Rocky Mountain Front

Scenic Montana Drives and the Ranches along the Way

I’d like to share a quote which is written on the back of our Montana state map.

“Montana’s nearly endless roads will lead you to some of the most special places in the world. The rivers, streams, mountains and plains you’ll find under our wide-open skies truly make Montana the Treasure State. We hope you’ll love visiting our state as much as we love living here. There is truly something special for everyone in Montana – something that will leave you planning your next trip to our state. On behalf of all Montanan’s, enjoy your trip and travel safely!”

Truer words were never spoken, especially now. Montana is the perfect place to social distance and enjoy our abundant nature. Depending on where you hike, bike or drive, there is plenty of room to be isolated for a while. There are many rural roads, state highways and two interstates – I-90 and I-15 – that will take you to places mentioned here.

Sun River WMA

Rocky Mountain Front

One of the most recognized and traveled is U.S. Route 89. Read on for its history and general information.

U.S. Route 89

U.S. Route 89 (US 89) is a north–south United States Numbered Highway sometimes called the National Park Highway. US 89 links seven National Parks across the West, with 14 other National Historic Sites in the area. In Montana, both Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks can be found along this highway.

The highway has two primary sections, along with one that is no longer part of US 89. The southern section runs from Flagstaff, Arizona for 848 miles to the southern entrance of Yellowstone National Park. The northern section then runs for 404 miles from the northern entrance of Yellowstone National Park in Montana, ending at the Canadian border. Unnumbered roads through Yellowstone connect the two sections. Prior to 1992, US 89 was a Canada–Mexico, border-to-border highway.

National Geographic named US Route 89 the No. 1 Driver’s Drive in the world. (Source:  Wikipedia)

U.S. Highway 89 in Montana:

It is the northern section of US 89 that runs through Montana, beginning at the Northern Entrance of Yellowstone. The highway winds through Southwest Montana before approaching Glacier National Park along Montana’s northern border. At St. Mary, Montana, US 89 is the access highway to Glacier Route One, also known as the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

As you travel north on Highway 89 toward Glacier, you will find a junction for the Kings Hill Scenic Byway (a 71-mile route) which passes through the Little Belt Mountains in the Lewis and Clark National Forest in Montana. This byway is home to a wide variety of wildlife and provides many recreational opportunities for Montana visitors. From the junction of US 12, the byway travels north through the communities of Neihart and Monarch and on to its junction with US 87. The route offers access to the Showdown Ski Area and Sluice Boxes State Park.

The northern terminus of US 89 is at the Canadian border. There, the highway continues into Canada as Alberta Highway 2 – The Queen Elizabeth 2 Highway. (Source:  Wikipedia)

Our Ranches Along Highway 89

Route 89 in Montana allows access to several of our Montana Dude Rancher’s Association members. And of course, you want to include a dude ranch vacation (also a good place to social distance) when you plan your next Montana vacation! Three major airports provide easy access to Highway 89:

  • Helena Regional Airport
  • Great Falls International Airport
  • Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport

Located in the northern section of the highway is the town of Choteau. Settled at the base of the Rocky Mountain Front (where the plains and mountains meet) is the Deep Canyon Guest Ranch. Dude ranch adventures can be found here. The closest airport is Great Falls International Airport.

Deep Canyon Guest Ranch

Deep Canyon Guest Ranch

Just south of Choteau on Highway 287 which branches off of Highway 89 is the town of Augusta. From here you can access the JJJ Wilderness Ranch, which is also located at the base of the Rocky Mountain Front.  Dude ranch activities abound here. The closest airport is Great Falls International Airport.

Adult Ride JJJ

Triple J Wilderness Ranch

Continuing south you’ll reach White Sulphur Springs. From here travel east to the town of Martinsdale. Near here lies Bonanza Creek Working Ranch. If herding cattle is your thing, this is the ranch for you. The closest airports are Helena Regional Airport and Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport.

Bonanza Creek Ranch

Bonanza Creek Working Ranch

Highway 89 intersects Interstate 90 at Livingston. Continue south on Highway 89 to access both Mountain Sky Guest Ranch which is classified as a resort ranch, and Hubbard’s Six Quarter Circle Ranch working cattle ranch. The locals call this section of the highway “Paradise Valley”, situated between the Gallatin and Abasaroka Mountain ranges. If you’re looking for pampering and adventure, Mountain Sky is for you. Hubbard’s will provide a genuine Montana cattle ranch experience along with a little luxury. Further down the road from these two ranches is Gardiner, the north entrance to Yellowstone National Park.

Lodge at Mountain Sky Guest Ranch

Mountain Sky

Hubbard's Lodging

Hubbard’s Six Quarter Circle

I suggest taking the opportunity to explore Montana. There are many more scenic routes throughout the state and the next blog will take you on a tour of Highway 191 and the ranches located in the area.

We hope you’re having a good summer and remember, many of our member ranches still have availability. It’s not too late to book!

You may also like

Leave a comment