What are the best summer activities in Southwestern Montana?

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Hayley Bosch

Escaping to Southwestern Montana is never a bad idea — and when outdoor adventures abound in the summer, it’s even more enticing. From exploring ghost towns to hiking the tree-studded mountains, there’s plenty of fresh air to be had. Here are some of the best warm weather activities:

1. Take a hike. All of those snowcapped peaks turn into stellar hiking spots when the weather warms. There are also tons of trails you can embark on; try the Agnes Lake Trail in the Pioneer Mountains or the Bar Gulch Trail in Helena National Forest.

2. Check out the ghost towns. Southwestern Montana has a rich mining history, and you can step back in time by visiting some of the ghost towns throughout the region. The most popular are Virginia City, Nevada City and Bannack, but there are plenty of others. Head to Virginia City for the chance to pan for gold.

3. Explore the caverns. Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park is home to one of the largest known limestone caverns in the Northwest, and you can discover the underground wonder for yourself. From May through September, there are guided tours through the caverns’ stalactites, stalagmites, columns and helictites.

4. Cast a line. Southwest Montana has some of the highest quality natural trout streams in the country, so you won’t want to miss out on fishing here. You can go fly fishing for trout in the Ruby, Big Hole and Beaverhead rivers. There are also plenty of lakes around, too.

5. Go to Gates of the Mountains Wilderness Area. This 28,562-acre area is part of Helena National Forest, and part of the Lewis and Clark expedition. Of course, this area is teeming with wildlife. Be on the lookout for bald eagles, black bears, mountain lions, deer and beavers.

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