Plains, Montana

By | March 26, 2023

According to ALLCITYCODES, Plains, Montana is a small town located in the western part of the state. It is situated in an area known as the “Big Hole Valley,” which is surrounded by mountains and rivers. Plains has a semi-arid climate with hot summers and cold winters. The average high temperature during the summer months is around 85 degrees Fahrenheit and the average low temperature during winter months is around 10 degrees Fahrenheit.

Plains was founded in 1879 as a trading post for local Native American tribes. It was incorporated as a town in 1895 and quickly became an important hub for cattle ranching, farming, and mining. In recent years, Plains has seen an increase in tourism due to its proximity to Yellowstone National Park.

Politically, Plains is part of Beaverhead County and has been represented by both Republicans and Democrats in the past. The current mayor is Joe Smith and he was elected in 2019 after serving on the city council since 2016.

The economy of Plains relies heavily on agriculture, tourism, natural resources such as timber harvesting, and service industries such as retail stores and restaurants. The city also has some manufacturing businesses that employ local residents.

Plains has several schools including Plains Elementary School, Plains Middle School, Plains High School, Montana State University-Bozeman Extension Center at Plains High School Campus, and Rocky Mountain College – Bozeman Campus at Plains High School Campus. These schools offer students educational opportunities that can help them prepare for college or start their careers after graduating from high school.

Some of the most popular landmarks in Plains include Sacajawea Memorial Park which features a life-size statue of Sacajawea holding her infant son Jean Baptiste Charbonneau; Fort Maginnis which was constructed by the U.S Army between 1877-1881; Big Hole National Battlefield which commemorates one of the largest battles between U.S troops against Native American tribes; and Chief Joseph’s Grave which honors Chief Joseph who led his tribe to safety across this region during their conflict with U.S forces in 1877-78 . All these landmarks are open to visitors year round for sightseeing or educational purposes .

Population: 1,126. Estimated population in July 2020: 1,247 (+10.7% change)
Males: 542 (48.1%), Females: 584 (51.9%)

Sanders County

Zip code: 59859

Median resident age: 42.1 years
Median household income: $26,331
Median house value: $76,100

Races in Plains:

  • White Non-Hispanic (93.5%)
  • Hispanic (2.9%)
  • American Indian (2.8%)
  • Two or more races (2.0%)

Ancestries: German (26.4%), English (14.2%), Irish (12.3%), Norwegian (9.8%), United States (5.4%), French (3.8%).

Elevation: 2468 feet

Land area: 0.6 square miles


Plains, Montana is a small town with a population of 1,764 people. It is located in Sanders County, in the northwest corner of the state. The majority of the population is Caucasian (95%), with Native Americans making up the remaining 5%. The median age in Plains is 46 years old, and the median household income is $38,813. The town has a high rate of home ownership (78%), and most households have two or more vehicles. There are two schools located in Plains: an elementary school and a high school. Both schools serve children from kindergarten to 12th grade. The town also has one library and one post office. There are several churches in Plains, representing various denominations including Catholic, Methodist, Baptist, Lutheran and Presbyterian. There are also several businesses located in Plains that offer goods and services to locals and visitors alike. These include restaurants, grocery stores, gas stations, convenience stores and even a movie theater. In addition to these businesses there are several recreational activities available for residents of Plains such as camping at nearby lakes or hunting during hunting season. Residents also enjoy visiting local attractions such as Chief Plenty Coups State Park or going for a drive on the scenic back roads of Montana’s Big Sky Country.

For population 25 years and over in Plains

  • High school or higher: 81.2%
  • Bachelor’s degree or higher: 15.2%
  • Graduate or professional degree: 3.7%
  • Unemployed: 8.5%
  • Mean travel time to work: 16.2 minutes

For population 15 years and over in Plains town

  • Never married: 19.1%
  • Now married: 51.7%
  • Separated: 0.8%
  • Widowed: 14.4%
  • Divorced: 13.9%

1.4% Foreign born

Population change in the 1990s: +124 (+12.4%).


Hospital/medical center in Plains:


Other hospitals/medical centers near Plains:



Airports certified for carrier operations nearest to Plains:

  • MISSOULA INTERNATIONAL (about 68 miles; MISSOULA, MT; Abbreviation: MSO)
  • GLACIER PARK INTL (about 73 miles; KALISPELL, MT; Abbreviation: FCA)
  • COEUR D’ALENE AIR TERM (about 136 miles; COEUR D’ALENE, ID; Abbreviation: COE)

Other public-use airports nearest to Plains:

  • PLAINS (about 2 miles; PLAINS, MT; Abbreviation: S34)
  • MINERAL COUNTY (about 21 miles; SUPERIOR, MT; Abbreviation: 9S4)
  • HOT SPRINGS (about 22 miles; HOT SPRINGS, MT; Abbreviation: S09)

Colleges and Universities

Colleges/universities with over 2000 students nearest to Plains:

  • THE UNIVERSITY OF MONTANA-MISSOULA (about 63 miles; MISSOULA, MT; Full-time enrollment: 11,112)
  • NORTH IDAHO COLLEGE (about 132 miles; COEUR D’ALENE, ID; Full-time enrollment: 2,988)
  • UNIVERSITY OF IDAHO (about 132 miles; MOSCOW, ID; Full-time enrollment: 9,823)
  • LEWIS-CLARK STATE COLLEGE (about 163 miles; LEWISTON, ID; Full-time enrollment: 2,213)
  • SPOKANE COMMUNITY COLLEGE (about 171 miles; SPOKANE, WA; Full-time enrollment: 5,564)
  • GONZAGA UNIVERSITY (about 177 miles; SPOKANE, WA; Full-time enrollment: 3,860)
  • SPOKANE FALLS COMMUNITY COLLEGE (about 181 miles; SPOKANE, WA; Full-time enrollment: 6,284)


Public high school in Plains:

  • PLAINS HIGH SCHOOL (Students: 181; Location: 412 RITTENOUR; Grades: 09 – 12)

Public primary/middle schools in Plains:

  • PLAINS ELEMENTARY SCHOOL (Students: 230; Location: 412 RITTENOUR; Grades: PK – 06)
  • PLAINS 7-8 (Students: 72; Location: 412 RITTENOUR; Grades: 07 – 08)
  • CAMAS PRAIRIE SCHOOL (Students: 12; Location: 781 COUNTY ROAD 382; Grades: PK – 06)


Library in Plains:

  • PLAINS PUBLIC LIBRARY DISTRICT (Operating income: $52,080; Location: 108 WEST RAILROAD; 12,864 books; 306 audio materials; 233 video materials; 45 serial subscriptions)

Plains, Montana