Now rolling placidly through the middle of Great Falls, the
Missouri River was free-spirited when Meriwether Lewis
first saw the falls on the 13th of June, 1805. He
described the view as the "grandest sight" he had ever
seen. He then went on to see four other falls, each with
its own character and beauty. The Lewis & Clark
canoeing party was required to portage around an 18-mile
stretch of the river. On the 18th of June, he came across
what is now called Giant Springs, at the side of the
much of the scenic beauty of the river remains, the river
has been dammed in five places, raising the water level
and capping falls with steel structures. Some of the
fountains of water which constituted Giant Springs are
now covered by the widened river below the Rainbow Dam.
The remainder of the spring is protected within Giant
Springs Heritage State Park, one of a number of parks and
recreation sites along the falls portion of the
city -- Montana's second-largest -- is a sprawling,
modern community of 80,000 in the center of a ranching
area. It has full visitor services and offers arts and
entertainment programs year-round.
is "Charlie Russell Country" and Great Falls was the home
of the great cowboy and Western artist -- commemorated in
the C.M. Russell Museum which contains the most
complete collection of Russell works in the world. The
complex includes Russell's home and his log cabin studio.
It houses more than 7,000 works including paintings by
several of Russell's contemporaries. Indian artifacts and
the Browning Firearms Collection are also displayed. The
museum complex is located at 400 13th Street North. Near
the C.M. Russell Museum is the city's first high school,
now called Paris Gibson Square, housing the Center
for Contemporary Arts and the Cascade County Historical
a day-trip, drive 12 miles west of Great Falls, via
Interstate 15, to Ulm and visit the Ulm Pishkum
Buffalo Jump. Now a state monument, this is where
Indians stampeded herds of bison off the steep cliffs in
order to obtain a winter's supply of food. This jump is
30 feet high and a mile long.
Great Falls is the site of
the Montana State Fair, held in late July and
early August. The fair features a rodeo, lumberjack
shows, racing and entertainment. Walking along the river
and looking at the falls is the most popular activity for
visitors and there are overlooks and parks, as well as an
excellent self-guided tour of the Lewis & Clark
portage route for which the map is available at the
Chamber of Commerce, 926 Central Ave.
Staybridge Suites Great Falls
201 Third Street Northwest, Great Falls, 877-859-5095
In a town where close to 100% of the accommodations are national chain brand motor hotels, the Staybridge suites is a cut above. the hotel has all of the amenities that a suites hotel could provide, except that it does not have a restaurant. There's a brew pub close by and other restaurants within a short walk. The hotel has a breakfast room for its free breakfast. They hold a reception with drinks and hors d'oevres on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings.
For other hotels available in Great Falls, Go Here for a listing and links.
Trailer and RV Park
1403 11th Street, Great Falls, 406-727-7191
This park has mostly RV sites and is open all year. It's located beside the river and is set in amongst trees. The park mostly accommodates RVs with hookups, but there are a few tenting sites. Take
Exit 278 off I-15.
1500 51st Street South, Great Falls, (406) 727-3191
Full hook-ups, tent sites, cabins, a playground, nature trail, café and two "kamper kitchens" can be
found here. It's located on the east edge of town at 10th
Ave. S. and 51st Street.