Touring The Byway
28 Miles | 5 Days / 4 Nights | Gateway City: Missoula, Montana
We recommend starting your journey in Missoula, where you can get to know the city on the Historic and Art Walking Tour and explore the Montana History Center, the Montana Museum of Art and Culture, the Historical Museum of Fort Missoula, and the Riverfront Walking Trail before spending the night at the Blue Mountain Bed and Breakfast.
On Day Two, you’ll be on your way to the National Bison Range Scenic Drive which skirts the edge of the National Bison Range, a tribally managed wildlife conservation area focused on restoring the buffalo population. On the drive, you’ll discover Moiese and Charlo, and in Charlo, the Ninepipes Museum of Early Montana and the Ninepipes National Wildlife Refuge. Have lunch at Ninepipes Lodge. When you reach US 93 at the end of the National Bison Range Scenic Drive, you can visit the Pablo National Wildlife Refuge before heading for Polson at the southern end of Flathead Lake. After another night’s stay, visit the Polson Flathead Lake Museum and from there, head north on Montana Highway 35 on the eastern edge of Flathead Lake. About 10 miles south of Bigfork (mile marker 21.5) be sure to stop at the Bowman Cherry Orchards, where sweet cherries have grown since the 1920s. In Bigfork, explore the Bigfork Art and Cultural Center, and taste at the Whistling Andy Distillery, before moving on to Kalispell where you can take the Downtown Historic Walking tour to get to know the city before a good night’s rest at the Kalispell Grand Hotel.
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.
The National Bison Range was founded to prevent extinction of the plains bison. Today, about 500 bison peacefully coexist with birds, whitetail and mule deer, elk, and bighorn sheep. Two scenic roads allow access to prime viewing areas. There is a fee to enter, firearms are prohibited, walking is only allowed on designated trails. Picnic areas, sanitation stations, and fishing areas are available. The range is open during daylight hours and vehicles over 30 feet, or towing trailers, motorcycles, ATVs and bicycles are not allowed on Red Sleep or Prairie Drive.
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.
Located on the University of Montana campus, this museum now has 11,000 pieces including works by Rocky Mountain artists, historic European works, along with 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.
This exceptional wetland complex with over 800 glacial potholes in a 1,770-acre span, reservoir is home to 200 species of birds, including great blue herons and double-crested cormorants.