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.
Start: 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Missoula and Glacier Country
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.