Montana has some of the most scenic, recognizable destinations in the world. At one point or another, every Montanan should make a trip to Glacier National Park, Yellowstone, or the Rocky Mountain Front. We've all seen the post cards of the The White Cliffs of the Missouri, or the Sleeping Giant. Symbols of Montana. And though all are beautiful and unique, they aren't the places that aggregate into what I think of when I visualize what Montana is to me.
Significant inquiry into the process of how a space becomes a place has been trending in the fields of Geography and Sociology. Of course things like recognition, nicknames, and accessibility, all factor in to how a space becomes a place, and gains meaning to social groups. But one of the great things about Montana is that we needn't recycle the same old places that have held meaning to the past or the masses. It can be far more personal. The amount of "places" in Montana can increase exponentially, and no one will ever know, because nearly anywhere in Montana can become a place of significance to you.
The places of Montana to me, are that miserable, brush covered side of Bonner Mountain that was stripped of timber twenty years ago. It's Buffalo Wallow, northeast of Roy, Montana. Where solitude unmatched by any location in the western half of the state can be found 9 months out of the year. Or the Boulder Cutoff Road, where a trip from Boulder, Montana to Bozeman can either be fifteen minutes shorter, or an hour longer, or a long damn walk, depending the disposition of that day's gumbo. There is a hill at 8,000 ft. ASL, near Clancy, Montana, and on a clear night with little moon, you have a panorama of light reflections of Helena, Great Falls, Butte, and Bozeman, illuminating the atmospheric ether of one third of the entire state.
Surely you all have them. What I am saying is you can have more. Take a space and bring into being, a place. Pick an obscure spot on the map and go for it. You may as well stop for a beer in that seedy, small town bar. Get your rig stuck in the hills with someone you love, and walk for a day and a half before being delivered from isolation. Climb a nameless mountain in a nameless range.
The country is big, the people are few, and though the map may look complete, this is only superficial. The claims to "place" on the form of Montana, will be perpetually incomplete. Take advantage while your here.