Montana June 28, 2016
These 10 Beautiful Byways In Montana Are Perfect For A Scenic Drive
It’s no secret that Montanans don’t like to dawdle when they drive—follow a Montana license plate down the freeway and you’ll see what we mean. But on days when we aren’t in a hurry to be somewhere, or when we happen to be near some gorgeous scenery, we don’t mind tapping the brakes and taking it all in.
This summer, slow down the pace a bit and do some exploring on one of these scenic byways in Montana. The state is full of them, and these 10 are especially perfect for a relaxing drive.
1. The Skalkaho Highway Scenic Byway
Known simply as Skalkaho Pass, this 45 mile drive runs between the Bitterroot Valley and the Philipsburg Valley. You’ll climb through the beautiful Sapphire Mountains and see views of the Philipsburg Valley.
2. The Mt. Haggin Scenic Drive
Craving solitude? Even most locals don’t know about this scenic gem, which starts a few miles from I-90 and runs between Montana Highway 1 near Anaconda and Montana Highway 43 along the Big Hole River.
3. National Bison Range Scenic Byway
The National Bison Scenic Byway has two roads, the 19 mile long Red Sleep Mountain Road and Prairie Drive, which is five miles long. The Red Sleep Mountain Road takes visitors through the heart of the reserve and up to its rolling hills and mountains, but the inclines are so steep that trailers are banned. The Prairie Drive Road is less harrowing, taking visitors along the base of the mountain.
4. The Sun River Wildlife Management Area Scenic Byway
Located west of Augusta, this 20,000 acre wildlife refuge is easy to reach. From Augusta, follow the Sun River Road/Gibson Reservoir Road until you hit a fork (about 3 miles in). Head left, and a few miles later you’ll be at the Wildlife Management Area. And that’s where the drive goes from scenic to stunning.
5. The Big Sheep Creek Backcountry Byway
Warning: this is one of the loneliest treks in Montana, so fill your gas tank, pack some water and snacks and prepare to disconnect from the world. This 55 mile trek takes you through one of the most remote areas of Montana, running along the southwest part of the state on the Idaho border. While the road is all gravel, it’s in good condition, and the views are wonderful.
6. Junction Highways 24 and 200 from Fort Peck Dam to Malta
There’s nothing like driving through peaceful, quiet country with nothing but sky and the open road around you. This 147 mile trek begins seemingly in the middle of nowhere, heading north along the eastern edges of Fort Peck Lake. Then it crosses the Milk River 6 times, eventually landed in Malta.
7. Missouri Breaks National Back Country Byway
This 73 mile loop takes you from Winifred to the James Kipp Recreation Area on Highway 191. The terrain is pretty rough, so bring your four wheel drive vehicles to attempt it.
8. Lake Koocanusa Scenic Byway
This drive takes you from Eureka to Libby, so needless to say, it’s beautiful. This 67 mile drive in Northwest Montana includes excellent views of the Whitefish Mountains, the Libby Dam, the Kootenai River and Lake Koocanusa.
9. Big Sky Backcountry Byway
This scenic drive takes you through a section of the historic Regina-Yellowstone (R-Y) Trail, passing through the badlands of Terry. The route is on state highways 253, 200 and 13.
10. The Beartooth Highway
Designated the Beartooth All-American Road in 2002, this highway connects Red Lodge to the northeast entrance to Yellowstone National Park. It’s one of the most scenic drives in the country.
We hope you enjoy at least one of these byways in Montana this summer. And don’t forget to check out these ideas for cruising down
Montana country roads while you’re at it.