So you have decided to make the trek from Yellowstone National Park to Glacier National Park, which as we suggested in the blog Ode to the Road (Trip) is one of the most popular summer traditions for both Montana residents and visitors to the Treasure State.
Now the only question is: what stops will you make on your adventure between the Parks?
If you have a few days to drive between the Parks, check out these ITINERARIES. If you are looking for something more along the lines of an opportunity to stretch your legs, while still making good time from one Park to the other, we have compiled a list of 8 of our favorite stops in Southwest Montana.
1. Sculpture in the Wild | Lincoln, MT
Nestled in the Blackfoot Valley, Sculpture in the Wild – a sculpture park with pieces created by internationally renowned artists – is a hidden gem of Southwest Montana. The artists took inspiration from the rich environmental and industrial legacy of the area, to create some of the most innovative land art in the Northwest United States. With 26 acres and 14 permanent sculptures, this is a stop you will remember.
2. Virginia & Nevada Cities
Montana was born on the boom and bust, leaving ghost towns scattered across the state as little more than a memory of what once was. Virginia City was the second territorial capital of Montana, Nevada City sat along one of the most used stage coach routes in the west; both stand today as historical tourist destinations. Travel back in time with living history events, take a tour of town on the historic fire truck, and get to know the infamous residents who once populated the area.
Philipsburg is one of those charming small towns that truly exemplifies the genuine hospitality found across Montana. With adorable shops, tasty restaurants, a micro-brewery, and a classic candy shop, you are sure to find something to suit your fancy. Granite Ghost Town State Park is just up the road, Georgetown Lake is less than a 5-minute drive from town, and rockhounding opportunities surround the area.
4. Lewis & Clark Caverns
Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park is Montana’s first, and most well-known, State Park, featuring one of the largest and most decorated limestone caverns in the Northwest. The park encompasses 3,000 acres, and offers visitors a campground, guided tours, 10-miles of hiking trails, and more! Tours leave approximately every half hour starting at 9:30 am.
5. Historic Uptown Butte
Butte was home to the Copper Kings of the 20th Century and was significantly influenced by the immigrants who came to strike it rich in the mines. Historic Uptown Butte is the largest National Historic District in the Country. You will find countless shops, the Mai Wah Society (commemorating the Chinese immigrants, their contributions, and heritage), The World Museum of Mining, the Mansion Districts, Micro-Breweries, Headframe Sprits, and more!
6. Gates of the Mountains
This passage was aptly named by Meriwether Lewis of the Corps of Discovery, when he wrote in his journal In many places, the rocks seem to tumble upon us … I shall call this place the ‘gates of the mountains.’ The majority of visitors enjoy the area aboard one of two tour boats, the “Sacajawea” and the “Hilger Rose.” Check out the tour schedule for this summer!
7. Big Hole National Battlefield
Big Hole National Battlefield was created to honor all parties involved in the battle that took place on August 9th and 10th during the Nez Perce Flight of 1877. The visitor center which overlooks the battlefield offers visitors a video program and museum. After enjoying the museum, wander along the self-guided trails that lead you to various points of interest on the battlefield. The site offers extended hours in the summer, but is open year-round.
8. Grant-Kohrs National Historic Site | Deer Lodge, MT
Wide open spaces, the hardworking cowboy, his spirited cow pony, and vast herds of cattle are among the strongest symbols of the American West. Once the headquarters of a 10 million-acre cattle empire, Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site preserves these symbols and commemorates the role of cattlemen in American history.