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Montana Stops on the Way

8 Stops on the Way from Missoula to Glacier National Park

Pull over at these great sites 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.

1. Missoula Art Museum

You’ll experience Montana’s vibrant art scene at the Missoula Art Museum, known as MAM. With free admission you can wander through a variety of exhibits, including a rotating one always dedicated to American Indian art. Don’t miss the outdoor Art Park. The museum is located at 335 N. Pattee St. 

2. Hike the M in Missoula

Hiking to M at sunset in Missoula, Montana
Hiking to M at sunset in Missoula Photo: Courtesy Destination Missoula

Hike the .75-mile M trail, which takes you on 10-plus switchbacks 620 feet above the valley floor. Go a mile farther to reach the top of Mt. Sentinel for a spectacular view. The trailhead is on the University of Montana campus.

3. 1889 Restaurant

Named for the year Montana was granted statehood, you’ll find rustic Montana fare with a modern twist at this Missoula establishment. Think tomahawk ribeye with a side of smoked brie mac and cheese, accompanied by an impressive wine list and full bar. Find 1889 at 104 N. Higgins Ave. in downtown Missoula.

4. Brennan’s Wave

Kayaking and surfing Brennan's Wave in Missoula, Montana
Kayaking and surfing Brennan’s Wave in Missoula, Montana Photo: Destination Missoula

This human-made wave on the Clark Fork River is the perfect place to watch kayakers, surfers and stand-up paddleboarders in downtown Missoula. It’s just off of the Riverfront Trail alongside Caras Park. Feeling adventurous? Head to Zoo Town Surfers to take a kayak lesson.

5. Windmill Village Bakery

Donuts from Windmill Bakery in Glacier Country
Donuts from Windmill Bakery Photo: Courtesy Glacier Country Tourism

Locals say this bakery in Ravalli has the world’s best doughnuts. Visit the funky but adorable German-style building to see for yourself. They also make pies, turnovers, muffins and more with local produce and farm fresh eggs. Find it at 26715 US-93 in Ravalli between Missoula and Flathead Lake near the Hwy. 200 junction.

6. National Bison Range

National Bison Range in Glacier Country
National Bison Range. Photo: Photo by Jason Savage courtesy of Glacier Country Tourism

Learn about bison in Montana and see these majestic creatures on this 18,000-plus acre refuge. Located in the center of the Flathead Indian Reservation, ancestors of today’s herd were saved as orphaned calves by the Qlispé people. It’s along Hwy. 212 in Moiese. Stay in your car unless you’re on a designated trail. 

7. Flathead Lake

Go sailing on Flathead Lake in Glacier Country
Go sailing on Flathead Lake. Photo: Courtesy Glacier Country Tourism

It’s the largest natural freshwater lake west of the Mississippi. With 13 recreation sites and multiple state parks, it’s the perfect place to enjoy Montana on the water.

Kayaking near the shores of Wild Horse Island on Flathead Lake in Glacier Country
Kayaking near the shores of Wild Horse Island on Flathead Lake in Glacier Country. Photo: Courtesy Glacier Country Tourism

Explore Wild Horse Island State Park, a true Montana experience. It’s home to tons of wildlife — including wild horses.

8. Downtown Kalispell

Filled with locally owned shops, restaurants, galleries and more, you’ll get a taste of Western heritage at Glacier National Park’s front door. Stroll Main Street south of Hwy. 2. 

Have more time? Here are more stops for your road trip.

A Carousel for Missoula

A Carousel for Missoula
Hop aboard the carousel or just watch the colorful horsesDestination Missoula

Why Go: This beautiful 38-horse carousel is a beacon of community in Missoula. The brainchild of cabinetmaker Chuck Kaparich, the whole community – including school children collecting one million pennies – came together to build it.

Access: Head to 101 Carousel Dr. in the summer months between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. to ride it.

The Notorious P.I.G. in Missoula

Why Go: Montana barbeque by a Kansas City native is as delicious as it sounds. Smoked meats from pulled pork to burnt ends take the spotlight, but don’t miss mouthwatering sides like smoked gouda mac ‘n cheese. Sauces cover the map from KC style to mustard-based to North Carolina-style vinegar.

Access: The Notorious P.I.G. has two locations: 247 Front St. and 3621 Old US Hwy. 93.

Ninepipe National Wildlife Refuge

Ninepipes National Wildlife Refuge kids in Glacier Country
Best place to watch for birds is near the water in NinepipeCourtesy Glacier Country Tourism

Why Go: It’s a birder’s dream come true. More than 200 species can be seen at this wildlife refuge on the shores of Ninepipe Reservoir including nesting great blue herons and short-eared owls.

Access: Located along Hwy. 93 between Missoula and Kalispell near Charlo.

Hockaday Museum

Hockaday Museum
Hockaday MuseumPhoto by Donnie Sexton courtesy of Glacier Country Tourism

Why go: Discover the stories of Glacier National Park through the artists and authors and vintage maps.

Access: It’s located at 302 2nd Ave. E. in Kalispell, Mont.

Two Sisters Cafe

Why go: The huckleberry pie here keeps locals coming back.

Access: It’s located in Babb, Mont., past Glacier National Park’s East Entrance.

KettleHouse Amphitheater

Kettlehouse Ampitheater outside of Missoula
KettleHouse Amphitheater on the edge of MissoulaCourtesy Logjam Presents

Why Go: Built in 2017, this 4,000-person amphitheater along the Blackfoot River is Montana’s version of the Hollywood Bowl and Colorado’s Red Rocks.

Access: Located just outside of Missoula, this new music venue is in Bonner. In downtown Missoula, visit The Wilma, a historic music venue.

Smokejumper Visitor Center in Missoula

Why go: Learn more about this daring group of professionals who parachute into forests to fight wildfires. It’s the only place in the country where you can take a tour of a smokejumper training facility.

Access: 5765 W. Broadway St. in Missoula

Black Coffee Roasting Co. in Missoula

Maple latte at Black Coffee Roasting Company in Missoula
Maple latte at Black Coffee Roasting Company in MissoulaPhoto by James Chapman courtesy of Glacier Country Tourism

Why go: This local favorite serves organic coffee that is ethically traded, sustainably packaged and tastes great.

Access: Head to 525 E. Spruce St. in Missoula.

The Whiskey Barn

Sample Glacier Distilling's whiskey in the barn
Sample Glacier Distilling’s whiskey in the barnCourtesy Glacier Distilling

Why go: Glacier water never tasted as good as it does in Glacier Distilling’s small-batch whiskey. Stop at this tasting room to sample this locally made drink and other spirits.

Access: Just 7 miles from the West Entrance of Glacier National Park, it’s on 10237 Hwy. 2 E. in Coram, Mont.

For more information

Destination Missoula
(800) 526-3465

Western Montana’s Glacier Country