Touring The Byway
67 Miles | 4 Days / 3 Nights | Gateway City: Kalispell, Montana
We recommend starting your journey in Kalispell where you can take the Downtown Historic District Walking Tour to learn a bit about the city and tour the Conrad Mansion Museum and the Northwest Montana History Museum, while staying at the Kalispell Grand Hotel right in the Historic District. On Day Two you’ll be heading to Whitefish, where you can explore the Whitefish Museum, the Sunti World Art Gallery and Café, and the Going to the Sun Gallery before heading through the Kootenai National Forest to Eureka for the evening. After an overnight at the Homestead Cabin Resort, you can explore the Tobacco Valley Historical Village and take the Eureka Riverwalk.
As you start the Lake Koocanusa Scenic Byway, you can see the town of Rexford that was completely relocated to higher ground and The Hoodoos that jut out of the lake. Further south in Libby, you can explore the Heritage Museum and tour the Libby Dam Visitor Center to learn more of the story of how the lake was created. When you reach Thompson Falls, if you want to explore the Old Jail Museum, it is open only in the afternoon. After a relaxing stay at the Rocky Point Ranch, you’ll be on your way to Missoula on the Clark Fork Scenic Drive that passes over and under Interstate 90, 17 times on the way to the city.
View the Detailed Itinerary below to see the full route, which is complete with dining, shopping, and lodging recommendations!
After you follow the St. Regis-Paradise Scenic Drive from Thompson Falls to St. Regis, you can take the Clark Fork Scenic Drive to Missoula. It’s nearly 150 miles of scenic beauty as the river winds to the southeast. It all started 12,000 years ago when most of this region in Montana, Idaho, Washington and Oregon was covered with the icy floodwaters of Glacial Lake Missoula. When the water finally flowed out to the Pacific Ocean it left behind the rocks, peaks, and landscape we see today. The area is so intertwined that the Clark Fork River is considered the headwaters of the entire Columbia River Basin. It’s an interesting journey from St. Regis to Alberton where the road and the river cross back and forth under Interstate 90, 17 times. Alberton is famous for its dramatic river gorge.
The village features nearly a dozen structures built between the 1880s and the 1920s including a general store, schoolhouse, library, church, two log cabins, a hand-hewn house, railway depot, caboose, and fire tower. Several of the buildings, rescued from the Libby Dam, are all filled with exhibits and artifacts from the founding of Eureka. The Fewkes General Store serves as a museum and depository for archival materials donated by organizations and residents of the Tobacco Valley.
Situated in an enormous valley that stretches 60 miles, Whitefish was not developed by outside investors. Instead, over 50 years ago, residents created a vision for a memorable city, pooling their money and decisions to create the Whitefish Mountain Resort, Whitefish Lake Golf Club, and the town of Whitefish. Locals are welcoming, freely swapping stories at the local galleries, coffeehouses and saloons. With its covered sidewalk main street, cultural arts center, historic depot museum, and public library, this quaint, picturesque western town offers a change from the fast-paced hustle.
Fort Missoula was established by the US Army in 1877 to protect settlers in the region. Nearly 100 years later, the Historical Museum encompasses 32 acres with over 20 historic structures and a collection of nearly 50,000 artifacts.
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.