Road Trip from Yellowstone to Glacier National Park

Take a trip to Park National Glacier and Yellowstone from road mile 480. The drive to the park takes approximately 9 hours. You can also visit Sulphur White Springs and the Great Falls of Big Sky as you head east. Alternatively, you can explore Lolo National Forest and the Plains, Lake Seeley, and Missoula as you head west, or visit Sulphur White Springs and the Great Falls of Big Sky as you head east.

There are so many places and routes to stop along the way and discover the most remarkable lakes and forests, including historic towns and culturally rich areas. On this nature-themed road trip, you can see the breathtaking lakes and stunning mountains of Glacier National Park.

Best road trip route from Yellowstone to Glacier National Park

On this road trip, the choice of the best route will mostly rely on the type of sights you would prefer to visit; each of them possesses its own distinct characteristics. Both options present scenic and stunning paths leading to Glacier National Park.

If you find yourself short on time but still want to explore the many destinations within the vast wilderness of the Big Sky Country, our Eastern Route is the most ideal and fastest option. This route will not only take you through several historical towns in Montana, but also bring you close to numerous captivating places.

You can explore the history of Montana dinosaurs and Plains Indians by visiting waterfalls and springs, as well as enjoying the natural beauty of open spaces. However, you will get to experience the delights of Great Falls and Big Sky, but there are fewer mountainous and scenic views. Additionally, you can indulge in superb cuisine.

As you pass through picturesque towns, you will be close to the natural beauties of County Glacier in Montana. Route Western Our is somewhat longer, but it boasts stunning scenery and outdoor activities. Additionally, you have the option to visit the beautiful Lolo National Forest and Lake Seeley.

Other highlights include immersing yourself in the local art scene at Bigfork and marveling at the magnificent bison before enjoying the scenic beauty of Flathead Lake and visiting Missoula.

How to drive from Yellowstone to Glacier National Park

During your journey, you will find comprehensive descriptions of the top attractions and recommended accommodations along both routes for the ultimate road trip experience between Yellowstone and Glacier National Park. Please refer to the map above to explore our suggested options.

The Eastern Route

Initially, make a brief visit to Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge if you have the opportunity, or alternatively, travel through West Yellowstone en route to Big Sky. As you head north on US-191, commence your journey at Yellowstone National Park.

As you depart from the mountain landscape, you will encounter numerous charming towns while heading north towards the interstate. Don’t forget to appreciate the awe-inspiring vistas at the renowned ski resort in Big Sky.

You can take a dip in the hot springs at Spa Hot Springs, located along the way towards the north heading towards Great Falls, before driving east on Interstate 90 (I-90) towards Livingston Reach.

Spend some time at Great Falls Park to enjoy a scenic hike around the giant State Springs, located on the north side of I-15. You can also learn about the historic downtown area while you’re there.

Follow the directions for Glacier National Park, going past the Montana Dinosaur Trail and Flathead National Forest initially.

Flathead National Forest, Montana, USA taken during early winter with snow along Holland Lake in the Flathead National Forest.
You’ll pass Flathead National Forest on our Western Route, where you can hike, picnic or enjoy water sports on its lake.

Danita Delimont/

The Western Route

Journeying in a northerly direction from Yellowstone National Park, you will traverse Custer Gallatin National Forest and Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest en route to Butte.

In the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest, you have the opportunity to pause and appreciate the local fauna and engage in hiking activities. Alternatively, if you choose to proceed west on I-90, you will come across Boulder and Three Forks, where you can venture into these towns. It is also possible to deviate slightly from this route.

Once you reach the town, both Forest National Bitterroot and Forest National Lolo offer great opportunities to spot wildlife within a short distance.

From Missoula, follow MT-200 to Lake Seeley, where you can enjoy countless water sports and fishing activities. This is a spot where you might see Bighorn sheep and horses in the plains along North 93 Highway.

Journey through Hot Springs and along the coastline of Flathead Lake to Bigfork prior to reaching Glacier National Park.

Seeley Lake, Montana, USA with cloud reflections on the lake taken on a sunny day with snow-capped mountains in the distance.
Seeley Lake is just one of the many glacier lakes and reservoirs you’ll pass on this scenic road trip.

Hall Jameson/

Things to see on a road trip from Yellowstone to Glacier National Park

On the way, you’ll encounter some of the finest attractions we’ve highlighted to assist you in organizing your journey. During the journey, the breathtaking drive through Montana’s remarkable scenery provides a wide range of experiences and panoramas.

Ousel Falls Waterfall, Big Sky, Montana, USA with rocks and trees in the distance and calm water in the foreground.
If you follow the Eastern Route and take a stop at Big Sky, you could hike to Ousel Falls Waterfall for a stunning view.


Eastern Route

  • The Great Sky Ski Resort is an excellent skiing spot during the winter in the area recognized for its expansive vistas, Great Sky – thus the title.
  • Livingston attracts a multitude of individuals due to its opportunities for fly fishing in the Yellowstone River, the indelible sensation of the Wild West, and the numerous historical sites located in its downtown area.
  • While pausing at this location, make sure to explore the Castle museum and carriage house. If you decide to immerse yourself in the Spa Hot Springs, you can discover the reason behind Native Americans referring to it as the Valley of Tranquility, White Sulphur Springs.
  • As someone who is passionate about culture, you can take pleasure in exploring the offerings of the Meagher County Art & Culture Trail. This trail spans the entire county and showcases various forms of artistic expression, literature, music, and the rich historical heritage.
  • You can join many recreational outdoor tours here to explore and find out more about the interpretative centers and historic sites – Clark and Lewis-Helena National Forest.
  • Experience the Western Wild with a touch of historic flair in downtown before heading to the magnificent dams and the Giant Springs State Park – Interpretive Center Clark and Lewis, and Great Falls.
  • The Montana Dinosaur Center – Join the Montana Dinosaur Trail and see the skeletal model of the world’s longest dinosaur, a diplodocus.
  • The Plain Indians Museum is located at the entrance to the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Browning and showcases the diverse arts, lifestyles, and histories of the Northern Plains Native Americans.
  • Hungry Horse Reservoir, Montana, USA taken at sunset with beautiful mountains, tall trees, and calm, glassy water with reflections of the amazing landscape.
    Exploring the Rocky Mountains will give you the chance to see the Hungry Horse Reservoir which is 34 miles long.


    Western Route

  • The Butte Hole, alternatively referred to as the Berkeley Pit, the Mineral Museum, and the World Museum of Mining, is a must-visit destination for mining enthusiasts. This town holds the distinction of being the most renowned mining camp on the planet!
  • Exploring the hiking trails in Bitterroot National Forest is a great way to show your love for nature. Additionally, you can try craft beer from Bitterroot Brewery and taste dandelion wine and mead at the Hidden Legend winery. It’s just a short drive south from Missoula to Hamilton.
  • Are you a fishing enthusiast? Lake Seeley is a scenic and short detour from Missoula that offers excellent opportunities for wildlife viewing, hiking, canoeing, boating, and fishing in the surrounding area.
  • The Indian Flathead Area Reservation, located in this area, was established as a natural reserve for the conservation of American bison. It was founded in 1908 and called Bison National Range.
  • Before exploring the downtown historic district of Missoula, make sure to take a walk along the Clark Fork River, which is surrounded by breathtaking scenery. The city itself is stunning.
  • Lolo National Forest, located just an hour away from Missoula, offers a range of activities including hiking, camping, winter sports, and an opportunity to gain knowledge about the forest at its visitor center.
  • This place is also where you can enjoy trout fishing in the beautiful Clark Fork River and go on lovely hikes in the Lolo National Forest. However, it is worth mentioning that the Plains area is known for its abundant grasslands and is home to Bighorn sheep and horses.
  • If you plan on entering the Native American reservation in the south of the lake, you will need to obtain a tribal recreation permit; however, it does provide you with the opportunity to visit many orchards around the lake during the summer and spring. Lake Flathead is a wonderful destination that offers a wide range of activities both around and on the lake during the warmer months.
  • Bigfork – The stunning art center showcases galleries, flourishing culinary scene, sports amenities, excellent shopping, and numerous art and cultural celebrations.
  • Great open spaces! Enjoy the Bond Creek Trail, like the amazing hiking paths this forest’s green heaven offers you, Flathead National Forest.
  • Angling, sailing, bathing, and water skiing provide a splendid chance on the reservoir itself, which stretches for a distance of 34 miles. Hungry Horse Dam is situated on the Flathead River and is merely 15 miles away from Glacier National Park, elevated in the Rocky Mountains.
  • Plains, Montana, USA with a beautiful herd of American Quarter horse ranch horses in the dryhead area of Montana near the border with Wyoming.
    Explore the Plains of Montana and you might catch some wild horses or Bighorn sheep.

    Christy berry/

    Best places to stop between Yellowstone and Glacier National Park

    Throughout your journey, you will forgo the opportunity to discover numerous charming towns, breathtaking woodlands, bodies of water, and majestic mountain views. Not only would you reach the park feeling fatigued, but we do not advise it, even though it is possible to travel from Yellowstone to Glacier National Park within one day.

    There are some great places to can stop at on either route, so read on to discover our favorite places to stay.

    Discover the history of Great Falls

    You can guarantee that the following day, when you stopover at Great Falls, you will be ready and relaxed to explore. The park is located just 30 minutes from Glacier National Park and 2 hours away.

    Giant Springs State Park, Great Falls, Montana, USA with Canada Geese (Branta canadensis) and a lake with rapids, trees in the distance and taken on a sunny day.
    Be sure to visit Giant Springs State Park while stopping at Great Falls.

    Nikki Yancey/

    The city cherishes its Native American heritage and offers great outdoor adventures and cuisine. For history buffs who want to learn more about the pioneers and explorers of history, the National Interpretive Center of Clark and Lewis is a must-visit place.

    The Highwood Mountains and Fort Benton are also present in that area. During the journey, one can admire a breathtaking panorama and visit various dams along a trail at The Falls or the Giant Springs State Park, which is located on the shores of the Missouri River. Adventurous travelers will thoroughly enjoy exploring.

    Staying at this historic hotel, the Arvon Hotel Historic, right in downtown Montana, truly enhances the experience of visiting this charming city. You’ll discover the fantastic history of Great Falls during your stay.

    This hotel is difficult to surpass if you’re seeking an authentic Great Falls experience. While the restaurant and bar on-site may not be extravagant, they are worth considering, as the hotel is conveniently located within walking distance of the Missouri River and great museums and restaurants.

    Mountain views at Missoula

    Missoula is a small city surrounded by numerous natural destinations and boasting fantastic amenities. It is an ideal first stop on the Western Route, just over 5 hours away from Yellowstone National Park.

    Missoula, Montana, USA taken from Mount Sentinel with the city in the foreground and trees and hills in the distance on a sunny day.
    The small city of Missoula has a breathtaking mountain backdrop and is the ideal base for outdoor adventurers.

    Jon Bilous/

    Missoula is a superb base for outdoor enthusiasts, where you can escape to the Lake, Seeley, and Forest National Lolo, and explore Lakes and rivers, mountains and forests, surrounded by wilderness, and a bustling town.

    Stay overnight at the DoubleTree by Hilton Missoula Edgewater, as you encounter it while discovering the Clark Fork River, a picturesque stroll alongside the city’s waterway through its downtown area.

    To help you unwind and relax after your first day of driving, this beautiful hotel, located on the Fork Clark River itself, boasts stunning mountain views and offers a jacuzzi and an outdoor swimming pool surrounded by trees. Some balconies even overlook the magnificent scenery.

    The location of this place is amazing, and the best part is that there’s even free parking. Guests can easily walk to Missoula Art Museum, Toole Park, and Clark Fork Natural Area, which are all nearby. Additionally, there’s an upscale restaurant that serves Northwest cuisine, which is definitely a bonus.

    Glamping at Glacier National Park

    Once you reach the stunning Glacier National Park, you’ll need to spend at least one night exploring this mountain wilderness. You can really explore incredible valleys, meadows, and spectacular glaciers and lakes. The park has 700 miles of trails for you to explore.

    Glacier National Park, Montana, USA with fireweed blooming and the mountains in the distance taken on a sunny day.
    There are so many incredible vistas to be enjoyed at Glacier National Park, as well as pretty flowers if you visit during spring or summer.

    Marina Poushkina/

    At the Under Canvas Glacier in Coram, you have the opportunity to indulge in something truly exceptional. In the neighboring towns like Columbia Falls, there exist numerous fantastic choices. However, lodging options in this area of Montana are quite scarce.

    The luxury tents offer private bathrooms and king-size beds, as well as an eco-friendly environment. Guests also have easy access to stunning natural wilderness and can enjoy onsite picnic and dining facilities, as well as grills. These safari-inspired tents provide luxury linens and give guests a unique and comfortable experience.

    The Flathead River and Hungry Horse Reservoir are only a brief car ride from Glacier National Park. Additionally, you are within a mile of a range of experiences, such as live performances, early morning yoga sessions, and entertainment suitable for the entire family.

    How far is Glacier National Park from Yellowstone, and how long will the road trip take?

    Comparison of road trip routes between Yellowstone National Park and Glacier National Park
    Route Distance Driving Time
    The Eastern Route 480 miles 8 hours 45 minutes
    The Western Route 620 miles 10 hours 35 minutes

    You could take a drive of 480 miles, specifically from minutes 45 and hours 8. The most direct and fastest route will take you through Great Falls and eastern Montana. There are two equally breathtaking routes you can take from Glacier National Park to Yellowstone.

    I wouldn’t suggest it, but if you can shorten the distance to 620 miles, you will complete the journey in 10 hours and 35 minutes of continuous driving. However, this will take you longer through Missoula and Plains. The Western Route offers a slightly longer alternative.

    The overnight stopping route will provide the opportunity to explore the long history and thriving art culture of Montana. It would be a solid idea to spend three days and two nights on this road trip. The given routes will include stops at beautiful places and attractions along the way.

    Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA with bison (buffalo) in the foreground and a lake plus trees in the distance on a sunny day.
    This great trip begins in Yellowstone National Park which is a fantastic destination in its own right.

    Laurens Hoddenbagh/

    Best time to go on a road trip from Yellowstone to Glacier National Park

    During your journey, your choice of activities will completely rely on the optimal timing. Nevertheless, Montana, especially its mountains, remains a popular destination all year round, despite experiencing severe winters with abundant snowfall.

    The attractions along the way will be open and inviting, and the temperatures are pleasant for exploring and outdoor pursuits (ranging from 83 to 87 degrees Fahrenheit, although anticipate cooler temperatures in the elevated mountains) during the summer season, which is peak time in Montana.

    If you choose to face the throngs, anticipate crowded parking lots, more bustling urban areas, and costly hotel prices. May through September are among the most bustling times to explore Glacier National Park, where approximately three million individuals visit solely during the summer months.

    In secluded regions, numerous lodgings and points of interest shut down during the colder months. However, it’s important to mention that this is the prime opportunity to explore if you enjoy winter sports like skiing, particularly if you’re following our Eastern Route. In contrast, Montana experiences severe climate conditions and extremely frigid temperatures during winter.

    Late autumn and early spring necessitate additional clothing, and certain establishments situated in elevated areas might still be inaccessible. Furthermore, the transitional period between peak seasons offers more affordable rates and pleasant weather (ranging from 63 to 73 degrees), as well as stunning displays of blossoming flowers in spring and vibrant foliage in autumn.

    The primary celebrations occur during the summer season, therefore, if you wish to attend an event or festival, it would be most advantageous to schedule a trip in the summer. A few instances of these festivities include the Lewis and Clark Celebration in Great Falls, the Wildwater Carnival in Bigfork, and the Ravalli County Exhibition and Rockin’ RC Rodeo in Hamilton.