The Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail Interpretive Center (406-727-8733), opened in 1998, is a grand addition to the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail. On the bluffs above the Missouri River, the interpretive center provides an ideal view of terrain similar to what the Corps of Discovery encountered along their portage of the Great Falls of the Missouri River. The center is convenient to the many sights of Great Falls. Exhibits, live programs and a video provide a comprehensive understanding of central Montana's importance to the Corps' mission and the area's place in history along the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail. The center, on Giant Springs Road, sits less than a half-mile from Giant Springs, where Clark recorded his discovery of June 18, 1805.
Giant Springs Heritage State Park is a lovely park that preserves one of the largest natural, cold water springs in the world. Flow from the springs supports a state trout hatchery and also qualifies as the shortest river in the world, the Roe River. Enjoy a river drive, overlooks, picnic sites and visitor center in this area.
This area of waterfalls may be viewed via a eight-mile, paved, nonmotorized pathway known as the River's Edge Trail. It offers a unique experience to walk, jog, roller blade or bike along three of the falls. There is also a paved road with scenic turnouts where the falls can be viewed by car.
Great Falls was also the home of the famed cowboy artist Charlie Russell (1864-1926), whose original home and log studio are now part of the C. M. Russell Museum Complex (406-727-8787). ..Paris Gibson Square Museum of Art was named for the founder of Great Falls and originally built in 1895 as a high school. This beautiful building, constructed from sandstone quarried near Helena, is designated as a National Historic Landmark. The interior features Carolina oak wainscotting, ornate brass door fixtures and hardwood floors. The museum is dedicated to contemporary art in Montana and also houses the Museum Cafe, museum gift shop and a branch of the Montana Wilderness Association. ..A look at our area's more recent homesteader and cowboy past can be found at the Cascade County Historical Society Museum in the High Plains Heritage Center. There you will also find the Great Falls Geneology Society Library. (406-452-3462).
Today, Great Falls is the site of Malmstrom Air Force Base (406-731-2705), the center of our nation's first Minuteman Missile Complex. The museum explains the history of the base, from its role in World War II to the present. Displays at the air park include a ""Huey"" helicopter, a Stratotanker used for in-flight refueling, a Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missile and many aircraft used as fighters and bombers.
The Cowboys' Museum (406-761-9299) takes a look at what Montana was like during the days of those unsung heroes-the cowboys, stockmen and pioneers. The museum is housed in an authentic log cabin with double fireplaces and hitching posts. It is filled with Old West relics-branding irons, rawhide ropes and, ox yokes. More than 500 mementos are on display.
Discover the magic, history and beauty of Great Falls while on the Great Falls Historic Trolley or Tour de Great Falls. You'll see and hear about the Lewis & Clark Expedition, Indians of the region, Giant Springs State Park, C. M. Russell Museum Complex, Historic Downtown Great Falls, Three Waterfalls, Paris Gibson Square, Historic Railroad Area, Historic Home District, Churches, Saloons and other historic buildings. (406-771-1100)..Great Falls is a marketing center with good air and highway connections. Grand vistas can be found in every direction; Great Falls is surrounded by mountains and buttes on three sides, as well as vast plains to the north. Within minutes you can be on a large wheat farm, in a beautiful winding river gorge, or a picturesque valley. The city, with its midwestern flavor, straddles the Missouri River, which meanders toward natural falls on the northeastern edge of town.
Take a short drive and visit the Ulm Pishkun State Park. This historic Buffalo Jump is thought to be the longest in the nation. At the Visitor Center learn why and how the Native Americans drove buffalo over the cliffs. Enjoy an awe-inspiring 360° panoramic view atop the cliffs. (406-866-2217) ..Major events that draw visitors to Great Falls are the PRCA Montana Circuit Finals Rodeo in January, the C. M. Russell Auction of Original Western Art in March, the Lewis and Clark Festival in June and the State Fair in July.
Elevation: 3,674 feet.
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