Photo: Caden Crawford
1. There’s other food here besides steak.
Vegan pizza? Got it. Brazilian take-out? Yep. Roasted butternut squash crêpes with Montana black beluga lentils and Marsala cream? Sure. Missoula is a hotbed for all things culinary, and though steak is definitely a major restaurant staple in these parts, there are plenty of places that offer up other options.
2. And other beer besides Budweiser.
With the second highest per capita breweries in the country, don’t ever tell a Montanan that there’s a lousy beer selection in these parts. For every bar that has Bud Light Lime on tap, there’s at least a couple more that have a Bourbon Barrel-Aged Scotch Ale or a Wild Huckleberry Wheat Lager, likely crafted just around the corner.
3. And other coffee besides cowboy coffee.
Not everyone likes to pick coffee grounds out of their teeth while shivering next to a fire (or, at least, not every day). Montana is full of baristas that will make even the choosiest of aficionados happy. Break Espresso in downtown Missoula serves up a mean Americano (with a fresh-baked slice of strawberry-rhubarb pie, to boot), and Montana Coffee Traders in Whitefish will whip up the best espresso in the Valley — with fair trade, organic, and locally roasted beans.
4. People aren’t fighting off bears every day, all day.
It may be the state animal, but that doesn’t mean the state is crawling with them (in fact, their range has shrunk drastically from what it once was). A grizzly sighting is a beautiful thing, and the truth is most bears avoid people whenever they can — especially if you follow the basic safety precautions, like don’t leave your garbage laying around, travel in groups, and for Pete’s sake, don’t try to feed them.
5. Not everything is rustic cowboy chic.
Craft brewery in Whitefish? Check. Coffee shops crawling with college kids reading English lit in Missoula? Yep. The best used bookstore on the planet in Butte? Check. Not everything in Montana is about fly-fishing and antlers (though there might be antlers at the brewery. Because why not?)
6. Moose Drool is not actually moose drool.
So stop asking weird questions at restaurants and making jokes only your uncle thinks are funny. Moose Drool is a 5.1% IBU 26 brown ale brewed with caramel, pale, chocolate, and whole black malts, thank you very much. Montana takes its craft brews very seriously.
7. Glacier National Park is every bit as epic as you think it is.
We might be biased, but it’s the best national park in the country. No. In the world. With thousand foot waterfalls, playful mountain goats, backcountry outhouses that look out over vast mountain passes, and the Going-to-the-Sun Road winding its way up and over the continental divide, there really can’t be anywhere better.
8. But the glaciers in Glacier National Park are disappearing.
Global climate change doesn’t bode well for the park’s namesake. Many of the icy behemoths are already gone forever from the park — there was 150 of them less than two centuries ago — and the rest are on their way out, too. Glaciologists predict they’ll all be gone by 2030.
9. There are LOTS of artists here.
Something about the rushing rivers, craggy peaks, and dense lodgepole pine forests seem to inspire a lot of creativity in these parts. From painters to sculptors to potters to jewellers working with naturally inspired designs to pine-needle basket-makers and woodworkers who use aspen and juniper to make lamps — there are countless artists and artisans tucked into studios all over the state.
10. You don’t have to wear plaid, just because you’re within state lines.
But it will probably help with that whole cool lumberjack vibe people are into these days on Instagram.