Yellowstone to Glacier National Park
This is a tremendous route. In fact, 40% of Yellowstone Park’s visitors also plan to spend time in Montana’s beautiful Glacier Country, an outdoor hotspot with the perfect splash of arts and culture. Home to Glacier National Park, Flathead Lake, two Indian reservations, endless outdoor recreation, stunning scenery and charming small towns, this corner of Montana is ready to be explored.
For more information about Glacier Country:
Start: Yellowstone National Park
Day 1 – Yellowstone National Park
Tackle your Yellowstone must-see list (a process that could take a lifetime to complete) at the start of this trip; see some of our favorite ideas for seeing geysers, spotting wildlife, and hiking the park trails.
Day 2 – Big Sky, MT
US 191 North
Spend the morning at Yellowstone, then leave the park through the West Entrance. An hour’s drive gets you to Big Sky, a vacation paradise anchored by Big Sky Resort (it has excellent skiing and snowboarding in winter and an adventure park in summer) and Lone Peak Brewery.
Day 3 – Missoula, MT
US 191 North to I-90 West to MT 1 North to I-90 West
Continue north to Butte, checking out its historic downtown and the tasting room of Headframe Spirits, which opened its doors in 2012. Owners Courtney and John McKee were recognized by Montana Gov. Steve Bullock in 2014 and 2015 for being entrepreneurs and ambassadors of the year. Headframe has had a gross $7 million impact in Butte since its founding and employs 28 people.
After Butte, head west to Fairmont Hot Springs Resort for a soak or waterslide session. Go on to peaceful Philipsburg, home to The Sapphire Gallery and Granite County Museum & Cultural Center. Continue to lively Missoula. Tour the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Visitor Center, catch an opera or play, or browse art galleries. Finish the day with a pint from Big Sky Brewery.
Days 4 & 5 – Glacier National Park
US 93 North
Your morning drive takes you past Flathead Lake – a boating and fishing paradise, Kalispell, and Whitefish – a lakeside ski town chock-full of outdoor recreation opportunities. Then delve deep into million-acre-plus Glacier National Park with a tour on 50-mile Going-to-the-Sun Road, a high-mountain twister with stunning views of the Continental Divide. Stop at the Logan Pass Visitor Center to scope for mountain goats or take a quick hike. Grab lunch in East Glacier Village, then head back across the park. US Route 2 skirts the park’s southern border and is a good alternate route from west to east and back. Learn more about Glacier Country.
Day 6 – Great Falls, MT
US 89 South
Turn back south with a drive through Choteau (worthy stop: Egg Mountain, an important paleontological site) to Great Falls. This town is smack in the middle of Lewis and Clark country (this is the site of the party’s challenging portage over the Great Falls of the Missouri); and hosts the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail Interpretive Center. For more historical fun, head 45 minutes up the road to Fort Benton to see the historic fort of the same name, plus more Lewis and Clark attractions. Stay at the Townhouse Inn.
Day 7- Bozeman, MT
I-15 South to US 287 South to I-90 East
Start the day with a drive to state capital Helena, where hiking, biking, and geocaching are big. Continue on to bustling Bozeman, where you can see dinosaur bones at the Museum of the Rockies, tour art galleries, soak in Bozeman Hot Springs, and, in winter, go skiing or snowboarding at nearby Bridger Bowl. Have a bison steak at the Bozeman Trail Steakhouse.
Day 7 – Yellowstone National Park
I-90 East to US 89 South
Close your loop with a swing through Livingston (home to art galleries, live theater, and plentiful trails) and down to the gateway town of Gardiner. This rustic town is a great base for fly-fishing and wildlife-watching. (Tip: Try the bison burgers at Cowboys Lodge & Grill and the ice cream at Yellowstone Perk). Finish up back at Yellowstone to make some more progress on your must-see list.
END: Yellowstone National Park