A few years ago, my friend Julia moved from NYC to Montana for a year to clerk with the state's supreme court. Being the supportive friend that I am, I laughed in her face. At the time, Montana seemed like the middle of nowhere. And to be honest, it sort of is. But that's what makes it so amazing.
Knowing that I'd probably have no good reason to go to Montana anytime soon, I figured that I should probably visit her while she lived there. I could not be gladder that I did. Between the abundance of accessible hiking, fresh mountain air, and roaming wildlife, I was awed. And that was just around the small town of Helena. Once we made our way through Paradise Valley (aptly named real place), we checked into the amazing Chico Hot Springs and got our relaxation on. The next day we headed to the main event: camping in Yellowstone National Park. Unfortunately for us, mother nature was being a bitch and surprised us with a snowstorm... IN LATE MAY. With camping pretty much out of the question, we made the best of it and drove through the open portions of the park, hiking whenever we got the chance. The park was packed with things I'd never before seen -- giant canyons, boiling earth, and packs of bison and wolves. I was (and am) in love with this park.
The rest of the day was spent driving through the upper portion of Grand Teton National Park and up to Bozeman, MT. The trip ended with a few more hikes and "bagging of peaks," as they say.
I was so enamored with Montana (and Yellowstone!) that it kickstarted my obsession with visiting America's National Parks and inspired my trip the following year to Utah. I still want to see Rocky Mountain, Glacier, Badlands, and Olympic National Parks. Any others I should be adding to my list?