Montana from Salt Lake City: Help!

Old Jun 26th, 2017, 11:54 AM
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Montana from Salt Lake City: Help!

DH and I will be revisiting some old favorites in Utah, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho by car at the end of September for 14 nights, staying in hotels. We hope to experience as much of Montana as possible on our way to and from a Glacier Park re-visit.
The current route schedule is:
Salt Lake City 1 night re-visit
Grand Teton, Jackson, 1 night re-visit,
Yellowstone at Canyon Lodge, 2 nts We've visited the geysers, the Lake and Mammoth, but need ideas for near Canyon Lodge, easy walks.
Livingston/Bozeman, MT, 1 night
Helena, 1 night
Apgar at Glacier Park, 2 nights. We want to focus on West Glacier, easy walks, photographic mountains, lakes. We've visited the north and east.
Flathead Lake 3 nights. Will explore Whitefish and both sides of Flathead
Missoula, 1 night
Salmon, Idaho 1 night
Salt Lake City, 1 night
I am hoping seasoned travelers can help with most scenic, but not scary, driving routes. Is it worth detouring out West Yellowstone to experience the Big Sky region on a roundabout route to Bozeman/Livinston, or is the straight shot north from Canyon Lodge Yellowstone to Livingston just as scenic? We know we'd like to visit the National Bison Refuge along route 93 when going south from Flathead Lake. We've included the Montana city visits, just because we haven't seen them. However if overnights in nearby scenic towns or country settings would be advisable, we'd like to schedule those instead. Please advise any short scenic stops or experiences we should include along our routes?
We love the advice from fellow travelers we've always gotten on this board and hope to hear all advice, big or small any traveler has to give. DH, the driver, is 80, so we want a crack at this road trip while we are still able! We're still good for one or two mile easy walks. Thanks, Fodorites!
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Old Jun 26th, 2017, 01:01 PM
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The end of September can be very beautiful as the tamaracks all start to turn yellow. It can also be quite cool or you could have temps in the 70's.

I like both drives through Big Sky to Bozeman and through Livingston.

Chico Hot Springs has a great restaurant, if you take the route through Gardiner. It can be a nice place to stay depending on your room selection.

In Bozeman, I'd check out the Nova Cafe for breakfast. We also enjoy Plonk (wine bar), Dave's Sushi, and Blackbird Kitchen (homemade pasta). My sister and BIL like Open Range, but we haven't been there. All downtown. We usually stay with my sister, but there are a couple of new/remodeled hotels downtown: The Lark and The Element.

In Helena: Blackfoot Brewery, Big Dipper (ice cream), Lucca's (Italian), and Hawthorn Wine Bar. It's nice to walk Last Chance Gulch and all of these places are on Last Chance except Blackfoot which is a block off Last Chance (and next to a great bakery!). I like staying at either the Holiday Inn (not as new but easy walking location or the Silver Star, which is also downtown but less convenient for walking to Last Chance Gulch).

In Missoula: Montgomery Distillery, Big Dipper, Tamarack Brewing, Plonk (great upstairs patio), Caffe Dolce for breakfast, Scotty's Table for dinner or the Red Bird or The Pearl. Missoula has a huge Farmer's Market if you're there on a Saturday. We love being downtown and walking everywhere. It's fun to watch the surfers on Brennan's Wave from Caras Park or the Higgins Bridge. We usually stay at the Holiday Inn Downtown or rent an apartment through vrbo in the Wilma building downtown.

Whitefish: Loula's for breakfast, Great Northern Brewing, Pescado (Mexican), Wasabi (sushi), and Tupelo Grille (cajun) are our favorites. We recently stayed at the Firebrand Hotel in Whitefish and loved it. Great location for walking everywhere.
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Old Jun 26th, 2017, 01:27 PM
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Another vote for Plonk in Missoula and if you end up staying at the Holiday Inn downtown, Market on Front right down the street is good for breakfast.

In Whitefish we enjoyed our meal at Mama Blancas.

The National Bison Range is definitely worth a visit and there are two short trails you can walk if there are no bison blocking them as there were when we tried
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Old Jun 26th, 2017, 05:25 PM
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Here' s another high recommendation for Open Range in Bozeman. I had dinner there on my vacation two years ago and it was one of the best meals ever. Perfectly prepared, seasoned, and served piping hot from the grill. Nice service and excellent wine list too.

Kurieff, you need to go!
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Old Jun 27th, 2017, 08:13 AM
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Thank you, Kureiff, Patty and Dayle! I've written down your suggestions in our itinerary. I am hoping, too that posters can suggest scenic routes, not too scary for driving and short scenic stops for photos along the way. We always get our most helpful advice on these forums!
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Old Aug 16th, 2017, 11:19 AM
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I second the vote in Missoula for Caffe Dolce for any meal. They're fabulous
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Old Aug 16th, 2017, 11:19 AM
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I second the vote in Missoula for Caffe Dolce for any meal. They're fabulous
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Old Sep 3rd, 2017, 08:54 AM
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Thanks, Travelbuff for your cafe recommendation. We are looking forward to this trip. We'd love to hear recommendations for short walks.
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Old Sep 3rd, 2017, 12:31 PM
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Keep an eye on the fire situation as there are numerous fires in eastern MT.

Right now the Going to the Sun Rd at Glacier is closed from the west end of Lake McDonald to Logan Pass. The Trail of Cedars is a nice short boardwalk (but within the currently closed area) http://enjoyyourparks.com/GlacierPar...TheCedars.html Rocky Point is a short trail with views of the lake http://enjoyyourparks.com/glacier-park-rocky-point.html I believe you can get to it currently as it's on the other side of the lake. It could potentially be smoky.

There are also fires north and south of Missoula.
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Old Sep 4th, 2017, 03:18 AM
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Thanks, Patty. We will check with the National Parks Service before we go, last week of September. If you, Patty, or others on this board wish to post fire updates here, we will be grateful.
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Old Sep 4th, 2017, 04:15 PM
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Of course, I meant western MT. We're heading that direction the last week of September as well but no Glacier this time.

Air quality http://svc.mt.gov/deq/todaysair/

Fire information https://fsapps.nwcg.gov/googleearth.php
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Old Sep 16th, 2017, 12:18 PM
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Thanks, Patty. The forecast for rain should help the fire situation.
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Old Sep 17th, 2017, 06:48 AM
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I think the air quality has improved somewhat but most everything on the west side of Glacier is still closed https://home.nps.gov/applications/gl...l/closures.cfm Apgar is under evacuation warning.

There are daily updates on the Tripadvisor Montana forum.
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Old Sep 17th, 2017, 02:54 PM
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Lots of snow last week in parts of Montana. Helps the fire situation, of course, but Going to the Sun road in Glacier Park was closed right afterwards due to wintry driving conditions. I expect it will reopen as it is pretty early for snowy weather to continue. But check locally, as they say.
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