SHOW-TOE. Most visitors have no idea how to pronounce Choteau. But that’s okay, even Siri gets it wrong.
Choteau is a charming, western town in north central Montana. The town is nicknamed “Front Porch of the Rockies” because from just about any point in town, you can see all the way up and down the Rocky Mountain Front. If you’re driving the Park-to-Park Highway between Yellowstone and Glacier National Park, you’ll pass right through Choteau’s quaint Main Street, which includes shops and restaurants (and only one stop light). While you’re in Choteau, you can find many things to do:
Here are a few of our favorites:
Follow the Montana Dinosaur Trial, and you will come to Choteau. Egg Mountain, one of the most important paleontology sites in the world, is in our backyard (almost literally!). At the Old Trail Museum, you can see a Maiasaura (the Montana state fossil). If you really want to get your hands dirty, you can go on a real dinosaur dig at the Two Medicine Dinosaur Center. If you don't have time for that, the Center is an aboslute must-see. They have the first infant Maiasaura bones from Egg Mountain and a life-size Siesmosaurus (the largest in the world according to the Guinness Book of World Records).
There is nothing quite like the sound of several hundred thousand geese taking flight at once. Every spring, snow geese and tundra swans migrate from Texas and California on their way up to the northwest Arctic tundra. They spend several weeks at Freezeout Lake Wildlife Management Area and people come from all over the world to see them. Choteau offers an annual Wild Wings event and tours for birders.
Glacier and Yellowstone Parks
Choteau is midway between Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks, and many of our guests visit these parks during their wilderness pack trip with us. But don’t forget that Montana is a really big state and you’ll need to plan extra time to get from place-to-place.Glacier National Park is the center of one of the largest and most intact ecosystems in North America. The boundary between Glacier Park and the Bob Marshall Wilderness – where we host our pack trips – is about 200 yards across a highway and a railroad track. If you visit Glacier, we highly recommend doing a boating tour, hiking to the many lakes and waterfalls, and visiting their chalets. The views from the Going-to-the-Sun Road over the Continental Divide are so extraordinary that you probably won’t even mind the heavy traffic.
Yellowstone National Park give visitors an up-close-and-personal glimpse of what the continent was like in the days before recorded history. With more than two million acres of sprawling wilderness, wildlife, and erupting geysers to explore, Yellowstone is one of North America’s greatest sites — and it’s open year-round
Old West History
The first Europeans to explore this part of the country were French fur trappers. They named many of the local landmarks including the Teton River, Dupuyer, Choteau, and many other places. The townsite evolved from the original name of a fur trapper and explorer named Pierre Cadet Chouteau Jr. In the mid-1800s, Chouteau Jr. established Fort Benton as the last fur-trading post on the Missouri River about 150 miles east of us. Choteau originated as a fort (stockade) and Indian agency, known as "Old Agency," [referred to as the "Four Persons" Agency by the Blackfeet Nation] north of the present townsite 1868-1876 near the Teton River. By 1876 the Blackfeet Reservation boundary was changed and the agency was relocated north of Birch Creek on Badger Creek, (the Running Crane Agency.) In 1880 Old Agency was a hamlet of white men who had married Native American women, some Blackfeet, and some Metis who lived there with their mixed-blood children. By 1883 the current townsite was established at the "Big Bend" of the Teton River and pioneering stores were established.
Today the area around Choteau is rich in early American West history. The remote nature and low population density have kept many early buildings, landmarks, and other historical sites largely visible.
Lodging and Restaurants
There are many options for lodging and eating in and around the area. We recommend our guests stay at the Stage Stop Inn, a family-owned westeran hotel, the night before your trip departs. We are happy to recommend options while you're in town. You can see more at www.visitChoteau.com.
Choteau has been at the forefront of the old-west settlement since the 1860's and has seen its share of settlers, trappers, cowboys, and Indians as history has unfolded. The first fort (stockade) and Indian agency, known as "Old Agency," [referred to as the "Four Persons" Agency by the Blackfeet Nation] was located from 1868-1876 near the Teton River, three miles north of the present city of Choteau. By 1876 the Blackfeet Reservation boundary was changed and the agency was relocated north of Birch Creek on Badger Creek, (the Running Crane Agency.) In 1880 Old Agency was a hamlet of white men who had married Native American women, some Blackfeet, and some Metis who lived there with their mixed-blood children. In 1883 the land around Old Agency was sold and Isaac Hazlett platted the townsite of Choteau three miles south and moved the Hamilton and Hazlett store there.