By Montana Grant

Posted: July 31, 2022

When folks first came to Big Sky Country, what was their first impressions and favorite things? Think back to your first visit to Yellowstone Park, floating a Montana River, catching your first Montana fish, tagging your first critter. What Montana moment is your best memory?

What brought you to Yellowstone Country? Pioneers were looking for a better life, opportunity, and to make their fortunes. The Treasure state certainly had plenty of places to look. Butte was full of copper and other minerals. The Gold Rush at Confederate gulch was one of the largest in North America. No road was easy. Trappers, farmers, lumberjacks, developers, and hordes of other skilled folk came to Montana to find their dreams. Some stayed, some left, and some died. Native peoples were here first. They fought amongst each other for what we still fight for today. Pioneers were just more competition and trouble. 

When did you first see Montana? As a child my parents had a 1959 Chevy station wagon. WE towed a 14-foot Winnebago trailer. 4 people in a small camper. No refrigerator, plasma tv, slide outs, stereos, extra atvs, or other common luxuries found in RVs today. We did carry a 17-foot Grumman canoe on the cars roof. The Ripple Runner gave us access to great floats and fishing.

We stood by the welcome to Montana sign as we entered Yellowstone Park. Wow! From the boom town of West Yellowstone to open parklands that never seemed to end. Our first night camping was in the Fishing Bridge overflow camp. It was also overflowing. Bears were everywhere. Fishing off Fishing Bridge was shoulder to shoulder. Cutthroat trout were abundant. 

As a lifelong sportsman, fishing and hunting were fantastic. Hunting and fishing across the state never gets old. It is getting harder; the wealthy are buying up and closing much of the wild places for only themselves. Access is a challenge. How could a state so large be so hard to find uncrowded places? Everyone wants a part of the country for themselves. Native peoples believed that no one could own the land. It was there for all. Fat wallets prove different today.

The west was amazing. Later, we would spend entire summers moving from campground to campground. As I aged, I traveled with friends and guided many of the rivers and wild places. Summertime meant Montana. Today my family lives here and a new generation is learning about the wilds and joy of Big Sky Country. Visitors and tourists still find Montana amazing. Watching Old Faithful erupt, for the first time is a rite of passage. The west is still amazing, but it is different today. 

The air seems cleaner, smells fresher, clearer, and always changing. Winters are long and cold but there is so much to enjoy. Ice fishing, skiing, snowmobiling, sledding, and all winter sports. Montana is Spanish for Mountains. There are certainly mountains of fun to be had.

What I love most about Montana is…

Montana Grant

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