American "cowboy artist" Charles M. Russel created thousands of spirited works in his lifetime -- most of them inspired by his studio's beautiful, rugged surroundings near the "Great Falls" of the Missouri river.
Great Falls is a town of ranchers and farmers, hardened by weather; electrified by dams that produce power for much of the region. Locals take to the banks of the Missouri for afternoon walks. On the weekends, they might head out of town with canoes to glide the long stretch of river designated wild and scenic.
Rocky Mountains leap from the plains to the west. The locals call this harsh land "the front," and a regional joke maintains that residents can't stand up straight, from constantly walking into the wind. To the northeast is the "high line," comprising miles and miles of wheat fields, broken only by ranches.
Home to the Malmstrom Air Force Base -- which lends a significant hand to the economy -- the area is also a mecca for hikers, fishermen and hunters. Glacier National Park and the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area lie to the west. One can hike for days here and never see a sole. (No guarantees about grizzly bears, though.)