10 Things to Know Before Traveling from West Yellowstone to Glacier National Park
Bison, Bears and Elk…OH MY! These animals are just a few that you will have the potential of seeing on your excursion through Montana. We often hear that many people who visit Glacier also make the trek down to Yellowstone as well, or vice versa. I mean you’re already in Montana, right? The drive is about 6.5 hours give or take, depending on the way you decide to make the trip. Buckle up and enjoy learning about the fun stops along the way! Here are the must-see attractions from Yellowstone to Glacier National Park.
- Best Time of year to Travel
- Activities in West Yellostone
- Dive into History in Dillon, MT
- Drop a Line in Wisdom River
- Visit the Duttons in Darby
- Explore the Daly Mansion in Hamilton
- Take a Stroll in Stevensville
- Visit the Flathead Valley for Outdoor Recreation Opportunities
- Best Places to Eat from West Yellowstone to Glacier National Park
- Best Attire for Your Trek
The Best Time of Year to Travel from West Yellowstone to Glacier National Park
Summer fun starts anywhere around here from Memorial Day to Labor Day but our “shoulder seasons” have been getting smaller and smaller. We see the most traffic and visitors here in July and August. You will just have to plan your trip dates according to when the items on your bucket list are open for the season. Generally, Going-To-The- Sun Road opens late June to early July and stays open until early October but again that’s all weather dependent. Things around Yellowstone National Park and all places in between are all about the same rule of thumb, Memorial Day to Labor Day.
Activities in West Yellowstone on the way to Glacier
Did you know that Rip Wheeler, Beth Dutton and the rest of the crew at Dutton Ranch aren’t the main reason people travel to Yellowstone? Yellowstone National Park is the 8th largest National Park in the US and It’s twice the size of Glacier! There’s alot to pack into your days while you are here. The main bucket list items of Yellowstone should include:
- Old Faithful – Old Faithful is an iconic geyser in Yellowstone with 130-180 ft eruptions about every hour and a half!
- Grand Prismatic Spring – Grand Prismatic Spring is the country’s largest hot spring. You will be in awe of the spring’s rainbow of colors that come from the pigmented thermophilic bacteria that lives in this 160 ft deep hot spring.
- Hayden Valley – Hayden Valley is a great opportunity to see wildlife gathering and roaming the valley. You can even get out here and explore for yourself. Some hiking opportunities are here in the Hayden Valley, remember to make sure and check trail status with a local ranger station before you head out.
Dive into History in Dillon, Montana
As you head towards Glacier you will come up to a little town, Dillon, MT. Here you can explore Camp Fortune, named by Lewis & Clark during their exploration back in 1805. You can even visit Bannack State Park while you are here. This is the most preserved ghost town in MT, also where the 1st gold strike was here back in 1862. This little town held the title of the capital of Montana until Helena was crowned the capital in 1875.
Drop a Line in Wisdom River
Wisdom was originally coined by Lewis and Clark. Big Hole National Battlefield is where the US Army fought the Nez Pearce back in 1877 and that battlefield is still here for you to visit. The Wisdom River is now known as Big Hole River and is famous for blue ribbon trout. So maybe as you cruise through you can drop a line or just enjoy the beautiful scenery as we head onto Darby.
Visit the Duttons in Visit Darby
Darby is where homesteader Evelin Matteson hung her hat in 1886, which is now home to the Darby Pioneer Museum. This hosts years of business artifacts and history from pioneer families throughout Darby’s history. You can also check out the Historical Darby Ranger Station from Memorial Day to Labor Day. You know what else lies within the town of Darby? Chief Joseph Ranch which is better known as Dutton Ranch. That’s right the famous show Yellowstone is filmed right here in Darby. Maybe you can even stay at Rip’s cabin for a night or two if they are not filming the show.
Explore the Daly Mansion in Hamilton
As we continue to explore the Bitterroot Valley, we head into Hamilton, MT. This cute little town has activities for all seasons but also is the home of Daly Mansion. Take a tour of the Daly Mansion which was the summer home to the Copper King, Marcus Daly back in 1886. This 24,000 sq ft summer home was remodeled a few times while the Daly’s owned it and was boarded up for over 45 years after the death of Margaret Daly in 1941. It was reopened in 1987 and still is just as beautiful today.
Take a Stroll in Stevensville
If you need to stretch your legs you can walk along the Kootenai Creek Trail in Stevensville or enjoy the views of Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge. Next on the trail to Glacier worth stopping at is St. Ignatius. You can check out the St. Ignatius Mission or take a drive through the National Bison Range in Moise. Polson is a cute little town right along the shores of Flathead Lake. You can explore Kerr Dam while you are here or have a picnic along the shore of the largest body of freshwater West of the Mississippi River. Don’t forget to pick up a bag of fresh grown cherries along the shores of Flathead Lake as you head up towards the Flathead. You can’t miss them.
Visit the Flathead Valley for Outdoor Recreation Opportunities
The Flathead Valley has endless opportunities for adventure and fun as well. Take a chairlift ride up Whitefish Mountain Resort and explore the valley from above, stroll down the shops in Whitefish and snag some goodies for your tribe that couldn’t come enjoy the beauty for themselves. Rent a UTV and off-road for a bit or take that up Going-To-The-Sun Road. Paddle down the Flathead River for some great whitewater rafting in Montana with Glacier Raft Company. Don’t forget to come explore in the trees with us at Glacier Highline. Harness up for loads of FUN! Enjoy over 50 high-flying activities including ziplining! We are a great hiking reward for your kiddos too! We hope to see you along your Montana adventure of a lifetime!
Best Places to Eat from West Yellowstone to Glacier National Park
Our family rule growing up was when we were on vacation we couldn’t eat anywhere we had at home. What are your families’ vacation food rules? We have lots of options to step out of the box. Try a bison burger or maybe spring for the huckleberry BBQ sauce. There are lots of ways to put a Montana flair to spice up your lunch or dinner. Fortunately, we don’t have lots of chain restaurants here in Montana so branching out is easy. Don’t be afraid to ask for suggestions of where to eat or pack a picnic and enjoy it along the shores of a lake, river or on top of a mountain top.
Best Attire for Your Trek
Although we are not rolling out any sort of red carpets here in Montana, we still have to worry about what to wear. First things first, sensible footwear. You don’t know what you are going to end up doing so I would pack some supportive shoes for hiking or the day’s adventure. I would also throw in some sandals for your rafting or water adventure that has hopefully made the itinerary as well. We always say bring light layers so that way you can gear up and shed layers as necessary to best fit your activity and the weather for the day- and who knows you may experience all 4 seasons in about 15 minutes sometimes as well. That Big Sky can be so unpredictable.
Already planning your next trip? Throw in a Glacier zipline adventure sure to bring fun for the whole family!