Touring Along Montana's East-West Interstate
I-90's charming towns and history invites travelers to stretch and stay along the way
In a state as big as Montana, variety is a bit of an understatement: between its borders, the state is filled with many different landscapes, historical attractions, cultural events and more. Along I-90, view historic battlefields and charming towns, dinosaur finds and famous landmarks and witness the wealth from the "richest hill on earth." Travel this route for a glimpse into Montana's past and be inspired by the landscape that surrounds it all.
DESTINATIONS (CITIES) VISITED: Crow Agency, Hardin, Billings, Bozeman, Butte, Missoula, Haugen
Day 1: I-90 - Wyoming border - Billings, MTEntering Montana from the southeast, I-90 follows the Little Bighorn River through the Crow Indian Reservation. Less than an hour from the southeast border, plan to spend much of the day at Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument. Ranger-led programs are fascinating, and there are gentle walking trails and a pleasant picnic area. Feel the wind, hear the stories and live the history of one of the last conflicts in the West. A little farther along the interstate, in Hardin, the Big Horn County Historical Museum displays turn-of-the-century farm and community life. An hour down the road, you'll stop at Billings, Montana's largest city for the evening. Stroll the historic downtown for shopping or dining or hit the Rimrock Mall for those items you forgot to pack or have to take home.
Overnight in Billings.
Day 2: I-90 - Billings - Livingston - Bozeman
Start the morning with a tour of historic Billings or at Stella's Bakery, then take the one-hour guided tour of the Moss Mansion that features original draperies, fixtures, furniture, Persian carpets and artifacts then stroll the grounds for some fresh air before heading west.
In Livingston, about 90 minutes via I-90 from Billings and 30 minutes from Bozeman, take a break to stretch your legs at the Park County Museum or the Livingston Depot Center, each presenting a unique view of Yellowstone National Park, trains and Montana history and 'the West'. Continue west to Bozeman and the Museum of the Rockies acclaimed dinosaur and Montana history exhibits and planetarium show. Check out the eclectic mix of galleries and book stores, gift shops and western wear and cafes and dining opportunities on the historic Main Street of Bozeman.
Overnight in Bozeman.
Day 3: I-90 - Bozeman - Butte - Missoula
Today, experience mining and mountains as you travel north to Missoula. Near Three Forks, you'll pass near the headwaters of the Missouri River, formed by the Gallatin, Jefferson and Madison Rivers and each named by Lewis and Clark who traveled these waters in 1805. Continue north to Butte, home to the "Richest Hill on Earth." Stretch your legs and explore mining history and the Orphan Girl Mine at the World Museum of Mining, stop at the Berkley Pit to survey one of the largest open-pit copper mines in the world or view the mineral exhibits at the free Mineral Museum, where over 1,300 specimens from around the world are displayed.
After lunch, in historic uptown Butte and a traditional "pasty," the meal consumed by Irish miners, continue to Missoula for your night in the "Garden City." In the afternoon, explore the Rocky Mountain Elk Country Visitor Center for insight into conservation efforts for Wapiti (elk) or learn about the unique and rigorous life of individuals who parachute into forest fires around the world at the Smokejumper Visitor Center. After dinner, take a ride on a hand-carved horse at the carousel then stroll the walking path along the Clark Fork River.
Overnight in Missoula.Day 4: I-90 - Missoula - Haugen to Idaho border. After enjoying a leisurely breakfast at a local bakery or coffee shop, continue your I-90 trek to the Idaho border at Lookout Pass, home to the Hiawatha Trail. This scenic 2-hour drive will take you through national forests and along the historic Clark Fork River. In the summer, two opportunities for a rest stop in Haugen, just off the interstate, provide unique insight on the area. To learn about history from the National Forest Service perspective, stop at the Savenac Historic USFS Nursery and walk the interpretive trails, ponder a firefighter's life and examine historical photos and exhibits of the CCC. To see one family's unique collection, check out the Lincoln's 10,000 Silver Dollar Bar and its barroom filled with its famous coins and perhaps eat lunch or pick up a souvenir before you leave Big Sky Country, ready to return another day. erspective. Return home via Hwy 2 for an easy day of relaxation and reflection.
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