7-Day Motorcycle Montana: The Glaciers-to-Geysers Tour

Glacier National Park > Flathead Lake > Yellowstone National Park > Beartooth Highway

Glacier Country

Day 1: Browning/St. Mary > Glacier National Park/Going-to-the-Sun Road > Columbia Falls

67 Miles

Tour the Crown of the Continent by way of one of the most scenic rides in America. Pick up the Going-to-the-Sun Road, a National Historic Landmark and engineering marvel, in St. Mary and ride 50 miles of stunning scenery. Crest the Continental Divide at Logan Pass where you’ll spot mountain goats, and pass the Weeping Wall, multiple cascading waterfalls, Avalanche Creek + Trail of the Cedars, McDonald Falls + Lake McDonald and the Apgar Visitor Center + West Glacier. Plan on at least three hours to cross the park. From West Glacier, make your way to Columbia Falls via U.S. Highway 2 west. Right outside the park, Columbia Falls offers amazing views plus local beer and cozy lodging. See what’s on tap at Backslope Brewing, and overnight at Reclusive Moose Cabins, North Forty Resort or Cedar Creek Lodge.

For general park information, visit:

For more information on the Going-to-the-Sun Road, including opening and closing dates, visit:

For Columbia Falls area info, visit:

Day 2: Bigfork > Flathead Lake Loop

113 Miles

From Columbia Falls, make your way down to Bigfork, Western Montana’s quintessential storybook village in the northeast corner of Flathead Lake—the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi. From Bigfork, begin your lake loop on the leisurely scenic route (MT-35) down the east side of the lake to Polson, with lunch options including East Shore Smoke House, Finley Point Grille and Mrs. Wonderful’s Café. From there, make your way up the west side of the lake on U.S. Highway 93 back to Bigfork. There are numerous recreation and fishing access sites along the lake’s 185 miles of shoreline and multiple state park units within Flathead Lake State Park including Big Arm State Park, West Shore State Park, Wayfarers State Park and the lake’s largest island, Wild Horse Island State Park—a day-use state park that is home to wild horses (hence the name), bighorn sheep, coyotes and deer. From mid to late summer fruit stands dot the roadside, offering Montana’s famous Flathead cherries. Overnight options in Bigfork include Marina Cay Resort and Bigfork Mountain Lake Lodge. Stop by Whistling Andy Distillery for whiskey made from glacial waters or Flathead Lake Brewing Co. for locally crafted beer and a noteworthy food menu.  

For Kalispell area info, visit:

For Bigfork area info, visit:

For Flathead Lake information, visit:

Day 3: Seeley-Swan Scenic Drive > Blackfoot River Route > Missoula + Bitterroot Valley

126 – 174 Miles

From Bigfork, take State Highway 209 west to State Highway 83 south to pick up the Seeley-Swan Scenic Drive, passing through Swan Lake and Seeley Lake and countless scenic lakes between. The Seeley-Swan is a premier Glacier Country recreation destination and the mountainous and lush forested landscape is breathtaking. In the charming little resort town of Seeley Lake you’ll find great restaurants and locally owned shops. At the junction of MT-83 and State Highway 200, head west toward Missoula on the Blackfoot River Route. Made famous by Norman Maclean’s “A River Runs Through It,” the beautiful Blackfoot River runs along this scenic corridor offering plenty of incredible vistas. This is one of the most popular stretches of the Blackfoot to fish and float. Missoula is Montana’s cultural hub located at the convergence of three rivers and seven wilderness areas. You’ll find plenty to explore here. Lodging and dining options abound here, and the entertainment and nightlife are some of Montana’s finest. Find local vibes and plenty to eat and drink at KettleHouse Brewing Company or The Top Hat. Overnight at the C’mon Inn or Gibson Mansion Bed and Breakfast, or choose from multiple hotels. Area attractions include Historical Museum at Fort Missoula,Missoula Smokejumper Visitor Center and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. Optional: Add another 50 miles to your day with scenic drive from Missoula down the Bitterroot Valley. From Missoula, take US-93 south. The Bitterroot is flanked by the rolling Sapphire Mountains and the jagged Bitterroot Range. This scenic valley boasts western charm along the banks of the winding Bitterroot River. You’ll find multiple breweries, cideries, coffeehouses, dining, lodging and local shopping in the vibrant communities that line the valley: Lolo, Florence, Stevensville, Victor, Corvallis, and Hamilton.

For Missoula area info, visit:

Day 4: Missoula > Bozeman/Livingston > Paradise Valley Scenic Route

340 Miles

Missoula to Bozeman is an easy 202-mile ride on I-90 heading east and takes about three hours. Grab lunch in Bozeman and then drive another 25 miles to Livingston, where you’ll pick up U.S. Highway 89 south to begin the breathtaking 113-mile Paradise Valley Scenic Loop along the Yellowstone River. Stop at Mallard’s Rest Fishing Access Site (13 miles south of Livingston at mile marker 42) where you’ll find the ultimate in Montana views. Once you make it to Gardiner, take US-89 back up north until you reach State Highway 540, which puts you on the opposite side of the Yellowstone for most of the rest of the ride back to Livingston, where you’ll pick up I-90 west back to Bozeman. You’ll find multiple bars, breweries and restaurants in Bozeman, and a vibrant nightlife, plus multiple choices for an overnight. Optional: When you reach Gardiner, consider driving 5.8 miles farther south to Mammoth Hot Springs (inside Yellowstone National Park) to see the famous steaming hot springs terraces. It’s well worth it.

For Missoula area info, visit:

For Bozeman area info, visit:

For more information about the Yellowstone Country communities on this route, places to eat and drink, and places to stay, visit:

Day 5: Gallatin Canyon: Bozeman > Big Sky > West Yellowstone

95 Miles

From Bozeman, make your way to the west entrance of Yellowstone National Park by way of the beautiful Gallatin Canyon. U.S. Highway 191 south from Bozeman to Big Sky (with scenic views of Lone Peak) is 44 miles, and Big Sky to West Yellowstone is 51 miles. This narrow canyon follows the Gallatin River where many of the fishing scenes from “A River Runs Through It” were filmed. West Yellowstone is an all-American gateway community bustling with places to stay (from ranches and lodges to hotels and motels) and dining options from gourmet to laid-back. 

For more information about the communities on this route, places to eat and drink, and places to stay, visit:

Day 6: Yellowstone National Park: West Yellowstone > Cooke City

95 Miles

This is your day to explore America’s first national park. The fascinating landscape of geothermal features like geysers, hot springs and mud pots makes this a bucket list ride for many motorcyclists. From West Yellowstone you’ll head into Yellowstone National Park on US-191 south to US-89 north (30 miles total) to the junction of Grand Loop Road where you’ll reach the unique, rainbow-colored Norris Geyser Basin. Take Grand Loop Road 13 miles to Canyon Village to witness Yellowstone’s Grand Canyon. Ride 19 more miles on Grand Loop Road, where you’ll pass Tower Falls and the Calcite Springs Overlook, landing at Tower Junction and picking up U.S. Highway 212 east for 33 miles through the wildlife-filled Lamar Valley and the Lamar Buffalo Ranch to Cooke City (make sure to visit the General Store) and Silver Gate (don’t miss the Stop the Car Trading Post) just 5 miles outside the park.

For more information about the communities on this route, places to eat and drink, and places to stay, visit:

Day 7: Beartooth Highway (seasonal): Cooke City-Silver Gate > Red Lodge

68 Miles

End your park-to-park adventure on what’s been called the most beautiful drive in the country—the Beartooth Highway. This National Scenic Byways All-American Road (US-212) boasts spellbinding switchbacks through the Absaroka and Beartooth mountain ranges. You’ll find numerous scenic pull-outs and views of 20 peaks towering over 12,000 feet. Pull over and explore alpine plateaus, glacial lakes, lush forested valleys and pristine waterfalls, and climb Beartooth Pass at 10,947 feet—which is the highest drivable point in the state. Thirty miles from Red Lodge you’ll reach the “Top of the World” where you can stop to take a breather and fuel up. Once you Reach Red Lodge, you’re in for the perfect end to a perfect day—this idyllic small town is the epitome of authentic Montana. You’ll find a local brewery, a cider mill, and multiple options for food and lodging to celebrate the finish of a once in a lifetime ride.

For more information about the communities on this route, places to eat and drink, and places to stay, visit:

Trip Tips

Always check road reports and weather conditions when traveling through Montana, especially on seasonal roads like the Going-to-the-Sun Road and the Beartooth Highway.

It can get a little (or a lot) chilly at high elevations, even in the summer. Dress accordingly and always check the weather before you ride, especially in the spring and fall when the weather can change at the drop of a hat

Plan your route in terms of where to fuel up, and note that cell service can be spotty (or nonexistent) at times.