Montana is well-known for having a diverse range of stunning landscapes. Montana is the ideal spot to perform any kind of outdoor adventuring, from the harsh mountain landscape of the Rockies in the west to the broad eastern skies above the grasslands.
With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that Big Sky Country is home to some of the best motorcycle rides in the country. Consider how the serpentine highways that span across the region look from a motorcycle when much of the best scenery in Montana is midway between the mountainous backdrops and the plains. Some of Montana’s best motorcycle rides may be found in national parks such as Glacier National Park in the northwest and Yellowstone National Park in the southwest, but the state has a lot more to offer.
Of course, Montana’s roads and landscape are extremely dispersed, and wayside services (including petrol stations) are few and far between, but with a little planning ahead of time, anyone looking for a two-wheeled adventure will have a blast in this area of the country.
HOW CAN I FIND THE BEST MOTORCYCLE ROADS AROUND MONTANA?
Motorcycle Rides in Montana
- Beartooth Pass
- Flathead Lake Loop
- Hyalite Canyon
- Wilsall Loop
- Lolo Pass
- Glacier National Park Loop
- Kalispell Libby Loop
- Gallatin Canyon
- Yellowstone National Park
- Lewis & Clark Highway to Townsend
1. The Beartooth Pass
The Beartooth Pass, also known as the Beartooth Highway, has long been regarded as one of the top routes in the country in terms of scenic beauty and exhilarating adventure. The pass is a 68-mile portion of US212 that connects Red Lodge, Montana, and Cooke City, Montana. This section of the road runs close to Yellowstone National Park’s Northeast Entrance and reaches about 11,000 feet above sea level at times.
Because this is a high elevation position, snow and thunderstorms are common, even in the summer, which is possibly why the pass is closed from October to May. With a few switchbacks and gentle, calming curves, the scenery along the road includes lakes and breath-taking mountain views. You can get onto Highway 212 after making sure you have a full tank of petrol at Red Lodge. This route will have you steadily rising up the side of the mountains and cruising through spectacular alpine views in no time.
You’ll start to see lakes, mountains, and more beautiful pure forest regions as you travel down the other side. You’ll ultimately arrive in Cooke City, an ancient mining town with a gas station, where you may fuel up before returning to Red Lodge or continuing on into Yellowstone National Park.
2. Flathead Lake Loop
Starting in Kalispell, this circle will take you around Flathead Lake, passing through a few tiny communities and taking in some breathtaking sights along the way. The route is roughly 100 miles long and takes just over two hours depending on riding speed and stops.
If you travel south on US Highway 93 from the western coast of the lake, you’ll come to Polson a little farther down the road. You can take a left out of Polson onto State Route 35, which will take you up two lanes on the east side of the lake. From here, you’ll get some spectacular views of the lake’s shores and adjacent orchards before returning to Kalispell.
3. Hyalite Canyon
Hyalite Canyon is a famous picnic place with several winding canyon roads that lead into the area.
It takes around an hour to drive from Bozeman to Hyalite Canyon. If you take 19th Avenue, the road will curve sharply right and then turn left onto Hyalite Canyon Road. This meandering canyon route will take you past a beautiful river scene as well as some beautiful mountain backdrops. After about another half hour, you’ll arrive at Hyalite Reservoir, a lovely place to pause for a picnic.
Just keep an eye out for dirt and sand, as well as wildlife, in various portions of the journey. Between April 1st and May 15th, the Canyon is closed to all vehicles to allow for snowmelt and road clearance.
4. Wilsall Loop
From the twisting roads of this motorcycle trip, you’ll be able to see some great views of two impressive-looking mountain ranges. This is a short loop that gets you out of Bozeman and onto Highway 86, where you may continue along the route as it winds its way through the Bridger Mountain Range. This route will take you through the well-known Bridger Bowl Ski Area before descending into a beautiful forested area. After Bridger Bowl, the route becomes a little tighter, and the climbs and falls become more prominent.
Not short after this wooded location, you’ll see the Crazy Mountain Range, and when the road rapidly curves to the right, you’ll come to a highway 89 junction. If you take a right here, you’ll be able to enjoy a nice and steady trip all the way down to I-90, where you can get back on the interstate and return to Bozeman.
5. Lolo Pass
For every discerning two-wheel enthusiast worth their salt, Lolo Pass is a “must ride.” This particular stretch of motorcycle riding paradise may be found between Kooskia, Idaho and Lolo, Montana.
The Lolo Pass stretch has nearly 100 miles of twisty road with plenty of twists, as well as some spectacular views. The best way to get there is from Missoula, where you can hop on US-93 and go south toward Lolo. To get into the swing of things, make sure you have enough petrol and turn right onto US-12. From there, it’s just a matter of taking in the beauty and cycling for around three hours.
6. Glacier National Park Loop
It’s up to you how you traverse the Glacier National Park roads, but they’re unquestionably some of the best riding in the state. You might leave from West Glacier or Saint Mary, which is a little further east. You can ride the park’s loop, which covers 150 miles along Highway 2 and Highway 89 before returning along the Going-To-The-Sun Road.
For many, the highlight of Glacier National Park is riding along Going-to-the-Sun Road, which alone makes the admission fee worthwhile; but, if you do the entire loop, you can expect varied terrain in the form of some extremely steep and demanding ascents up through the Rockies.
7. Kalispell to Libby Loop
If you’re in the Kalispell region and want to go for a longer ride, check out this route, which begins just north of Kalispell on US Highway 93 and takes you on a trip that covers about 300 miles.
Continue on US-93 through Whitefish, Eureka, and Koocanusa Bridge on MT Highway 37. Continue for roughly 30 miles after crossing the bridge to Yaak, where you can ride along the Kootenai River via Troy and to Kootenai Falls. After the falls, continue on US Highway 2 toward Libby before circling back in the direction of Kalispell.
8. The Gallatin Canyon
Gallatin Canyon is a winding length of mountain scenery with constant twists and turns. After roughly 10 miles, if you take US-191 south from Bozeman towards Gallatin Gateway, then follow the signs for Big Sky and Yellowstone National Park, you’ll reach the canyon’s outer reaches.
From here, you may follow the river as it winds its way into the canyon, taking in some spectacular sights along the way. This can be done for around 20 km before arriving in Big Sky. Turning right onto MT-64 will take you into town, and if you want a few more twists and turns, you may continue on this road up to the Big Sky Resort’s lower borders. You could get on the 191 and follow it down to West Yellowstone if you wanted a few additional miles on top of that.
9. Yellowstone National Park
Although wildlife such as bison and elk can cause roadblocks, Yellowstone National Park boasts some spectacular landscapes and roadways. You’ll get a lot more out of this park if you take it slowly and think of touring the roads as a marathon rather than a sprint.
You’ll witness more stunning landscapes and unique geological features in this park and along its roads, and you can ride on to the Bear tooth Pass from the Northeast Entrance, or continue on to Grand Teton National Park from the South Entrance.
10. Lewis & Clark Highway to Townsend
If you enjoy motorbike excursions in Montana that include breathtaking mountain views, this is another excellent option. This route, which begins with a leap onto 86 towards Bridger Bowl & Wilsall and heads out of Bozeman, has more than its fair share of twisty twists.
A leisurely voyage along the Bridger Mountains, which develops more twists and turns the further you go, is available. After about 35 miles, 86 crosses with US-89, where the road gradually straightens out a bit if you turn left and continue north. If you turn left onto US-12 after another 30 miles or so, you’ll be rolling through the twisting roads of Helena National Forest before arriving at Townsend.