One of the best ways to experience Montana is on a road trip. Enjoy history and the great outdoors. You always feel welcome in the friendly towns and even big cities feel like small towns.
In this Ultimate Guide, we highlight 5 road trips showcasing the best Montana has to offer!
5 Best Road Trips in Montana
- Billings – 3 Days
- Great Falls – 2 Days
- Glacier National Park – 7 Days
- Western Montana – 5 Days
- Montana Ghost Towns – 3 Days
Montana Road Trips Map
Click on any of the road trip destinations to view our detailed article.
Duration: 3 Days
Billings Montana is a great base for both the outdoor enthusiast and the history buff.
Hike the trails of the Rimrocks, the sandstone cliffs around the city of Billings, including the impressive Four Dances Recreation Area.
After spending time in downtown Billings, drive to Pictograph Cave State Park to see ancient cave writing. Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, east of the city, is the site of General Custer’s Last Stand.
Take a scenic drive through the towns at the foothills of Beartooth Mountains. With additional time, drive the Beartooth Highway, that some describe as “the most beautiful drive in America”.
Check out our Billings article for more details on what to do in the area.
Duration: 2 Days
Spend a weekend in Great Falls exploring its famous waterfalls along the Missouri River.
Cycle or hike the 50-mile long River’s Edge Trail which links the 4 waterfalls, 5 dams and many city sights.
At the Lewis and Clark Historic Trail Interpretive Center learn about the expedition and the historical importance of Great Falls.
Be sure to visit the First People’s Buffalo Jump, one of the largest bison jump sites in North America. For more details on what you can see in the city, check out our article Great Falls.
Glacier National Park
Duration: 7 Days
Glacier National Park showcases the best of the Rocky Mountains with rugged mountain peaks, alpine meadows and cold streams of glacier meltwater running into beautiful clear lakes. With its vast natural wonders, this park should be on every traveller’s bucket list.
The popular Going-to-the-Sun Road is a park wonder itself. Crossing the entire length of the park, the drive provides seemingly endless scenic views and pullovers.
To see the real wilderness of the park, go on a hike. The Highline Trail is long, but the views are exceptional. Shorter, but equally rewarding trails include the Hidden Lake Trail and the Avalanche Lake Trail.
See our article Glacier National Park for more details on hiking in the park. There are many hikes of all lengths and difficulties, so plan for a trip of up to one week in this phenomenal park.
Western Montana – 14 Great Places
Duration: 5 Days
Explore Western Montana from Whitefish and Flathead Lake in the north to Earthquake Lake and West Yellowstone in the south.
Visit several beautiful, friendly towns including Livingston, Bozeman and Helena, the capital of Montana.
The National Bison Range is a wildlife refuge and research center. The park’s loop road covers most of the refuge guaranteeing a bison sighting.
Missouri Headwaters State Park is great place to hike and explore. This is the birthplace of the mighty Missouri River as two rivers merge becoming the longest river in the United States. The Lewis & Clark Expedition stopped at this spot.
Check out the article, 14 Great Places to See in Western Montana, for more great places to visit in Western Montana.
Montana Ghost Towns
Duration: 3 Days
Tour 7 unique Montana Ghost Towns on a beautiful drive through the mountains.
The price of gold and silver led to the rapid creation of mining towns in the late 1800s and early 1900s in Montana’s mountains. Unfortunately, once the ore was gone or the cost to mine became too high, the mines closed. The towns were deserted eventually becoming ghost towns.
See ghost towns from the well-preserved, Bannack and Garnet, to towns that are truly ghosts of themselves, such as Coolidge, Granite and Coloma. These have nothing remaining but broken shacks and building skeletons. The trip ends in the modern commercial ‘ghost’ towns of Nevada City and Virginia City.
Check out our article, Montana’s 7 Best Ghost Towns for more details.
Bannack Ghost Town
Bannack Ghost Town has the most well-preserved buildings of all of the Montana ghost towns. This was our favorite town to visit. It is also a state park.
At Bannack, learn about the boom to bust gold mining era, plus the vigilante justice that this town experienced in the 1860’s.
Check out our article Bannack Ghost Town, to take a closer look at the buildings and history of this fascinating ghost town.