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Come Ride, and Discover, Kalispell

When it comes to scenic destinations for motorcycle riders, Kalispell, Montana is at the epicenter of them all. From Kalispell, the anchor of Montana’s Flathead Valley, motorcyclists can set out in a variety of directions to take in the jaw-dropping scenic beauty that’s found around every curve in the road and awaiting at scenic pullouts. From Kalispell, riders can set out on day trip loop tours in a variety of directions. Travel south around Flathead Lake via U.S. Highway 93 and Highway 35. Or opt for a ride through the nearby Backbone of the World—Glacier National Park—and be prepared to take in glacial-carved terrain and rushing waterways along the stunning Going-to-the-Sun Road. After a day riding, explore Kalispell’s lively downtown, taste Montana ciders, wineries, beer and spirits and fill up on local culinary offerings before overnighting at one of the mountain town’s flagship or boutique hotels.

Depart Great Falls on Interstate 15 north. Follow I-15 N to MT-44 West/Valier Highway (exit 348). Stay on MT Hwy 44 to US-89N. Turn right towards Browning. Continue on US-89N through the town of Browning towards St. Mary’s. At St. Mary’s enter Glacier National Park/Going-to-the Sun Road.
The Going-to-the-Sun Road is a 52-mile historical landmark, open in its entirety a few months of the year. Starting at St. Mary you’ll marvel at the peaks rising above the surface of St. Mary Lake. Be sure to stop and spot Wild Goose Island at the turnout. (popular photo spot). Elevation at Logan Pass is 6,647 ft. Recommend a stop to visit the visitor center and take a walk up the board walk towards Hidden Lake. You’ll most likely see mountain goats and perhaps a bear in the distance. The elevation climbs and falls and the road and twists and turns. During the peak season (July through mid-August) there is steady traffic on the road which at time causes delays. The views are incredible and there are several spots to pull off and take it all in.

The pass has majestic scenery in every direction including the Garden Wall, a length of rocky cliffs that make up part of the continental divide, and the weeping wall – a waterfall that trickles off the rocks along the uphill side of the road. Weather can change throughout the day so its recommended to bring plenty of layers including waterproof jacket and footwear.

“For mountain climbers, reaching Mt Everest is the ultimate claim to fame. It is in a remote area and very difficult to get to, its known for its cold and snow, and it provides some of the most challenging climbing in the world. For motorcycle riders, this route, Going-To-The-Sun Road is the MT Everest of continental US motorcycle-routes.” Motorcycleroads.com

Ride the length of the Going-to-the-Sun road along Lake McDonald into the village of Apgar.

Visitor center, photo spot at end of lake

Exit the park into West Glacier. Turn right onto US Hwy-2W towards Kalispell. Remain on Hwy 2 W through Columbia Falls then follow Hwy 2 E into downtown Kalispell.

Approximate distance: - Approximate time:

Recommended stops:

  • Park Café – St. Mary
  • Glacier Peaks Casino – Browning
  • Museum of the Plains Indian – Browning
  • Logan Pass Visitor Center - Logan Pass
  • Lake McDonald Lodge – Apgar
  • Glacier Park Boat Company – Agar and East Glacier
  • Crown of the Continent Discovery Center – West Glacier
  • Josephine’s Bar & Kitchen – Coram

Depart Great Falls on Interstate 15 north. Follow I-15 N to MT-44 West/Valier Highway (exit 348). Stay on MT Hwy 44 to US-89N. Turn right towards Browning. Continue on US-89N through the town of Browning towards St. Mary’s. Approximately 13 miles from Browning, at the Kiowa junction turn left on to MT Hwy 49, Looking Glass Road. Before the Going-to-the-Sun Road opens over the alpine section of Logan Pass the best scenic drive is Looking Glass Road. It is a twisty scenic byway with gorgeous vistas in the Blackfeet Reservation. The road climbs through timber to the sub-alpine and back down all within 10 miles. One of the most stunning spots is at Lower Two Medicine Lake, looking in to the Two Medicine Valley. There is a large pull off area at that spot. When along the park’s eastern edge you are in grizzly country so be aware. If you wish to explore off the main road you will need a Blackfeet Recreation Permit which can be purchased at the Bear Tracks gas station in East Glacier Park for $10. Hwy 49 enters East Glacier Village.

Depart East Glacier Village and turn right on to US Hwy 2 W towards West Glacier and Kalispell.

Approximate distance: 244 miles Approximate time: 4 hours 38 minutes

Recommended stops:

  • Bear Tracks gas station – Blackfeet Recreation Permit – East Glacier Park
  • East Glacier Lodge – East Glacier Park
  • Bison Creek Ranch & Café – East Glacier Park
  • Sun Water Boar Tours – St. Mary’s
  • Goat Lick - Essex
  • Isaak Walton Inn – Essex
  • Glacier Outdoor Center – West Glacier
  • Montana House – Apgar Village

Depart Great Falls on Interstate 15 north. Follow I-15 N to MT-44 West/Valier Highway (exit 348). Stay on MT Hwy 44 to US-89 N. Turn right towards Browning. Continue on US-89N into the town of Browning. Exit Browning on to US Hwy 2 W towards East Glacier.
Remain on Hwy 2 W through Columbia Falls then follow Hwy 2 E into downtown Kalispell.

Approximate distance: 232 miles - Approximate time: 4 hours 10 minutes

Recommended stops:

  • Glacier Peaks Casino – Browning
  • Museum of the Plains Indian – Browning
  • Serrano’s Mexican Restaurant – East Glacier Park
  • Crown of the Continent Discovery Center – West Glacier
  • The Huckleberry Patch – Hungry Horse
  • Nickel Charlie’s - Kalispell

Depart Kalispell on US Hwy 93 north towards Whitefish. Continue on through Whitefish as you continue heading north on US Hwy 93 to the charming town of Eureka, located just five minutes south of the Canadian border. Formerly known as Tobacco Plains, the Eureka area was originally home to the Kootenai Indians. David Thompson was the first white man to see the area in 1808 and homesteaders began to arrive in the 1980’s. (60 miles from Kalispell)

Follow MT Hwy 567 to Yaak, Montana’s northwestern most town. Drop by the infamous bar “The Dirty Shame Saloon” and the Yaak Mercantile. Check out scenic Yaak Falls, cascading down in a beautiful narrow mountain valley, a photographer’s delight.

When MT Hwy 567 meets MT Hwy 2 (29 miles from Yaak), ride toward Kootenai Falls, located between Libby and Troy at milepost 21. The Kootenai River enters a canyon and flows over Kootenai Falls, one of the largest free-flowing waterfalls in the northwest. The falls and surrounding area are considered sacred to the Kootenai Indians whose ancestors inhabited the region. A forest trail leads from the highway parking lot down to the swinging bridge and make a nice, easy hike. Interesting tidbit: Kootenai Falls was the setting for the filing of the movie, The River Wild and the Reverant.

Continue travel through Libby on MT Hwy 2 until you find yourself back to your home sweet home.

Approximate distance: 248 miles – Approximate time: 5 hours 44 minutes

Recommended stops:

  • The Dirty Shame Saloon – Yaak
  • Yaak Falls
  • Cabinet Mountain Brewing Company- Libby
  • The Heritage Museum- Libby
  • Kootenai Country Chainsaw Caring Championships (Sept)- Libby
  • Happy’s Roadhouse Inn- Libby

Depart Kalispell on US Hwy 93 north towards Whitefish. Continue on through Whitefish as you continue heading north on US Hwy 93 to the charming town of Eureka, located just five minutes south of the Canadian border. Formerly known as Tobacco Plains, the Eureka area was originally home to the Kootenai Indians. David Thompson was the first white man to see the area in 1808 and homesteaders began to arrive in the 1980’s. (60 miles from Kalispell).

Ride through Rexford (5 miles from Eureka) to Lake Koocanusa, a 90 mile long reservoir behind Libby Dam. 50 miles of this reservoir lies in the United States while the other 40 miles are in Canada. The roads on either side of the lake make a wonderful riding loop with beautiful views of both side of the lake. This loop, through the forest along MT Hwy 37 and the Forest Development Road (FDR) 228, was designated a Scenic Byway in 1992. The lake cuts a narrow fjord-like gorge between the Purcell Mountains and the Salish Mountains. (67 miles from Eureka to Libby)

From Libby, the Lake Koocanusa Scenic Byway (Forest Development Road No, 228) travels around the west side of the lake and is a more leisurely, two-lane, paved route. Plus, you’ll pass through some of the most scenic wild roads in the northwest. This is heavily forested terrain with an abundance of wildlife. Visit Libby Dam (17 miles from Libby) and its visitor center to check out their exhibit area, book/gift sales area and auditorium featuring “The Power and Beauty of the Kootenai, the Story of Libby Dam.” Continue to travel north until you reach the Lake Koocanusa Bridge to the west and you will turn left to get onto MT Hwy 37 east.

Approximate distance: 235 miles – Approximate time: 4 hours 20 minutes

Recommended stops:

  • Tobacco Valley Historical Village, Eureka
  • Around the Corner Antiques & Art, Eureka
  • Dickey Lake, Eureka
  • Rendezvous Days (April), Eureka
  • Front Porch Grill House, Eureka
  • Libby Dam
  • Kootenai Falls and Swinging Bridge
  • Troy Museum and Visitor’s Center

Hungry Horse Dam and Reservoir are located 20 miles northeast of Kalispell. From Kalispell you take MT Hwy 2 north and continue straight on MT Hwy 35 east and turn left onto MT Hwy 206 towards Glacier National Park. Turn right onto U.S. Hwy 2 by the Big Sky Waterslides and continue on to Hungry Horse. Turn right onto NF-895/West Side road until you reach Hungry Horse Dam. At 564 feet high, the dam is one of the largest concrete arch dams in the U.S. and its morning-glory spillway is the highest in the world. The reservoir is 34 miles long and surrounded by towering mountain peaks. A recommended route is a ride along the west side of the reservoir which is paved for the first 11 miles. Stop for a break at the Lost Johnny Point Campground approximately 6 miles from the dam – allow time for a hike, fish or swim. The Hungry Horse Dam Visitor Center is open daily May-September and offers free guided tours of the dam. Cycle back to US Hwy 2 and keep on US Hwy 2 west instead of going back to MT Hwy 206 towards and through Columbia Falls taking US Hwy 2 south to Kalispell.

Approximate distance: 57 miles – Approximate time: 1 hour 27 minutes

Recommended Stops:

  • Woody’s Country Store – Kalispell
  • Glacier Round Pottery House – Columbia Falls
  • Montana Jerky – Columbia Falls
  • Montana Vortex and House of Mystery – Columbia Falls
  • Huckleberry Patch – Hungry Horse
  • North Lion Lake Picnic Site – Martin City
  • Sacred Waters/Glacier Sun Winery/Rough Cut Cidery – Kalispell

Depart Kalispell on US Hwy 93 south towards Flathead Lake. A ride around Flathead Lake offers breathtaking views, tasty brews (for passengers only), and colorful culture. It’s recommended to start the ride on the west shore. Plan the day and take in some of the memorable stops which include great restaurants, museums, galleries, breweries, distillery and winery, and West Shore and Big Arm State Park for swimming and rock skipping. The southern half of the lake is part of the Flathead Reservation, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. Points of interest on the reservation include the People’s Center museum, Seli’š Ksanka Qlispe’ (Kerr) dam, Standing Arrow Pow Wow (July) and the National Bison Range. After Polson at the south end of the lake turn on MT Hwy. 35 west, this will lead you towards Bigfork and Kalispell on the east side highway. With higher peaks and steeper shoreline the east side offers a dramatic experience as you roll past orchards, agricultural land, and views of sailboats gliding across the lake. Grab dinner and take in the sunset in Bigfork and Wayfarers State Park before the short ride back to your lodging in Kalispell. Follow MT Hwy 35 west to MT Hwy 82 west then US Hwy 93 into Kalispell.

Approximate distance: 104 miles – Approximate time: 3 hours 9 minutes

Recommended stops:

  • Glacier Perks Coffee House – Lakeside
  • Spinnaker Casino Bar and Grill – Lakeside
  • Tamarack Brewing Company – Lakeside
  • West Shore/Flathead Lake State Park – Lakeside
  • M&S Meats & Sausage – Rollins
  • Betty’s Diner – Polson
  • Miracle of America Museum – Polson
  • Finley Point Grill – Polson
  • The Orchard at Flathead Lake – Yellow Bay
  • Wayfarers/Flathead Lake State Park – Bigfork
  • Pocketstone Café – Bigfork
  • Garden Bar and Grill – Bigfork
  • Flathead Lake Brewing Co. Pubhouse

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