West Yellowstone to Augusta
Yellowstone National Park is one of the most popular destinations for Montana tourists. After exploring the park, take time to dig deeper into what Montana has to offer. Whether you are traveling to Glacier, or simply have a few extra days, Southwest Montana has something for everyone. This route will take you from West Yellowstone to Ennis, on to Helena and continue along Highway 287 to the community of Augusta. Along this route you will find some of Southwest Montana’s most unique attractions.
From Yellowstone National Park’s west entrance, take Highway 287 north to Ennis where you will find a number of local shops, Norris Hot Springs, and some of the best fly-fishing in the country. Continuing north on Highway 287 you have the chance to visit the spectacular limestone caverns known as Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park. To round out the day, head toward Boulder on I-15 to spend the night at the historic Boulder Hot Springs where you can enjoy a relaxing evening in the natural mineral pools.
Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park is Montana's first and best-known state park featuring one of the most decorated limestone caverns in the Northwest. These spectacular caves, lined with stalactites, stalagmites, and columns are electrically lighted and safe to visit.
There is no better place to spend a day exploring than at Tizer Gardens & Arboretum. This 6 acre plot offers a half mile of trails, a stunning garden center and countless species of flora and fauna. As you continue down I-15 you will reach Helena. The Capital City offers a plethora of activities from historical tours like the Last Chance Tour Train to local breweries and attractions like the Great Northern Carousel to hiking, there is something for everyone.
Tizer Gardens, outside of Jefferson City, is an official test and display garden for the Denver Botanic Garden. The six acre garden features native Montanan plants as well as thousands of species from across the globe. With trails, quirky sculptures, and a garden center, Tizer is ideal for picnics and wanders.
The Montana State Capitol has served as The People’s House since 1902. The Capitol is open for self-guided tours Monday-Saturday year-round. Self-guided tour booklets are available at the information desk on the first floor, and provide a chance to discover the building’s incredible history, stunning art, and classic architecture.
The Montana Historical Society predates the state by over 20 years. The territorial legislature created the Society in February of 1865, less than a year after Montana was established as a territory. This ambitious move resulted in the second oldest such society west of the Mississippi. The exhibits trace the area’s history back 12,000 years.
After enjoying a delicious breakfast of Huckleberry Stuffed French Toast from Steve’s Cafe, it’s time to once again hit the road. Following I-15, you will come to the infamous Gates of the Mountains noted by Lewis & Clark in their journals. Throughout the summer a boat tour featuring the geology and history of the area is available. Continue on I015, exiting to Highway 287 toward Augusta. Here you can enjoy a spectacular landscape and true western hospitality. From here, it only makes sense to continue on to Glacier National Park.
Looking for a memorable breakfast in Montana’s Capital City? Steve’s Cafe is a family owned business that serves high-quality food in a relaxing and comfortable atmosphere, among friends and family. They use locally sourced ingredients where possible to create their unique and Montana focused dishes that are sure to please!
“In many places,” wrote Meriwether Lewis, “the rocks seem ready to tumble on us… I shall call this place “gates of the mountains.” During the summer months, there are tours offered throughout the week through the Gates. The 105-minute cruise starts in the marina, just three miles east of I-15, between Helena and Wolf Creek.
Augusta sits in the midst of spectacular scenery. To the east, the earth stretches out in miles of undulating prairie grass. To the west the earth rears skyward along the rugged Rocky Mountain Front, and Augusta is perfectly situated as a gateway to the sprawling Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex.