Ever since distance became desirable (thanks pandemic), and Montana became popular (thanks Yellowstone), Montana’s small towns have been growing, fast. In this post, we take a look at which Montana towns have seen the biggest population growth since 2020.
Just a note: this post looks at towns in Montana with a population of less than 10,000 residents but higher than 2,000. If you are interested in larger cities, click here to see Montana’s fastest-growing cities.
15.1% Population Growth | 8,915 Residents
Whitefish, Montana, is a small mountain town near the Canadian border known for its outdoor recreation opportunities. Situated on the shores of Whitefish Lake, it offers activities like boating and fishing in the summer, and skiing in the winter at the nearby Whitefish Mountain Resort. The downtown area features local shops, art galleries, and dining options, making it a lively hub for both residents and visitors. Additionally, it serves as a gateway to Glacier National Park, enhancing its appeal as a destination for those seeking a straightforward Montana experience. Whitefish is just 25 minutes from the fastest growing city in Montana, Kalispell.
11.3% Population Growth | 3,097 Residents
Libby, Montana, is a town nestled in the northwest corner of the state, surrounded by the breathtaking scenery of the Kootenai National Forest. Known for its tight-knit community and rustic charm, Libby is a gateway to outdoor adventures, offering opportunities for hiking, fishing, and exploring the nearby Cabinet Mountains. The town's historic downtown reflects its mining and logging heritage, with local businesses and cafes contributing to its authentic small-town atmosphere. Libby is also situated along the Kootenai River, providing a scenic backdrop for various recreational activities. While Libby may be less bustling than some larger Montana towns, its serene beauty and friendly community make it a hidden gem for those seeking a quieter, more laid-back Montana experience.
11.1% Population Growth | 2,510 Residents
Serving as the northeastern gateway to Yellowstone National Park via the iconic Beartooth Highway, Red Lodge attracts visitors with its stunning alpine scenery and outdoor recreational opportunities. In the heart of downtown, historic buildings house a mix of local shops, eateries, and galleries, creating a welcoming atmosphere for residents and tourists alike. Red Lodge is a hub for outdoor enthusiasts, offering activities such as hiking, mountain biking, and skiing in the nearby Beartooth Mountains and the Red Lodge Mountain ski resort. The town hosts events and festivals throughout the year, celebrating its rich heritage and fostering a sense of community.
10% Population Growth | 5,165 Residents
Hamilton is a small Montana town nestled in the scenic Bitterroot Valley of Western Montana, just an hour drive from Missoula, Montana. Hamilton for its blend of small-town charm and natural beauty,. The downtown area features a mix of local shops, cafes, and galleries, providing a welcoming environment for both residents and visitors. The Bitterroot River, winding through the valley, offers opportunities for fishing, rafting, and enjoying the picturesque surroundings. Hamilton serves as a gateway to the Bitterroot National Forest, enticing outdoor enthusiasts with hiking, camping, and wildlife viewing. The town also hosts community events, farmers' markets, and cultural festivals, reflecting its vibrant and tight-knit community spirit.
9.2% Population Growth | 2,186 Residents
Also in the Bitterroot Valley is Stevensville, a small town with a rich history. Known as the state's first permanent settlement, Stevensville feels like a step back in time with its well-preserved historic buildings and a sense of community pride. The town is flanked by the Bitterroot Mountains to the west and the Sapphire Mountains to the east, providing a breathtaking backdrop for outdoor enthusiasts. The Bitterroot River meanders through the valley, offering opportunities for fishing, kayaking, and other water activities. Stevensville is also home to the historic St. Mary's Mission, established in 1841 by Jesuit missionaries, adding to the town's cultural significance.
6.5% Population Growth | 5,478 Residents
Polson, Montana, is a town located on the southern shores of Flathead Lake, the largest natural freshwater lake in the western United States. Naturally, Polson is a hub for water activities, but it also offers great hiking in the nearby Mission Mountains as well as wildlife watching at the Pablo National Wildlife Refuge. The town features a modest downtown area with local shops and eateries. The town also reflects its Native American heritage, with the presence of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.
6.4% Population Growth | 5,656 Residents
Nestled in the scenic Flathead Valley of Montana, Columbia Falls is a small town with a big personality. Surrounded by the towering peaks of the Glacier National Park and the beauty of the Flathead River, the town offers a gateway to outdoor adventures. Columbia Falls is known for its friendly community atmosphere and a quaint downtown area, featuring local shops and eateries. As a popular destination for those exploring Glacier National Park, the town provides a convenient base for visitors to access the park's stunning landscapes, pristine lakes, and diverse wildlife.
5.8% Population Growth | 4,106 Residents
With views of expansive landscapes and the Pioneer Mountains in the distance, Dillon is a quaint little town in Southwest Montana. The town's Main Street is lined with historic buildings, capturing the essence of its past. Dillon is home to the University of Montana Western, adding a youthful energy to the community. The Big Hole River, renowned for its blue-ribbon trout fishing, flows nearby, attracting outdoor enthusiasts. The Beaverhead County Museum preserves local history, reflecting the town's roots as a gold mining and ranching hub. Dillon embraces its rural character, making it an authentic and unassuming gem in the heart of Montana.
4.3% Population Growth | 8,790 Residents
Nestled along the banks of the Yellowstone River and at the base of the breathtaking Absaroka Mountain range, Livingston is a town that effortlessly blends outdoor adventure with a distinct Western charm. The town's historic downtown is a hub of local art, culture, and community events, with galleries, shops, and restaurants contributing to the town's vibrant atmosphere. Livingston has long been a haven for artists and writers, drawing inspiration from the rugged beauty of the surrounding nature. The nearby Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness beckons with its hiking and wilderness experiences while the Yellowstone River provides opportunities for fishing and scenic walks along its banks. Learn more about Livingston here.
Data courtesy of the U.S Census Bureau. Population percentage change based on U.S Census Bureau reported numbers for 2020 compared to reported numbers for July 2022.
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