Montana’s iconic destinations like Glacier National Park and its gateways to Yellowstone are certainly worth a visit, but when you want to travel off the beaten path and discover unique wide-open spaces, Montana has no shortage of options. After all, our state is all about discovering nature and breathtaking views, and getting outdoors to explore our hiking trails, waterways, and scenic roadways.
Seeley-Swan Scenic Drive
Take one of many scenic routes throughout Montana, taking time to enjoy the scenery and wildlife viewing at your own relaxed pace. The Seeley-Swan Scenic Drive south of Glacier Park on the way to Helena or Missoula takes you through two forested valleys surrounded by mountain peaks. It is dotted with small lakes and tiny towns. Stop at Holland Lake to paddle with a canoe on this peaceful hidden lake, or take a hike along the lake’s shore and through the forest to Holland Falls. This area sits next to the Bob Marshall Wilderness and is full of deer and elk, so take time to share their solitude. Numerous lakes along this route offer welcoming and peaceful picnic sites for travelers.
Hiking at Holland Lake. Courtesy Montana Office of Tourism and Business Development
Pioneer Scenic Byway
The Pioneer Scenic Byway is the perfect motorcycle route to discover scenic valleys, peaceful meadows and soaring mountain peaks, in an area that typically has few visitors. Along this route you will find hot springs, abandoned homesteads, small creeks and rivers where gold-seekers once panned for gold; and Coolidge, a ghost town you can explore on your own. Just south of this route is Bannack State Park, the best-preserved ghost town in Montana. Take a self-guided walking tour through Bannack or overnight in the teepee here. Numerous hiking trails and fishing holes are available in this area for independent-minded adventurers who want to get away from busier sites and enjoy Montana’s beautiful open spaces.
Log cabin at Coolidge Ghost town. Courtesy Montana Office of Tourism and Business Development
Missouri River Country
In Missouri River Country in Montana’s northeast corner, you’ll find plenty of room to explore. Fort Peck Lake is the largest lake in Montana, and with 1,600 miles of shoreline, you can surely find an out-of-the-way spot to relax and view wildlife, enjoy water recreation, or visit a nearby wildlife refuge or nature trail. History here goes back before the first Native Americans made their home here – back to the days of dinosaurs. Visitors today can experience the history of this region at many cultural sites, museums and historic towns. Take time to stargaze in this region’s spectacular night sky from just about any vantage point. We proudly consider ourselves to be in “the middle of nowhere,” yet the small towns here are welcoming and friendly.
Families explore Fort Peck Reservoir located near Fort Peck, Montana. Courtesy Montana Office of Tourism and Business Development
For more information on Montana, visit VisitMT.com.