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5 Days in Eastern Montana
Cap Trail, Makoshika STate Park
46.5895424,-112.0272384

5-Days in Eastern Montana

Total Distance: approximately 687 miles

Day 1:

Lewistown to Zortman

Welcome to Lewistown, Montana; the geographical center of the state, marked by a mosaic inside the lobby of the Yogo Inn and a perfect selfie spot. If you’re up for a hike, the Lewistown Recreational Trails System offers 24 miles through downtown, past restored streams and by neighborhoods, all waiting to be explored. Catch the trailhead behind the Yogo Inn at Main Street and start walking south toward Frank Day Park and the Brewery Flats recreation area. Keep your eyes peeled for waterfowl and beavers along Big Spring Creek. While you’re downtown, stop at the Montana Tavern for a drink. They have a window in the floor with a view of the creek below. The Central Montana Historical Museum will give you a glimpse into the area’s history, including former area resident and celebrated Western artist, Charles M. Russell. Grab a bite at The Mint or try a Wagon Wheel Burger at local favorite, the Dash Inn. For a twist on local classics and a solid Monday trivia night, check out the new Central Feed Grilling Co. — we love the steaks. Drive about an hour and a half north through the Little Rocky Mountains, where you’ll find scenic Zortman. Stop at Lookout Cave to witness the largest grouping of preserved pictographs in the state. Zortman was a booming gold mining town, peaking in 1884, and although the mines are no longer operational, the wonderful proprietors at the Zortman Motel & Garage can direct you to the creeks around town where you can try your luck panning for gold. Continue your journey to Hays, located on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation, and visit Mission Canyon/Natural Bridge and St. Paul’s Mission Church. If you’re visiting in August, make sure to attend the annual Hays Powwow to experience the rich culture and history of the Assiniboine and Gros Ventre tribes. Continue on to Havre for a delicious dinner at Bow & Marrow before calling it a night.

Mission Canyon Fort Belknap Powwow

Day 2:

Havre + Malta

Wake up with a pastry and coffee in Havre at 5th Ave Grind, and then set out to explore the town, known for its historic buildings and diverse arts scene. Don’t miss the opportunity to wander back in time with the Havre Beneath the Streets Underground City Tour. Visit the H. Earl Clack Memorial Museum, peek into Havre’s unique shops and restaurants, or venture into the local craft brewery, Triple Dog Brewing Co., or distillery, Crawford Distillery. While in the area, make it a point to see the Wahkpa Chu'gn Buffalo Jump, a prehistoric buffalo jump dating back 2,000 years where you’ll see the remains of a bison corral structure incorporating bison skulls and a roasting pit with bone depths of up to 20 feet. From there, drive to Malta, home to two stops on the Montana Dinosaur Trail. Visit the Phillips County Museum’s exhibits on local history and culture before settling in for a soak at Sleeping Buffalo Hot Springs, located in Saco. Saddle up for some Montana beef at the Stockman Bar & Grill in Malta and spend the night at the Great Northern Hotel. You can also book a stay on-site at the Sleeping Buffalo Hot Springs in a cozy cabin, where you can stargaze while soaking in the relaxing, geothermal waters of the natural hot springs.

Wahkpa Chu'gn Buffalo Jump Sleeping Buffalo Hot Springs

Day 3:

Fort Peck

Grab breakfast in the Malta area and then continue your journey to Fort Peck, home to the massive Fort Peck Dam, one of FDR’s New Deal projects. Take a tour of the dam and catch scenic views of Fort Peck Lake. Spend the day on the water fishing or boating or enjoy hiking and wildlife watching in the rolling hills. Other Fort Peck attractions include the Fort Peck Interpretive Center, Fort Peck Dam & Powerplant Museum and the Milk River Observation Site. Grab lunch at Fort Peck Marina or the Paradise Point Marina & RV Resort. Come evening, catch a performance at the Fort Peck Theatre and enjoy dinner and an overnight stay at The Historic Fort Peck Hotel. Before you turn in for the night, make sure to step outside for some stargazing above the lake.

Fishing on Fort Peck Camping at Fort Peck

Day 4:

Hell Creek State Park + Miles City

From Fort Peck, travel to remote Hell Creek State Park for hiking, fishing and wildlife watching. Explore the park's rugged terrain and serpentine shoreline, and consider taking a boat tour of Fort Peck Lake to learn about its history and ecology. Camp at Hell Creek State Park, or make your way to Miles City, known as the "Cowboy Capital of the World." Grab dinner and a hearty helping of Western hospitality at the Black Iron Grill, then head over to The Historic Montana Bar — one of Big Sky Country’s most storied and best-preserved watering holes. Tuck in for the night at the Miles City Hotel & Suites or downtown at the Historic Olive Hotel. 

camping at Hell Creek Miles City Rodeo

Day 5:

Miles City+ Makoshika State Park

Fuel up on breakfast in Miles City at Cafe 600 — an “eatery meets antiques and cool finds” experience where you could easily spend the whole morning. From there, explore downtown Main Street, lined with historic buildings, shops and galleries. Visit the Range Riders Museum to delve into the area's cowboy heritage. Depending on your timing, try to catch a local rodeo at the Eastern Montana Fairgrounds or the famous Bucking Horse Sale. From Miles City, make your way to fascinating Makoshika State Park, Montana's largest state park, known for its badlands formations, including caprocks, land bridges and fossils. Explore the park's hiking trails and scenic overlooks and stay for their Night Sky Program or another educational event hosted by the park’s staff. In Glendive, visit the Frontier Gateway Museum and discover more about the pioneers’ history on the northern plains.

Bucking Horse Sale, Miles City Badlands at Makoshika State Park