MSU Extension- Judith Basin County
MSU Extension is a statewide educational outreach network that applies unbiased, research-based university resources to practical needs identified by the people of Montana in their home communities.
The MSU Extension Service is an educational resource which is dedicated to improving people's lives by providing research-based knowledge to strengthen the social, economic, and environmental well-being of families, communities and agricultural enterprises.
Judith Basin County
This website is aimed to provide you with resources and publications as well as up to date events and happenings around Judith Basin County. Please feel free to call the Extension Office for any questions or more information.
Judith Basin County is located in central Montana in a fertile basin between the Highwood, Big Snowy, and Little Belt mountains. The county population is 2,016 people. The principal communities are Stanford (county seat located about 65 miles east of Great Falls), Hobson and Geyser. Numerous other small communities make up the county. Judith Basin County’s economy is based on agriculture. The major components of this industry include livestock, small grains and forage production. The county ranks 10th in Montana for beef cattle numbers, 10th in winter wheat production, 15th in barley production, 23rd for spring wheat production, 4th for alfalfa hay production, and 21st for other hay production. Timber and mining enterprises take place on a small scale. The MSU Central Ag Research Center is located in the county. The Judith Basin 4-H programs consist of 90 youth members and 29 volunteer leaders in four organized clubs. The county offers a variety of recreational opportunities, which include hiking, hunting, fishing, camping, snowmobiling and skiing. A major ski area is about 45 minutes from Stanford. The Judith Basin was the home of the legendary western artist Charlie Russell. Many of his paintings were scenes captured by the artist between Lewistown and Great Falls.
The Judith Basin is nestled in the heart of the state known as the Last Best Place,
the basin truly fits the classic Montana description of "high, wide and handsome."
Island mountain ranges such as the Highwoods and the Snowies surround a sea of grass
and wheat making it easy to enjoy the rich bounty of this land.
The legendary Western artist Charlie Russell learned the ways of the cowboy and mountain man here in the basin, and many of his most famous paintings were inspired by the landscape and drama that unfolded here as the West was settled. Highway 87 between Great Falls and Lewistown is known as the Charlie Russell Trail. Square Butte, Stanford, Utica and the Judith River country are all scenes captured in Russell’s art.
Stanford and nearby Utica have several museums of interest. Recreation opportunities abound in the nearby Lewis and Clark National Forest, Judith River Wildlife Management Area and Ackley Lake State Park. The Judith River Wildlife Management Area, at the edge of the Little Belt Mountains is a good place to view large elk herds in late fall and winter. Raynesford is an agriculturally rich area. The homesteading boom from 1908 to 1915 and the extension of the Great Northern Railroad played an important role in the development of this area. Moccasin also began as a homestead community. In 1908 the Montana State legislature created the Central Montana Agriculture Research Center, 3 miles east of Moccasin. The purpose of the center was to teach dry land farming techniques to the newly arrived homesteaders. Even after the homesteaders bust, the center went on to develop machinery and new crops, improving the area's wheat yields. Hobson was named for an early-day rancher, S. S. Hobson. He owned the Campbell and Clendenan ranches and later became a state senator. The Big Snowy Mountains lie south of this agricultural community. There are camping and hiking opportunities at Crystal Lake, 20 miles southeast of Hobson. Many Finnish homesteaders settled in the Geyser area at the turn of the century. They had been coal miners in the Belt area but were lured to Geyser by free land offers. In earlier days, it was a stagecoach-stopping place on the trail from Great Falls to Lewistown. In 1920, Geyser became a rail line station, when the old town was moved to its existing site.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Montana State University and the Montana State University Extension Service prohibit discrimination in all of their programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, and marital and family status.