Montana is a state in the Pacific Northwest and Great Plains regions of the United States. The central and western third of the state have numerous mountain ranges (approximately 77 named) of the northern Rocky Mountains. With an area of 146,316 square miles, it is the fourth largest State. The economy is primarily based on agriculture and significant lumber and mineral extraction. Tourism is also important to the economy with millions of visitors a year to Glacier National Park, the Battle of Little Bighorn site, and three of the five entrances to Yellowstone National Park.
Climatic variations are large in Montana. The half of the State southwest of a line from the southeastern corner to the Canadian Border north of Cut Bank in Glacier County is very mountainous, while the northeastern half is very much like Great Plains country, broken occasionally by wide valleys and isolated groups of hills. The extent of the climatic variations is indicated by the range in elevation from 1,800 feet above sea level to 12,850 feet. Half of the State lies over 4,000 feet above sea level. On the west of the mountain barrier, winters are milder, precipitation is more evenly distributed throughout the year, summers are cooler in general, and winds are lighter than on the eastern side. There is more cloudiness in the west in all seasons, humidity runs a bit higher, and the growing season is shorter than in the eastern plains areas. During the summer months, hot weather occurs fairly often in the eastern parts of the State. Winters, while usually cold, have few extended cold spells. Cold waves, which cover parts of Montana on the average of 6 to 12 times a winter, are confined mostly to the sections northeast of Glacier Park.