• Picture of sunset in Bannack State Park, Montana

    Autumn in Montana

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From Keith Bellows, Editor in Chief, National Geographic Travel

I remember this so clearly. My kids are out by the corral and they are mingling with the horses. Later they will park themselves on bleachers and watch cowgirls and local bucks ride bulls and settle into the saddle and gallop across the horizon. All of them vaulting off to swagger around in scuffed cowboy boots and torn jeans. It was like an entry to a strange, intoxicating new world. Montana is a place that evokes exotic, wondrous otherness (even though it’s a U.S. state) that is a must-go, must-see. Last summer I finally entered its borders for the first time. The family did dude ranches and Glacier National Park. Trail rides and river rafting. Small, curious backwaters and ghost towns. Immense platters of elk and fish. The thing that spoke to me most was that Montana knows utterly what it is and how it sees itself. It is so original and uncluttered (a mere million people occupy its vastness so that elbow room is part of its personality). So many folks I met there had come from elsewhere; once they sampled all the big sky and the resolute wilderness they simply couldn’t go home again. Montana became their home. I am settled where I live but Montana occupies a piece of my internal travel landscape. I am going back.

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