Introduction to Helena, Montana

Helena is the capital of Montana and is located in Lewis and Clark County. The city is situated near the Continental Divide, Lake Helena, The Big Belt Mountains, Helena National Forests and other noteworthy scenic sites.


The city of Helena was founded in 1864, primarily due to gold being discovered along the Last Chance Creek. The "Four Georgians" originally discovered gold in the region and the area was called Crab Town in tribute to one of the Four Georgians named John Crab. Quickly, the city was filled with miners seeking gold. Some members of the community decided to rename the city. There was an agreement to name the town after Saint Helena Minnesota; the home town of John Sommerville. The community members decided that "Saint" would not be included.

By the year 1888 approximately 50 millionaires resided in Helena. The city prospered due to the vast amount of gold that was extracted from the Last Chance Gulch. In 1889 railroad entrepreneur Charles Arthur Broadwater constructed the legendary Hotel Broadwater and Natatorium near the city. Helena had been established as the capital of Montana Territory in 1875 and was designated the capital of the state of Montana in 1889.

Air Transportation

The city is home to the Helena Regional Airport.

Outdoor Activities

Helena provides residents and visitors with a wide variety of outdoor activities. Fishing, swimming, camping, boating, water-skiing and wind surfing are popular activities at the Holter and Hauser Lakes. Canyon Ferry and Spring Meadow Lake are other popular destinations for outdoor activities. Hiking enthusiasts enjoy Blackfoot Meadows, the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex, Mount Helena city park as well as the Continental Divide Trail. The Helena region also provides three major trail systems for snowmobiles. The Great Divide Ski area is located near Helena.


  • Holter Museum of Art showcases the area's arts and crafts
  • Archie Bray Foundation is internationally known for ceramics
  • Grandstreet Theater
  • Gates of the Mountain
  • Montana Historical Society Museum
  • The State Capital features a huge copper dome
  • The Original Governor's Mansion is a Queen Anne style house
  • Great Northern Carousel
  • Memorial Park
  • Last Chance Tour Train
  • The impressive homes in the Mansion District
  • St. Helena Cathedral
  • Reeders's Alley is a restored mining town
  • Last Chance Gulch
  • Old Fire Tower
  • Civic Center

Higher Education

Helena is home to Carroll College; recognized as a Roman Catholic Liberal Arts school. The University of Montana-Helena College of Technology campus is located in the city and is affiliated with the University of Montana.


Total Population 29,600
Male Share of the Population 48.6%
Female Share of the Population 51.4%
Senior Citizens 17.4%
Employed Population 16+ 14,965
Age of the Population 41


% of people married 43.8%
Average household size 2

Education and Earnings

Population % with Bachelor Degree or Higher 45.4%
Median Earnings25+ $35,067
Median Earnings Without High School Qualification $19,531
Median Earnings With High School Degree $23,598


Median Family Income $69,099
% Above Poverty Level 83%
% Below Poverty Level 17%

Commute & Sprawl

Average Commute Time 13 minutes
% Working from Home 3.8%
% Walking and Biking to Work 10.7%
% Using Public Transportation 0.8%


People Living Alone 39.2%
Median Gross Rent $754
Median House Value $205,500


Other(often includes Hispanic and African American) 14.6%
US/American 0%
English 12.7%
Irish 19.7%

Source: American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau, 2015, www.census.gov/programs-surveys/acs/.

Helena Almanac

Category Value
Nearest Medium City 71 miles SW of Great Falls, Montana (center to center)
Nearest Large City 489 miles E of Seattle, Washington
County Lewis and Clark
Standard Zip Codes 59601, 59602, 59626
P.O. Box Zip Codes 59604, 59620, 59624
Company Zip Codes 59623, 59625
Phone Area Codes 406
Time Zone Mountain (-7 hours from GMT)
Daylight Savings The city observes Daylight Saving Time.
Latitude 46.592
Longitude -112.035

Helena Climate

Nearest Weather Stations


  • Temp ranges are avg daily min and max for the month
  • Precipitation is rainfall (and rainfall equiv of snowfall)

Distance 3.3 miles
Jan Temp 10 to 31 F
Apr Temp 31 to 57 F
Jul Temp 52 to 83 F
Oct Temp 31 to 58 F
Annual Precip 11.3 inches
Distance 14.9 miles
Jan Temp 14 to 31 F
Apr Temp 32 to 57 F
Jul Temp 52 to 83 F
Oct Temp 35 to 59 F
Annual Precip 11.5 inches
Distance 27 miles
Jan Temp 19 to 36 F
Apr Temp 35 to 58 F
Jul Temp 54 to 85 F
Oct Temp 40 to 61 F
Annual Precip 12.2 inches

Neighborhood and Nearby Area Names

According to the US Postal Service, Helena, its neighborhoods, and/or surrounding areas are also referred to as:

State of Montana (59620)

Note that not all alternate names are acceptable for use in US Post Office addresses.

Nearby Cities and Towns

Location Population Median Family Income
Boulder 1,287 $48,438
East Helena 2,306 $56,750

Source: American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau, 2015, www.census.gov/programs-surveys/acs/.

Helena Public Libraries

Lewis & Clark Library
Helena, Montana
(406) 447-1690
Library Web Site

library logo

More Information for Librarians

Helena Hospitals

(Voluntary non-profit - Private)
(406) 442-2480
Emergency Service: Yes

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Helena High Schools

(Sorted by Number of Students)

Title I eligible, not participating.
Serves 1,678 students.
Student/teacher ratio: 15.3

Serves 1,419 students.
Student/teacher ratio: 18.1

Helena Colleges

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