It’s always fun to get away and go exploring. But sometimes you don’t have an entire weekend or a ton of cash to spend on a vacation. That’s where a day trip comes in handy—you can leave in the morning and be home by bedtime. Depending on which part of the state you call home, you could easily make one of these Montana day trips happen.
1. Drive down Beartooth Highway.
Start in Red Lodge, where you can enjoy a delicious breakfast at Cafe Regis. Then cruise south down the highway, dipping into Wyoming before ending up in Cooke City. The Beartooth Highway is just 68.7 miles long, so you can go to and from Red Lodge in one day easily.
2. Ghosts and grub: Drive I-90 West to Garnet Ghost Town and 50,000 Silver Dollar Bar.
This is a great day trip for anyone living in the Lolo, Stevensville or Missoula area. Head to Garnet Ghost Town, Montana’s best preserved ghost town, and spend a few hours exploring and learning some state history. Then head west about 120 miles to the 50,000 Silver Dollar Bar in Haugan for a good meal and some excellent shopping at the quirky gift shop.
3. Have a wild day at ZooMontana.
Live within driving distance of Billings? Take a trip to ZooMontana and check out some exotic wildlife.
4. Explore the Eastern part of the Dinosaur Trail.
Montana’s Dinosaur Trail spans the entire state, but the Eastern part can easily be done in one day. Start at the Frontier Gateway Museum in Glendive, stretch your legs and have a picnic at Makoshika State Park, then head south to the Carter County Museum in Ekalaka.
5. Make your way through Madison Valley.
Start with a classic Bozeman breakfast at the Western Cafe early in the morning. Head west down Highway 84 to Norris, a gold mining town with some relaxing hot springs. Turn south on Highway 287 and stop at Quake Lake for lunch, which was formed by an earthquake in 1959. You can spend your day there or drive on to West Yellowstone, travel north to Big Sky and then take a scenic drive through the Gallatin Canyon to end up back in Bozeman. The full route is about 240 miles.
6. Dig for crystals at Crystal Park.
You’ll find Crystal Park in the Pioneer Mountains in Southwest Montana. Here you’re allowed to dig for quartz crystals (using hand tools only), but even if you’re not interested, it’s still a beautiful place to spend your day.
7. Go to the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone.
Take a drive through one of the most beautiful parts of Montana, learn about these amazing animals and enjoy plenty of photo ops.
8. Go to the sun.
Going-to-the-Sun-Road spans about 50 miles, and it’s one of the most beautiful drives in the country.
9. Head to Fort Benton and the Virgelle Mercantile.
Explore Fort Benton, the Birthplace of Montana, before making the 33 mile drive to the Virgelle Mercantile in Loma. You never know what you’ll find at the antiques store.
10. Have a retro day in Polson.
Drive to Polson and enjoy a meal at Betty’s Diner on Polson Bay, a 1950s style restaurant with delicious food made from scratch. Once you’re full, head to the Miracle of America Museum and check out their amazing collection of American memorabilia.
Montana is a beautiful state. Explore as much of it as you can with these amazing Montana day trips.