Roadtrip Through Southwest Montana
So you wanna see Montana! If you want to break Montana into chunks, you can break it up by region. Here is a sample Southwest Montana road trip.
Day 1: Arrive in Helena, Montana. You can find direct flights from DEN or SLC. You also could drive, or fly into another Montana airport. Eat dinner.
1
Start your adventure by spending 2-3 days in Helena, the capital of Montana. Check out my Helena guide. Note this trip is best for May to September.
Day 2: Start with breakfast and then a trip up to the MacDonald Pass Recreation Area. Afterwards, go shopping, hiking, or do some exploring in Helena.
2
If you're looking for water, go to Canyon Ferry, Spring Meadow State Park, or Black Sandy State Park. You could go paddle boarding or kayaking!
Cap off the evening overlooking Helena from Mount Helena, either the hill by the parking lot or the top of the Mount if you are ambitious.
Day 3: Drive to Lincoln, Montana, via Flesher Pass, for great views. Lincoln is just under 60 miles away from Helena.
3
In Lincoln, visit Blackfoot Pathways: Sculpture in the Wild, a free park perfect for meditation and enjoying unique artwork.
Hit up the Hi-Country Trading Post to stock up on great souvenirs, snacks, and gifts--if you didn't already blow all your money in Downtown Helena!
Drive back to Helena via Helmville and Avon, OR ELSE via MT-200, MT-434, and Interstate 15. If you take the latter, stop at Gates of the Mountains.
Day 4-5: Now go and head down 68 miles to Butte, Montana. You also could choose to stay in Boulder, MT, if you want to stay at a Hot Springs resort.
4
Along the way to Butte, or as a day trip, visit the semi-ghost town Elkhorn State Park, preferably during the late spring, summer, or early fall.
It is the smallest state park in Montana, but worth a visit since the two buildings just pictured are so famous. Avoid during winter if no 4WD.
In Butte, go for a hike, such as the Milwaukee Road Rail-Trail or another trail at Thompson Park. Bring bear spray and use tick spray on all hikes.
5
In Butte, check out all the historical things that interest you. I recommend seeing a unique attraction called the Berkeley Pit.
Day 6: Book a summer tour of Lewis and Clark Caverns. If interested, check out the commercial but authentic ghost towns Virginia City and Nevada City.
6
Day 7, head out to Anaconda. See the famous Anaconda Smoke Stack at the Anaconda Smoke Stack State Park.
7
Nearby, check out Lost Creek State Park. The area is a great place for foliage in the fall. The creek is an easy walk.
Drive the Pintler Veterans Memorial Scenic Highway. If you want, take a detour to see Granite Ghost Town and historic Philipsburg.
After staying near Anaconda or Philipsburg, go to Bannack State Park (102 miles from Anaconda, or 130 miles from Philipsburg).
8
Bannack State Park is very much one of the highlights of this trip. See my linked Jumprope about Bannack ghost town.
Afterwards, drive back to Helena and stay as long as you want before flying or driving back home.
9
If you don't mind long drives, or if you'll be in Helena for weeks, you totally can do all of these or other MT cities as day trips from Helena!
Also, you could easily expand your trip and go for a few days to Glacier or Yellowstone National Park, & then fly out of Missoula or Bozeman.
For more Montana content and trip ideas, make sure to follow me on Jumprope, Instagram, and my blog! Linked: Tips for Visiting Montana.
Explore more Jumprope
Want to create? It’s fast, easy, free & open to anyone.
Learn more.
More than 50,000 step-by-step guides to learn how to do anything.