What should we see in Montana?

Feb 17th, 2007, 06:07 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 418
What should we see in Montana?

I'll be all over various boards for a while planning a rd trip for late Aug to late Sept. After doing the Beartooh Highway from WY and arriving in Red Lodge, not sure where to go from there. We want to head up to Glacier NP and do the GTTS Rd but what should we see along the way prior? Is Red Lodge worth 2 nts? How about Helena and the Kalispell/Whitefish area? Other suggestions? Also, we're a sr couple, not hikers but walkers. We were planning just 1 day in the park driving the GTTS rd. Does that sound OK? From Glacier, we're headed up into Banff and Jasper.
irishswampyankee is offline  
Feb 17th, 2007, 09:59 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 5,765
i'd say no days in red lodge. actually the galatin river valley highway - rte 191 - from west yellowstone to bozeman is more direct to glacier from yellowstone park and a beatiful drive along the river. even rte 89 to livingston is better than 272, but you still backtrack on boring highway. red lodge is the wrong direction.
from bozeman take rte 287, or 15 is a nice drive to helena, which is an intersting historical city - 1 day and night. definetly skip butte, heading to missoula on 12 then 12/90. then rte 93 to flathead lake and kalispell. flathead area is gorgeous and i would spend a day or 2 there. i remember thinking the east side of the lake nicer but don't recall why.
i just mapquested west yellowstone to kalispell and they say just over 7 hours without the detour to helena. i would add several more hours for stops, sightseeing, lunch, etc.
the drive into bozeman is very nice. you will go by some hot springs just before town. a university town with lots of shops and fun restaurants. i would surely plan 2 days at glacier. the park is immense, with many beautiful spots to drive and walk to. the secondary roads will be at their best in late summer. also the altitude may take a day to get used to for "walking". do enjoy the glacier - they say it will be gone before our great grandchildren get to see it.
there are places to stop and gawk or take a walk along this entire route. you could easily spend a week making this part of your journey imho. have fun.
virginia is offline  
Feb 17th, 2007, 10:07 AM
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 4,623
We spent two nights in Red Lodge. I think it is worth at least a night after driving the Beartooth Highway. We enjoyed walking through the town, visiting the Beartooth Nature center and going to dinner and pig races at the Bear Creek Saloon.
wtm003 is offline  
Feb 17th, 2007, 10:38 AM
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 4,963
Don't know if you will be in this part of Montana (near Gardiner), though we love Chico Hot Springs:
trippinkpj is offline  
Feb 17th, 2007, 11:21 AM
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 560
Your itinerary is a tough one to advise on. I've heard and seen pictures of the Beartooth Highway and it seem like a great road trip. The problem is that Red Lodge is nowhere near on the way to Glacier National Park and there aren't any great routes to get there from Red Lodge. Personally, I'd go to Red Lodge anyway, then maybe go back over the Beartooth and out the north entrance to Yellowstone on my way to Glacier. If you didn't want to backtrack, then my second choice of route would be from Red Lodge to Interstate 90 and west through Butte to Missoula and then north along Flathead lake to Kalispell.
rm_mn is offline  
Feb 17th, 2007, 06:52 PM
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 81
Almost anywhere in Montana is worth the time. Here's a nice loop incorporating Missoula, Glacier, Whitefish and others:

Have fun,
PhotoDad is offline  
Feb 18th, 2007, 02:11 AM
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 1,598
After Beartooth I would not stay in Red Lodge(there's nothing to see)but drive on to Gardiner.If you havent visited Yellowstone that should be a must.From Gardiner you could drive to Helena(we visited the Capitol with guide there).Then on to Glacier N.Park.At Logan pass do the hike to Hidden lake(not difficult but very rewarding).On your way to Banff you could perhaps stay in Waterton lakes the Canadian side of Glacier.Paul
tovarich is offline  
Feb 18th, 2007, 06:20 AM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 1,456
Don't miss the Beartooth Highway.


I agree with the others that say their is no reason to stay long in Red Lodge, Its a nice town to wonder thru and shop but that is about it IMO.

Out of Red lodge you can take Sr-78 thru Abserokee to Columbus, from there I90, US191 to US12 and US89 thru Great Falls to the East side of Glacier. All are two lane roads, we have taken this route several times. With the higher speed limits and no traffic in MT you can make good time on just about any road as long as it is not in the high country. If time is on your side a day in the Great Falls area is interesting. A lot of Lewis and Clark stuff there.

The extra day or so you save can be spent in Glacier and the Banff/Jasper area.

RedRock is offline  
Feb 18th, 2007, 09:50 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 418
Thank you all. Here's our thinking so far. We fly from Boston to SLC. We get in late afternoon so plan to stay in Logan, UT that 1st nt, go to Walmart and get stocked up, etc. Next day, drive to Jackson, WY and stay 2 days. Then drive thru GTNP and part of Yellowstone on the way to Cody, WY. (Have done both parks a few times so won't really be "doing" them this trip.) Spend 2 nts in Cody, do the museum, then drive Chief Joseph and Beartooth hiways and stay 1 nt in Red Lodge, just bcs it's there. Then backtrack and stay in Ennis 2 nts to explore Virginia and Nevada Cities. From there, drive to Kalispell and stay 2 nts, exploring that area (Whitefish, maybe Missoula)and doing laundry!
Are there someplaces we should spend time in between Ennis and Kalispell or just drive straight through? Thought about Helena but we don't really enjoy cities. Next day, drive GTTS Rd thru Glacier and stay in southern Alberta somewhere b4 heading to Banff and Jasper then down back thru BC and ID and finally into SLC again but I haven't gotten that far along yet. Is one day sufficient to see the scenery in Glacier or should we plan to spend more time there?

Bless you all who take on the chore of replying. Thanks for your time.
irishswampyankee is offline  
Feb 18th, 2007, 12:33 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,726

What a wonderful trip you're planning!

We thought Glacier NP was one of the most beautiful places we've ever seen, so I would certainly spend more than one day there.

By the way, we were there in September and thought the weather was perfect
to enjoy the early morning steam from the thermals in Yellowstone, the elk bugling at night, the clean, clear, cool air at Glacier.

Byrd is offline  
Feb 19th, 2007, 02:04 AM
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 1,598
Glacier n.Park is great but the most beautiful drive you can make is the Columbia icefields road from Banff to Jasper.PAul
tovarich is offline  
Feb 20th, 2007, 06:05 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 418
Yes, we're definitely doing the Banff/Jasper drive. We have 4 weeks to do this whole trip and I feel like I'm rushing the itinerary. I think we should have reservations for the 1st week which is b4 Labor Day and hope to wing it some after that but checked availability in a few places in Banff for mid Sept and they were full already! Know we'll make some mistakes but want to leave time to see what we should bcs chances are we won't get to that area again. I'm going to put everything aside for a few days and go skiing in VT and maybe will have a clearer head when we get back. I'm starting to second, third and fourth guess myself! DH leaves all the planning to me which has pros and cons but maybe I'll get him to sign an oath that he won't complain about some of my less successful choices! By the way, love using Google Earth to "see" areas while planning.

Again, thank you all.
irishswampyankee is offline  
Feb 20th, 2007, 07:24 AM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 15,090
When you're in Ennis, you might want to consider driving to Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park. You can take a tour of the caverns; it takes about 2 hours round trip. You'll also end up walking about 2 miles. The caverns have many amazing formations.

If you stop in Missoula, check out the kayaking water park just off the bridge downtown.

Both Whitefish and Missoula have great downtowns with good restuarants and fun shops.

If you stop in Butte, the World Museum of Mining is very impressive and comprehensive.
kureiff is offline  
Feb 20th, 2007, 07:44 AM
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 298
If you drive from Kalispell to Glacier and enjoy kitsch--stop at the House of Mystery. You can't miss it, there's a giant chair in front. Went with a friend and had a really fun time, great for pictures. (It's a vortex)
coolbluewater is offline  
Feb 20th, 2007, 07:49 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 3,977
You are going to visit wonderful places. Just bear in mind, please, how enormous Montana is. Alaska, Texas, California, Montana -- our four largest states. And in some places it is a long distance between gas stations, so keep that in mind for safety's sake. Make sure you have in your car's trunk: a full gallon gas can, a full water can, road flares, a flashlight. Been there, done that.
USNR is offline  
Mar 21st, 2007, 01:08 PM
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 334
We were out there for 2 weeks last May and June, and stayed in Cody and Jackson, Wyoming; Livingston and Bozeman, Montana: way over in Spearfish, South Dakota; etc. We loved Yellowstone, the Tetons, etc.

If you want something unusual (but nice), check out "The Howlers Inn", outside of Bozeman. Lovely B&B, out in the country, with its own pack of SIX WOLVES in a several acre enclosure right outside!

They are fascinating. We stayed upstairs in a big, kingsize room overlooking their "pen" and heard them stir a few times at night, gently "crooning" (NOT howling) before they (and we) went back to sleep.

Just an idea!

Sounds like a lovely trip. Enjoy!
RetiredVermonter is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2007, 10:11 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 1,037
I would make a point to spend a night in missoula, granted it is kind of getting cookie cutter urban sprawl, but it has a great downtown-galleries,shops, whatever, and a kickass nightlife.
brando is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2007, 11:22 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 9,408
Hi isy,

I would suggest staying your first night Bear Lake rather than Logan. The Cache Valley is beautiful, but Bear Lake is more fun and scenic too!

I stayed 1 nt in Red Lodge last summer after driving the Beartooth and did enjoy it. Some pretty decent restaurants. The drive on from there on 90 is mostly nothing to get excited about, but a stop at the Prairie Dog refuge was a good, short break.

Have fun!
Dayle is offline  
Mar 27th, 2007, 07:53 PM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 5
I think it depends on what you enjoy, as to where you'd want to spend extra time. For example, one poster suggested skipping Butte entirely. Depends on your interests! Butte is rich in mining history, the city itself is built half on a hill dotted with gallows frames and the 'no longer operational' Berkely Pit. Butte was once known as the richest hill on earth. So if you have an interest in mining, etc., Butte's your place. There is also the Lady of the Rockies, a statue placed high on the Continental Divide that is actually larger than the statue of Libery and tours run daily. Butte is nestled down in a valley surrounded by the mountains. On first glance, it may not be the prettiest city to some, but it has character! So it all depends on where your interests are!
While in Virginia City, check to see if the V.C. Players are still performing at the playhouse...they're always fun! V. City is not very big, so it won't take too long to go thru. But, no matter where you go, you'll fall in love with Montana!
Lynn5 is offline  
Mar 27th, 2007, 08:10 PM
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 4,963
I'd still check out Chico Hot Springs on the way to Gardiner, even if you decide not to stay over. Also, the dining room is very good for a lunch or dinner stop.
trippinkpj is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 02:01 AM.