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Southwest Montana encompasses a multitude of landscapes, from rolling plains and creek-carved coulees to massive mountain ranges and raging rivers fed by snowfields atop towering peaks. The region’s beauty is best experienced at a leisurely pace—one that allows you to do some wildlife viewing, spend an afternoon on the banks of a stunning stream, and watch the slow descent of the sun as it drops behind ragged mountains.
A private vehicle is far and away the best means of exploring southwest Montana, as it allows you to appreciate the grandeur of the area. Wide-open terrain affords startling vistas of mountains and prairies, where you’re likely to see abundant wildlife. I–90 is the major east–west artery through the region; I–15 is the major north–south route. Most of the other routes here are paved and in good shape, but be prepared for gravel and dirt roads the farther off the beaten path you go. Driving through the mountains in winter can be challenging; a four-wheel-drive vehicle, available from most car-rental agencies, is best.