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

Glacier National Park + Flathead Lake + Southwest Montana + Yellowstone National Park + Beartooth Highway

Glacier Country


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. (Please note that vehicle reservations are required for the Going-to-the-Sun Road from May to September.) 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.

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Find more information about Going-to-the-Sun Road vehicle reservations here

Glacier Country

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, where you can check out 70 vintage motorcycles at the Miracle of America Museum and take a break at the local brewery. 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 Islander Inn 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.

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Glacier Country

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 ales at KettleHouse Brewing Company and plenty to eat at The Mustard Seed. Overnight at the C'mon Inn or Airport Wingate by Wyndham, 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.

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Southwest Montana


137 Miles

From Missoula, head east on I-90 to Drummond. From there, pick up the 64-mile Pintler Veterans Memorial Scenic Highway to Anaconda. On the way, check out what’s on tap at Philipsburg Brewing and then grab lunch at The Lakehouse, just after Georgetown Lake. Take an optional side trip from Anaconda to Deer Lodge to tour the Old Montana Prison and Auto Museum and/or the Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site. From Anaconda, (look for the smokestack), take I-90 to I-15 to Butte, and old mining town home to one of the nation’s largest National Historic Landmark Districts with a wealth of turn of the 20th century architecture, most of which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Grab a drink at the M&M Bar & Café and then head to Butte Brewing Company for pizza and beer. Overnight in Butte at the Finlen Hotel and Motor Inn, The Miner’s Hotel or Holiday Inn Express & Suites.

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Southwest Montana


118 Miles

From Butte, head south on I-15 and west on MT-43 to drive the 49-mile Pioneer Mountains Scenic Byway toward Dillon. Before you begin your drive on the scenic byway, stop at the Wise River Club in Wise River. From there, make your way to Crystal Park and dig for crystals, like quartz and amethyst. If your bike is equipped for dirt, detour 5 miles to Coolidge Ghost Town. Continue on to Bannack, pickup up MT-278, and explore the site of Montana’s first gold discovery, now an abandoned mining town with more than 60 historic buildings. From Bannack, head to Dillon via MT-278 east to Dillon. From there, head on over to the Beaverhead Brewing Company for some local Montana brew before dinner at Sparky’s Garage. Overnight in Dillon at The Andrus Hotel, Best Western Paradise Inn or Sundowner Motel.

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Southwest Montana


89 Miles

On your way out of Dillon via MT-41, stop at Clark’s Lookout State Park for gorgeous views of the Beaverhead Valley and then stop for a selfie at Beaverhead Rock State Park. In Twin Bridges, head to The Old Hotel for lunch, a walk-up eatery with Hawaiian inspired fare. From there, get on US-287 heading south and make your way to the ghost towns of Virginia City and Nevada City along Alder Gulch, site of the richest placer gold strike in the Rockies. Travel on to Ennis and Norris via US-287, and then take MT-84 east to Bozeman. You'll find multiple bars, breweries and restaurants in Bozeman, and a vibrant nightlife, plus multiple choices for an overnight.

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Yellowstone Country

Day 7: 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. 

Take an optional side trip to Earthquake Lake (17 miles west of I-191 on I-287) before you get to West Yellowstone.

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Yellowstone Country

Day 8: 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.

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Yellowstone Country

Day 9: Beartooth Highway (seasonal): Cooke City-Silver Gate + Red Lodge

68 Miles

End your park-to-park adventure on one of the most beautiful drives 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.

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This Google map will automatically reroute when Going-to-the-Sun Road or Beartooth Highway is closed.

This highlighted route shows the Going-to-the-Sun Road portion of the itinerary when the road is open.

This highlighted route shows the Beartooth Highway portion of the itinerary when the road is open.

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.

Know before you go.

Check the status of your destination before arriving.

Plan ahead.

Make reservations in advance and pack essentials like water.

Play it safe.

Take it slow and choose low-risk activities.

Be wildlife wise.

Learn wildlife safety. View from a safe distance, never approach or feed, and carry bear spray.

Explore locally.

Be mindful of your impact on communities.

Leave no trace.

Take your trash, including fruit rinds, with you and clean up properly.

Build an inclusive outdoors.

Make outdoor spaces safe and welcoming for all.

Prevent aquatic invasive species.

Follow the steps Clean. Drain. Dry. and pull over for inspections.

Practice avalanche safety.

Check avalanche forecasts, carry gear and know your snow.

Prevent wildland fires.

Properly use outdoor equipment, learn campfire safety and check fire restrictions.

Recreate Responsibly