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Moving to Montana: A Comprehensive Guide to the Top 50 State's Cities and Towns by Population

Montana, known as the Treasure State, is home to an abundance of outdoor recreation, breathtaking landscapes, and friendly people. For those considering moving to Montana, the state offers a variety of cities and towns, each with its own unique history and character. From quickly growing college towns to laid-back mountainside villages, we’ve got a little something for everyone.


Bozeman views from the hiking trails.

What to Expect When Moving to a City in Montana


Steadily growing at some of the fastest rates around, looking at you Bozeman, there is a vast difference between a Montana “city” and what most people are used to. Walmart and Costco may be the biggest stores you’ll find, and most of them are easily traversed in under an hour unless there's a cattle drive running through.


Though our largest city has over 100,000, our list featuring the top 50 has the bottom wrapping it up with a town of only about 2,000. Those looking for the “small towns” vibes are sure to find it here, though they may be in for a bit of a culture shock as well! Each is unique in its own way with a historical background to match. The best way to discover their unique characters is to take a glance here and then possibly head out for a visit!


1. Billings, located in Yellowstone County, is the largest city in Montana. It's home to the Western Heritage Center, which showcases the region's history through art and exhibits. The city also boasts a number of scenic trails and parks, including Zimmerman Park and Pictograph Cave State Park, which features ancient Native American rock art. Additionally, Billings is home to a thriving arts scene, with numerous galleries and theaters hosting regular performances.


2. Missoula, the second-largest city in Montana, is located in Missoula County. It's situated in a valley surrounded by mountains and is known for its natural beauty. The city is home to the University of Montana, which contributes to its lively atmosphere and cultural offerings. Missoula is a hub for outdoor recreation, with easy access to nearby national forests and parks. Downtown Missoula is also home to a vibrant arts and cultural scene, with a variety of museums, galleries, and theaters.


Missoula, MT from the bridge.

3. Great Falls is the third-largest city in Montana, located in Cascade County. The city's name comes from the series of waterfalls on the Missouri River that run through the area. Great Falls is home to the C.M. Russell Museum, which houses an extensive collection of art and artifacts from the American West. The city is also home to Giant Springs State Park, which features a large freshwater spring, and the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, which commemorates the famous explorers' journey through the area.


4. Bozeman, located in Gallatin County, is a thriving college town known for its proximity to Yellowstone National Park. The city is home to Montana State University and is surrounded by picturesque mountain ranges, including the Bridger, Gallatin, and Madison Ranges. Bozeman is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, with numerous trails, parks, and ski resorts nearby. The city's historic downtown district features a variety of shops, restaurants, and galleries.


Beers at a Bozeman, MT brewery.

5. Butte, located in Silver Bow County, was once a bustling mining town and is now a center for education and the arts. The city's rich history is on display at the World Museum of Mining, which features exhibits on the mining industry and the town's immigrant communities. Butte is also home to the Mai Wah Museum, which tells the story of the city's Chinese community. The city's vibrant arts scene includes numerous theaters and galleries, and the annual Montana Folk Festival brings musicians and dancers from around the world to Butte's streets.


6. Helena, the state capital, is located in Lewis and Clark County. The city's historic downtown district features numerous Victorian-era buildings, including the grand Montana State Capitol. The city is home to the Montana Historical Society Museum, which showcases the state's history, as well as the Holter Museum of Art, which features a variety of contemporary art exhibitions. Helena is also a popular destination for outdoor recreation, with trails, parks, and lakes nearby.


7. Kalispell, located in Flathead County, is surrounded by the rugged beauty of the Rocky Mountains. The city is home to the Conrad Mansion Museum, which offers a glimpse into the lives of Kalispell's early residents, and the Hockaday Museum of Art, which features works by Montana artists. Kalispell is also a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, with easy access to Glacier National Park, Flathead Lake, and the Bob Marshall Wilderness.


8. Havre, located in Hill County, is a small town with a rich railroad history. The city is home to the H. Earl Clack Museum, which features exhibits on the region's Native American tribes, homesteaders, and cowboys, as well as the Wahkpa Chu'gn Buffalo Jump, which offers a glimpse into the area's prehistoric past. Havre is also a popular destination for birdwatching, with numerous species of birds


9. Anaconda is a historic mining town located in southwestern Montana. It was once home to one of the largest smelters in the world, which operated from 1884 until 1980. Today, visitors can learn about the town's mining history at the Anaconda Smelter Stack State Park, where the 585-foot-tall smelter stack still stands as a reminder of the town's industrial past. Anaconda also offers outdoor recreational opportunities, including hiking and fishing at nearby Georgetown Lake.


10. Deer Lodge, also located in southwestern Montana, is a small town with a rich history. The town was founded in the 1860s as a mining camp, and later became the location of the Montana State Prison. Today, visitors can tour the prison and learn about its history at the Old Montana Prison Museum. Deer Lodge is also home to the Powell County Museum, which features exhibits on the town's early history and Native American culture.


11. Miles City is a charming small town located in southeastern Montana, known for its cowboy culture and historic downtown. Visitors can explore the town's cowboy heritage at the Range Riders Museum, which features exhibits on the history of ranching and rodeo in Montana. Miles City is also a popular destination for birdwatching, with nearby Custer National Forest and the Yellowstone River offering opportunities to spot a variety of bird species.


12. Belgrade is a small town located in the heart of Montana's Gallatin Valley, just a few miles from Bozeman. The town is known for its friendly community and easy access to outdoor recreational opportunities, including fishing and hiking at nearby Hyalite Canyon. Belgrade is also home to the Madison Buffalo Jump State Park, which preserves an ancient Native American hunting site.


13. Livingston is a historic town located in southwestern Montana, known for its charming downtown and proximity to Yellowstone National Park. Visitors can explore the town's history at the Livingston Depot Center, which features exhibits on the town's railroad heritage and the early days of Yellowstone National Park. Livingston is also home to the Yellowstone Gateway Museum, which showcases the history of the area's Native American tribes and pioneers.


Livingston, Montana

14. Laurel is a small town located in southeastern Montana, known for its scenic beauty and outdoor recreational opportunities. The town is situated near the Yellowstone River and the Beartooth Mountains, offering plenty of opportunities for hiking, fishing, and camping. Laurel is also home to the Montana Audubon Center, which offers birdwatching tours and educational programs for all ages.


15. Whitefish is a charming mountain town located in northwestern Montana, known for its outdoor recreational opportunities and vibrant arts scene. Visitors can explore the town's history at the Whitefish Depot Museum, which features exhibits on the town's railroad heritage and the early days of skiing in Montana. Whitefish is also home to the Alpine Theatre Project, which offers a variety of theater productions throughout the year.


16. Lewistown is a small town located in central Montana, known for its scenic beauty and friendly community. Visitors can explore the town's history at the Central Montana Historical Museum, which features exhibits on the town's early pioneers and Native American tribes. Lewistown is also a popular destination for hunting and fishing, with nearby Big Spring Creek and the Judith Mountains offering plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation.


17. Sidney is a small town located in eastern Montana, known for its rich agricultural heritage and scenic beauty. Visitors can explore the town's history at the MonDak Heritage Center, which features exhibits on the town's early settlers and the region's oil and gas industry. Sidney is also a popular destination for hunting and fishing, with nearby Fort Peck Lake and the Missouri River offering plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation.


18. Glendive, located in Dawson County, is a small town with a rich history. It is home to the Frontier Gateway Museum, which tells the story of the town's early days as a trading post and frontier settlement. The town is also known for the Makoshika State Park, a unique geological formation featuring badlands and dinosaur fossils. Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy fishing in the Yellowstone River or hiking in the nearby badlands. Glendive is also a popular stopover for travelers on their way to or from nearby attractions such as the Theodore Roosevelt National Park and the Black Hills of South Dakota.


19. Columbia Falls, located in Flathead County, is a charming small town nestled in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. The city is known for its proximity to Glacier National Park, which is just a short drive away. Visitors to Columbia Falls can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, fishing, and skiing. The city is also home to several unique shops and restaurants, as well as the Big Sky Waterpark, a popular attraction for families.


20. Polson, located in Lake County, is situated on the southern shore of Flathead Lake, the largest natural freshwater lake in the western United States. The city is known for its scenic beauty and abundance of outdoor recreational opportunities, including fishing, boating, and camping. Polson is also home to several cultural attractions, such as the Miracle of America Museum and the Polson Flathead Historical Museum.


21. Hamilton, located in Ravalli County, is a vibrant community nestled in the heart of the Bitterroot Valley. The city is surrounded by breathtaking mountain scenery and offers a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, fishing, and skiing. Hamilton is also home to several unique shops and restaurants, as well as the Daly Mansion, a historic landmark that offers tours and special events throughout the year.


22. Dillon, located in Beaverhead County, is a small town with a rich history and scenic beauty. The city is surrounded by the stunning Beaverhead Mountains and offers a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, fishing, and skiing. Dillon is also home to the University of Montana Western, a public liberal arts college that offers a range of academic programs.


23. Hardin, located in Big Horn County, is a small town with a rich Native American history. The city is situated on the banks of the Bighorn River and offers a variety of outdoor activities, including fishing, hiking, and hunting. Hardin is also home to the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, which commemorates the 1876 battle between the United States Army and Native American tribes.


24. Shelby, located in Toole County, is a small town with a rich railroad history. The city is home to the Marias Museum of History and Art, which features exhibits on the history of the region, as well as the Shelby Carousel, a restored antique carousel that is one of the few remaining in the United States. Shelby is also a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, with easy access to several nearby national parks and wilderness areas.


25. Glasgow, located in Valley County, is a small town with a strong agricultural heritage. The city is situated on the banks of the Milk River and offers a variety of outdoor activities, including hunting, fishing, and bird watching. Glasgow is also home to the Valley County Pioneer Museum, which showcases the history of the region through exhibits and artifacts.


26. Deer Lodge, located in Powell County, is a historic town with a rich mining heritage. The city is home to the Old Montana Prison, a historic landmark that offers tours and exhibits on the history of the prison and the region. Deer Lodge is also a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, with easy access to several nearby national forests and wilderness areas.


27. Cut Bank, located in Glacier County, is a small town with a rich Native American history. The city is situated on the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains and offers a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, fishing, and hunting. Cut Bank is also home to the Museum of the Plains Indian, which features exhibits on the history and culture of the Plains Indians.


28. Libby is a charming town nestled in the scenic Kootenai River Valley in Lincoln County. Known for its stunning natural beauty, the town offers easy access to outdoor recreation, including fishing, hunting, hiking, and skiing. Visitors can explore the Kootenai National Forest or take a scenic drive along the Kootenai River. The Heritage Museum in Libby showcases the area's history, including the story of the town's famous logging industry. The Cabinet View Golf Course offers a challenging round of golf with stunning views of the surrounding mountains. Libby is also home to the Riverfront Blues Festival, which brings in top blues musicians from around the country.


29. Wolf Point, located in Roosevelt County, is a small town situated along the Missouri River. The town's history is deeply rooted in Native American culture, and visitors can explore this history at the nearby Fort Peck Indian Reservation. Other attractions in Wolf Point include the Missouri River Breaks Interpretive Center, which offers information on the unique natural landscape of the area, and the Wolf Point Area Museum, which highlights the town's pioneer history.


30. Conrad, in Pondera County, is a small agricultural town surrounded by rolling hills and vast farmland. The town is home to the Conrad Mansion Museum, which offers visitors a glimpse into the luxurious lifestyle of one of Conrad's founding families. Visitors can also explore the nearby Freezeout Lake Wildlife Management Area, which is a popular spot for birdwatching and other outdoor activities.


31. Colstrip, located in Rosebud County, is a small coal-mining town surrounded by the beautiful Montana countryside. Visitors can learn about the town's mining history at the Rosebud County Museum, which features exhibits on the early days of coal mining in the area. Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy the nearby Pirogue State Park, which offers hiking, fishing, and boating opportunities.


32. Red Lodge, in Carbon County, is a quaint mountain town surrounded by the rugged beauty of the Beartooth Mountains. Visitors can explore the town's rich history at the Carbon County Historical Society and Museum, or take a scenic drive along the famous Beartooth Highway. Other popular activities in Red Lodge include skiing at the nearby Red Lodge Mountain Resort and hiking in the nearby Custer National Forest.


33. Malta, in Phillips County, is a small town located in the heart of Montana's prairies. Visitors can learn about the town's history at the Phillips County Museum, which features exhibits on the area's homesteading days and Native American history. Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy the nearby Bowdoin National Wildlife Refuge, which offers a variety of wildlife viewing and birdwatching opportunities.


34. East Helena, located in Lewis and Clark County, is a charming small town situated along the Missouri River. Visitors can explore the historic downtown area, which is home to a variety of local shops and restaurants or take a stroll along the Missouri River Greenway, a scenic trail that runs through the heart of town. Other nearby attractions include the Gates of the Mountains Wilderness Area and the Missouri Headwaters State Park.


35. Columbus, in Stillwater County, is a small town surrounded by the natural beauty of Montana's rolling hills and mountains. Visitors can learn about the town's early history at the Columbus Museum, which features exhibits on the area's mining and railroad past. Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy the nearby Yellowstone River, which offers world-class fishing and boating opportunities.


36. Townsend, located in Broadwater County, is a small town situated along the Missouri River. Visitors can explore the historic downtown area, which features a variety of local shops and restaurants or take a scenic drive along the Missouri River. Other nearby attractions include Canyon Ferry Lake, which offers boating and fishing opportunities, and the Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park.


37. Ronan, in Lake County, is a small town situated in the heart of Montana's Flathead Indian Reservation. Visitors can explore the town's history at the Ninepipes Museum of Early Montana, which features exhibits on the area's early settlers and Native American history. Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy the nearby Flathead Lake, which offers a variety of water sports and fishing opportunities.


38. Three Forks, located in Gallatin County, is a small town situated at the confluence of the Jefferson, Madison, and Gallatin Rivers. Visitors can learn about the town's history at the Headwaters Heritage Museum, which features exhibits on the area's early settlers and Lewis and Clark's journey through the area. Outdoor enthusiasts love the conglomerate of rivers, while music festival lovers flock here in the summer for Headwaters Country Jam and Rockin’ The Rivers.


A frosty Lake Helena, MT

39. Stevensville, located in Ravalli County, is often referred to as Montana's first permanent settlement. The city offers a unique blend of Old West charm and modern amenities. Visitors can explore the Stevensville Historical Museum, which showcases artifacts and exhibits detailing the town's rich history or hike the nearby Bitterroot Mountains. Stevensville is also home to the famous Creamery Antique Mall, a must-visit destination for antique lovers.


40. Roundup, situated in Musselshell County, is a small town with a rich cowboy heritage. Visitors can experience the Old West by attending the annual Roundup Rodeo, which features bull riding, steer wrestling, and other classic rodeo events. Roundup is also a gateway to the nearby Musselshell River, where visitors can enjoy fishing, hiking, and camping.


41. Forsyth, located in Rosebud County, is a charming town situated on the banks of the Yellowstone River. Visitors can learn about the town's history by exploring the Rosebud County Museum, which features exhibits on local history and culture. Forsyth is also a popular destination for hunting and fishing, with ample opportunities to catch trout, walleye, and other fish.


42. Baker, situated in Fallon County, is a small town known for its rugged beauty and outdoor recreational opportunities. Visitors can explore the nearby Medicine Rocks State Park, a unique geological formation known for its red sandstone spires and badlands. Baker is also home to the Fallon County Museum, which showcases exhibits on the region's natural history, Native American culture, and pioneer heritage.


43. Plentywood, located in Sheridan County, is a small town with a rich agricultural history. Visitors can learn about the town's farming heritage by exploring the Sheridan County Museum, which features exhibits on local agriculture and ranching. Plentywood is also a great destination for outdoor enthusiasts, with access to nearby reservoirs and wildlife areas.


44. Choteau, situated in Teton County, is a charming town nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Visitors can explore the town's history by visiting the Old Trail Museum, which features exhibits on local history, geology, and Native American culture. Choteau is also home to the Teton Pass Ski Area, a popular destination for winter sports enthusiasts.


45. Big Timber, located in Sweet Grass County, is a small town known for its scenic beauty and outdoor recreational opportunities. Visitors can explore the nearby Crazy Mountains, which offer some of the best hiking and fishing in the state. Big Timber is also home to the Crazy Mountain Museum, which showcases exhibits on local history and culture.


46. Manhattan, situated in Gallatin County, is a charming town with a rich agricultural heritage. Visitors can learn about the town's farming history by visiting the Gallatin Valley Farm and Ranch Museum, which features exhibits on local agriculture and ranching. Manhattan is also a gateway to the nearby Bridger Mountains, where visitors can enjoy hiking, fishing, and skiing.


47. Fort Benton, located in Chouteau County, is a historic town known as the "birthplace of Montana." Visitors can explore the town's history by visiting the Museum of the Northern Great Plains, which features exhibits on local history, culture, and natural history. Fort Benton is also a great destination for fishing and boating, with access to the nearby Missouri River.


48. Thompson Falls, situated in Sanders County, is a small town known for its scenic beauty and outdoor recreational opportunities. Visitors can explore the nearby Thompson Falls State Park, which features hiking trails and waterfalls. Thompson Falls is also a great destination for fishing and camping, with access to the nearby Clark Fork River.


Sled dogs, Lincoln, MT

49. West Yellowstone is located in Gallatin County and is the west entrance to Yellowstone National Park. The city offers easy access to the park's famous geysers and hot springs, as well as outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, and wildlife viewing. West Yellowstone also boasts a number of museums and historic sites, including the Yellowstone Historic Center and the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center.


50. Chinook is located in Blaine County and is known for its rich agricultural history. The city hosts an annual Sugarbeet Festival to celebrate the area's sugarbeet farming heritage. Chinook is also home to a number of historic sites, including the Blaine County Museum and the Bear Paw Battlefield, which commemorates the last battle of the Nez Perce War. Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy hunting, fishing, and hiking in the nearby Bear Paw Mountains.





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