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Best Things to Do on Highway 2 in Montana (All 667 miles of it!)

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:

Wildlife

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

Kootenai Falls Things to Do on Highway 2 in Montana
Things to Do on Highway 2 in Montan

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

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.

 Loon Lake

Loon Lake

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

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

Glory Hole
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

things to do on highway 2 Montana
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.

Farming Communities

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.

Train Stations

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
American Avocet

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

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.

 Glasgow Animals

Glasglow Montana Dinosaur

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 Trading Post
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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7 comments

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  1. This all looks awesome (although it must be very spread out over 667 miles!!)

    I think the hot spring is the part I would like best, although all those views of nature are gorgeous too!! <3

    • Bob longcake on February 8, 2019 at 6:09 pm
    • Reply

    Visit the Veterans Memorial in Shelby. Tribute to all those who have served in Montana. Fly a 30×50 IS flag24-7-365.See posting on the city of Shelby website

    1. Thanks for the tip!

    • Rhonda on March 30, 2019 at 8:06 pm
    • Reply

    While traveling across the Hi-Line, there are a few places of interest; The museum i n Rudyard is a hidden gem, the Bear’s Paw Battle Field just South of Chinook , and check out the museum to go along with the Battle Field while in Chinook.
    Stop in these little towns, or drive through (some will only take minutes to do) but there is history there, and some friendly folks.

    1. Thanks for the ideas. I might be back there this summer… heading to Billings but I love that northern route!

    • Tim Hershberger on March 31, 2019 at 12:24 pm
    • Reply

    How many times do you have the cook in a diner come out and ask you how your meal is? Happens in central and eastern Montana . Traveled the hi line and almost every road in Montana. Everytime was a new experience, I miss it so much.. living in Panama for 14 years now, but my heart is still in Montana.

    1. So cool! Eastern Montana is so off of the beaten path and the people are so great!

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