Best Winter Drives in Montana

Finding a way to escape the city is easy, as long as you have a set of wheels! Montana is home to much more than grain and cattle; hidden just past the plains are some of the most breathtaking mountain ranges in the lower 48. It's easy to get lost in the beauty up here, so from personal experience, we have compiled our top 5 favorite winter drives in the great state of Montana. Saddle up with your winter tires, AWD, or 4x4 (we like to keep people safe) and head out into the wild! 

Image Courtesy of Whitebark Media

Cooke City via Yellowstone National Park

When traveling through southwest Montana, you start to feel small after looking up at the beautifully sculpted peaks scattered through the Beartooth and Absaroka Mountain Ranges. With many roads scattered through the area, we like to keep a few hidden for resident's sake, but the route between Gardiner and Cooke City via Yellowstone National Park is a treasure. Given the trip passes along the Montana and Wyoming border, once you end up outside of Cooke City, there won't be any shortage of breathtaking views. Along this route, you might have the chance to view wild Bison, Elk, Deer, Eagles, Wolves, and more! As you venture between Mammoth Hot Springs and Tower Junction through Yellowstone National Park, there are plenty pull-offs for picture taking and wildlife viewing, and you'll skip the crowds since its Winter after all! Make sure you're filled up with gas through the park, you might be spending more time than anticipated looking at all the beautiful sights this route has to offer. 

Image Courtesy of Chris Wood Creative

Spanish Creek Road

Located just south of Gallatin Gateway near Bozeman, Spanish Creek Road crosses through Ted Turner's historic land that is home to hundreds of Bison Cattle that roam through the hills along the dirt road. This road crosses through private land, until ending at the beautiful Spanish Creek Trailhead, which leads to a beautiful and majestic turquoise lake in the summertime. There is a historic cabin along the road that sets in front of the view above, and brings you back in time before Bozeman became the city it is now. The peaks you see are part of the Gallatin Mountain Range and is the backside of Beehive Basin near Big Sky, Montana. We stress that you keep the land as pristine as it is, and respect No Trespassing signs. 

Image Courtesy of Chris Wood Creative

Glacier National Park via Browning & Saint Mary

Yes, this is one of the endless views you will see along this drive. As you head northwest on Highway 89 out of Great Falls, you will begin with the impressive views of the Bob Marshall Wilderness visible from Choteau, Montana. This land is desolate, meaning it will be better for wildlife viewing and feeling lost in the untouched landscape of Northern Montana. Once you cross onto the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, you will be on the home stretch to the eastern entrance to Glacier National Park. At this time of year, Saint Mary won't have much open, and the National Park will be closed at this entrance due to Logan Pass being snowed out, but the views will be breathtaking. This is one of our favorite escapes in Montana, and you'll have a serene silence that makes this spot even better! 

Image Courtesy of Chris Wood Creative

Bridger Canyon Road (Hwy 86)

If you are from Bozeman or have ever visited, chances are you've ended up on this road. Highway 86 or Bridger Canyon Road is the main route through the infamous Bridger Mountain Range, home to tons of hiking, world-class skiing, snowmobile trails, and of course views! The Bridger Range towers over Bozeman in all its majesty. If it's skiing you're in to, head over to Bridger Bowl Ski Area for a down-home Montana skiing experience that might just ruin every other resort for you. With friendly staff and even better snow, Bridger Bowl is great for the family or for the avid snow-chaser. If you continue past Bridger Bowl, you will then have views of the jagged north side of the Bridger Range. Soon you will drop into the wild planes near Wilsall, Montana where the wild west still lives on.

 Image Courtesy of Chris Wood Creative

Hyalite Canyon

Hyalite Canyon has grown in popularity recently, as it is easily accessible from Bozeman, Montana. In the winter, this is a popular spot for local backcountry skiing and snowboarding, ice fishing, ice climbing, nordic skiing, and snow shoeing. This is a beautiful one-stop-destination for any winter activity! This spot has a special place in everyone's heart in Bozeman, so PLEASE pick up after yourself, obey the speed limit, drive carefully, and keep the noise down for the locals (by locals I mean wildlife of course). With endless views this close to Bozeman, you won't need much preparation to venture into Hyalite Canyon. The roads are maintained by volunteers during the winter, so expect snow and ice as this is part of Gallatin National Forest. If you plan on heading onto any of the many trails, please make sure you have the gear necessary for the cold and be prepared for Montana weather. Know your limits, and get ready to take in the views of Hyalite Canyon!


If you visit any of these beautiful Montana locations, be sure to share your pictures and make sure to tag us @montanagiftcorral or use #MGC! Happy trails and be sure to make your adventure memorable.


Cover image courtesy of Unsplash

Written by Chris Wood

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