53 miles W of Great Falls

The eastern front of the Rockies is an isolated, sparsely populated section of Montana, but it is no less beautiful than the peaks and valleys to the west. A great paleontological mystery was solved here. Scientists had discovered many dinosaur fossils in the far-eastern part of the state, but no nests or eggs. When fossilized dinosaur eggs turned up along the Rocky Mountain Eastern Front -- the shoreline of a shallow sea 65 million years ago -- paleontologists learned that the beasts had migrated to this area to lay their eggs.

There are two towns with distinctive personalities on the front: Choteau and Augusta. Choteau bills itself the gateway to the Rockies. Named for the president of the American Fur Co., who brought the first steamboat up the Missouri, it is one of the oldest towns in Montana.

Tiny Augusta is a cheerful, friendly community. Unlike a lot of small Western towns, it is not hustling to turn itself into something else. It's only about 2 blocks long, with weathered wood exteriors on the buildings. Folks are out and about and everybody's on a first-name basis with just about everybody else. The pace picks up a bit the last weekend in June when the rodeo hits town.