Road Tripping Southern Southwest Montana

It’s the last week of March, and that means one last blog post, a final hurrah to a spectacular month, a month that has married incredible middle-of-winter fun with the tiniest hints of spring. It’s been a fantastic month, in like a lion and out like a…well, not like a lamb necessarily, but maybe an old cantankerous sheep, the kind that has spent its life on the Montana range. The kind that might be featured in a feel-good movie, headbutting the protagonist into a mud puddle.

And the changing weather has really got us started thinking about what comes next, and planning our next season of activities. One of those activities is, of course, road tripping. I know that we talked about road trips last week, but they really are one of the joys of being in Southwest Montana; that freedom to climb into your car and just drive, exploring all of the nooks and crannies, all of the interesting small towns and main streets of the region.


Last week, we focused on three suggested itineraries, the Northern Tour, the Eastern Tour, and the Western Tour. Eagle-eyed readers (or anyone familiar with the four cardinal directions) will notice that we missed out an important area. We briefly mentioned the Vigilante Trail, but it’s not a loop, which got me dreaming about different loop trips, or Southern Tours. Before I get started, an announcement: I wrote this blog because after I wrote last week’s I started dreaming about other trips, and started planning them out, which is to say, don’t you dare be fooled into thinking that the trips on the blog are your only option. Sure we have some suggestions, but don’t let our suggestions get in the way of grabbing a map and piecing together your own perfect day.

Virginia City is a perfect starting point for the Purple Loop (2.25 hrs) (so called because I used purple to draw it in MS Paint). Assuming you’ve already explored VC, you can go from there to Ennis, then through Norris and Harrison (with a side trip to Pony), up the beautiful Summit Valley to Whitehall, and then down to Twin Bridges, Sheridan, and back to the Virginia City area.

The Blue Loop (2.5 hours) takes in Dillon and Butte, and then sends you down Highway 41. Dillon and Butte get mentioned endlessly on the blog, and that is because they are definitely not-to-miss destinations. As for Highway 41, check out our list of 11 Things to Do on Highway 41.


The final option is, of course to do it all. This was the first route I planned, but I soon realized that with a 4 hour driving time and so many places to stop, my day trip was potentially getting out of hand. “Even just half of this would be a full day!” I said to myself in exasperation. And that’s when I hit myself comically on my forehead and planned loops Purple and Blue.

The trouble with these routes is timing, where do you want to end up? Every single town mentioned (and some that I didn’t have time to mention) deserves a stop and a wander. And they all have great lunch and ice cream options, but even I think that five or six lunches in a single day trip might be excessive. If you finish your day in Norris, then you can relax and listen to live music at Norris Hot Springs, and the Pony Bar is great for lunch or to spend an evening of live music on Sundays. Breweries are our favorite way to finish a trip, and Dillon, Butte, and Sheridan all have great breweries, and…

So, here’s three potential road trips, with about 57 different ways to organize them, and really, you can’t go wrong.