Montana Road Trips

The 7 Best Montana Road Trips

Montana road trips benefit from having the Rocky Mountains and the Great Plains as a canvass on which to project themselves. Driving through the state is a way to truly absorb the natural beauty.

There are National Parks, canyons, waterfalls and an abundance of wildlife to spot as you weave your way across the state. It feels as if there is something special waiting for you around every single corner…

You could have a day trip with multiple stops along the way, or build a longer vacation around these Montana road trips. Either way, you are in for a treat.

The Best Montana Road Trips

This road trip through Montana’s badlands and plains takes you on a journey of Native American heritage and dinosaur history. You’ll kick things off in Glendive, home to two Montana Dinosaur Trail stops: Makoshika State Park and the Frontier Gateway Museum. Then, camp out among the rock formations of Medicine Rocks State Park before seeing paleontology exhibits at Carter County Museum.

1. Glendive to Billings

Distance: 607 miles

Route highlights: Makoshika State Park, Medicine Rocks State Park, Carter County Museum.

When to do it: Summer

Photo Cred: erikpetersenphoto

2. Skalkaho Highway

This beautiful drive into the Sapphire Mountains takes you on some of Montana’s least traveled mountain roads. The road was once a heavily used trail for Indians, and then a road was built over the route in 1924 to link the mining areas in the mountains with the agricultural communities of the Bitterroot Valley. It’s a narrow winding drive that has excellent views and takes you right past Skalkaho Falls.

Distance: 54 miles

Route highlights: Skalkaho Creek, Daly Creek, Sapphire Mountains, West Fork Rock Creek, Eagle Canyon.

When to do it: Summer

Photo Cred: aaron549

3. The Big Sheep Creek Back Country Byway

This is a super scenic drive through the backcountry of southwestern Montana. Once past the canyons of the Tendoy Mountains, you may pass only two or three cars along the entire route!

Driving beneath the high rock cliffs of Big Sheep Canyon, take a look down into clear, deep pools of spring-fed Big Sheep Creek.

Distance: 50 miles

Route highlights: Canyons of the Tendoy Mountains, Big Sheep Canyon, The Rocky Mountains.

When to do it: May through early October.

Photo Cred: montana_lands

4. Beartooth Highway

This really is a journey of a lifetime! The Beartooth Highway serves as a wilderness retreat for those looking to travel by car through the Custer, Shoshone, and Gallatin National Forests. As the Beartooth Highway climbs to 10,350 feet in Montana and 10,947 in Wyoming—the highest highway elevation in both states—you’re treated to views of alpine meadows, sparkling lakes and year-round snow on the Northern Rocky Mountains.

Distance: 68 miles

Route highlights: Cooke City-Silver Gate, Yellowstone National Park, Glaciers, Alpine lakes, Mountain goats, and Grizzly bears

When to do it: The road is open from Memorial Day weekend to mid-October, weather permitting.

Photo Cred: elitenature

5. Bitterroot Mountains Scenic Drive

Highway 93 is the main route of the Bitterroot Valley Scenic Drive. The valley opens into large plains with historic towns (including the first white settlement in the state) and working ranches. It’s also the gateway to the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, and a corridor to Yellowstone National Park as you leave Glacier Country.

Distance: 30.5 miles

Route highlights: Sapphire Mountains, Bitterroot River, Stevensville and Darby

When to do it: Summer

Photo Cred: jtxterra

6. Ennis to the Centennial Valley

Also known as The Gravelly Range, this route provides a unique high elevation drive along the crest of a southwest Montana mountain range. Ennis itself is home to Big Sky adventure, blue ribbon fishing and authentic Old Western culture. Once you hit the road, it offers spectacular views of the Rocky Mountains and off-road fun through thousands of acres and miles of roads.

Distance: 135 miles

Route highlights: Red Rock Pass,  Centennial Mountains and Valley

When to do it: Spring-Summer

Photo Cred: dr_mack

7. Going-to-the-Sun Road

This jaw-dropping road spans the width of Glacier National Park, crossing the Continental Divide at 6,646-foot-high Logan Pass. It passes through almost every type of terrain in the park, from large glacial lakes and cedar forests in the lower valleys to windswept alpine tundra on top of the pass, with plenty of photo ops. The road is well worth traveling in either direction, as the view from one side of the road is much different than from the other!

Distance: 50 miles

Route highlights: Logan Pass, Glaciers, Valleys and Waterfalls

When to do it: Due to the mountainous terrain of the highway, it is only open seasonally. Opening and closing dates depend on the weather.

Photo Cred: roamingwithrenee

 

If you are spending time in the state check out The 7 Best Burgers In Montana.

Big 7 Travel Team