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Montana is one of the best states in the country to visit to explore the great outdoors. Learn about the best hang gliding spots in this expert guide.
Adventure seekers around the country, heck, around the globe, head to Montana to experience the outdoors. Mountains, woods, wide-open spaces, ski slopes, and more. Montana has it all. So it shouldn’t really come as a surprise that there are also quite a few awesome places to take to the skies in Montana. It’s not called the Big Sky State for nothing. So, where should you go hang gliding?
The top companies and launch sites for hang gliding in Montana include Glide Missoula, USHPA Chapter 311, FlyLife Paragliding, Butte, Bear Canyon, Waterloo, Pass Creek, and Mount Ellis. You can’t go wrong with any of these spots!
Montana is a state that is full of natural beauty. If you're looking for an amazing view, and some adrenaline-pumping excitement, then you should go hang gliding in one of these locations! Each spot offers something unique, so make sure to do your research before picking the perfect spot for you. The views from the sky are simply breathtaking, and you'll be able to see landmarks that you never even knew existed. Soaring through the air is an unforgettable experience, and it's definitely something that everyone should try at least once in their lifetime.
If you want to learn as much about hang gliding as you can, then Flight Notch is the site for you. This site was created for enthusiasts like you, by enthusiasts like you. We have flown all over the world and combined our own experience with input from others to come up with complete lists of the best locations to go gliding around the country. So let’s get ready to plan your trip to Montana.
Is Montana Good for Hang Gliding?
We’ve been working on putting together lists of the best hang gliding spots in all 50 states here in the US. In this article, we’re going to look at Montana, which might not come to mind as one of the premier gliding locations in the country. But don’t sleep on this state! We’ll take a look at some of the specific locations here in a bit, but first, let’s talk about why Montana is good for gliding in the first place.
Montana has some of the most varied and beautiful landscapes in the country. You've got your mountains, plains, forests, rivers, lakes...the list goes on. And what do all of these things have in common? They make for great views! No matter where you go in Montana, you're bound to see some amazing scenery. And what's better than seeing all of this amazing scenery from up in the air?
Another great thing about Montana is that it has pretty good weather for gliding. You've got your choice of seasons here, so you can glide year-round if you want to. Of course, the best time to glide is during the spring and summer, when the weather is the most stable. But even in the fall and winter, you can still find some good days for gliding if you know where to look.
Best Locations to go Hang Gliding in Montana
Now that we’ve gushed over Montana for long enough and you (hopefully) understand why we like it so much let’s get into what you’re really here for. Based on our own opinions as well as input from other experts and enthusiasts, these are the best gliding spots in Montana.
We'll look at a few companies and organizations that you can glide with, and that might even teach you how, and then we'll focus on specific launch sites and other places where you can take to the skies on your own.
Let's dive in.
Up first on our list of the top companies in Montana to go hang gliding with is Glide Missoula. Located right in Missoula (duh), Glide Missoula has been around since 1981 and is one of the most experienced and reputable companies around.
They offer tandem flights as well as for instructions for those who want to learn how to glide on their own. Tandem flights are a great way to try out gliding without having to commit to learning how to do it yourself. You'll be harnessed to an experienced instructor who will do all of the work for you while you enjoy the ride and take in the incredible views.
If you decide that you want to learn how to glide on your own, Glide Missoula offers instruction for that as well. They have a three-day course that will teach you everything you need to know in order to be a safe and responsible glider. By the end of the course, you'll be able to take off on your own and enjoy all the amazing experiences that come with hang gliding.
USHPA Chapter 311: Bozeman Paragliding and Hang Gliding Club
The best organization in Montana that isn't actually a company is USHPA Chapter 311, the Bozeman Airforce Paragliding and Hang Gliding Club. The United States Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association (USHPA) is the governing body for both of these activities in the US, and they have chapters all over the country.
Chapter 311 in Bozeman is a great resource for gliders of all experience levels. They offer a way for gliding enthusiasts to come together and experience the beauty and excitement that Montana has to offer. It's a great way for pilots to learn from each other, guide each other, and make each other safer, smarter pilots. The goal of Chapter 311 is just to bring people interested in gliding together and give them an all-encompassing space to learn and enhance their hang gliding experiences.
Members of Chapter 311 frequently visit quite a few different launch sites in Montana, a couple of which we'll explore in more detail later on. These locations are outlined on the organization's website and are separated into three different categories depending on experience and skill level -- Beginner, Sled Runs (thermals), and Ridge Soaring (thermals). The launch sites include:
- Pass Creek
- Bear Canyon
- Story Mill (this site is closed indefinitely)
Sled Runs (thermals)
- Bear Canyon
- Pass Creek
- The "M"
Ridge Soaring (thermals)
- Mount Ellis
As you can see, a couple of these sites (Bear Canyon and Pass Creek) are denoted as both Beginner and Sled Runs. But don't worry; we'll dive into both of these in more detail later on, so you'll learn everything there is to know about them.
I know that the main focus of this article is on hang gliding. Still, if you're interested in taking to the skies in Montana with a reputable company, then you might have to venture off into paragliding for a short while. That's because one of the best gliding companies in Montana is actually a paragliding company: FlyLife Paragliding.
FlyLife offers tandem flights, instruction, and equipment rental (and purchase) for those interested in paragliding. And while they don't offer to hang gliding services, they're a great company to go with if you want to try out paragliding or learn how to do it yourself. This company is located near Bozeman, which is a great jumping-off point for exploring all the different gliding sites that Montana has to offer.
FlyLife is certified by USHPA and is also approved by the Professional Air Sports Association (PASA) as a flight school and retailer of quality equipment. So you know that when you fly with FlyLife, you're getting high-quality instruction and a great flying experience. This flight school can take you from a complete novice to someone that knows how to fly a paraglider on their own in no time. And while you're flying around Bozeman, it's sure to be an unreal experience from start to finish.
Now that we've gone over some of the best companies for gliding in Montana let's dive into a few of the specific locations and launch areas that you should definitely check out. We'll start with one of the most popular sites in the state, Butte, Montana.
Butte, Montana, is one of the most popular hang gliding locations in the state for a number of reasons. First, it's relatively close to a lot of different airports (located in the Rocky Mountains in Southwest Montana), which makes it easy to get to from just about anywhere. Second, the views are absolutely incredible. If you go gliding on a nice day, you can see endlessly in just about every direction. The landscapes are varied, too -- you can see mountains, forests, lakes, and more all while gliding through the air.
This location is also great for gliding because of the weather. Butte has a relatively dry climate, which means that there is less turbulence, and thermals are more predictable. That being said, the best time to go gliding in Butte is actually in the spring and fall when the temperatures are a bit cooler. The summers can be pretty hot (sometimes reaching 100 degrees Fahrenheit), which can make for some pretty intense thermals.
Butte is also a great location because it has a lot to offer in terms of other activities. If you're not interested in hang gliding, there's still plenty to do. For example, you can go hiking, camping, fishing, and more in the surrounding area. Or if you want to stay in town, there are a number of different restaurants, bars, and shops to explore. Basically, whether you're looking for a relaxing vacation or an adventure-filled one, Butte has you covered.
Bear Canyon is another great hang gliding location in Montana. It's located in the Helena National Forest, which is in the central part of the state. This means you'll be in the heart of Montana and you'll be able to really take the beauty of the state in from above. And like Butte, it offers incredible views in every direction. You can see mountains, forests, rivers, and more while you're gliding through the air.
The weather in Bear Canyon is a bit different than in Butte. Bear Canyon actually has four distinct seasons, so the weather can vary quite a bit depending on when you go. That being said, spring and fall are probably the best times to go gliding here. The temperatures are comfortable, and there is usually less wind.
The winters can be very cold, and the summers can be quite hot, so if you're not a fan of extreme temperatures (which also aren't great for gliding), you might want to avoid those times.
There are a few other things to do near Bear Canyon if you're looking for a bit of variety. There is great hiking and camping in the area, as well as fishing and rafting on the nearby rivers. You can also go horseback riding, mountain biking, or ATVing.
Next up on the list is Waterloo, which is another small town in Montana. It's located in the southwest corner of the state, near Yellowstone National Park. And like most of Montana, it offers incredible views. You can see mountains, forests, and rivers from above while you're hang gliding.
The weather in Waterloo is generally pretty good for hang gliding. It's a bit colder in the winter, but the spring and summer are perfect for flying. The temperatures are usually in the 70s and 80s (Fahrenheit), with very little humidity.
There are plenty of other things to do in Waterloo as well. You can go hiking, fishing, and camping in the nearby park. And if you're looking for a city fix, Bozeman is only a few hours away. So no matter if you're hungry for adventure or craving some civilization, Waterloo has you covered.
Next up on the list is one that you might recognize from above when we were talking about the USHPA Chapter 311 and where they go hang gliding. We're talking about Pass Creek, which is located near Anaconda, Montana. This spot is great for new pilots and experienced ones alike.
It's perfect for foot training because of some of the gentle slopes, so you can learn how to launch a hang glider here. The views are also incredible of the valley below and the mountains that surround it. Plus, there's always a good chance for thermals here which can help you stay up in the air longer.
The average weather in the spring and summer is perfect for hang gliding, with temperatures in the 70s and 80s. However, fall and winter can be a bit more tricky with colder temperatures and sometimes high winds. But, if you dress warmly and plan accordingly, you can still have a great time gliding here.
Nearby, Anaconda is a great place to explore. It's an old mining town that has a lot of history. There are also some great hiking trails in the area if you want to explore more of the mountains. So, whether you're a new pilot or an experienced one, Pass Creek should be at the top of your list.
Rounding out our list is Mount Ellis which is located just outside of Bozeman, Montana. This spot is great for all levels of pilots because there are a variety of slopes to choose from. The views here are incredible as well with the valley below and the mountains that surround it. You can also see some great wildlife while you're up in the air.
The weather in Bozeman is generally pretty good for flying, although it can be a little windy at times. The spring and summer are usually the best times to fly, but you can also find some great conditions in the fall and winter as well, although it can get cold during the winter (often even too cold to glide!).
Bozeman and the other areas around Mount Ellis offer many great activities to do, so there's plenty to keep you busy even if you're not flying. There's a hiking, camping, fishing, and much more.
So there you have it. These are just a few of the great places to go hang gliding in Montana. So get out there and enjoy the amazing views! Thanks for reading!