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Settled in the heart of Montana, the Big Sky Country, Great Falls is surrounded by spectacular natural wonders and scenery. It is nestled between rich, productive farm land only miles away from the majestic Rocky Mountains to its west and Little Belt Mountains to the east. The Missouri River provides Great Falls with its name.
Great Falls, Montana
Great Falls is Montana's heartland. Straddling the Missouri River, Great Falls remains the agricultural and commercial hub that it was meant to be when East Coast entrepreneur Paris Gibson laid the plans for the city in 1885. Great Falls is best known, in fact, as "The Electric City". The Great Falls community sits just below a series of dams on the Missouri, that provides power to a huge area, and the river's water supports a thriving wheat and barley industry.
In 1805 Lewis and Clark first ventured into this stretch of the Missouri, and they discovered a different river from the one visitors see today. Over the ten-mile stretch there were five cataracts, which they called the "Great Falls of the Missouri": "A sublimely grand spectacle," Lewis wrote in his journal.
Today, as a result of five hydro projects, Great Falls offers you the opportunity to see many of the extraordinary sights and sounds that so thrilled and inspired Lewis, and Clark. Anyone interested in Lewis and Clark's expedition should plan on spending a day on the River's Edge Trail, which skirts the southern flank of the Missouri. The best place to experience the river locally is Giant Springs / Heritage State Park. The spring, known as one of the world's largest, bubbles from the earth at a rate of eight million gallons per hour.
See history come alive as you enjoy the area's special monuments and tributes to the men and women who have left such a rich heritage. For one, C.M. Russell (1864-1926) the nation's most acclaimed frontier artist made his home in Great Falls - where he spent the last 24 years of his life. The Charles M. Russell Museum Complex includes his home, featuring his original log-cabin studio and an extraordinary art museum. The museum exhibits the most extensive collection of Russell's original works. Also in the arena of the arts, the Paris Gibson Square is a must see gallery housing the Center for Contemporary Arts. This museum features contemporary exhibits, and includes a fine-art shop and a Museum Café that serves some of the best food in Great Falls.
The Northside Residential historic District, dating back from 1885, is Great Fall's most architecturally interesting neighborhoods. Just west of the Russell Museum and Paris Gibson Square, these thirty-nine homes can be visited in a one-hour walking tour offered by the Cascade County Historical Archives. All this history is set against a backdrop of fine restaurants, hotels, casinos, city parks, shopping malls and specialty stores that make Montana's second largest city an ideal place for a vacation.
At Ulm Pishkun State Park you'll find beautiful landscape, and cultural treasures. Thousand of years ago, American Indians drove herds of bison up this mile long buffalo jump. At the brand new Ulm Pishkun Visitor Center, visitors can hear the stories and view the rich exhibits featuring arrowheads, knives, hide scrapers, hammers and other tools discovered at the site.
Whether you're looking for a relaxing vacation with the opportunity to rediscover the sites of Great falls, or just enjoy the scenery or to experience a great area to golf, fish, hunt, ski, horseback ride or snowboard, Great Falls is the place to be.