Touring The Byway
90 Miles | 5 Days / 4 Nights | Gateway City: Billings, Montana
We recommend you start your journey in Missoula where you can take the Downtown Missoula Historic and Art Walking tour to learn a bit about the city and visit the Montana Natural History Center, the Montana Museum of Art and Culture, and the Historical Museum of Fort Missoula, before taking the Riverfront Walking Trail and a stay at the Blue Mountain Bed and Breakfast. On Day Two, you’ll be off to Bonner to visit the Bonner Milltown History Center and Museum before beginning to travel alongside the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area, which accompanies you on the whole route. Explore the natural beauty of Salmon Lake State Park and Placid Lake State Park before moving on to Seeley Lake. Enjoy strolling through this quaint little town and visit the Seeley Lake Historical Museum before settling in at the Lodges on Seeley Lake for a relaxing evening.
The next morning, it’s a short drive off the route to view Gus, the tallest western larch tree in the world, and another short drive to Holland Lake Lodge to see the waterfall and if the timing is right, enjoy the dining room. In Condon, tour the Upper Swan Valley Historical Museum to learn the logging story in the region.
View the Detailed Itinerary below to see the full route, which is complete with dining, shopping, and lodging recommendations!
The Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex, affectionately known as “The Bob,” encompasses 1.5 million acres of land traditionally inhabited by the Blackfeet, Salish, Pend d’Oreille, and Kootenai tribes. Considered by many to be the “crown jewel” of the Wilderness system, with untrammeled nature straddling the Continental Divide. The entire expanse stretches from Glacier National Park to Rogers Pass, with towering limestone reefs, the famous Chinese Wall, several mountain ranges, lush forests, broad basins and valleys, and two “wild and scenic” designated rivers.
The community of Seeley Lake, named for Jasper Seely who built a cabin on Clearwater Lake in 1881, and served as the first ranger of the Lewis and Clark Forest Reserve, was not served with a road until 1895. Today, this very visitor-friendly town is surrounded by pine and larch forests, and crystal lakes.
Known as the “Village by the Bay” and the major arts community in Northwest Montana, Bigfork is a year-round resort with art galleries, restaurants, sidewalk cafes, golf, boutiques, and live theater.
Lt. John Mullan, of the famous Mullan Road built from Fort Benton, Montana to Walla Walla, Washington, located his camp at the confluence of the Big Blackfoot and Clark Fork rivers during the winter of 1861-1862, on a high bank above the Blackfoot where Milltown stands today. The History Center at Milltown reveals makes this history and the area’s timber heritage, including preservation of the neighborhoods surrounding the original lumber mill.
The forest around this absolutely still lake was some of the best logging territory in the area, where the roads used to haul out trees have been transformed into great hiking and mountain biking trails. Interpretive panels placed along the trails reveal the lumbering history of the area.