Montana's Yellowstone Country
Montana's Yellowstone Country takes its name from the slim slice of Yellowstone National Park lying within Montana. Most of the park is in Wyoming. Yellowstone Country is a compact chunk of Montana spiced with forested mountains and lush valleys. In the north and east, the mountains give way to windswept prairie supporting cattle and sheep ranches. The region’s beauty transcends poetic imagery. It reaches its peak on the Beartooth Scenic Byway, dubbed by Charles Kuralt “The most beautiful highway in America.” No surprise that Yellowstone Country has been “discovered” by movie folk and other trend setters. The Gallatin National Forest, the Beartooth Ranger District of the Custer National Forest, the Lee Metcalf Wilderness and the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness afford more hiking, backpacking, horseback riding, rock climbing and snow adventures than any one person could explore in a lifetime.
Best of Montana
The rivers lacing Yellowstone Country, the Upper Madison, the Stillwater, Yellowstone, Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone, Boulder and Gallatin, attract fly fishers, canoers, kayakers, floaters and whitewater rafters.
Missouri Headwaters State Park, marking the place where the Madison, Jefferson and Gallatin Rivers join to form the Missouri, is in the northwest corner of the region near the appropriately named town of Three Forks.
Two national wildlife refuges, Hailstone and Halfbreed, occupy the region’s extreme northeast corner. Greycliff Prairie Dog Town, home to thousands of comical burrowing creatures, is near Big Timber. This is a region in transition. Crusty ranchers and swaggering outdoorsmen are less visible these days than high-profile corporate and entertainment personalities. A profusion of businesses catering to well-heeled vacationers has followed as inevitably as trout follow a fly. Yellowstone Country is awash in guest ranches, fly fishing shops, river guides and back country outfitters. Many are expensively low-key. Other tourist-oriented businesses, particularly in West Yellowstone, come on strong. Not that Yellowstone Country slights less well-heeled adventurers. You can still name your adventure here, but you may have to search for it.
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