Montana Vacation: What to Pack
If you are thinking about taking a Montana vacation, you probably already know that there is a plethora of things to see and do.
The natural beauty of Montana is incredible and people travel from not only all over the country, but all over the world to check out the spacious mountains, rivers, lakes, and streams, not to mention the natural wonders of both Glacier National Park and Yellowstone National Park. If you aren’t from Montana, there are some things that you will no doubt need as you enjoy all the outdoors has to offer in this wonderful state.
The first things you are going to want to make sure you have in your pack of outdoor gear is a good hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, and a good pair of boots. It not only gets warm in Montana, in places like Yellowstone Park you will be at an average elevation of 8,000 feet! Needless to say, the sun is strong and if you don’t take steps to protect yourself, you will regret it.
Of course, a sturdy pair of boots is right near the top of the list as well, because you will not doubt be trekking around the many mountain trails as you visit various places of interest. The hard sole of a good pair of hiking boots is vastly superior to the soft soles of athletic shoes when it comes to protecting your feet from rocks and also the wet and dry trails that you will encounter. Take care of your feet and they will take care of you as you enjoy your Montana vacation.
You are going to want a good pair of binoculars on your journey. There is just too much that you won’t want to miss, and you will not be able to walk right up to everything. Many visitors enjoy checking out mountain goats as they climb through Glacier Park or the occasional grizzly bear walking across Hayden Valley, which you obviously don’t want to get up close to! Speaking of which, bear spray is a must, especially if you plan to visit the Yellowstone Park area which is home to over 700 grizzly bears.
You can purchase it at any camping store and even many convenience stores in the state, and please remember not to try to take it on a plane if you are flying to Montana. You can also purchase binoculars once you arrive and a spotting scope will work as well, but for the most part, get a decent pair of binos and you will be glad you did!
Even if you visit Montana during the summer, you will want to make sure you bring rain gear. It may not get really cold (although it does cool down significantly at night up in the mountains!) during the summer, but you are almost certain to encounter some inclement weather during your stay. The same outdoor store that sells you the bear spray and the binoculars can sell you some good rain gear and you may well be glad you have it if you get caught on the side of a mountain and the weather changes.
It is always better safe than sorry when it comes to dealing with the weather in Montana.
Don’t forget about hydration! A couple of insulated water bottles that you can refill will be of great benefit as you hike through the state. You can get dehydrated very quickly hiking under the hot sun in Montana, especially at higher elevations, so take steps to make sure you are prepared with plenty of water. Many a hiker has forgotten to stay hydrated and ended up with cramps or a headache, and even sun stroke. You should drink around ½-1 liter of water for every hour you are out hiking. Again, every outdoor store that you walk into will have a wide variety of water bottle and water systems that even allow you to take a sip while you are hiking without bothering to stop and pull out a water bottle.
If you visit places like Glacier and Yellowstone, you will be hundreds of miles from major cities. This will afford some of the darkest skies that you are likely to ever see, and a perfect opportunity to look at the stars! A star chart can be invaluable and make for a really fun time checking out formations that you might not have seen before. If you live in a big city, you may see in the neighborhood of 15,000 stars by looking up into the night sky, as compared to 500 in an urban area. Don’t miss out on the wonders of the sky just because it is night time.
Things like bug spray are also a must when visiting Montana, especially if you plan to be on or near the water. Traditional formulas such as OFF are always a good choice and there are ones with more natural ingredients as well. Obviously by this time you have probably realized that you are going to need a good day pack to keep all this stuff in and finding one of those along with staples like a flashlight, change of cloths, and even a first aid kit will give you what you need to make your hikes enjoyable. Packs are so lightweight these days that you can find one in pretty much every shape and size and one that everyone in your group will not have a problem strapping on for the day.
Even though you are enjoying nature, don’t forget about your smart phone! With the technology available today there are all kinds of sightseeing apps that will help highlight each area that you are visiting so that you don’t miss out on anything.
You can even find apps that will tell you what time certain geysers will erupt in Yellowstone Park, as well as a myriad of other guides that you can download for free. Some will even tell you background stories and provide commentary as you drive to your destination.