You may not know it, but Montana is a very seismically active state. In fact, it's the 4th most seismically active state in the country, and 7-10 earthquakes are reported each day. The largest earthquake in state history occurred over 60 years ago, and the destruction caused can still be seen today.

The Largest Earthquake Ever Felt in Montana

Montana probably isn't the first state you think of when you think of earthquakes, but according to the U.S. Geological Survey, it's one of the most seismically active states in America. In 2023, Livingston, Montana experienced its largest earthquake in over a decade. It measured a magnitude of 4.1 on the Richter Scale. Click here for a list of the most earthquake-prone states in America.

Hebgen Lake Earthquake
Yellowstone National Park

Earthquakes in Montana are common, but they usually don't cause a lot of damage. However, the largest earthquake in state history was the Hegen Lake Earthquake on August 17, 1959. It measured a magnitude of 7.3 on the Richter Scale.

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It happened in the middle of the night at 11:37 p.m., and in total, 28 people died. An entire mountain fell and millions of tons of rock, mud and debris filled the canyon below blocking the Madison River and creating Earthquake Lake. The quake occurred on the western edge of Yellowstone National Park, and details about the horrific night can be found here.

The U.S. Forest Service opened the Earthquake Lake Visitor Center eight years after the quake. The visitor center is located directly across from the original slide on Highway 287.

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