The Open Range Day Trip
This leisurely 160 mile drive takes you on a breathtaking drive through the mountains and eventually through some of the best farmland and ranches in Montana. This area is also steeped in history, taking you to important spots along Lewis and Clark's expedition.
Bozeman to Wilsall (32 miles) - From historic Downtown Bozeman take Rouse Street north. As Rouse leaves the city, it becomes Bridger Canyon Road. The drive through Bridger Canyon is quite spectacular as it winds up past forests, rolling meadows, horse ranches and then past the Bridger Bowl Ski Area. The road crests just past the Bohart Ranch cross country ski area and drops into the wide open plains.
Highway 86, as it is now called, follows along the east slope of the Bridger Mountains and zigzags through the open farm land over to it∆s junction with Highway 89, just north of Wilsall
Wilsall to Ringling (20 miles) - Turn left onto Highway 89 north and you will reach Shields River Valley, an integral stop during Lewis and Clark's journey. Continue north on Highway 89, past breathtaking views of the Crazy Mountains, until you reach Ringling, a town named after one of the famed circus Ringling Brothers.
Ringling to Townsend (42 miles) - Get back on Highway 89 and go 13 miles north to Highway 12. Turn left and head west to Townsend. From here, you'll have easy access to the Elkhorn and Big Belt Mountains.
Townsend to Missouri Headwaters State Park (32 miles) - Take Highway 287 south to I-90 and east to Three Forks. Exit at Three Forks and turn left over the Interstate. Continue (3 miles) until you see signs for the Headwaters State Park. This is where the Gallatin, Jefferson and Madison Rivers converge to form the Missouri. Along the banks of the Gallatin River at the top of the hill is an interpretive center explaining Lewis and Clark∆s visit to the area.
Missouri Headwaters State Park to Three Forks (5 miles) - From the State Park, retrace your drive back to Three Forks. Three Forks offers a mixture of both great fishing and rich history.
Three Forks to Bozeman (32 miles) - Take Interstate 90 east and head back to town.