89 miles N of Helena; 219 miles NW of Billings
Great Falls, named for a series of waterfalls on the Missouri River, is a city of about 55,000, making it Montana's third largest (after Billings and Missoula). An important cog in the U.S. military strategy, it is the home of Malmstrom Air Force Base, which several times has been threatened with closure (which would devastate the city), but it has thus far avoided that fate.
But the country around Great Falls looks much as Charles Russell found it and painted it at the end of the 19th century. Russell made Great Falls his home, and did much of his painting in his studio there.
Nearly a century before Russell's day, Lewis and Clark came through with the Corps of Discovery in 1805, making an 18-mile portage around the falls. It is a somewhat sad sign of Great Falls's progress that it is now known as "the Electric City," because the falls that Lewis and Clark marveled at have been tamed by a series of dams to provide electric power.