Fall in Montana: Foliage, Hikes, Tours, Festivals & More

Scenic view of lake and fall tree at Glacier National Park, Montana

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Whether you’re looking to explore nature or just hoping for a wonderful fall getaway, you’ll find no shortage of fun if you visit Montana in the autumn.

Also known as the ‘’Treasure State’’, Montana is famous for its natural wonders and rich mineral reserves.

The state is also where you can find the Rocky Mountains, Yellowstone National Park, and Glacier National Park.

To help plan your trip, this guide will talk about the activities and places to check out during fall in Montana including spots for leaf-peeping opportunities, fall hikes, corn mazes, joining in one of its festivals and events, and more.

The following list of destinations and activities below are sectioned based on the city or town they are located.

Montana also features in our USA bucket list.

Things to Do in Western Montana in Fall

If you’re looking for a beautiful, scenic destination to visit in the fall, western Montana is definitely worth considering.

The region is home to many outdoor adventures, fascinating American history sites, and state parks like the iconic Glacier National Park.

Read on to see the activities to do and spots to visit in western Montana in the fall.

Take in the Natural Wonder of Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park (64 Grinnell Drive Glacier National Park Headquarters, West Glacier) offers views of some of the last remaining glaciers in the contiguous United States. 

In the fall, the entire park turns shades of orange and red and the setting sun glistens off the glaciers making it one of the best spots to take in the fall colors in Montana.

Glacier National Park has dozens of visitor centers where you can learn about the nature surrounding you and even features resident Native American educators that will teach you the history of the land and its people. 

For a fully immersive experience, take a scenic raft trip down the Middle Fork Flathead River while learning about the park’s history from a guide.

Glacier National Park is also featured in our list of national parks for backpacking

Scenic view of lake and fall tree at Glacier National Park, Montana

Visit the Museum of the Plains Indian 

If you want to spend your fall in Montana learning a bit of history, visit the Museum of the Plains Indian (19 Museum Loop, Browning), located near Glacier National Park.

The museum is funded by the U.S Department of the Interior and features a historical center and collection of art, tools, and traditions of the Plains Indians.

Check the museum’s website for exhibits you can catch during the autumn months.

Try a Local and Seasonal Brew

Western Montana is home to many craft breweries that make delicious local brews right around Glacier National Park. 

Backslope Brewing (1107 9th St. West Columbia Falls) offers an ever-changing rotation of seasonal beers in their taproom.

A fall afternoon at Backslope is full of delicious beer perfect for the season and tasty food that is perfectly paired.

Paddle a Kayak Around Flathead Lake

Flathead Lake (490 N Meridian Rd, Kalispell) is a large lake in the mountain valley of Kalispell. 

The lake offers great views of the mountains and fall is the perfect time for a paddle around the lake to see the fall colors change. 

Sea Me Paddle has everything you need to get on the lake and enjoy the scenery.

Get Scared in the Field of Screams

Field of Screams (1497 US-93, Victor) features 5 acres of haunted attractions featuring creepy characters that are sure to give every visitor a spine-tingling scare.

If you visit during the day, the place offers hayrides, slides, and a hay bale playground.

But at night, thrill-seekers can explore the place’s spooky corn fields, swamps, graveyards, and ghost town infested with horror creatures.

Walk Through History at the Daly Mansion

The Daly Mansion (251 Eastside Hwy, Hamilton) is the historic home of “Copper King” Marcus Daly but now serves as a venue for tours and many fall events. 

Visit the mansion for a tour of the grounds to see all of the fall foliage surrounding the mansion. 

The mansion hosts events during fall, from murder mystery dinners to tours of the historically preserved rooms of the mansion.

Take a Haunted Trolley Tour through Downtown Butte

The Spooks and Spirits Haunted Trolley (Butte) tour is a fun way to learn about the haunted history of Butte. 

Ride downtown on a historic trolley as your tour guide shows you the spookiest places in the area.

Go for a Scenic Fall Foliage Drive

If you’re looking for some of the best spots to see Montana’s fall colors, go for a scenic drive in the Bitterroot Valley Corridor 

The lovely route comes with 79 miles of fall foliage and mountain sights. 

Right on the west border of Montana, this road takes travelers between the valley of two mountain points and offers views of the Bitterroot River. 

The course stretches from Lolo to Sula and can be broken up into shorter trips if need be.

Things to Do in Southwest Montana in Fall

Fall Activities In and Around Bozeman, MT

Bozeman is located southwest of Montana and home to Montana’s State University.

In this list, you’ll find fall-worthy things to do in the city like a fall foliage hike and pumpkin picking.

You may also like our guide to winter in Montana featuring activities around Bozeman.

Take a Relaxing Dip in the Bozeman Hot Springs

Escape the cold fall air with a dip in the Bozeman Hot Springs (81123 Gallatin Road). 

The hot springs have been used to heat the local bathhouse since the late 1800s and now there are 12 different pools to choose from. 

Pools are all clothed and some are separated by age group for a more relaxing setting.

Visit Bobcat Stadium for a Montana State Football Game

One of the highlights of fall in Bozeman is the Montana State Bobcat football game.

The Bobcat Stadium (1 Bobcat Cir) becomes one of the busiest places in the city every weekend during the season.

You can head here to simply watch the Bobcats play or go to tailgate and enjoy the stadium food.

The site also offers a view of the mountains, so you are sure to see a glimpse of the fall foliage from anywhere in the stadium. 

Grab a Pumpkin Spice Latte in Downtown Bozeman

Pumpkin spice lattes are a must-have for autumn and several coffee shops in downtown Bozeman offer this fall-inspired drink.

One of the best places known for offering this beverage is Zocalo Coffee House (117 E Main St).

Their pumpkin spice lattes are known to be richer and creamier in texture than others.

After sipping on a PSL, you can explore the rest of the area while enjoying the crisp autumn weather.

Go for a Fall Foliage Mountain Hike on Bear Canyon Trail

Bear Canyon Trail (Bear Canyon Road) is located southeast of Bozeman and offers 20 miles of trails to explore at the base of Mount Ellis. 

During the fall, the colors surrounding the trail are vibrant and provide a perfect backdrop to enjoy a hike of any difficulty level.

Aside from hiking, mountain biking and dirt biking are also popular activities around the area.

Pick the Perfect Pumpkin at Rocky Creek Farm

Gallatin Valley Botanical at Rocky Creek Farm (34297 Frontage Rd) puts on a festival all fall long with pumpkin picking, fall foods, and hayrides.

 All their pumpkins and produce are organically grown and perfect for carving and pie making.

 The farm is in the Rocky Creek bottomlands and is surrounded by beautiful fall foliage. 

Things to Do in South Central Montana in Fall

Fall Activities In and Around Billings, MT

Billings is located in the south-central part of Montana and is the state’s largest city.

Whether you’re looking to take a fall hike at Bighorn Canyon or looking to visit a corn maze and pumpkin patch in Billings, MT, this list will explore all the activities you can do around the area during the autumn.

You may also like our guide to the best national parks to visit in October which features Montana for the Yellowstone National Park.

Watch the Sunset at Rimrocks

The Rimrocks, also called the Rims, are a geological formation that can be seen in Billings and offers amazing views of the city in fall colors below. 

You can hike up the rims to see the magnificent views of the sunset while taking in the cool autumn breeze.

Find Your Way through the Billings Corn Maze

The Maize at Grandpa’s Farm (2201 58th St W) is another great way to enjoy Montana in fall.

This corn maze in Billings, MT is artistically shaped into a new design each year and is great for guests looking for a fun adventure in the fall.

The farm also offers hayrides, a pumpkin patch, and some fall treats like candies and donuts.

Take a Splash at The Reef Indoor Water Park

If you missed the fun of a water park in the summer, head to The Reef Indoor Water Park (1801 Majestic Ln) during your visit to Montana in the autumn.

The Reef is the state’s largest water park, measuring around 30,000 sq ft.

Enjoy the place with fewer crowds, and have fun in their waterslides and wave pool without freezing in the fall air as the water is temperature-controlled.

Go for a Fall Foliage Walk Through Riverfront Park

Riverfront Park (8001 South Billings Blvd.) offers three walking trails around Lake Josephine that are great for a fall foliage stroll.

See the fall colors of Billings and enjoy the crisp lakeside autumn air as you take in the sights.

Find all the Fall Colors in the Custer Gallatin National Forest

The Custer Gallatin National Forest (Nye) is located southwest of Billings and offers a sprawling forest, plains, and buttes.

During the fall, this national forest is a great place to see the leaves change on all native varieties of trees.

The Custer Gallatin National Forest is right next to Yellowstone and features some of the same great views of the Montana ecosystem without as many visitors as the national park.

Take a Hike Through Bighorn Canyon

Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area (Fort Smith) features a large canyon overlooking Bighorn Lake. 

The layers of earth that were cut through by glacial movement are clear and the surrounding flora turns the same color as the canyon wall in the fall.

This national recreation area has 17 miles of hiking trails of various difficulties so everyone can enjoy a trek through the canyon. 

Fall Festivals in Montana

For more things to do in Montana in fall, check out the state’s autumn-themed festivals and events listed below.

The Great Northwest Oktoberfest

The Great Northwest Oktoberfest (Whitefish) is a two-weekend long Oktoberfest that celebrates all things German in Montana. 

Try German foods, drink German beer, and dance the polka to ring in the harvest. 

The Montana Film Festival

The Montana Film Festival (718 South Higgins Ave, Missoula) is hosted at the Roxy Theater every fall and features four days of films from around the state. 

Connect with up-and-coming artists as they share their work with audiences for the first time. 

The event even offers panels and interviews with the creative minds behind the films.

Townsend Fall Fest

The Townsend Fall Fest (Townsend) features a weekend-long of live music, kid-friendly activities, and a food and drink display from vendors.

You can see the highlights of the event usually takes place on the first weekend of October.

Annual McIntosh Apple Day and Liquid Apple Night

If you’re looking for things to do in Montana in October, why not head to the city of Hamilton for a full day of apple festival held at the Ravalli County Museum (205 Bedford St)?

During the day, you can join in the McIntosh Apple Day for fresh produce from the Hamilton Farmers Market.

There are also arts and crafts featured in the event, but one of the highlights is the Bake Sale where you can taste some of the freshly baked apple pies.

In the evening, there’s Liquid Apple Night where you can listen to live music and sample delicious ciders and fall treats.

Final Thoughts

We hope you find this guide helpful in planning your next trip to Montana in the fall.

And don’t forget to share your favorite spots or activities in the state in the comments below.

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