It’s possible to make this drive from Bozeman to Yellowstone National Park and back in only a day. But why would you want to? Take it slow. Set aside six days to savor the incredible scenery and play—in the snow in winter and on the hiking and biking trails the rest of the year.
The Route: Bozeman > U.S. 191 > West Yellowstone > U.S. 191 > Bozeman
Total Distance: approximately 180 miles
Gateway Airport: Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport, Bozeman
Begin in Bozeman, the adventure capital of the Northern Rockies. In winter, learn to ice climb in Hyalite Canyon or hit the slopes at the laid-back Bridger Bowl. No snow? No problem. Take a guided outdoor rock-climbing trip with Spire Climbing Center. Check out downtown Bozeman for some great dining and lodging options.
Spend the morning viewing the amazing array of paleontology exhibits in the Seibel Dinosaur Complex, located at Bozeman’s Museum of the Rockies. Gear up for the adventures ahead at Schnee’s, makers of handcrafted, rubber sole pac boots designed to handle any Montana weather. Spend another night in Bozeman.
Drive south to Big Sky Resort, an all-season playground with four mountains. If there’s snow, ski, snowboard, sled, snowshoe, or skate. In warmer weather, go ziplining, hike Lone Mountain, jump on the bungee trampoline, or scale the climbing wall. Spend your night with views of Lone Mountain by staying in Big Sky.
Make West Yellowstone your base for any adventure in and around Yellowstone National Park. See wildlife at the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center. Hike and bike. Go fly-fishing in a blue-ribbon trout stream. Mid-December through mid-March take a snow coach to the Old Faithful area.
Spend another day in West Yellowstone or the national park. Or, head back to Big Sky Resort to try activities—including dog sledding in winter and the high ropes course in summer—that you couldn’t fit in earlier.
Back in Bozeman, browse the historic downtown shops and shop for original pieces at the Emerson Center for the Arts and Culture. From Christmas Day through the end of February, rent skates and glide across the ice at one of the city’s free outdoor rinks. Spend your last night in Bozeman.
This route was published in National Geographic Traveler magazine. To see more about this route—including interactive maps and additional photos—visit nationalgeographic.com/montana/roadtrips.