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The USGS Land Cover Institute (LCI)


  Montana Land Cover
Capital Helena
Largest City Billings
Area Ranked 4th
Total 145,522.43 sq mi
Population Ranked 44th
Total (2000) 902,195
Density 6.2/sq mi
Elevation
Highest point Granite Peak 12,799 ft (3,901 m)
Lowest point Kootenai River 1,800 ft (549 m)
Montana Land Cover

The eastern region of the State is dominated by the Great Plains, a rolling grass and shrub-covered landscape that decreases in elevation from west to east. The Great Plains cover approximately three-fifths of Montana's land area. The grasslands are the result of reduced rainfall east of the Rocky Mountains. This area is typically used for cattle ranching and wheat and barley production. The Rocky Mountains dominate western Montana and are the source of the Missouri and Columbia Rivers. The Rocky Mountains, created by a period of intense plate tectonic movement, capture moisture from the westerly winds and are consequently the wettest areas of the state. Most of Montana's primarily evergreen forests are located in the mountainous terrain of the Rocky Mountains. Flathead Lake in northwestern Montana is one of the largest natural lakes in the western United States. The Yellowstone River drains most of south-central and southeastern Montana before it joins the Missouri River in western North Dakota.