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Driving route between glacier and yellowstone

Portland, Oregon
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Driving route between glacier and yellowstone

we will be leaving from east glacier and ending up in yellowstone. I've heard that there is a couple different routes to take. does anyone have an opinion on which one is best? i'm planning on it taking a good 8 hours. is that about right?

1. Re: Driving route between glacier and yellowstone

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Illinois
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2. Re: Driving route between glacier and yellowstone

Depends where you are entering Yellowstone. We did this last year and I believe we took 89 to 287 to 90 and then got back on 89-we entered at Gardiner. I think the actual driving time between Browning and Gardiner was just under 6 hours. Be sure to gas up on your way out-I drove the first 3-4 hours and facilities were scarce-we didn't stop for lunch until we hit Helena because there wasn't much (if anything) in between. I remember it being a pretty, if not overly scenic ride-lots of pronghorn on the sides of the roads and not too many cars. I think your other option would be leaving via West Glacier and going through Polson, which may be more scenic, but the extra driving time may not be worth it and hopefully you'll have plenty of scenery while you're in Glacier and then again in YNP.

Golden, Canada
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3. Re: Driving route between glacier and yellowstone

Leaving from the east side of Glacier simply drive down US-89 (for the most part) toward Helena and pick your route to head to Yellowstone... there are a few options all scenic. The north route Livingston to Gardiner and the west route through West Yellowstone are about the same distance and time wise... US-191 gets a small preference for scenery. If you're ambitious you can curve around and take the Beartooth Highway (US-212) in from the northeast, but this requires an overnight enroute.

Portland, Oregon
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4. Re: Driving route between glacier and yellowstone

Thank you for all your help!

chicago
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5. Re: Driving route between glacier and yellowstone

Hi Kbrusseau -

You have a few choices here. Do you want to get there as fast as possible or do you want to spend the day sight seeing?

Those interested in taking their time may be interested in these routes:

1. West Glacier to the National Bison Range. This is about two hours or so around magnificent Flathead Lake. Take U.S. 2 west to MT 206, take this south to 35, then take this to 82, and then to highway 93 south. Take this around Flathead Lake until MT 212(a right). Follow this until you see the Bison Range entrance. Here you can take a Jurassic Park style one way tour of a fabulous wildlife area with a chance to see bison(you will see them), elk, bighorn, pronghorn, bald eagles, coyotes and various raptors. The view from the top of the Mission Mountains is *amazing*. They rise some 6,000 feet over the velly floor with no foothills. At the top of the one way road (and mountain) is a little interpretive sign and a bathroom. If you like wildlife this place is a must do.

The combination of wildlife on this route, plus the largest lake in the west and spectacular moutnains makes it worthwhile. From the Bison Range, head east on 200 back to 93 south and take this to I-90 east. You will pass through Missoula (great town) and then work your way back towards Yellowstone with 75 mph speed limits. The drive from Missoula to Belgrade is two hours and 44 minutes. Belgrade is where highway 191 starts. Take this south to Yellowstone through the spectacular Gallatin National Forest to West Yellowstone and there you are. This section is an hour and a half travel time(but I would most definitely stop along the river and have lunch. It's a fantastic drive.

The other "lolly gag" route is West Glacier through the beautiful Seeley Swan Valley. This is one where you will be on long stretches of remote forest with little development. Some prefer this. There are many small lakes, views of the eastern side of the Mission Mountains and the western flank of the Swan Mountains. Lots of neat places to stop and picnic most of this route is national forest land.

It's 3 hours to Lincoln Montana from here. Take U.S. 2 to MT 206 to MT 35, turn left on Highway 83 which takes you through the long Seeley Swan, then turn left on MT 200 towards Lincoln. Form Lincoln, go over Roger's pass to highway 279 and hang a right. Take this into the canyon and I-15 which runs through Helena. In Helena, get off at 12/287 and head east/south. This will take you to Three forks, and then head east on I90 to Belgrade and highway 191 down into Yellowstone. Lincoln To Belgrade is about 2 and a half hours.

For the fastest route from East Glacier, you are going to want to take U.S., 2 east to Browning, then take 89 south along the Rocky Mountain Front to Choteau, then take 287 south from Choteau past highway 200 and follow the same directions I gave you from Lincoln to Belgrade. The route from East Glacier to the junction with highway 200 is about 2 and a half hours.

All of these routes are gorgeous. The Flathead route is the most developed and busy, but also gives you a tremendous lake and the Bison Range. The Seeley Lake route has tons of green, and the Rocky Mountain front route gives you the wildest prairie region in the lower 48 with far off mountains. Pickout which you prefer and go for it. I'm a wildlife nut so I tend to choose the Bison Range when heading down to Yellowstone.

Good luck!

Golden, Canada
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6. Re: Driving route between glacier and yellowstone

Wolverine that's a great post. :)

Coming from the west (as I will be too) there is the opportunity to catch the NBR and Flathead Lake on the way to Glacier, so depending where one is leaving Glacier that leaves 83 on the west side or 89 etc on the east side.

There's also a couple of waterfall hikes on the Seeley-Swan route and a side trip to Garnet (ghostown) is possible as well. Of course the US-93 route takes you to Missoula which is also worth a visit. Decisions decisions, but you can't really go wrong.

Edited: 03 July 2010, 07:27
Mississippi
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7. Re: Driving route between glacier and yellowstone

Wolverine....thanks so much. This is where we are in the planning process. Best (not necessarily) the fastest way to go from Many Glacier area GNP to Mammoth Springs Yellowstone. My husband is all about wildlife so he'll be delighted when I tell him about the Bison Range. Follow -up for you:

We get to Kalispell airport around noon (mid-September) and pick up our rental car there. Would you comment on the option of going directly to the Bison Range from Kalispell and then going to Glacier? We had planned on driving GTTS with a couple of short hikes on our way to Many Glacier Hotel, but I'm wondering about going on to the BIson Range and then exiting GNP by the the eastern route you've described. We have 3 nights at Many Glacier. So much to see/so little time!!!

We also would appreciate any advice re: a midway point to eat & stretch legs on the day we travel to YNP.

chicago
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8. Re: Driving route between glacier and yellowstone

Hi!

The Bison Range is a must-do for wildlife fans. But I'm not sure about backtracking from Kalispell and then back up to Glacier in the same day. The drive around Flathead Lake from Kalispell is not a straight one, and then you would have to go all the way back. Also, the Kalispell airport is north of town, and to be honest they way the roads are set up through Kalispell can cause serious delays during the construction months.

I would definitely stick with your original plan of doing GTTS and getting camp at Many Glacier. You would likely end up driving back into Glacier at night whichis not fun. There's tons of wildlife in the road and it gets dark early in mid-September.

If your goal is to spend all the time in Glacier and get to Yellowstone the quickest down the eastern route, then I say stick with that and do not do the Bison Range. However, if you feel like driving from Many G to the Bison Range, no the morning you leave Many G get up at dawn and drive to the Bison Range and spend the day. I can tell you that the elk rut at sunset in September in the Bison Range is spectacular. This of course would require some sort of lodging near MIssoula which you could drive to when the sun went down. I'm not a big fan of hotels and often sleep in my car outside the Bison Range gates so I can see the elk at sunrise. I wish there was a national forest campground close but there is not. There is however lodging in Missoula(great town) and along 93 in the Flathead Reservation.

I can also tell you that Many Glacier is an absolutely incredible wildlife spot in September. So I wouldn't sweat not doing the Bison Range unless you wanted a guarantee of seeing Flathead Lake and elk in a river. Many Glacier will offer grizzly, black bear, bighorn, mountain goat, elk(they do not like to be seen), bald eagles, golden eagles, and of course rutting moose.

If you shoot me a PM I will be happy to share my tips for the Many Glacier area wildife viewing. I spend the fall photogrpahing grizzly and other animals in the park every year.

Guess where my avatar is from?

;)

Edited: 06 July 2010, 03:50
Newtown, PA
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9. Re: Driving route between glacier and yellowstone

This thread has caught my attention. We'll be traveling from Missoula to Hungry Horse on our trip and I've been trying to decide which route to take: 93, 83 or 35. How is 35 around the east side of Flathead Lake?

Golden, Canada
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10. Re: Driving route between glacier and yellowstone

Relayer, you'd take US-93 from Missoula to Polson and then MT-35 along the east side of Flathead Lake. This is by far the preferred route... well at least once you get to Polson, lol. You could also hit the Bison Range, the old mission in St. Ignatius, and the wildlife refuges, and Bigfork along the way.

The main attraction at Mammoth in September is the elk rut so no need to worry about seeing them elsewhere...