Tired of the usual museums, beaches, and statues of people you’ve actually heard of? When you visit a state, would you prefer to find the weird, the wacky, the wonderful, if not the downright offensive? If so, then you might appreciate this sampling of oddball sites in the great state of Montana:
Giant Penguin, Cut Bank
There are many cities that lay claim to being the coldest spot in the continental United States, including International Falls, Minnesota; Fraser, Colorado; and Stanley, Idaho. And they have their statistics and meteorologists and so-called experts to back them up.
But only one city’s claim to the title is backed by the authority of a 27 foot tall, 5 ton, concrete penguin. That city is Cut Bank, Montana, in the north central portion of the state, just east of Glacier National Park.
Right outside the Glacier Gateway Inn he’s stood since 1989, atop a pedestal that reads “WELCOME TO CUT BANK MT. COLDEST SPOT IN THE NATION.” If you press the button at the base of the statue, either nothing happens, or if it’s actually working, you hear fuzzy garbled noises that sound vaguely like words. That’s the penguin telling you “Welcome to Cut Bank, the coldest spot in the nation!” which of course you already knew from reading the pedestal.
The Cut Bank penguin is a family friendly attraction, which is worth pointing out, because that’s not the case with either of our other two.
Hobbit House of Montana, Trout Creek
Well, you would certainly think that something called a Hobbit House would welcome children. And you’d be wrong.
The Hobbit House actually was intended as a (regular, non-Hobbit) guest house for the owner’s family and friends, dug underground to support easier heating in the winter and cooling in the summer. But when the contractor’s son remarked that it resembled a Hobbit House, an idea was born.
Instead of a bland, straight, conventional (albeit underground) structure, it was transformed into a place of fantasy and opened to the public. It is a 1,000 square foot two-bedroom deluxe rental with a full kitchen and a deck with a barbecue, a big screen HD TV, and Wi-Fi, that stays at a constant 55 degrees year round.
The grounds are filled with Hobbit memorabilia, dwellings, murals, wishing well, troll bridge, and more.
But no kids. Because the owner “wanted to create a mystical atmosphere for adults so their inner child could be allowed to come out and play.” And no pets either. “Our ranch is the home of many alpacas who treat coyotes/dogs as a dangerous threat and may attack one if approached. We also have been visited by wolves, bears and such so this could be a dangerous area for your pet.”
Hobbit accommodations don’t come cheap. The guest house is $348 per night, minimum two night stay.
Trout Creek is in northwestern Montana, not far from the Idaho border.
Testicle Festival, Clinton
Every summer in Clinton, timed to attract folks coming and going from the gigantic Sturgis Motorcycle Rally over the border in South Dakota (though Clinton is actually at the opposite, western, end of Montana), the Rock Creek Lodge hosts their five-day “Testicle Festival” (or “Testy Festy”).
The festival is wall-to-wall bikers accumulating DUIs and emergency room visits, engaging in plenty of gratuitous nudity. Activities include a body painting contest, wet t-shirt contest (with t-shirt optional), co-ed naked pool tournament, hairy chest contest (where contestants sometimes drop their pants for a tiebreaker), Bulls*** Bingo (where people buy squares on a giant grid for $5 each and the winner is determined by where a bull defecates), and the Biker Ball Biting Contest (women try to eat food dangled on a fishing line without using their hands).
Alcohol is available.
The festival name is derived from the several thousand pounds of Rocky Mountain oysters (breaded, deep fried bull testicles) consumed each year.
Eric Peterson, “World’s Largest Penguin: Cut Bank, Montana.” How Stuff Works.
“Hobbit House of Montana.” Hobbit House of Montana.
“Montana Attractions and Oddities.” Roadside America.
“Rock Creek Lodge, Montana.” Testy Festy.