This route begins and ends in Helena and will provide ample opportunity to spot wildlife as you explore the northern section of Southwest Montana. This drive skirts the southern edge of the Scapegoat and Bob Marshall Wildernesses, winds through agricultural land and offers the chance to explore Montana’s communities. This trip could easily be made in a day, but why not take time to explore the hidden gems Southwest Montana has to offer.
As one of the popular destinations in Southwest Montana, this itinerary begins in Helena. Every good road trip starts with a cup of coffee, try some of our favorite Montana based shops (Florence Coffee, General Merc, Moose Junction, 1889, Scenic Brew, etc.). Once you have your caffeine, today’s agenda is all about exploration. If you are intrigued by history, make a stop by the semi-ghost town of Marysville which is just down the hill from Great Divide Ski area, enjoy the banks of the Blackfoot or explore Lincoln’s wide open spaces which are perfect for camping, hiking, fishing, snowmobiling and more!
Beginning near the Continental Divide, the Blackfoot runs past Lincoln and Ovando, then west toward Missoula, and is among the best flyfishing destinations in the state. Highway 200 offers excellent access for nearly all of its 130 miles. In addition to top-notch fishing, the middle and lower sections are ideal for floating.
For anyone that loves the outdoors, Lincoln, Montana is a place to visit. Fish the Blackfoot River or one of the alpine lakes. There are lots of opportunities for camping and hiking in the area as well as hunting. Winter activities are prime including some of the best snowmobiling trails you'll find.
The northern section of Southwest Montana borders some of the most pristine wilderness in the state. As you drive along highway 200 you will be skirting the bottom of the Scapegoat and Bob Marshall Wildernesses. This region provides incredible access to the outdoors as well as unparalleled wildlife watching. In Lincoln, make sure to save time to visit the Sculpture in the Wild or Hi-Country Trading Post. Ovando is home to two of our favorite restaurants, Trixi’s Antler Saloon and the Stray Bullet!
Lincoln sits in the Blackfoot Valley along Montana Highway 200. Surrounded by National Forests, the town is a Mecca for outdoor recreation. Explore the Sculpture in the Wild and visit the Hi-Country Trading Post and Upper Blackfoot Valley Historical Society before hitting the river, trails and campgrounds in the area!
Ovando offers visitors an incredible blend of scenery, outdoor recreation and history. At the base of the Swan and Garnet mountains and surrounded by thousands of acres of open ranch land, this area feels untouched. Ovando is the southern entry to the Bob Marshall and Scapegoat Wilderness, home to the Blackfoot River, and boasts two wonderful diners.
The Scapegoat Wilderness Area is located just south of the Bob Marshall Wilderness and covers 239,936 acres. In addition to being some of the most pristine country in Montana, the Scapegoat offers miles of trails for hikers and horsemen and is noted for hunting, fishing, scenery and incredible geology.
To wrap back to Helena, there is no better route than along Highway 141 which will lead you from Ovando to Avon. This scenic road winds you through beautiful farm land before bringing you back to MacDonald Pass where visitors and local can find a well-kept trails system perfect for hiking or cross-country skiing. At the end of your tour, dig deeper into the Helena community, there are cute shops, a crazy amount of history, interesting tours, and endless recreation!
This scenic stretch of road meanders through plains and rolling hills of farms and ranch land. Off the beaten path in Southwest Montana, this section is nestled between the Garnet Range and the Helena National Forest. For anglers, this segment starts at the Blackfoot River and ends at the Little Blackfoot River.
MacDonald Pass boasts a wonderful network of cross-country ski trails. The area has four connected loops near the Continental divide, perfect for beginner and intermediate skiers. Snow permitting, the trails are open December through April and maintained (and groomed often) by the Last Chance Nordic Ski Club.
The capital city of Montana, Helena has a variety of experiences for whatever your interests. If you're a history buff, visit the Capitol, the Historical society, or take the tour train. Arts enthusiasts can enjoy museums, classes, concerts, plays and displays. Outdoors lovers have hiking, biking, skiing, water sports and more.
Northern Tour: Lincoln Route
Northern Tour: Augusta Route