Life of a Local in Central Montana

L!fe of a Local

Want the authentic Central Montana experience? Chill out with this low-key itinerary that'll give you a tour of where the locals go for fun. 

Stop 1: Grab a local coffee and brunch

There's nothing we like more than a good cup of coffee. With several local coffee shops and a handful of good local breakfast joints, the best cup of java is just around the corner. Consider swinging by the Rising Trout and adding a cinnamon roll to your plate. Looking for something a little more hearty? The bagel sandwich at Six 18 Coffee is divine. Doc's has a great buffet on the weekends, and Parr Creek Bakery is flush with delicious home-baked goods.

Stop 2: Enjoy a stroll on the trail system

Lewistown's trail system weaves you in and out of the most iconic spots in town. Consisting of nearly 20 miles of multi-purpose trail winding through the community, the trail system will show you many sides of Lewistown and well-maintained natural areas, including the Brewery Flats Recreation Area and the Frog Ponds. Brewery Flats is a former industrial site that was reclaimed and restored in the 1990s. Big Spring Creek was rerouted and the fish habitat restored and native riparian species replanted. The Frog Ponds are Lewistown's "Central Park" experience that's within five minutes of Main Street. With lots of wildlife and graveled paths, the trails make you feel at one with nature.

Stop 3: Take a day drive to some classic burger bars in Charlie Russell country

This great loop around the Judith Basin takes just over two hours to complete.

  • Head west down Highway 87 to Stanford and check out the cool little community and businesses there, including the Waterhole Saloon.
  • Then backtrack to Windham, where you’ll find the ever-unique Bar 87
  • Head south from there to the historic old town of Utica, the early-days home of western artist Charles Russell. Better grab one of the Oxen Yoke’s famous huge hamburgers before heading east again to Hobson. 
  • If you don’t mind a mile or so of gravel road, take a detour just west of Hobson 15 miles to Ackley Lake State Park, then back to Hobson, one of the cleanest little towns in Montana. Be sure to check out Tall Boys Tavern while you’re there…the food is outstanding, and you’ll find authentic Montana Beef being served, and even an order of Rocky Mountain Oysters if you’d like an appetizer! 
  • Pick up a couple of necessities at Nancy’s Country Market, then travel the 25 miles or so to Lewistown and you’re back where you started. A nice 2-1/4 hour travel time ride.

Gas Locations En-route: Moore, Eddie's Corner, Stanford | Refreshments: Moore, Eddies Corner, Hobson, Windham, Stanford, Utica

Stop 4: Catch the sunset on Judith Lookout Peak

This beautiful drive up the Judith Mountains crests into a breathtaking view at Judith Peak. On your way up you might notice some old abandoned houses and structures that have been very weathered. Back in the 1880's there was Maiden, which once housed 1,200 people, and Gilt Edge, which was considered a mining camp. Head north on 191, until you reach Maiden Road about 10 miles away. Take a right, and follow the signs. The road is pavement up until the base of the mountain, then it turns to gravel. You will continue on that until you reach the top of the peak. Don't worry if you are not much of a hiker (there is no hiking involved). However, if you do wish to stretch those legs there is Collar Peak Hiking Trail to your right on the way up. Once you reach the top you will be able to see what Big Sky Country is all about.

Stop 5: Snag a Wagon Wheel at the Dash Inn

Located right across from Symmes Park, the Dash Inn has been a drive-through fixture of the community since 1952. Although the spectacular menu includes a smattering of sandwiches, hogies, burgers, and cheese sticks, you really want to get in on the Wagon Wheel, a burger smooshed between two pieces of bread and toasted, and a Hot-n-Tot, a cinnamon-flavored soda. For dessert, try a Flavor Burst cone, the most delightful ice cream cone bursting with pockets of sweetened syrup. If cones aren't your thing, the cherry shake comes highly recommended.

Stop 6: Watch a movie in the historic Judith Theatre

There's almost nothing more iconic in Central Montana than the incredibly historic Judith Theatre. Featuring a Beaux-Arts style facade and a marquee from the 1960s, this classic cinema was remodeled in 2007 to be able to offer two movies at once. Free popcorn on Tuesdays!

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