Great Falls is an agricultural and commercial center located at the foot of the Rockies and the western terminus of the Great Plains. The wilderness of the Lewis and Clark National Forest to the west and Glacier National Park to the northwest provides excellent recreational opportunities. Helena, the state capital, lies 90 miles to the south. The area is quiet and attractive, but is isolated geographically and doesn’t benefit from the tourism that bolsters the economy of other Montana cities.
Downtown is clean and attractive with a nice partially redeveloped Missouri River waterfront. The Malmstrom Air Force Base and other national defense installations provide some employment, and there are a few small manufacturers and a new call center. The area does feature attractive housing prices for a Western city.
The city is located along the main stem of the Missouri River at its confluence with the Sun River in a valley surrounded by plateaus and hills. Except to the north and northeast, it is encircled by mountain ranges. The climate is semiarid continental with significant topographic effects. Summertime is pleasant, with cool nights; moderately warm, sunny days; and little hot, humid weather.
Winters are not as cold as might be expected for the location because of warming, downslope winds from the mountains, which can raise temperatures by 40 degrees in 24 hours. While sub-zero weather is common, the coldest weather seldom lasts more than a few days, and snow rarely lingers. Cold polar air also invades quickly causing sharp temperature drops. Late spring and early summer are the wettest with a few summer thunderstorms. Freezing temperatures normally occur any time of year except July and August.