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6 Best Road Trips

Seattle to Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks Road Trip

Soak up the outdoors as you travel through Washington, Idaho and Montana on this northern-states road trip.

Hot springs, high peaks and Montana’s wide open spaces dominate this tour from Seattle to Glacier and Yellowstone national parks and back.

Miles Driving Time States
2,064 34 hours Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming

What You’ll See and Do on This Road Trip

After you leave behind the vibrant city of Seattle and drive through eastern Washington, explore Spokane and all of its attractions before you cross into Montana.

You’ll notice there’s a magical evening light that sweeps across the broad shoulders of Montana’s sky. Its radiating pink and purple colors echo off windows of log-hewn cabins, patios of breweries and the sides of aging pickup trucks rattling down lonely roads. Montana artist C.M. Russell captured this magnificent light in his paintings, and it fills the landscape with a peace that seeps into its people like water spilling over a river bank.

Discover Montana’s spectacular culture as you explore the fun university town of Missoula and other authentic towns like Bigfork and Kalispell en route to Glacier National Park. Head southeast from the park to small towns like Havre and then Great Falls for a primer on renowned artist C.M. Russell. Then visit Bozeman before entering Yellowstone in Gardiner.

Exit the park via West Yellowstone, Montana, a town lined with restaurants and attractions. In Big Sky, you’ll find adrenaline-filled activities. Farther north, you’ll discover boom-and-bust stories in the historic towns of Virginia City, Nevada City and Butte. From Butte, hit the road to relax in Philipsburg’s quaint, lively downtown. Then head back to Seattle via Hells Canyon.

Road Trip Map

Start: Seattle

Totem Pole in Seattle's Pioneer Square
Totem Pole in Seattle’s Pioneer Square (Photo: Depositphotos)

Seattle’s Top 5
From a fantastic market to a bookstore that’s survived Amazon, see the best of Seattle. Read more on our sister site

Spokane, Washington

Parks and Trails Skirt the Vibrant City of Spokane
Trendy new restaurant districts and revitalized parks are transforming this eastern Washington city. Find out why you should stop on your way to Glacier National Park.

Missoula & Glacier Country

Magnificent Missoula
Kayak, raft or tube through town or take a hike in 60,000 acres of wilderness minutes from your hotel. Missoula is known for its blue-ribbon trout fishing and spectacular natural beauty. Here are our seven favorite things to do in Missoula.

13 Stops on the Way from Missoula to Glacier National Park
Pull over at these great sights lining the road on the 140-mile trip from Missoula to Glacier National Park including the best food, where to jump in the water and places to watch wildlife.

Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park in Montana
Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park in Montana (Photo: Montana State Parks)

Uncrowded State Park Gems
In between Yellowstone and Glacier national parks, you’ll find gorgeous trails and scenic views without any of the crowds of the national parks. Here are our 5 favorite Montana State Parks.

Stay Close to Glacier National Park at The Pine Lodge on Whitefish River
Located in downtown Whitefish just over 30 minutes from the park’s West Entrance and 15 minutes from the slopes of Whitefish Mountain Resort, you’ll find family-friendly lodging and have access to some of the best shopping and dining near the park.

Glacier National Park

Avalanche Lake in Glacier National Park
Avalanche Lake in Glacier National Park (Photo: NPS/Jacob W. Frank)

2 Days in Glacier National Park
Favorite things to do in Glacier from a peaceful boat ride and breathtaking hike to eating one of the best huckleberry pastries ever.

Tour Glacier’s Going to the Sun Road with the GyPSy Guide App
Download the tour app that’s like having a tour guide in your car. GyPSy Guide automatically plays interesting and entertaining commentary as you go.

Haystack Creek Falls on Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park (Photo: NPS/Jacob W. Frank)

Where to See Wildlife in Glacier National Park
You’ll see more than incredible views when you visit Glacier. Keep an eye out for these six fascinating animals.

A Grizzly Encounter
When a bear charged a family on a trail, bear spray likely saved their lives. Take the advice of a former national park ranger and Counter Assault, the company that makes the longest range bear spray.

The Four-Legged Ranger at Glacier National Park
Gracie the dog ranger works hard to keep Glacier National Park visitors and wildlife safe.

Standout Stops in Central Montana

The Unexpected in Great Falls
Located along the Missouri River in central Montana, on the route Lewis and Clark took to explore the West, Great Falls, Mont., is bursting with places to explore. Discover urban trails, waterfalls, craft beer and more.

C.M. Russell’s Vibrant Art inspired by Montana
See C.M. Russell’s gorgeous paintings and his log-cabin studio in Great Falls, Mont.

Explore the Heart of Montana
Explore small towns in central Montana like Fort Benton, Havre and White Sulphur Springs on your way to Glacier National Park.

Of Bikes and Breweries in Helena
Locals like to say there’s a trail at the end of every street and a brewery at the end of every ride. And while every town is prone to some hyperbole, Helena truly offers an extraordinary range of mountain biking for beginners all the way to experts.

Yellowstone’s Northern Doorstep

Bozeman Spirits, Award-Winning Montana Distillery
Located in historic downtown Bozeman, the distillery produces whiskey, vodka, gin, and rum, distilled and bottled on site. Proud to support Montana farms.

A Serene Soak at Yellowstone Hot Springs
Just eight miles from Yellowstone’s North Entrance, these naturally hot pools feel surprisingly remote and far from the park’s crowds.

Insider’s Guide to the Best of Gardiner
Sitting at the only year-round entrance to the world’s first national park, pretty much everything in Gardiner is colorful from the scenery and people to the names of dishes on menus.

Montana’s Rafting Rivers
The waters of the Yellowstone, Gallatin and Madison rivers provide for some of the best Montana whitewater rafting and floats. Rafting companies out of Gardiner, Big Sky and Bozeman include Flying Pig Adventures, Wild West Rafting and Montana Whitewater Rafting. Want more adventure? Check with these outfitters about ziplining, river tubing, horseback riding and fly fishing.

Yellowstone National Park

Enter the North Entrance

Bison along Rose Creek in Lamar Valley in Yellowstone.
Bison along Rose Creek in Lamar Valley in Yellowstone. (Photo: NPS/Neal Herbert)

48 Hours in Yellowstone
Only have 48 hours? Make the most of your time by visiting some of our favorite spots in the park. Read more.

GyPSy Guide’s Yellowstone Audio Tour App
Download the Yellowstone audio tour app that’s like having a tour guide in your car. GyPSy Guide automatically plays interesting and entertaining commentary as you go.

Watch Wildlife in Yellowstone’s Lamar and Hayden Valleys
Yellowstone’s huge, wide valleys make excellent habitat for wildlife. For your best chance of spotting them, point your compass toward the Lamar and Hayden. Read more.

Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone
Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone (Photo: Unsplash/Todd Cravens)

Mammoth Hot Springs Looks Like an Inside-Out Cave
These springs are a must-see feature of Yellowstone National Park in part because they’re so different from other thermal areas in the area. This is largely because limestone is a relatively soft type of rock, allowing the travertine formations to grow much faster than other sinter formations.

4 Active Yellowstone Adventures to Test Your Stamina
Push yourself with these heart-pounding activities in Yellowstone National Park from backpacking to canoeing to cross-country skiing.

Exit the West Entrance

West Yellowstone

7 Sights at West Yellowstone
The town of West Yellowstone sits right at the West Gate to Yellowstone National Park. Here are the top seven ways to avoid the park’s crowds and see the best of the area.

True Yellowstone Vacations
Stay a couple blocks from the park in West Yellowstone and leave the park driving to a guide. Make yourself at home within walking distance to attractions and downtown at the Yellowstone Park Hotel and the pet-friendly Gray Wolf Inn & Suites and Explorer Cabins.

Big Sky

Best Basecamp
Born next to a ski area, the town of Big Sky offers music, food and tons of trails under its piece of the enormous Montana sky.

Southwest Montana’s True Gems

Ennis is Montana’s Drinking Town with a Fishing Problem
Halfway between Yellowstone and Glacier national parks, this colorful town holds on to it’s western roots. Learn more about Ennis’ storied past then feel like part of the family when you tour Willie’s Distillery and sample its spirits.

Relax at El Western Cabins & Lodges in Ennis, Montana
A five minute walk from Ennis, Montana, this beautiful property is made up of log-hewn cabins and lodges set amongst a gorgeous meadow, a pasture with horses grazing in it and expansive mountain views.

10 True Gems in Southwest Montana
You’ll find everything from spirits and sapphires to ghost towns and river canyons. Here are our top picks for places to stop in southwest Montana.

Anaconda’s Unexpected History on the Continental Divide
This unique town has access to the outdoor recreation you’d expect from southwestern Montana with a surprising and delicious culinary history that lives on today.

Butte, Montana, the Richest Hill on Earth
Visit this boom town to see a pit mine, a giant statue, and a distillery, then dance at a signature event. It’s a melting pot of friendly people between Yellowstone and Glacier national parks.

9 Reasons to Visit Dillon, Mont.
Dig for crystals, catch a glimpse of stunning trumpeter swans, eat amazing sourdough pancakes and more in smalltown Dillon, Mont.

Soak it In at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort
On your road trip between the two national parks, stop midway to stay in a luxury spa resort, golf, and swim in hot springs pools – one with a water slide.

Magical Philipsburg
You’ll find sapphires and a palace of sorts tucked into the gentle folding hillsides and valleys of this swath of southwestern Montana. With flowers and gorgeously restored historic buildings lining its main street, Philipsburg is one of Montana’s most charming towns.

Hell’s Canyon

Sip and Cruise
Lewis Clark Valley is the gateway to Hells Canyon, North America’s deepest river gorge, and is one of the new frontiers for wineries in the United States. Although it’s a new wine region, vines were planted in the valley as early as 1872. The best way to view Hells Canyon is from the water on a jet boat trip or cruise on the Snake River. Stop along the way to check out ancient petroglyphs and a shipwreck site. Learn more at

End: Seattle

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