Yellowstone to Glacier National Park Road Trip

Hot springs, high peaks and Montana's wide open spaces dominate this 962-mile tour from Yellowstone to Glacier National Park and back.
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Sunset on Lake McDonald at Glacier National Park

Sunset on Lake McDonald at Glacier National Park

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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 via West Yellowstone, Mont., as you point your wheels north to Glacier National Park. In Big Sky, you’ll find adrenaline-filled activities and a vibrant ski town in the summer. Farther north, you’ll find boom-and-bust stories and charming historic towns in Virginia City, Nevada City and Butte.

Minutes from Butte, soak at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort and then hit the road to stroll Philipsburg's quaint downtown and sample sweets in The Sweet Palace. Explore the fun university town of Missoula and other authentic towns en route to Glacier National Park. Head east from the park to Great Falls for a primer on renowned artist C.M. Russell. Then visit Bozeman and Livingston, the original Yellowstone gateway.

Map

Start: West Yellowstone

Hebgen Lake near West Yellowstone

Hebgen Lake

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.

S'mores at the Explorer Cabins of West Yellowstone Lodging and Yellowstone Vacations

S'mores at the fire pit at Explorer Cabins in West Yellowstone

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

Hiker in Montana's Beehive Basin

Hiker in Montana's Beehive Basin

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.

The Lone Peak Tram

The Lone Peak Tram

Big Sky Resort's Big Five
An hour from Yellowstone's west entrance, head to Big Sky Resort for incredible summer activities including a high ride to peak views.

A family rafting the Gallatin River north of Yellowstone

A family rafting the Gallatin River north of Yellowstone

Raft, Float or Zipline with Montana Whitewater Company
Float the river that appeared in A River Runs Through It or the iconic Yellowstone River. Launch from Big Sky, Bozeman or Gardiner at Yellowstone's North Entrance

Southwest Montana

Fly fishing the Madison River in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest south of Ennis, Montana.

Fly fishing in the Madison River south of Ennis

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.

Robin and Willie Blazer of Willie's Distillery

Distillery owners Robin and Willie Blazer

Stop in Montana's Magic Town for a Sip at Willie's Distillery
Discover bootlegging, women’s rights and of course, whiskey.

Virginia City, Montana.

Virginia City, Montana.

7 Montana Boom Town Stops 
Southwest Montana offers everything from spirits to saloons. See our list of the top seven places to stop between two national parks.

Berkeley Pit Open-pit Copper Mine

Berkeley Pit Open-pit Copper Mine

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

The outside hot pool with waterslide at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort

The outdoor hot pool with waterslide at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort

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.

The pink interior of the Sweet Palace in Philipsburg, Mont.

A very pink candy shoppe in Philipsburg

Philipsburg, Montana's Big Rock Candy Mountain
You’ll find sapphires and a palace of sorts tucked into the gentle folding hillsides and valleys of this swath of southwestern Montana.

Missoula and Glacier Country

National Bison Range

National Bison Range

8 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 smokejumpers and a bison habitat. 

Stay Close to Glacier National Park's West Entrance at Pine Lodge
Pine Lodge in Whitefish is known for its family-friendly nature and easy access to Glacier National Park. Located close to downtown with balcony views of the meandering Whitefish river, several rooms offer in-room fireplaces, vaulted ceilings and are pet-friendly.

Glacier National Park

Red Bus Tour in Glacier National Park

Red Bus Tour in Glacier National Park

48 Hours 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.

Mountain Goats at Hidden Lake in Glacier National Park

Mountain goats at Hidden Lake in Glacier National Park

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.

Gracie the ranger dog and her owner Mark Biel

Gracie the bark ranger and her owner Mark Biel

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

Heading Back to Yellowstone

Charles M. Russell (1864-1926) The Jerk Line, 1912, oil on canvas, C.M. Russell Museum Collection, Gift of Fred Birch (cropped)

Charles M. Russell (1864-1926) The Jerk Line, 1912, oil on canvas, C.M. Russell Museum Collection, Gift of Fred Birch (cropped)

Works of Art in Great Falls, Montana, home of C.M. Russell Museum
You’ll find one of the West’s most vibrant storytellers in Great Falls, Mont. with world-class paintings and an artsy river walk.

Yellowstone's Northern Doorstep

Arnold and Artisan Stills at Bozeman Spirits. Photo by Jim Harris

Arnold and Artisan Stills at Bozeman Spirits.

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.

Fishermen in Paradise Valley near Livingston, Mont.

Fishermen in Paradise Valley near Livingston, Mont.

The Quaint Town of Livingston, Montana
On any given day you could run into Earl Craig, Montana’s poet laureate who works as a farrier—someone who shoes horses—when not writing poetry; or John Bailey, the fly-fishing expert who coached Brad Pitt in casting for the movie A River Runs Through It. Here are four places not to miss in town.

End: Yellowstone's North Entrance at Gardiner

Gardiner, Montana

Gardiner, Montana

Insider’s Guide to the Best of Gardiner
Want to experience some of the West’s most spectacular scenery in a town that can feel like a cross between Northern Exposure and Animal Planet, given its wild neighbors living up the street in Yellowstone National Park? Head to Gardiner, Mont. 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.

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