Motorcycle Montana

 

The State of Montana is a spectacular state to ride in. From the rolling hills and plains of the east to the twisty mountain roads of the west, and everything in between, even the Interstates are sweeping and scenic.  Montana is host to two "must see" National Parks, Glacier and Yellowstone and it's rich in history with dinosaur bones, old west battlefields, and the journey of Lewis and Clark.  It has 2 bucket list rides: the beartooth highway and the going-to-the-sun road.   In Montana it is not uncommon to encounter snow in the middle of July while riding across the mountain passes. Even though it may be 100 degrees at the beginning of the trip, you may find yourself wishing you had your heavy jacket in your saddlebags as you gain altitude in the mountainous parts of the state. Always carry your heavy jacket and leathers, just in case. There are lots of large animals in Montana. Watch out for deer, elk, moose, bear and bison so be vigilant, especially at night. Montana is a free range state which means you may not only encounter wild animals, but domestic farm animals on the roadway at night. Late Spring through Fall are the best times to travel.

 

Motorcycle Laws

Helmet Use: Required by Law Under Age 18

Riding Two Abreast: Yes

Eye Protection: Not Required

Daytime Use of Headlight: Required, Modulating Headlight Permitted

More Information On Laws

 

 

Best Rides In The State

Beartooth Pass, Beartooth Scenic Byway (US212)   The Beartooth Highway winds its way up, and up, and up,  to the 10,947 ft high Beartooth Pass, while following a series of steep zigzags and switchbacks, along the Montana-Wyoming border, before ultimately taking you down to the Northeast entrance of Yellowstone National Park (when heading east to west).  Officially, the Beartooth Highway comprises a section of U.S. Highway 212 between Red Lodge, Montana and Cooke City, Montana. (However, in between those two points, you’ll spend a lot of time in Wyoming.).  The Beartooth All American Highway has been described as the “single best motorcycle road ride in the United States”. Located about 1 hour from Billings, the ride takes you from the priarie to the top of the Beartooth Mountains, through some of the most beautiful road riding scenery in the world.  The pass is typically only open from late May through early September, Check with the ranger station before you go to make sure there are no road closures.  Plan on at least two hours for the 69-mile long ride from Red Lodge to Cooke City, and most important be prepared for cold and unpredictable weather at the top.  Have cold weather gloves and riding gear and raingear available for easy access to put on along the way.  If you are into motorcycle camping there are several Forest Service Campgrounds along the way.

Going-To-The-Sun Road, Glacier National Park   About 50 miles long, Going-To-The-Sun Road is usually open from the middle of June until mid October.   Check the road status before you go and be prepared for cold tempatures at the summit.  This is one of those "must ride in your lifetime" roads.   The famed Going-to-the-Sun Road, traverses through the heart of the park and crosses the Continental Divide, allowing visitors breathtaking views of the rugged Lewis and Livingston mountain ranges, as well as dense forests, alpine tundra, waterfalls and two large lakes.  Take advantage of the many turn-outs for some excellent pictures.  There is a $12 entry fee for the park, good for 7 days. 

Looking Glass Hill Road   This cut off falls between Kiowa and East Glacier, bypassing the town of Browing.  Although this road travels outside of Glacier National Park, some of the most famous views of Glacier are taken from some very humble pullouts along this route. Looking Glass Hill Road is only 11 miles, but if connected with MT-89 all the way to St. Mary it's extended to a worthwhile 30 miles, but its those first 11 miles that makes this road worthy of our list. 

 

Beartooth Pass Going-To-The-Sun Road Medicine Lake and into the Bighorn Basin from Looking Glass Road.

Montana State Highway 37  This road begins north of Eureka as a branch off of  US Route 93  it heads south past  Rexford and follows the East Shore of Lake Koocanusa with sweeping curves, gentle elevation changes and fantastic views of the lake. Ends in Libby for a total of 69 miles. Ride along one side of the lake then up the other side on FR228.

Lake Koocanusa Scenic Byway (FR 228)   In-between Highway 37 and the beautiful Lake Koocanusa is one of Montana's exceptional rides.  This route runs between White Haven and Rexford

Yaak Valley - Libby Dam Road (FR 92)  You'll experience switchbacks through dense forest as you climb out of the town of Yaak.  There are dramatic views of the Yaak Valley and Lake Koocanusa.

Fleshers Pass & Rogers Pass    Take Hwy 279 out of Helena when you get to 200, take a right to go over Rogers Pass, You can make a loop back to Helena by going right on 434b back to I 15 and heading south to Helena.

Kings Hill Scenic Byway    Passing through the Lewis and Clark National Forest and Little Belt Mountains, the Kings Hill Scenic Byway has a rugged beauty.  Stretching 71 miles along Highway 89, the Byway winds its way through pristine mountain lakes and streams and is home to an abundant variety of wildlife.  

St. Regis - Paradise Scenic Byway   30 miles long this byway travels through varying terrain, from spacious, rolling flats to steep canyon walls where it winds through the Coeur d'Alene Mountains. It begins on State Road 135 at the town of St. Regis and ends at its junction with Highway 200, several miles southeast of the small community of Paradise.  Also known as the shortcut to Glacier Nationl Park.

Lewis & Clark Ride   320 Mile Scenic Circle Tour of Historic Lewis and Clark Expedition sites

 

 

Motorcycle Friendly Campgrounds & Lodging

Beartooth River Ranch  Belfry, Montana  Located between Cody Wyoming and Belfry Montana on Highway 72, 22 miles from Red Lodge Montana    12 guest Rooms   Motorcycle Friendly

Biker Sanctuary    Located in the heart of western Montana between Yellowstone and Glacier Parks on scenic highway 1 in Philipsburg, Montana.    Suites and Cottages

Choteau Campground  Choteau, Montana  Located 1 1/2 hours south of Glacier National Park and Going To The Sun Road.  RV Sites, Tent Sites, Cabins and laundry facilities.  Motorcycle Friendly. 

Glacier Inn Motel  Columbia Falls, Montana   Located 15 min. from the west entrance to Glacier National Park  Motorcycle Friendly

Historic Tamarack Lodge and Cabins  Hungry Horse, Montana  Located on US Hwy 2, 8 miles from Glacier National Park    Motorcycle Friendly

Homewood Suites Hilton   Bozeman, Montana   They offer a Biker Special

Inn Dupuyer B & B  Dupuyer, Montana   Located on highway 89 between Great Falls and Glacier National Park. Motorcycle Friendly
 

Lolo Hot Springs   Lolo, Montana  35 miles southwest of Missoula, Montana on Scenic U.S. Hwy 12.  Tent Sites, Tee-pees, Cabins

Lost Horse Creek Lodge  Hamilton, Montana   Cabins, Restaurant

Moss Mountain Inn Bed & Breakfast  Columbia Falls, Montana  Located by Glacier National Park, Wifi, Motorcycle Friendly

Pine Creek Lodge  Livingston, Montana   Cabins, Bar, Restaurant, Live Music  Located in Paradise Valley, 10 miles south of Livingston.  Motorcycle Friendly   

San-Suz-Ed Campground  West Glacier, Montana   Camping and Bed & Breakfast  Lodge   Motorcycle Friendly

Seeley Lake Motor Lodge  Seeley Lake, Montana   Located on Highway 83N   Rooms, WiFi, Campsites, Showers    Motorcycle Friendly 

Town House Inn  Great Falls, Montana    Motorcycle Friendly

Whitefish KOA  Whitefish, Montana Located 24 miles from Glacier National Park.  Tent Sites, Cabins, Showers, Laundry, Pool, WiFi, Camp Store & Restaurant.  Motorcycle Friendly

Yellowstone Village Inn  Gardiner, Montana - North entrance to Yellowstone park     Rooms, Pool    Motorcycle Friendly

Yodeler Motel  Red Lodge, Montana    They provide a motorcycle wash area with rags.  WiFi

Montana State Parks

 

 

National Parks

Glacier National Park   Experience Glacier's pristine forests, alpine meadows, rugged mountains, and spectacular lakes. With over 700 miles of trails, Glacier is a hiker's paradise for adventurous visitors seeking wilderness and solitude. Relive the days of old through historic chalets, lodges, transportation, and stories of Native Americans. 

Yellowstone National Park   Established in 1872, Yellowstone National Park is America's first national park. Located in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, it is home to a large variety of wildlife including grizzly bears, wolves, bison, and elk. Preserved within Yellowstone National Park are Old Faithful and a collection of the world's most extraordinary geysers and hot springs, and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

Big Hole National Battlefield   On August 9, 1877 gun shots shattered a chilly dawn on a sleeping camp of Nez Perce.  By the time the smoke cleared on August 10, almost 90 Nez Perce were dead along with 31 soldiers and volunteers. Big Hole National Battlefield was created to honor all who were there.

Bighorn Canyon  A landscape of sheer cliffs towering 1,000 feet above a ribbon of blue water. World class fishing and a place where wild horses still run free. A landscape overlaid with 10,000 years of human history. Bighorn Canyon, is truly a place where imagination meets reality!

Grant - Kohrs Ranch Nationl Historic Site Once the headquarters of a 10 million acre cattle empire, Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site is a working cattle ranch that preserves the symbol of the cowboy and commemorates the role of cattlemen in American history.

Little Bighorn Battlefield  This area memorializes the U.S. Army's 7th Cavalry and the Sioux and Cheyenne in one of the Indian's last armed efforts to preserve their way of life. Here on June 25 and 26 of 1876, 263 soldiers, including Lt. Col. George A. Custer and attached personnel of the U.S. Army, died fighting several thousand Lakota, and Cheyenne warriors.

 

 

Attractions to See / Destinations

Historic Fort Benton  Known as the "Birthplace of Montana" Fort Benton is a small town with a large heritage. Situated on the banks of the Missouri River, Fort Benton is a haven for history buffs. Fort Benton is located along the Lewis & Clark National Historic trail, the Nez Perce National Historic Trail, and is the gateway to the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument. Fort Benton first gained fame as a robe trading post.  As the terminus for the 642-mile long Mullan Wagon Road, Fort Benton became a crucial link between Missouri and Walla Walla, Washington along the Columbia River. Steamboats plied the Missouri River to Fort Benton for thirty years, until the railroad signaled an end to this towns’ prominence as the “Worlds Innermost Port”. This once feisty outpost played such a vital role in the expansion of the West, that it is now registered as a National Historic Landmark.

Custer Battlefield Museum  Garryowen, Montana    Where the Battle of the Little Big Horn Began

Lewis and Clark Caverns   State Park located in Three Forks, Montana.   It is located approximately 45 miles  west of Bozeman, Montana, and 60 miles northwest from the northwest corner of Yellowstone National Park.  Tours of the caverns are available from May 1-September 30. There is a campground and cabin rentals.

Makoshika State Park  Makoshika State Park is located in the rugged badlands of eastern Montana in Glendive. Here you can see the fossil remains of such dinosaurs as tyrannosaurus rex and triceratops. You'll find a visitor center at the park entrance with exhibits explaining the site's geologic, fossil, and prehistoric stories.

Roadside America  Montana attractions

 

 

Rallies & Events

Big Muddy Motorcycle Rally  Plentywood, Montana  Held in June

Beartooth Rally    Red Lodge, Montana   Held in July

Evel Knievel Days    Butte, Montana   Fourth weekend in July

Testicle Festival (Testy Festy)  Rock Creek Lodge in Clinton, Montana   Held in August

Motorcycle Monster   Montana Events

 

 

Motorcycle Map of Montana

 

 

Resources & Links

Montana Motorcycle Rentals  Montana Adventure Vehicle Rentals in Missoula MT has the motorcycle rentals that will get you cruising down the highway in the open air 

Montana State Travel Guide

Russell Country Motorcycle Routes  North central Montana’s Russell Country offers some great motorcycle rides. If you want to follow history on your ride, try the Lewis & Clark, C. M. Russell, Last Battle or Cowboy routes. Some amazing geography and scenery can be seen on the Plains to Peaks, Centermark, Mountains to Wind Towers and Scenic Byway routes. If you just want to ride, check out the Big Loop and Figure 8 routes.

Big Sky Motorcycle Routes   Montana Back Roads

Top Montana Rides  Montana Dept. of Transportation Website, shows maps with camping, photo opts, gas stations, rest areas and more along the route. 

Sunday Morning Rides    Montana motorcycle rides with downloadable maps

Motorcycle Roads.com  Great Montana Rides

Motorcycle Roads.us  Montana Motorcycle Roads

Touring Montana  - Where the peaks Meet the Plains.  Article from Motorcycle Cruiser Magazine

Beartooth Pass  Article from Motorcycle Cruiser Magazine

Motorcycling Under The Big Sky  Article from Montana Living

The Montana Dinosaur Trail  There are 15 Dinosaur Museums in Montana featuring unique paleontology displays, interpretation, replicas or actual skeletons of dinosaurs and other fossils found in Montana.

Ride Through Yellowstone Country

Camping Montana  Information on Montana campgrounds divided by region.