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3 Days In Central Montana
Willow Creek
Willow Creek Reservoir

3 Days in Central Montana

Total Distance: approximately 427 miles

Day 1

Helena + Tower Rock State Park + Augusta

Welcome to Montana’s capital city — or “Queen City” — Helena. Begin your day at the Holter Museum of Art, a beloved community gathering place with an impressive collection of historical and contemporary artworks. When it’s time to grab a bite, visit the folks at the Vanilla Bean Bakery & Café, and don’t forget to follow your delicious meal with one of their sweet treats. For some outdoor adventure, make your way to Tower Rock State Park to see the 424-foot-high rock formation that holds historical significance for Native American tribes and was noted by Capt. Meriwether Lewis in his expedition journals. From there, begin your drive to the Rocky Mountain Front to explore Augusta and Choteau. Augusta is our gateway to the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex and is the perfect place to take advantage of Montana’s great outdoors. If you're looking for guided hiking, horseback riding or fishing adventures, there are plenty of guides and outfitters ready to help you experience the best of Montana, like Dropstone Outfitting or Mills Wilderness Adventures. While in Augusta, grab lunch at Lazy B Bar and Café or Allen’s Manix Store, where you’ll also find an array of Made-in-Montana huckleberry items. Don’t miss your chance to visit Latigo & Lace boutique and espresso bar for a warm welcome, a hot cappuccino or a local good — like fine art, hand-crafted jewelry and more. As you make your way to Choteau, keep your eyes peeled for wildlife — elk, deer, grizzly and black bears, wolves or even elusive moose are known to wander these parts. Tuck in for the night at the Stage Stop Inn, and take a dip in the indoor pool.

Tower Rock State Park Main Street, Augusta

Day 2

Choteau + Fort Benton

Fuel up on coffee and breakfast at Copper Creek Coffee in Choteau, and don’t miss our favorite — the frosted cinnamon roll muffins. Take in the seriously scenic views of Glacier National Park on an Elk Calf Trail hiking adventure. If you’ve got kids, the very short (.1-mile) Mills Falls hike offers a quick trek to a waterfall. Just 2 miles west of Choteau lies Egg Mountain — the most significant Cretaceous-period paleontological dig in the world. You can visit the site itself and also learn about Egg Mountain at Choteau’s Old Trail Museum, which is part of the Montana Dinosaur Trail, another fun attraction for kids. From Choteau, make your way to Fort Benton —the birthplace of Montana — stopping along the way to explore the Benton Lake National Wildlife Refuge. Make sure to take the Prairie Marsh Wildlife Drive for scenic views and animal sightings, like deer and pronghorn. You’ll also find a marsh boardwalk and an area for viewing sharp-tailed grouse. From the refuge, drive to the historic town of Fort Benton, which was the last inland port on the Missouri River, and visit the Fort Benton Heritage Complex (including the Museum of the Northern Great Plains) if time allows. Enjoy a hearty meal at The Public House or Union Grille. After dinner, visit the Shep Memorial and learn the heartwarming story of a local sheepherder and his devoted canine friend, and take a peaceful stroll along the Missouri River. Get a good night’s rest at the completely restored Grand Union Hotel, where golden-era glory meets modern lodging.

Willow Creek Reservoir with Egg Mountain Fort Benton Bridge

Day 3

Lewistown + Sluice Boxes State Park

Wake up with breakfast at the Wake Up Coffee House, a local staple and Pie Trail highlight in Fort Benton, and begin your drive to the friendly community of Lewistown, also the geographical center of the state. At the Yogo Inn, there’s a bear statue out front and a center marker on the lobby floor offering a chance to stand in the exact middle of Big Sky Country for the perfect selfie. Explore vibrant downtown Lewistown, and then visit the Central Montana Historical Museum for a glimpse at the area’s history, including collections of homesteader artifacts and the region’s most notorious characters, like acclaimed Western artist and former area resident Charles M. Russell and saddle maker Tom Toomey. Grab a bite at The Mint or from local favorites the Dash Inn (try a Wagonwheel Burger) or Central Feed Grilling Co. For some outdoor adventure, make your way to Sluice Boxes State Park and take a hike along the steep cliffs and rugged terrain of Belt Creek Canyon. Once you’re in White Sulphur Springs (home of the annual Red Ants Pants music festival, held every July), soak up the Montana scene at the local hot springs and enjoy a bite to eat at Bar 47, Jesse Pepper’s Smoke Stack or The Jawbone. If there’s more time in your itinerary, spend the night at The Edith, a unique and recently renovated boutique hotel offering up some of our famous Western hospitality.  

Main Street, Lewistown Red Ant Pants, White Sulphur Springs
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