Daz­zling Mon­tana boasts big value

Al­berta’s south­ern neigh­bour draw­ing in­ter­est as sec­ond-home coun­try

Calgary Herald - Calgary Herald New Condos - - New Condos - AN­DREA COX

Mon­tana. It’s a word that con­jures up myr­iad im­ages.

Brad Pitt as Tris­tan Lud­low in the epic film Leg­ends of the Fall, thun­der­ing along, perched astride a chest­nut mare, long blond locks fly­ing against a back­drop of jaw­drop­ping scenery.

Or per­haps pris­tine white pow­der atop a ma­jes­tic moun­tain, a skier swoosh­ing ef­fort­lessly.

Or maybe a rus­tic cabin with an old-school, long wooden pier on a crys­tal clear moun­tain lake, two red ca­noes docked along­side.

Mon­tana is a place that of­fers the un­ex­pected at ev­ery turn.

Big skies. Clean, fresh air. And lots of wide-open space.

But, un­til re­cently it’s all been hush-hush.

“If you went out into the street and asked some­one about Mon­tana, all they would know is Glacier and Yel­low­stone Na­tional Park,” says Mike Har­rel­son, spokesper­son for Tourism Mon­tana.

“They are beau­ti­ful, but there is so much more to Mon­tana.”

That’s a rather large un­der­state­ment.

Di­ver­sity is the name of the game in this stun­ning state where moun­tains, rush­ing rivers, lakes, prairie grasses and bad­lands all co­ex­ist.

Whether you are look­ing for a great paleontolo­gy dig, amaz­ing back-coun­try ski­ing or some of the best fish­ing in the world, you’ll find it here.

Har­rel­son says what dif­fer­en­ti­ates Mon­tana is the ex­panse of un­touched, un­spoiled land.

“Not only is the scenery spec­tac­u­lar, but it is also highly ac­ces­si­ble be­cause of the high per­cent­age of pub­lic land,” he notes.

Mon­tana of­fers a mul­ti­tude of na­tional and state parks and forests, from Glacier Na­tional Park in the north­west to Yel­low­stone Na­tional Park in the south­west.

And the places be­tween the spa­ces are charm­ing, charis­matic and un­pre­ten­tious, of­ten step­ping stones and gate­ways to myr­iad sport­ing and out­door at­trac­tions.

Take for ex­am­ple, the univer­sity town of Boze­man in the state’s south­west quad­rant.

It’s a five-hour drive from Cal­gary and yet Har­rel­son says most Cana­di­ans are un­aware of what it of­fers.

“Most Cana­di­ans don’t make it past our north­west cor­ner, the White­fish and Kal­ispell ar­eas.”

Good restaurant­s, a great cul­tural pulse and an ed­u­cated air de­fine this quaint city of 40,000.

But what re­ally makes it stand out is its lo­ca­tion, just an hour’s drive to Yel­low­stone and 70 kilo­me­tres to the chi chi re­sort town of Big Sky.

“There are a num­ber of people here from all over the world with sec­ond homes,” says Dave Gluek, a real es­tate bro­ker for Pru­den­tial Mon­tana.

“It’s just got a great feel, a lot of en­ergy, great cof­fee shops and the cli­mate is awe­some.”

Mon­tana is all about life­style.

At the doorstep is moun­tain bik­ing, downhill and back coun­try ski­ing (four re­sorts within an hour’s drive), crosscount­ry ski­ing (track and skate), moun­tain bik­ing, wa­ter sports, hunt­ing and some of the best trout fish­ing in the world.

“A lot of places in the world are beau­ti­ful, but you’ve got to bring a fat cheque­book to gain ac­cess,” Har­rel­son says. Not so in Mon­tana. The state has 16 ski ar­eas with the aver­age price of a lift ticket sit­ting at $50 US.

“It’s still af­ford­able here,” Har­rel­son says, not­ing that the ski hills are more about the ac­tiv­ity and less about the real es­tate shop­ping.

That said, Gluek notes real es­tate prices are still very rea­son­able in Mon­tana.

“We’re re­cov­er­ing from the re­ces­sion. De­vel­op­ers are start­ing to build again and there is a bit of a buzz, es­pe­cially in the Boze­man area.”

He says homes range in price from $200,000 US for a condo near main street Boze­man to $1-mil­lion plus for a few acres of land in a gated, horse­fo­cused de­vel­op­ment with a pri­vate care­taker and a com­mon sta­ble with on­site groom.

“It’s a great place for the Cal­gar­ian think­ing they might want a sec­ond place in the U.S. They can drive, so they don’t have to jump on a plane to tap into it.”

Gluek adds that for the jet-set­ter, Big Sky of­fers a range of multi-mil­lion dol­lar homes.

“Ev­ery Fri­day, I see the pri­vate jets fly­ing in and then they fly out on Mon­day.”

At its heart, with a statewide pop­u­la­tion that only re­cently crested one mil­lion, Mon­tana of­fers a qui­eter, more peace­ful and con­nected way of life.

“It is re­ally per­fect for the so­phis­ti­cated trav­eller who wants a more low gloss and re­ally ac­tive ex­pe­ri­ence,” Har­rel­son says.

Pho­tos: For the Cal­gary Herald

Rodeos are one of the pop­u­lar pas­times for res­i­dents of and vis­i­tors to Mon­tana. The state also of­fers great hik­ing, ca­noe­ing and ski­ing.

Go for a stroll with fam­ily in Boze­man, Mont.

At left, you can hit the wa­ters of the White Cliffs on the Mis­souri River. Above, carve the slopes at White­fish while vis­it­ing Mon­tana.

For the Cal­gary Herald

Lake McDon­ald at Glacier Na­tional Park is one of many stun­ning scener­ies in pic­turesque Mon­tana.

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