Half-way between Glacier and Yellowstone
National Parks, Helena is nestled in the midst of the Big
Belt, Garnet and Elkhorn mountain ranges. Mt. Helena, a
city park, enables visitors to look down on the city from
the 5,460 foot peak.
Originally a gold boom town, Helena is the state
capital, and still a town which produces and refines
minerals. The Missouri River flows near the city and the
river and Canyon Ferry Lake (above the Hauser Dam)
provide a host of recreation sites, including
campgrounds. The lake has good fishing and is wide enough
for good boating. To the north, the river flows through
the scenic Gates of the Mountains, a series of
1,200-foot-deep canyons named by Lewis & Clark. Boat
tours of the river are available, 16 miles north of
Helena via Interstate 15.
What to See & Do
The Helena National Forest lies just outside
the city limits, with recreation sites close to town --
to the west.
For a serious look at history, the Montana
Historical Society Museum (225 North Roberts)
features displays and artifacts of Montana's heritage,
from pre-historic Indian tribes to the current period.
The museum was opened in 1865, during the gold rush. Its
Mackay Gallery contains C.M. Russell paintings and other
Western works. The Holter Museum of Art features
more contemporary art forms, including painting,
sculpture and crafts, at 12 East Lawrence. The Original Governors Mansion, built in 1888, is open
as a museum and is furnished in the 1913-1921 period. The
mansion is open Tuesday through Saturday, April through
Probably the best way to get acquainted with Helena is
to take the Last Chance Tour Train which leaves
the Historical Society Museum on an hourly schedule from
8:30 am to 4:30 PM from June 1 through Labor Day and from
10:30-2:30 through the remainder of September.
The State Capitol building offers guided tours
on the hour during summer months. The tour passes C.M.
Russell's famous Lewis & Clark mural. The Capitol is
located at 1301 6th Avenue.
We recommend a day-trip to the town of Deer
Lodge and Grant Kohr's Ranch Historic Site,
once the headquarters of a huge cattle operation which
stretched from Canada to Colorado. It opened as a
historic site in 1977 and offers self-guided tours of
several buildings including the cowboys' bunkhouse, the
blacksmith shop, a wagon collection and the ranch house.
The ranch is off Interstate 90, north of Deer Lodge, via
Highway 12, driving west from Helena -- a one-way trip of
Best Western Premier Helena Great Northern Hotel
835 Great Northern Boulevard, Helena 800-780-7234
Within walking distance to the historic downtown this hotel
offers 101 rooms and is 100 percent non-smoking. Each
room has free high-speed Internet, voice mail, dataport
phones, in-room coffee, iron/board, Pay Per View movies
and Nintendo. Other features include an indoor pool and
whirlpool, a fitness center, WiFi, guest laundry, airport
shuttle and business services. A full
breakfast is included.
2020 Prospect Avenue, Helena, 800-222-2244
This Northwest region chain offers reasonable accommodations for a reasonable price. These hotels are not fancy but have all the amenities that you would expect in a trusted medium-priced regional chain. There's an indoor pool, business center, free WiFi, and free breakfast.
Other motels in the area offer the standard national chain
Kim's Marina and RV Resort, (406) 475-3723
Open all year, with a bar, restaurant, store tennis court
and boat moorings, plus full hook-ups in the RV park and rental cabins with kitchenettes. Located 20 miles
east of town on Hwy. 284, on the shores of Canyon Ferry Lake.
Black Sandy State Park 406-495-3270
This park, with campground, is located 7 miles north of Helena on I-15, then 4 miles east on Secondary Road 453, then 3 miles north on Hauser Dam Road. It's located on the shore of Hauser Lake. The campground has four tent sites and 29 RV sites.
National Forest Campgrounds
The Cromwell-Dixon forest campground is located at McDonald Pass, via U.S. Route 12 west of Helena, and then .5 mile beyond the sign at the pass. The elevation is 6,260 feet. Open July 15 weekend through Labor Day. The campground has 15 very basic sites for RV and tent camping, and each site has a picnic table and grill. Water is available from taps. Pit toilets are available.