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  • Shops lining a downtown street in eclectic Bozeman, Montana
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    Bozeman: Art and Culture in the Backcountry

  • Serene scene at the 16-kilometer-long St. Mary Lake in Glacier National Park in Montana
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    Glacier National Park: Hiking and Wildlife Watching

  • Sightseeing on a Red Bus Tour on Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park
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    Views to Astound: Traveling Going-to-the-Sun-Road

  • Scenic tailgating views at peaceful Whitefish Lake State Park in Whitefish, Montana
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    Enjoying the Mountain Life in Whitefish

  • Bird’s-eye view of Missoula, Montana, surrounded by forests and mountain ranges
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    End the Journey in Missoula

Wildflowers in bloom along Going-to-the-Sun Road in the Rocky Mountains, Montana
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Big Sky Country Road Trip: Culture and Nature in Montana

  • Route distance:
    1202.00 km
  • Suggested Time:
    1-2 weeks

A road trip through Montana means wide open spaces, natural wonders and not another soul in sight.

With only 1 million residents spread across more than 38 million hectares, Montana is a place where you can savor solitude while enjoying the wildlife of the U.S. West. Travelers will discover that Montana is a mix of traditional cultures and natural beauty, making it the ideal place to experience the history of the frontier and authentic Americana. Make the most of your summer road trip through Big Sky Country with this practical guide.

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Shops lining a downtown street in eclectic Bozeman, Montana
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Bryan Gregson

Bozeman: Art and Culture in the Backcountry

After landing at Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport (BZN), drive about 20 minutes to downtown Bozeman, where your journey begins. Here, in the state's “most livable place," enjoy a robust mixture of outdoor activities and an eclectic arts scene. In just one day, you can experience world-renowned fly fishing against a dramatic mountain backdrop, and then in the evening take in a Main Street festival or attend a concert at the Bozeman Symphony Society. Stay at The LARK, a sleek boutique hotel with an open-air design, including an outdoor fire pit, walkways and plaza. Each room is decorated with local art, and the hotel serves as a hub for adventurous travelers with maps, equipment storage and expert guides on staff.

471 km
5 hours by car
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Serene scene at the 16-kilometer-long St. Mary Lake in Glacier National Park in Montana
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Glacier National Park: Hiking and Wildlife Watching

Depart early in the morning and drive five hours north on U.S. Route 287 North to Glacier National Park. Work out the kinks in your muscles from the drive on a long hike through the pristine forests and meadows of the protected land. Known as the "Crown of the Continent," the park encompasses 410,000 hectares, including 762 lakes, nearly 2,000 species of plants and hundreds of species of animals. Hike a variety of short and long trails around crystal-clear St. Mary Lake where you can try to spot elk, mule deer and the occasional grizzly bear. Near Two Medicine Lake, a dozen trails, ranging from one kilometer to 27 kilometers round-trip, stand ready for your exploration. If you’re staying overnight in the park, choose from 13 campgrounds and more than 1,000 sites to sleep under the stars.

126 km
1.75 hours by car
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Sightseeing on a Red Bus Tour on Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park
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Views to Astound: Traveling Going-to-the-Sun-Road

Within Glacier National Park is Going-to-the-Sun Road, a stunning 80-kilometer, two-lane highway that spans the width of the park and crosses the Continental Divide. Completed in 1932, the road 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 atop the pass. Scenic viewpoints include McDonald Creek Overlook, the iconic West Tunnel – observation windows were built into the tunnel so you don't miss the spectacular views – and the Weeping Wall, a series of waterfalls on a mountainside that delight drivers as they drive through the spray and mist. At Oberlin Bend, drive slowly to catch a glimpse of the mountain goats that live in the park.

60 km
1 hour by car
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Scenic tailgating views at peaceful Whitefish Lake State Park in Whitefish, Montana
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Enjoying the Mountain Life in Whitefish

After exiting the park, drive west for about 40 kilometers on U.S. Route 2 West toward Whitefish. Named one of the "Top 25 Ski Towns in the World" by National Geographic, this resort community is also known for the quaint mountain charm emanating from local shops, coffeehouses, a community arts center, restaurants, elegant lodges and inns. The close proximity to Whitefish Lake, Whitefish Mountain Resort and Glacier National Park allows visitors to enjoy skiing, snowboarding, hiking, biking and boating.

214 km
2.5 hours by car
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Bird’s-eye view of Missoula, Montana, surrounded by forests and mountain ranges
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End the Journey in Missoula

The next leg of your trip begins with a one-hour drive south on U.S. Route 93 to Flathead Lake West Shore State Park. Impossibly blue, Flathead is the USA’s largest natural freshwater lake west of the Mississippi River. After a few hours soaking up the sun, or perhaps a morning picnic, continue south on U.S. Route 93 for about an hour and 20 minutes to the hip city of Missoula. Toast to the end of a fantastic journey at one of Missoula's eight craft breweries, or try "glamping" in a luxury tent at The Resort at Paws Up. Make sure to enjoy an end-of-the-trip meal at Pomp, the resort's fine dining restaurant. Catch a flight home from Missoula International Airport (MSO), or drive back to Bozeman International.