Recipe for a Road Trip
Some places seem like they’re made for road tripping and we’re happy to tell you that Montana is one of those places. While there are many routes you can take in, around and through Montana to get to Kalispell, one of the most scenic is from Missoula to Kalispell on U.S. Highway 93. From Missoula, depart the Missoula Valley and travel north to Kalispell on this scenic 117-mile-long drive. Make the most of your time and soak up plenty of stops along the way with this detailed itinerary.
Start your trip on the Flathead Indian Reservation, home of the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes. As you travel north, keep your eyes open for the wildlife overpass that’s often used by grizzly bears, black bears and larger game animals. After you officially enter the Jocko Valley, be sure to stop by The Garden of One Thousand Buddhas in Arlee, pick up local honey at Arlee Apiaries and take in the sweeping views of the National Bison Range and the Mission Mountains at the top of Ravalli Hill (be sure to pull over for a photo). Additional highlights include the St. Ignatius Mission, Four Winds Trading Post and Fort Connah, all located in St. Ignatius.
Optional drive: Take a self-guided tour of the National Bison Range.
In the Mission Valley, you’ll be situated between the jagged peaks of the Mission Mountains and lush agricultural land that spans out to the West. In Charlo, be sure to stop by the Ninepipes Museum of Early Montana and have lunch at Ninepipes Lodge, complete with a floor-to-ceiling view of the mountains right outside.
Optional drive: Visit Ninepipes National Wildlife Refuge(turn on Olsen Drive and look for the wildlife-viewing area).
After lunch at Ninepipes Lodge, continue north and visit the Miracle of American Museum in Polson. Learn about the traditional lifestyles and histories of the Salish, Kootenai and Pend d’Oreille tribes on a guided tour through the center. At the top of Polson Hill, be sure to take advantage of the scenic overlook that gives you an expansive view of the snow-fed waters of Flathead Lake. Get out of the car (or motorcoach) and breathe in fresh lake air with a walk along Splash Point Park in Polson.
The last leg of your trip will take you along the western shore of Flathead Lake, with peek-a-boo views of the lake, Mission and Swan mountains and orchards that line the shore. Plan to spend some time in Rollins, a quaint town on the lake, with a stop at M&S meats where you can pick up hand-pulled jerky and snag a photo with a bison, followed by perusing Greytone Vintage Market. Continue driving north, but plan to make a stop at Tamarack Brewing Company in Lakeside for an afternoon snack or sampler before ending your Highway 93 road trip in Kalispell.