Cut Bank, Montana: Coldest Spot in America

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On a hot, summer day, it’s hard to imagine that Cut Bank can be a cold, foreboding place.  But, if the World’s Largest Penguin tells you that it’s so, you’d better believe it.  You can see, and sometimes hear, the giant concrete penguin at the edge of Cut Bank, Montana, and take some time to explore the rest of the town.

Location

Cut Bank, Montana is located on US Highway 2, about 62 miles from the eastern end of Glacier National Park’s Going-to-the-Sun Highway.  The giant penguin is located on the east side of town, at the spot where Main Street (US 2) and Railroad Street split.

My Visit

If ever there was a reason to drive an hour east of Glacier National Park, I’d say that a 3-story-tall concrete penguin qualifies. This giant statue honoring the noble birds that don’t live anywhere near here is, quite possibly, the tallest penguin statue in the world.  I’m not sure whether it’s been officially certified — just as I’m unsure whether Cut Bank really is the “coldest spot in the nation”.  It certainly has the potential, given its positioning in the path of countless Polar Vortexes (or is it Vortices?) and relatively high elevation.

If you want to dispute the claim, you can take it up with the penguin.  That icy-cold stare has greeted travelers since 1989.  Yeah, I know, he looks like he’s from the 70’s.  But it’s cool to be retro, and he knows it.

And just like a Teddy Ruxpin from the ’80’s, on a good day, this penguin can talk.  I’m told that he repeats the phrase “Welcome to Cut Bank, the Coldest Spot in the Nation!”.  I’m also told that much of the time, his speaker doesn’t work.  I’m guessing some local folks who get tired of hearing the same phrase, over and over again, might have something to do with his reoccurring disability.

Cut Bank

There isn’t a lot happening, a few blocks away in Cut Bank’s downtown district.

US 2 runs straight through town — just like every other town in northern Montana that’s strung together by the highway.

Cut Bank has a “central park”, which looks more like a large concrete patio, as of my visit in 2017.  Hoever, I’ve read that some improvements are on the way.  Local leaders hope to make Central Park a focal point of a revitalized downtown.

Stretch your legs for a few minutes, and enjoy the small-town feel of this place.  Then, get back in the car.  If you’re driving the Hi-Line, there’s a lot of pavement awaiting up ahead.

The name “Cut Bank” refers to the canyon of Cut Bank Creek, which cut its way into the bluff near town.  Also worth noting: Glacier National Park has an area called Cut Bank — it’s different than the town, although both are located along Cut Bank Creek.

Drivelapse Video

Here’s a look at the drive eastbound on the Hi-Line, from East Glacier Park Village to Malta, Montana:

The Bottom Line

Cut Bank is just a bit too far away from Glacier to make it a good place for park visitors to spend the night.  However, It is a nice diversion from the park, if for no other reason than to see the World’s Largest Penguin.

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