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. A Carousel for 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.
2. Hike the M in Missoula
Why go: Join the locals and hike the M trail, which takes you on 10-plus switchbacks and 620 feet above the valley floor in three quarters of a mile. Go a mile farther to reach the top of Mt. Sentinel and for spectacular views.
Access: The trailhead is on the University of Montana campus.
3. 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.
4. Brennan’s Wave in Missoula
Why Go: This man-made wave on the Clark Fork River is the perfect place to watch kayakers, surfers and stand-up paddleboarders in downtown Missoula. Feeling adventurous? Head to Zoo Town Surfers to take a kayak lesson.
Access: Riverfront Trail off S. Higgins Ave. and Carousel Drive.
5. Ninepipe National Wildlife Refuge
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.
6. Flathead Lake
Why Go: It’s the biggest natural freshwater lake west of the Mississippi. With 13 recreation sites and multiple state parks, it’s the perfect place to enjoy Montana snowmelt.
Access: While any of the parks or recreation areas are worth a visit, renting a canoe or kayak, or chartering a power boat to explore Wild Horse Island State Park, home to tons of wildlife including wild horses, is a true Montana experience.
7. Hockaday Museum
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.
8. 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.
9. KettleHouse Amphitheater
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.
10. 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
11. Black Coffee Roasting Co. in Missoula
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.
12. National Bison Range
Why go: Look for some of the 350 bison that inhabit the National Bison Range. President Teddy Roosevelt established the range in 1908 to provide a permanent home for bison.
Access: From the south, take Hwy. 93 north to Ravalli, turning west on Hwy. 200 to Hwy. 212. Travel north on Hwy. 212 for 5 miles to the entrance.
13. The Whiskey Barn
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
Western Montana’s Glacier Country