Touring The Byway
50 Miles | 4 Days / 3 Nights | Gateway City: Missoula, Montana
We recommend starting your journey in Missoula, where you can explore the downtown on a historic walking tour and visit the Montana Natural History Center, the Montana Museum of Art and Culture, and the Historical Museum at Fort Missoula, before taking the Riverfront Walking Trail and spending the night at the Blue Mountain Bed and Breakfast.
From there, you’ll be taking Interstate 90 to the St. Regis exit, unless you want to wander the Clark Fork Scenic Drive from Alberton up to St. Regis. Either route will ultimately put you on the St. Regis-Paradise Scenic Byway, one of the bonus beauties of this trip. You’ll continue on Montana 135 until you reach the Koo-Koo-Sint Bighorn Sheep Viewing Site eight miles east of Thompson Falls. A highway pullout provides information about the sheep. Weighing up to 300 pounds, they charge their rivals at 20 miles per hour and butt heads in a struggle for herd dominance. This violent sport can be heard miles away. As you pass through Thompson Falls, you’ll see the Thompson Falls High Bridge just south of the intersection of Gallatin and Preston Avenue. Built in 1911, the bridge offers a stunning view of the dam, fish ladder, and nesting osprey, and a beautiful vista of the Clark Fork River. Here you can also visit the Old Jail Museum.
View the Detailed Itinerary below to see the full route, which is complete with dining, shopping, and lodging recommendations!
Glacier National Park is a stunningly beautiful, ice-carved terrain of serrated ridges, jutting peaks, dramatic hanging valleys, 50 glaciers, more than 200 lakes and waterfalls, and some 1.2 million acres of forest. Some call it the Crown of the Continent and few know that it backs up to the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park across the Canadian border. In frontier days, visitors to the remote mountain valleys were likely to be horse-mounted hunters seeking hides and heads as trophies. Today’s visitors are photographers, hikers, birders and scenic drive lovers. The Park is big, wild, majestic, awesome and spectacular – and when their open mouths begin working again, visitors seeing it for the first time say something profound, like “wow.” A portion have returned with their work, urban tastes and expectations, and settled in, working to sustain and save working ranches, clear streams, and free ranging wildlife from the intrusions of modern life.
Visitors to Ross Creek often say the ancient forest growing in Montana since before Columbus set foot in America, rival the giant sequoias of northern California. Loggers who cut trees in the area were the first to protect the trees before a protected area was established in 1960. A nature trail follows the banks of Ross Creek, some of which is hidden beneath the rocky stream bed. The turnoff for the grove from Montana Highway 56 is about a half mile past the southern end of Bull Lake. A scenic pull off about two miles north on 56 offers a scenic view of the Cabinet Mountains and the roar of Ross Creek Falls.
Get ready for the drive of a lifetime! One of the most scenic 50 miles in the world, this is a truly inspiring journey. Shining, glaciated peaks, plunging valleys, and turquoise blue lakes were carved by ice and slow-moving glaciers that still quietly creep across a vast wilderness. Piercing the landscape through the heart of Glacier National Park, it crosses the Continental Divide over Logan Pass at 6,646 feet. The 52-mile drive, was literally carved out of the precipitous mountainside for 12 miles of its length, where the cliffs drop hundreds of feet from the roadside. You’ll pass through lush forests of spruce, lodgepole pine, cedar, hemlock and subalpine fir. Turnouts allow you to relish vistas of glacier-sculpted mountains and glimpse wildlife. The Garden Wall features amazing waterfalls, especially in late spring when the snow is melting. A long section of rock wall adjacent to the road covered by running water, called the Weeping Wall, is one of the more unusual.
The residence of Charles Conrad sits proudly on three landscaped acres atop a bluff overlooking the valley. The shingle-style Norman building, a revivalist version of vernacular architecture in Normandy, France, is surrounded by large ever-blooming flower beds that provide constant color during the summer season, plus hedges, evergreens, and lawns.
Located on the University of Montana campus, this museum now has 11,000 pieces including work by Rocky Mountain artists, historic European works, and collections from Southeast Asia, American Impressionists, contemporary Native American artists, ceramics, and public art sites across the campus. European masters include Rembrandt, Delacroix, Boucher, Piranesi, and Daumier, along with 20th century artists, Miro, Toulouse-Lautrec, Chagall, Dali, Picasso, Remington, Merritt Chase, and Andy Warhol.