Planning Your Time
For the best tour of southwest Montana, drive the unforgettable roadways that seem to reach the top of the world, making frequent stops in historic towns and parks. Drive up the Beartooth Pass from Red Lodge and, between late May and early October, hike along myriad trails right from the highway. Stop in Big Timber to sample small-town Western life, ride a white-water raft on the Stillwater River, or fly-fish the Yellowstone River with a knowledgeable outfitter. From Livingston, home to several museums, drive south into ever more beautiful countryside, through the Paradise Valley toward Yellowstone National Park. A float trip on this section of the Yellowstone, combined with a stay at Chico Hot Springs, is the stuff of which great memories are made.
In summer in Virginia City, Ennis, or Three Forks, return to gold-rush days along the historic streets or live for today with a fly rod in hand and a creel waiting to be filled beside you. Trail rides, float trips, steam trains—not to mention long walks in the long-gone footsteps of Lewis and Clark, Sacajawea, and a few thousand forgotten trappers, traders, cavalry soldiers, and Native Americans—all await you around these towns.
Bozeman, Big Sky, and the Gallatin Canyon are premier destinations in any season, with more than enough museums, galleries, historic sites, and scenic stops to fill your itinerary. Southwest Montana offers ample opportunities for outdoor recreation even when the snow flies. In places like Big Sky, Bridger Bowl, the Gallatin National Forest, and Moonlight Basin, you can experience some of the best skiing and snowmobiling in the United States, and after a day on the slopes or the trails plunge into the hot springs in Bozeman, Butte, or Boulder.
In making the most of your time, pause to breathe in the air filtered through a few million pines, to listen to the sounds of nature all around, to feel the chill of a mountain stream or the welcome warmth of a thermal spring. Small moments like these stick with you and become the kind of memories that will beckon you back to this high, wide, and handsome land.