Beartooth Highway, section of U.S route 212 between Montana and Wyoming.

9 Most Scenic Road Trips to Take in Montana

Montana is known as both “The Treasure State” for its rich minerals and “Big Sky Country” for its vast and expansive landscapes. For those looking to view the state’s various terrain and natural beauty, a road trip is one of the best ways to do so! Montana's scenic road trips offer breathtaking views, engaging experiences, and routes that cross North America’s Continental Divide

From the iconic Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park to the awe-inspiring Beartooth Highway near Yellowstone National Park, there are several roads in Montana where motorists can experience the state’s untouched wilderness. These routes allow visitors to travel the entire width of the state while exploring Montana’s lush forests, pristine lakes, and majestic mountains. For those looking to experience the beauty of Montana, here are the nine most scenic road trips to take in the western state.

Going-to-the-Sun Road

A Spring evening view of an east section of Going To The Sun Road at Saint Mary Lake
A spring evening view of an east section of Going To The Sun Road at Saint Mary Lake.

Going-to-the-Sun Road is one of Montana’s best-known scenic road trips, and for good reason. The 50-mile stretch in Glacier National Park offers breathtaking views of rugged mountains, glacial lakes, and untouched wilderness. A non-stop drive takes just two hours, but there are plenty of stops to make along the road. Visitors can witness Jackson Glacier Overlook from the road between Logan Pass and St. Mary. There are also plenty of food and lodging options, as well as five campgrounds off the road for those who want to extend their trip!

When driving on the scenic route, keep an eye out for grizzly bears, mountain goats, and bighorn sheep. Going-to-the-Sun Road is typically open from May through the third Monday of October, but parts of the road could be closed due to weather.

Beartooth Highway

Beartooth Highway, section of U.S route 212 between Montana and Wyoming
Beartooth Highway, a section of U.S. Route 212 between Montana and Wyoming

Nestled along the Wyoming state border is Beartooth Highway, a spectacular 69-mile route on U.S. Route 212. The highway is known as one of the most scenic routes to Yellowstone National Park. Due to the highway ascending to 10,947 feet above sea level, one of the incredible vista views is known as the "Top of the World.” Due to its elevation, the road is typically open from the Friday of Memorial Day weekend through mid-October, depending on the weather.

The drive allows travelers to view incredible lodgepole pine forests, glacial cirques, and alpine lakes. The rugged terrain is home to diverse wildlife, including grizzly and black bears, elk, deer, moose, bighorn sheep, Rocky Mountain goats, mountain lions, and bobcats.

The Montana Hi-Line

Highway 2 in autumn, Montana
Highway 2, Montana in autumn.

The Montana Hi-Line is an incredible journey along U.S. Highway 2. The highway spans 666.6 miles from the border of Idaho through Montana to the border of North Dakota. Along the route, there are many small towns to explore, railroad cars to view, and rolling prairies as far as the eye can see. There are also many outdoor attractions to stop at along the way. Travelers can fish at McGregor Lake, view the picturesque Kootenai National Forest, and take a float trip along the Missouri River.

Bitterroot Valley Scenic Drive

Western Montana, Bitterroot Mountain Sunset view from road
Western Montana, Bitterroot Mountain Sunset view from the road.

One of the best ways to see the incredible Bitterroot Valley in Montana is by taking a scenic drive on U.S. Highway 93. From the small town of Florence at the northern tip of the valley to Sula in the south, the roughly 60-mile stretch of road takes about 1.5 hours to complete without stopping.

The drive includes views of the breathtaking Bitterroot National Forest, Bitterroot Mountains, and Sapphire Mountains. This picturesque valley includes large plains filled with historic towns, such as Darby, where motorists can enjoy a bite to eat at a local restaurant or fish in the Bitterroot River. Along the way, be sure to visit Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge to see more than forty mammals, including white-tailed deer, muskrats, and American beavers.

The Missouri Breaks Backcountry Byway

Cottonwood trees changing color in the Upper Missouri Breaks National Monument.
Cottonwood trees changing color in the Upper Missouri Breaks National Monument. Image credit BackEastCreative via Shutterstock.

The 80-mile Missouri Breaks Backcountry Byway travels across the awe-inspiring uplands to the south of the Missouri River and southwest of the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge. Beginning in the small town of Winnifred, this scenic route is perfect for adventure-seekers, since a four-wheel drive vehicle is recommended on this unpaved road. The drive takes approximately two to three hours but is not possible during wet conditions.

This area of Montana was part of the Lewis and Clark Expedition in the early 1800s and was described by the men as “The Deserts of America.” The road follows the Upper Missouri National Wild & Scenic River, where float trips, boating, and fishing are popular. Traveling on the Byway is a journey filled with history and adventure, as it also follows part of the Nez Perce National Historic Trail.

Pioneer Mountains Scenic Byway

Secluded Pioneer Mountains Byway south of Wise River, Montana
Secluded Pioneer Mountains Byway south of Wise River, Montana.

Situated in the Pioneer Mountain Range is the Pioneer Mountains Scenic Byway, a stunning 49-mile route. The 1.5-hour drive begins at the town of Wise River along Montana State Highway 43, and then travels south along Forest Service Highway 73 to County Highway 278. The road winds through the beautiful Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, with granite peaks that reach more than 10,000 feet, incredible meadows, and lodgepole pine forests. The road itself peaks at the 7,800-foot divide between Wise River and Grasshopper Creek, where travelers witness the untamed beauty of Montana's wilderness.

Although the road is closed from December 1 through May 15, outdoor adventurers can still travel the Byway by snowmobile! During the winter months, the route becomes a National Recreation Snowmobile Trail, providing snowmobiling and cross-country skiing to winter sports enthusiasts.

Madison Valley Scenic Drive

Earthquake Lake in Montana, summer scene with the highway in view
Earthquake Lake in Montana with the highway in view.

The Madison Valley Scenic Drive is a stunning 90-mile journey through the southwestern Montana landscape on U.S. Highway 287. The 1.5-hour trip begins at Earthquake Lake, northwest of West Yellowstone, and ends north at Three Forks, where the Missouri River begins. The beautiful route includes stunning nature views as it follows the Madison River. Motorists enjoy stopping at the old western town of Ennis for a bite to eat and a chance for some of the best fly fishing in the state. 

The Blackfoot River Valley Scenic Drive

Continental Divide in Yellowstone National Park
Continental Divide in Yellowstone National Park.

Located along U.S. Highway 200 is the Blackfoot River Valley Scenic Drive, a 96-mile trip that takes about 1.5 hours to complete. Beginning along the Continental Divide at Roger’s Pass, the incredible route takes motorists just east of Missoula to the confluence of the Clark River and Blackfoot River. The drive includes views of majestic mountains, steep canyon cliffs, and old mining towns. Along the way, outdoor enthusiasts enjoy fishing and whitewater rafting in the Blackfoot River. 

Flathead Lake Loop

A scenic view of Flathead Lake from Polson, MT.
A scenic view of Flathead Lake from Polson, MT. 

The two-hour drive around Flathead Lake provides motorists with a picturesque journey of diverse landscapes. The Flathead Lake Loop begins by going south on U.S. Highway 93 to Montana Highway 35 East, and then U.S. Highway 82 West, which connects to US-93. The scenic road trip passes through charming small towns, such as Somers, where visitors can stop and take a unique ride on the Flathead Lake Alpine Coaster.

The terrain along the Flathead Lake Loop varies greatly. Motorists can view the Flathead National Forest and fruit orchards on the eastern side of the lake, Blacktail Mountain to the west, and the Flathead Indian Reservation along the southern area of the lake. When taking the loop at sunset, be sure to pull over at one of the scenic overlooks to enjoy the vibrant colors.

The Road Less Traveled...

The expansive state of Montana offers incredible adventures and views along its scenic roads. For those looking to hit the road and see what Montana has to offer, these road trips provide some of the best paths through “Big Sky Country.” For those wanting to experience the beauty of granite peaks in the Pioneer Mountains, explore endless prairies on the Montana Hi-Line, or take the road less traveled along the Missouri Breaks Backcountry Byway, Montana offers incredible nature views, charming towns, and outdoor adventures for everyone.


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