Highway US-2 across Montana is one of the longest roads across a single state in the USA. It travels an entire time zone! Also known as the Roosevelt Highway, I traveled all 667 miles to find the best Things to Do on Highway 2 in Montana, as listed from west to east of this epic Montana Road Trip:
Best Attractions on Highway 2 Montana:
There is a ridiculous amount of wildlife in this western part of Montana. After driving all day across Washington and Idaho, I hadn’t seen a single wild animal, but the minute I crossed the border into Montana I saw a deer in the road. For the next 50 miles, I managed to see 6 herds of elk, a dozen wild turkeys. 4 bighorn sheep, and a few hundred deer. Watch your speed!
Kootenai Falls is a free, must visit stop. There’s a easy to moderate hike across the railroad track with two forks – one to the falls (a giant rapids, really) and one to the suspension bridge. You can’t miss the big parking lot off the north side of the road, around mile marker 21.
Huge Paul Bunyan Pan – Heritage Museum, Libby
There are loads of historical museums in all the little county seats across the state of Montana, but the Heritage Museum in Libby is one of the better ones. Make sure you check out Paul Bunyan’s giant frying pan out back. The Museum is located on the east side of town.
Stay – Libby
Libby is the best place to stay in far western Montana. Check Rates and Availability at booking.com.
Mile marker 69 is the location of the beautiful Loon Lake. This is the first of a chain of Thompson Lakes but Loon Lake is the only one that has ample room to view and pull off the road. The other Thompson Lakes are off the highway and require fees for day use or camping. Loon Lake is true to its name – a single loon was making it’s morning swim on the day I visited.
Montana Vortex is one of those places where you can witness all sorts of cool things. It’s located 2 miles east of Columbia Falls. More details about Montana Vortex here.
Hungry Horse Dam
A 4 mile detour off of highway US-2, just east of Hungry Horse town, is the Hungry Horse Dam. It’s possible to walk or drive over the top of the dam and view the famous “glory hole”. The visitor center is open in the summertime.
Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park is the quintessential attraction on highway US-2. Learn more about a spring visit here. If visiting Glacier and not camping, I recommend staying in West Glacier or East Glacier. From Glacier, enjoy the views of the Rockies all the way to Shelby.
Cut Bank Penguin
This giant cement penguin on the westbound lanes of US-2, near the eastern border of town claims that Cut Bank is the coldest place in the nation but google search tells me it’s not even in the top ten coldest!
Stay – Shelby
Shelby is the best place to stay in far central Montana. Check Rates and Availability at booking.com.
Detour South: Great Falls
From Shelby, it’s well worth the 1 hour, 20 minute drive down I-15 to Great Falls – so much history of Lewis & Clark, and location of the only mermaid bar I know. Find more info on Great Falls here.
There are many small towns along highway 2 with exotic names like Zurich, Dunkirk, Malta, and Kremlin, but like much of main street America, they are home to too many failed dreams – deserted motor hotels, shops, restaurants. But the people are so nice and they continue on. Farming is key, and you can see this in the large grain elevators along the railway that parallels highway US-2 across most of the state.
A couple years ago, I traveled this same route by Amtrak. If you’re driving, you can still check out some of the historic train stations on the tracks that parallel highway 2 Montana for most of the width of the state.
Havre Beneath the Streets
One of the biggest surprises in Montana was this fascinating tour in the center of the state that takes you to an underground city. More details about Havre Beneath the Streets here.
Where to Stay – Malta
Malta is the best place to stay in eastern Montana. Check Rates and Availability.
Bowdoin National Wildlife Refuge
Bowdoin National Wildlife Refuge is a great place for birders, and includes a 15 mile circular road around the Bowdoin Lakes. Road to the refuge is located 1 mile east of Malta.
Sleeping Buffalo Hot Springs
The biggest highlight of eastern Montana is the Sleeping Buffalo Hot Springs, located halfway between Malta and Saco, MT. This newly remodeled resort and campground is a real gem. Also check out the Sleeping Buffalo Rock and sunset at Nelson Reservoir when you’re in the area. More details about Sleeping Buffalo here.
There are a dozen animals that reside atop the hills outside Glasgow, MT. Most are dinosaurs, but there are a few locally founds animals like an eagle and bighorn sheep. The metal statues are located about a mile west of Glasgow on Highway 2.
Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site
Fort Union is a historic trading post on the Missouri River. This park is free and they can provide you with info if you’re on your way to Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The best way to get here is to cross the Montana – North Dakota Border on US-2 and turn right on county 5 in North Dakota. Follow the signs. The unique thing about this park is the driveway is in Montana and the building is in North Dakota, so you change time zones between the entrance and the visitor center!
Are there any other best things to do on highway 2 Montana you’d like suggest to do? Or other favorite Montana road trips? Leave your note in the comments below!
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