezing temperatures comes snowfall and Montana is one of the best destinations in the US to enjoy the fluffy white stuff.
While January is the coldest month, December is the snowiest, with 9.6 inches of snow expected to fall. This is closely followed by 8.7 inches in January and 6.9 inches in February. Surprisingly, March and November also receive substantial amounts of snowfall with 7.7 inches and 6.4 inches respectively.
Spring in Montana
Best for: photography, animal spotting and visiting national parks
The weather in Montana in spring is a bit all over the place as March still experiences a lot of snowfall and many travellers are still flocking to the state's ski resort towns to make the most of the snowy conditions before the season closes. As you move further into the season, temperatures start to warm up with an average of 15°C in April and 19°C in May. This means spring is an excellent time to go adventuring through the state's breathtaking landscapes.
Nature's starting to thaw out in spring as flowers and other vegetation bloom back into life so get your camera out to capture the gorgeous colours and keep your camera out in case you catch a glimpse of baby animals taking their first foray into the wilderness. Accessing Glacier National Park also becomes easier in spring as the ice and snow melts, leaving roads, trails and highways open and free of dangerous conditions (like black ice). The same goes for Yellowstone; however, some roads may still be inaccessible so if you plan on visiting in April, it's best for hiking and not scenic driving.