Modern Malta Offers Much to Explore (Part 2 of 2)
Malta has an appealing downtown that includes a state-of-the-art movie theater with surround sound joined by a healthy, self-sufficient variety of other businesses. You can find two lumberyards, a hardware store, three banks, a pharmacy, a new brewery and a farm store, currently under construction. A once-vacant storefront is home to Family Matters, a family clothing store established and successfully owned by community members for over 18 years, spawning entrepreneurism and ownership transfer to the next generation.
Many downtown buildings have been restored, and business travelers take advantage of shared workspace within the Malta Business Center. If you are looking for something to do during the day before visiting the movie theater, there is a golf course and drag strip.
Malta boasts a nine-hole golf course, which is one of the best Montana has to offer, attracting visitors from across the state and Canada. During the summer months, the HiLine Drag Strip brings racers and fans alike to Malta. Racers have come from three states and two provinces to take advantage of the elevation because their cars perform better here. If you’re planning to stay, there are plenty of eateries and motels to choose from.
Tourism gets a boost from impressive paleontology offerings in the area. Some of the rarest dinosaur discoveries have been made here and are displayed within the Museum Complex. Making up the complex are the Phillips County Museum and the Great Plains Dinosaur Museum. Dinosaur digs and paleontology experiences for youth draw many people in. Additionally, the Phillips County Museum has exhibits featuring cowboys, outlaws, American Indians, pioneer life and more. The Museum Complex offers one of two access points for the Trafton Trail, which circles Trafton Park and traverses the Milk River. The other access point is at the Malta Rest Stop/Trafton Park entrance.
Malta is a great base camp to explore some of the most unique prairie environment in Montana. After visiting businesses and entertainment in Malta, several day trips are possible, and all are exceptional choices. To the south there is the immense Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge, the spectacular Missouri River Breaks, Fort Peck Lake and its 1,600 miles of shoreline, the Little Rocky Mountains with their colorful mining history and well-liked hiking and ATV trails, and the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation, home to the Nakoda and Aaniiih tribes – previously known as the Assiniboine and Gros Ventre nations.
Seven miles east of town, Bowdoin National Wildlife Refuge is an amazing haven for waterfowl. It lies in the central flyway of one of the great winged creature migration routes of North America. Beyond Bowdoin, Nelson Reservoir offers good boating, well-maintained and popular campgrounds, and exceptional year-round fishing. Walleye, perch and northern pike lure numerous fishing enthusiasts, with ice fishing in the area exploding in popularity.
Backroads leading north of town to Loring, a small picturesque community six miles from the port of Morgan and the Canadian border, pass through scenic river breaks of the Little Cottonwood and Cottonwood creeks, as well as segments of the Milk River bottoms.
You won’t see many people as you wander through this land, but you’ll hear the sounds of history, mixed with the song of the meadowlark, and you’ll probably encounter plenty of deer, antelope and upland birds on your excursion.
By Hillary Sward
UM Graduate Student
Author’s note: Thank you to Anne Booth from Malta for helping to provide up-to-date information.
Malta Great Plains Museum: The Great Plains Dinosaur Museum and Field State in Malta exhibits some of the world’s best-preserved dinosaur fossils. (Photo by Rick and Susie Graetz)