Why You Should Visit Helena, Montana

Meet Emmie – Visit Helena Montana’s Summer Intern

I grew up in the valley of Helena, Montana very close to nature. I remember looking at the sky when I was little and being able to see how it stretched to touch every mountain top and feeling like the whole world was encompassed right there in that space. The way the mountains cradle this town is something you almost can’t get anywhere else, which I later learned when visiting big cities like Manhattan, Seattle, or Los Angeles. Because of my deep affection for this place, I’ve come to love its history, the kind of people who live here, and almost everything this Big Sky state has to offer.

Emmie Bristow

Why Helena?

I am a sixth generation Montanan on my mother’s side, something I didn’t even realize was a big deal until late high school. I remember going on a choir trip to Washington, D.C. and touring the Newseum, there learning that the area my family comes from, the Helena/Lincoln area, is known as the “Wilds of Montana.” I could have taken this offensively. I mean, we are civilized. However, in a way, I took a sort of pride in it, and not just because I could tell people I grew up in the wild. There is so much to discover in Helena’s mountains, and almost everything to do here is natural. Not human built, not machine created.

In Helena, almost anywhere you’re at, you are usually only around a 15-minute drive away from the base of the mountains (sometimes even less). That means taking a hike doesn’t have to be a whole day event. You can go for a walk up to the Fire Tower at 10 in the morning and have plenty of time afterward to grab brunch at the No Sweat Café (which closes at 2pm). If you want to canoe at Spring Meadow Lake, a quick car ride heading west of Helena can get you there in around 10 minutes. Let’s say it’s winter and you want to go skiing; Great Divide is only around a 30 to 40-minute drive away. Because Helena is so close to nature, doing anything recreational in its wilderness is not only possible, but easy.

Helena Firetower

Although being close to nature has always been a love of mine, it is still not my number one reason for loving Helena and wanting to be a part of the Helena Tourism Alliance to promote this beautiful place. You see, somehow, this wild place came to prosper. If you get the chance to tour the Pioneer Cabin, you will see just how hard people had to work here just to live. All one had was his or her covered wagon and family, but that was all he or she needed. Somehow people figured out how to last through the long, cold winters and have little access to resources that were so abundant in the east. And, for some reason, they stayed, like my great-great-great grandmother. For some reason, Lewis and Clark spent the most time on their expedition in Montana. For some reason, Helena was chosen over larger, more popular towns to be the capital. Well, I’ll tell you right now folks: that is not a coincidence. However, I’m not sure if I can tell you exactly why. Maybe it’s the clear, cold rivers and lakes, the looming mountains, or even the fresh and crisp mountain air. Who knows? But something about this place has made people stick. If you’ve been here before, then you know what I’m talking about, but if you haven’t, then you’ll just have to check it out for yourself. And while you’re here, don’t forget to stop on by the Visitor Center at 105 Reeder’s Alley so we can share this wild place, Helena, with you.