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Bitterroot River

BITTERROOT - BIG HOLE ROUTE

Between the Parks

Bitterroot River46°51'41.8"N 114°7'9.5"W

Total Distance

480 miles

Recommended Length

5 days

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Experiences

History History
Guides and Tours Guides and Tours
Unique Lodging Unique Lodging

Trip Deails

From Ice Age Floods to Lewis and Clark's Corps of Discovery, find history on every bend of this road trip between Glacier National Park and Yellowstone National Park. Cruise down U.S. 93 along the shore of Flathead Lake and the Bitterroot River. This route has some of the best campgrounds in Montana to enjoy a night under the stars.

The Route: West Glacier > U.S. 2/Hwy 206/MT-35 > Bigfork> U.S. 93/1-90 > Missoula > U.S. 93 > Sula > MT-43 > Wisdom > MT-278 > Dillon > MT-41 > Twin Bridges > MT-287 > Ennis > U.S. 287 > West Yellowstone

Total Distance: approximately 480 miles

Note: This route begins with Glacier National Park and ends in Yellowstone National Park, but you can reverse the trip to start in Yellowstone.

DAY 1

LAKE LIFE

Drive along the scenic U.S. 93 following the west shore of Flathead Lake. Take a couple of hours to explore WayfarersYellow Bay or Finely Point State Parks with stunning views of the crystal clear water.

Make a stop at the St. Ignatius Mission on the Flathead Indian Reservation to see original frescos from the 1890s. Take an evening hike on the "M" Trail on Mount Sentinel to see the sunset over the Missoula Valley before turning in for the night.

DAY 2

ANCIENT HISTORY

Stop by the Montana Natural History Museum to get a map of the Ice Age Floods Geologic trail to explore the Glacial Lake of Missoula. For more recent history, head south on U.S. 93 to Travelers® Rest State Park, the only confirmed campsite on Lewis and Clark's Corps of Discovery.  Head west for a relaxing soak at Lolo Hot Springs.

DAY 3

GET WILD

Continue down U.S. 93 along the Bitterroot River. Make a stop at the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge to meet some of Montana's wildest locals. After a day of exploring, spend an evening enjoying the hospitality of the many towns along U.S. 93 from Stevensville to Hamilton to Darby. The charming towns along the Bitterroot River have great craft breweries. If you enjoy camping, spend a night at one of the many scenic campgrounds including Lake Como and Painted Rocks State Park.

DAY 4

ADRENALINE RUSH

For winter enthusiasts, spend the day downhill skiing at Lost
Trail Powder Mountain
or cross-country skling at Chief Joseph
Pass
. After a day of playing in the snow, take a relaxing soak
at Lost Trail Hot Springs. For a little history, head east on MT
43 toward Wisdom and explore the Nez Perce National
Historical Park
. Stop to see the Big Hole National Battlefield or
fish in the blue-ribbon Big Hole River. Camp at Twin Lakes,
Bannack, one of the 50 campgrounds in Beaverhead-
Deerlodge National Forest or spend the evening exploring
Dillon.

DAY 5

KEEP DRIVING

Continue on toward Yellowstone National Park with views of Beaverhead Rock State Park. Stop by Virginia City and Nevada City to get a taste of the frontier life on your way east on MT 287 or for another camping adventure. Continue toward West Yellowstone with views of the Beaverhead, Jefferson, Ruby, and Madison Rivers before entering Yellowstone National Park.

Related Video

Well known for reliable snowfall and consistently good snow conditions, Lost Trail straddles the Montana-Idaho border in the breathtaking Bitterroot Range of the Northern Rockies.