Missoula to Glacier National Park: A Road Trip Itinerary
Visit Glacier National Park: Missoula to Glacier
Enjoy Some of the Best Cities to Visit in Montana!
Missoula, Montana, home to the University of Montana, is only a stone’s throw from Glacier National Park. Many college students and families make a quick day trip to the park. Whether it’s for camping, an overnight backpacking trip, or just a day outside of the city, follow this itinerary for a great Glacier National Park road trip.
Trip Duration: Three-ish Hours, Nonstop
There are two routes to Glacier National Park from Missoula. Both are just under three hours, but the one we’ll suggest is a tad longer than the former. We think that the extra 20 minutes is worth it because you skip a lot of the traffic of towns you pass through. You’ll also pass by some areas that are definitely worth a quick stop!
Pro Tip: A Shorter Route Isn’t a Better Route.
The route we’ll chat about today goes West from Missoula, instead of North from Missoula! If you choose to go North, here is some insider tips for you:
Choose either of the Flathead lakeshores for great scenery and snacks along the way. Polson boasts great lakeside living with gems along Hwy 2 S like M&S meats. Grab some perfect local jerky for the car ride and your hiking pack! Just when you’re looking to cure some hunger pains you will hit Lakeside; you can never go wrong at Tamarack Brewing Co. in the heart of Lakeside…(psst… we love starting with the nachos…)
If you drive up the west shore, grab a burger in Bigfork. We recommend stopping at Burger Town (cheap but oh so delicious burgers) and don’t forget a shake!!! This alone almost makes the trip. If you’d like to sit down and view the lake eating atop the hill in Bigfork, try Flathead Lake Brewing Co., another can’t-go-wrong stop! Their local brews are wonderful!
Then off to Columbia Falls you go… just minutes to Glacier from here!
INSIDER TIP…. SNEAK A BIT OFF COURSE INTO BIGFORK FOR A GREAT LOCAL BREW @ FLATHEAD LAKE BREWING CO. OR A QUICK ROAD SITE EAT @ BURGER TOWN, DON’T FORGET THE HUCKLEBERRY SHAKE! EITHER PLACE YOU CAN’T GO WRONG
But today, we’ll go in-depth on the Western route…
The Route: Take I-90 to Highway 200, Take a Left onto Highway 83 and Proceed past Bigfork onto Highway 35 to Highway 2.
Stop Number One: Garnet Ghost Town on Highway 200
Take a step back in time and experience Montana as we all imagine it to be: an old fashioned Western Town!
Stop by and step back in time, slow down and take a peek. Named one of America’s Coolest Ghost towns by Travel + Leisure, it’s worth the stop. Walk the old trails, swing on the old porch swings, take in America’s old lifestyle.
Stop Number Two: Take a Picture with the Big Bull at Stoney’s Kwik Stop
Stop and grab this bull by the horns! Who could pass up a pit stop and quick picture at the crossroads of MT 200 & Hwy 83. This bull grabs everyone’s attention and makes for great photo memories.
The bull is a well-known landmark at this junction. According to Roadside America, “The Clearwater Junction Bull has been at the Clearwater Junction for as long as I can remember – over 30 years. If you travel in Montana from Kalispell to Helena or Missoula to Helena, chances are you’ll pass by the big bull.
The gas station has terrific huckleberry milkshakes inside and some cliff swallows living under the carport. This bull is what got me hooked as a kid on roadside kitsch. Because of the bull, as kids we would always beg our parents to stop at the junction whenever we were going through.”
Stop Number Three: Seeley Lake and Morell Falls Hike
Take a couple hour hike to this hidden gem… about 5 miles round trip. Pick some fresh huckleberries along the trail, and wildflowers galore… the falls alone is worth the hike! Take a right off Hwy 83 onto Morrell Creek Rd about 7 miles to the trail head.
Stop Number Four: Swan Mountain Llama Trekking
Try something unique while in this unique location… what better than hiking while letting a Llama pack your gear and lunch? A 2.5 mile or so hike to Bond Falls with your llama should do the trick… and for the extra brave we dare you to take a dip in Bond Falls!
“Llama Trekking trips offer vacationers to the Northwest region of Montana an opportunity to do something totally different on their vacations. They offer guided llama treks for families that want to add something unique and novel to their Montana vacation plans.”
Stop Number Five: Stock Up on Collectables from Montana Fur Trader!
This gift shop is an intriguing Montana experience on it’s own. Take something truly Montana home… whether you’re looking for a specific treasure or just a handmade Native American collectible you will find it here. One of the best gift shops around just minutes from GNP!
The End of the Road
And of course, if you’re looking for an amazing, family-friendly group activity, check out Glacier Highline!
Everyone needs to stretch those legs and blow off some steam before hitting the Going-To-The-Sun Highway. Glacier Highline is just the place to grab a bite and coffee and hit the trees!
Some high flying Treetop Adventure is good for all ages and all skill levels, whether you’re a Ninja Warrior or an adventurous grandparent we have something for everyone, even if you’re just a ground supporter everyone has a great time at Glacier Highline!