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4 Days In Northwest Montana

4 Days in Northwest Montana

Total Distance: approximately 414 miles

Day 1

Libby + Bigfork

The friendly town of Libby, situated in the Kootenai National Forest at the base of the beautiful Cabinet Mountains, is the perfect place to begin your getaway. Take an exhilarating walk across the Kootenai Falls Swinging Bridge and capture the moment with a photo to remember. From there, visit Libby Dam and marvel at this powerful 422-foot-tall structure as it holds back 90 miles of water in Lake Koocanusa. You could also take a “walk among giants” at Ross Creek Cedar Grove Scenic Area, where 1,000-year-old cedar trees reach up to 8 feet in diameter. If golf is more your speed, make your way to Cabinet View Golf Club, where you’ll likely spot deer, elk and moose while you’re on the greens. Dive into the town's mining and logging history at the Heritage Museum and rub elbows with the locals during lunch at Cabinet Mountain Brewing Co., known as "Libby’s Living Room." Bigfork, located on the shores of Flathead Lake and voted “One of the Best Small Art Towns in the West,” is the perfect spot to stop and stay awhile. Wander Electric Avenue, lined with lively art galleries and boutiques, and enjoy a delicious meal at Flathead Lake Brewing Co. or Montana Bonfire. After dinner, stroll along the Bigfork River and soak in the mesmerizing views of the lake. Settle in for the night at Bridge Street Cottages or Mountain Lake Lodge. Trip tip: If time allows, catch a live performance at the renowned Bigfork Summer Playhouse.

 

Family hiking Ross Creek Main Street Bigfork

day 2

Bigfork + Seeley Lake

Wake up in Bigfork with a delicious breakfast from Pocketstone Café, a beloved local spot with equally delicious cappuccinos. Set out on a scenic drive south along Western Montana’s Seeley Swan Corridor, situated between the towering peaks of the Mission Mountains and the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex — the third-largest wilderness area in the lower 48 states. Ferndale serves as the gateway to Jewel Basin hiking, while Holland Lake, midway between Swan and Seeley lakes, offers stunning views and an incredibly scenic hike to Holland Lake Falls. For a wildly fun day in Montana’s great outdoors, book a llama trekking adventure with Swan Mountain Llama Trekking, or enjoy a peaceful float along the Clearwater River Canoe Trail. Seeley Lake also has a championship golf course, for those of you who are interested in teeing up against a backdrop of Montana’s unparalleled natural scenery. Close out a day well spent with dinner and an unforgettable Western stay at Rich’s Montana Guest Ranch, Tamaracks Resort or Double Arrow Lodge.

hiking Holland Lake Falls family paddling the Clearwater Canoe Trail

Day 3

Lincoln + Rocky Mountain Front (Augusta + Choteau)

Savor breakfast in Seeley Lake before venturing to historic Lincoln, in the heart of the Blackfoot Valley. Consider a stop along the way at Garnet Ghost Town, Montana’s best-preserved abandoned mining town. Stroll Garnet’s "Main Street,” where you’ll discover the remains of a hotel, general store, saloon and post office. There are also numerous hiking trails at Garnet if you want to stretch your legs for a bit. In Lincoln, immerse yourself in the captivating, large-scale outdoor sculptures of Blackfoot Pathways: Sculpture in the Wild, which nods to the region's rich environmental and industrial heritage. Make sure to stop at the Lincoln Ranger District Visitor Center to lay eyes on the taxidermy display of one of Montana's largest grizzly bears (weighing in at 830 pounds). Venture onward to the Rocky Mountain Front, where endless recreation opportunities await in Augusta and Choteau. Grab lunch in Augusta at Lazy B Bar and Café or Allen’s Manix Store, where you’ll find Made in Montana huckleberry products, and explore Latigo & Lace, a locally loved boutique and espresso bar peddling delicious lattes, fine art, jewelry and more. In Choteau, keep watch for wildlife, like pronghorn and deer, and explore the wonders of Egg Mountain, a pivotal paleontological site featured at Choteau’s Old Trail Museum, part of the Montana Dinosaur Trail. Retreat to the Stage Stop Inn for a cozy overnight stay after a meal at the Log Cabin Café.

Sculpture in the Wild, Lincoln Main Street Augusta

Day 4

East Glacier Park + Browning + The Blackfeet Nation

A hearty breakfast awaits at Copper Creek Coffee, including one of our favorite treats: frosted cinnamon roll muffins. Or, if you’re visiting between Wednesday and Friday, stop by Bylers Bakery for fresh doughnuts and baked goods before the drive to Browning, home to the largest tribe in Montana: the Blackfeet Nation. Immerse yourself in the rich culture of the Blackfeet as you explore museums, shops, galleries and vibrant annual celebrations that honor their heritage; plan your visit around a Blackfeet event, like North American Indian Days, Heart Butte Indian Days or the Ponokamiitaa Relay races, and witness firsthand the tribe's enduring traditions and way of life. Don’t miss the chance to visit Faught’s Blackfeet Trading Post, explore art at Lodgepole Gallery and delve into fascinating exhibits at the Museum of the Plains Indian. Enjoy food and drinks at Glacier Park Lodge, Stage Coach Pizza or Serrano’s Mexican Restaurant in East Glacier Park Village. Take the scenic drive to St. Mary on state Route 49 through aspen and maple groves with incredible views, then drive west on U.S. Highway 89 and treat yourself to a fresh huckleberry milkshake at the C-Store. For a family-friendly sit-down for a made-from-scratch meal, make your way to Johnson’s of St. Mary. If you’re looking for outdoor adventures in this area, check out the tour offerings from Sun Tours, LLC, Iron Shield Creative, LLC, Blackfeet Outfitters or Backpacker’s Ferry. An enriching and memorable experience in the heart of Blackfeet Country is the perfect way to close out your Montana getaway.

 

Option: Continue east on Montana’s Hi-Line (U.S. Highway 2) toward Havre or south on Interstate 15 to Great Falls — both of these small towns are well worth a stop and a stay.

East Glacier Lodging Ponokamiitaa Relay races