Anyone familar with Montana?

Hello everyone,

After starting at a map of Montana for about an hour, I have come to the conclusion I need help. This summer I am doing a clinical rotation through the National Health Service Corp in Montana. I expected to be assigned to a site, but the program director just e-mailed me and told me to chose a site. I’ve never been to Montana, I don’t know anyone from Montana and I suspect the distances on the map are a lot greater than I realize. However, google maps is misbehaving and I can’t get an accurate estimation on anything.

So. It seems like there’s someone that knows a little bit about everything on this board - I’m hoping this extends to Montana.

I’m not going to have a tremendous amount of free time, but I was hoping on taking a weekend or two to explore the local scenery - both Yellowstone and Glacier National Park are in the state. Does anyone have any suggestions? Tips for a summer in Montana? Knowledge of the distances between Browning and Glacier National or Red Lodge and Yellowstone? What else should I try to see in the state? I know my primary purpose is to learn, but I’m considering practicing there in the future and I’d like to get a feel for the state.

Thank you!

Oy, I forgot.

If anyone is interested, the program website with the list of sites is here:

There’s a comprehensive mileage chart here. It’s a pdf document.

Two other mileage charts, in html, are here and here.

I believe SDSAB Chronos is from Montana. Perhaps he can be of assistance.


I have never been to Montana, but I can tell you this much from things I’ve garnered over the years:

  1. Most of the “touristy” stuff is in the west of the state, which is hilly-to-mountainous.

  2. The east of the state is flat high plains, with a very low population density. It’s also apparently where the greatest need for medical professionals is.

  3. The state’s nickname is “the Big Sky Country” and it fits. Beautiful country, with lots of sky. (That sound strange, but it’s the almost universal comment.)

  4. Winters are severe, not necessarily a lot of snow compared to some places, but bitter cold.

I had a good freind that grew up there (several parts of the state), and his general verdict was that while the western part of the state was God’s Own Country, the eastern part was where North Dakotans went to get away from all the excitement.

I live in SW Montana. Yes, it is a very big state, and it is very VERY rural. If you are basically a “city” person, you might want to stick to the bigger towns like Butte, Bozeman, Billings, Great Falls, or Missoula. Seems like Miles City & Havre are decent sized, but they’re not “in my area” so I don’t know much about them.

Butte is a grubby little mining town, but it’s okay with that. :smiley: The rest of the state makes fun of it, but it is roughly halfway between Yellowstone & Glacier, has an airport, a fairly big hospital (comparatively), is close to the Interstate, is big enough to have a choice of cable TV, cell phone and ISP’s and has full sized grocery stores. Restaurants range from unexceptional to boring. Ditto for Dillon & Anaconda (except for the hospitals).

Sheridan (58 miles? from Butte, 30-some from Dillon) is a very pretty, friendly little town. I lived in Twin Bridges (next town up from Sheridan – 8 miles) and loved it. Fabulous bank, crappy hospital, boring restaurants, tiny grocery store, marvelous butcher, 35 miles from I-90, 35 miles from I-15, good snow-plows & sand trucks, more cows than people, more deer than cows, and more mosquitoes than deer. Rural Communications Act area, so internet, cable TV, telephone & cell phone services seriously blow.

Getting good beef is easy and cheap, good produce not so much.

Hahaha! So very true!!!

May I use that line? Please?

Oh, I thought this thread was going to be about wine - was going to chime in with my extensive knowledge!

Moving this to IMHO. What you really need are informed opinions. Not the specific answer to a specific question.

samclem GQ moderator

Foaming Cleanser - Thank you so much for the website - it helped put things in perspective.

Polycarp - Thank you for the info - I think calling me a “health care professional” is a little generous though. I’m a student and while I want to help out as much as I can, it might be better for me to go to a larger practice. That way, I can work with several different physicians and the burden of having a student isn’t on one person all the time. I was also kind of interested in going to a reservation and working with a more diverse population. Finally - all of these practices have been listed as underserved, otherwise the NHSC wouldn’t be offering them as clinical sites for the program.

MadPansy64 Butte, eh? Good grief! Halfway is 200 miles! I was born in Delaware man! ack! Seriously though, I really appreciate the information. Sheridan looks like it’s a small practice, but it’s the only one with a footnote about how much the physician loves to teach. I’m pretty much expecting rural and I had suspected that internet and cell phones may not even be available. I could request Billings, but it would contradict my application essay and I’d rather not do that. I was kind of planning on buying new running shoes, loading up on books and finishing the darn afghan. Do you think Blockbuster has made it out there?

So you’re going to live in Montana, marry a round American woman, raise rabbits, and she will cook them for you?

This is true. It’s what I remember from my visit to Montana years ago, the HUGE sky that seemed to go on forever. Don’t know how to explain it, maybe it’s the altitude or the type of cloud formations, or the juxtaposition against miles and miles of NOTHING, but it really is Big Sky Country. Doesn’t look like that anyplace else in the country.

Also, there are no speed limits in Montana. (Or did they change that?)

I suppose anything is possible. However, since I’m female and a long-time vegetarian, it seems unlikely. I was under the impression it was a fairly conservative state too.

I heard they finally got speed limits, but that they were very high. After playing with the mileage websites and looking at google’s satellite pictures, I can understand why.

Just get Netflix!

I would do unholy things to be able to move to Montana. Well, the western part. I really enjoyed driving through there although I think we saw a car/deer accident about once an hour.

So watch your speed!

Raise rabbits? Everyone knows what they raise in Montana is dental floss:

Montana offers mountain scenery that’s hard to match. Here are a few drives to consider (hikes in these areas also highly recommended):
Going-to-the-Sun highway - runs roughly east-west across Glacier Park. Drop-dead gorgeous is a massive understatement here - absolutely worth a special trip.

Beartooth highway - Route 212 south out of Red Lodge. This will take you into northern Wyoming, through Cooke City, and into the northern part of Yellowstone Park. The Absaroka-Beartooth range is almost past believing.

Route 191 from West Yellowstone to Gallatin Gateway - follows the Gallatin River. Not as breathtaking as the first two, but very worthwhile.

You must, of course, visit Yellowstone Park. When you do, check out the secret swimming spot near the north entrance. The trail to it starts at a small parking area on the east side of Hwy 89, very close to where a sign announces that you are at latitude 45 (halfway between the equator and the north pole). From the parking lot, walk south along the stream about 200 yards. You’ll come to a place where very hot water from an undergound hot spring mixes with the cold water of the stream. The idea is to find a place where the waters have mixed to a pleasant temperature.

This swimming hole is curious. The hot water is plenty hot enough to cause burns, and the Park could close the area off any time. They don’t - it’s quite okay to go there. But there are no signs nor anything in any Park publication that says a word about the place - you have to know.

I have friends that live in Baker (east of Miles City, close to the North Dakota border), so I can give you a heads up on what a small town looks like. There are decent school and swimming andn park facilities, lots of older residents to take care of, small shops (don’t know if WalMart’s there yet) and a real small town feel – it’ll take you five minutes to drive slowly through town. Lots of weird rock formations all around, so if you like solitude and hiking (and wind), you’re all set.

The folks I know that live there joke about the times they’ve driven to Billings (over two hours away) just to eat at a McDonalds. Road trip!

On the other hand, I’ll never forget the experience of seeing a huge triceratops skull being excavated just a few miles north of town in the badlands.

Yep – that was a quote from here.

[sub](Sorry, KGS)[/sub]

It’s 60 miles to the nearest Blockbuster. I strongly suggest Netflix.

email me about the doctor if you’d like.

Interstate is 75 mph, state/county highways are 70 during daylight (65?? at night) for passenger vehices, in town is usually either 35 or 25, depending on the town. Pay very close attention to in-town speed limits, BTW.

Yes, Montana tends to vote republican, mostly because of gun control. On other issues, not so much. Arguing about politics helps keep us warm in the winter :slight_smile: