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Scenic Routes between Yellowstone & Glacier/Cody

phoenixville, pa
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Scenic Routes between Yellowstone & Glacier/Cody

We'll be visiting Yellowstone soon (can't wait!) and then driving to Cody. From Cody we'll be going to Glacier via Helena and then back to Jackson from Glacier. Here are my questions:

Recommendations for scenic drives from Yellowstone to Cody, and approx how long it will take.

Recommendations for scenic drives from Cody to Helena and approx how long it will take.

Recommendations for scenic drives from Glacier to Jackson and how long it will take.

I know it will be a lot of driving, but we have 2 weeks.

Any help with any/all is much appreciated! Thanks.

Montana
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107 posts
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1. Re: Scenic Routes between Yellowstone & Glacier/Cody

Yellowstone to Cody. Depends on where you stay in Yellowstone as to which is shorter to Cody. You have two options: 1) Hwy 14/16/20 (it has three designations) out of Yellowstone's East Gate directly to Cody, distance not quite 90 miles. Two-lane quality road with a lot of scenery. The road can get busy in the summer but you can make good time on it. Road construction is underway at Yellowstone's East Gate now, expect some delays there. (BTW, in Cody eat at Bubba's Barbecue on Cody's west side. The best in town even for breakfast, always busy, no reservations needed, but it can get crowded as that is where the locals go.)

Option 2) Go out of Yellowstone's northeast gate toward Cooke City, MT. Continue on Hwy 296/120 through Sunlight Basin over Dead Indian Pass then into Cody, again about 90 miles, but it will take you a bit longer as you have to climb Dead Indian Pass. Great scenery however. Not as well-traveled as straight east out of Yellowstone.

Both roads are good roads. My recommendation is to take the highway east out of Yellowstone to Cody for scenery and time.

Cody to Helena. You now have only one option given that a landslide closed the scenic Beartooth Pass on Hwy 212 to Red Lodge. The road won't open this summer, sorry. You will have to take Hwy 120/72 north out of Cody toward Bridger, MT to Laurel, MT. Get on I-90 west at Laurel. We always take Hwy 287 north to Helena. A quality high-speed two-lane road, you make good time and the wide-open plains are scenic in their own right. Some of the largest wheat fields in America are along that road to Helena.

From Helena to Glacier, you have two options: I-15 north to Shelby and then west on Hwy 2 to Glacier, or stay on Hwy 287 through Choteau to Glacier. I stay on Hwy 287 as it still is a quality two-lane road and I just like the view. It is a shorter drive to Glacier too on Hwy 287.

Glacier to Jackson you have many options depending on what's left of your time. I would take Hwy 93 south out of the west entrance to Glacier through Kalispell and to Missoula past the scenic Flathead Lake. Missoula is a large, scenic city with plenty of restaurant, motels and such if you want to stay there.

From Missoula, two options depend on your time. 1) Stay on I-90 & I-15, both pretty drives all the way to Idaho Falls, ID and then over to Jackson. Or 2) Hwy 93 south from Missoula through the Bitterroot Valley to Chief Joseph Pass on the Idaho border. Hwy 43/Hwy278 to Dillon over Big Hole Pass. Get on I-15 at Dillon south to Idaho Falls and then over to Jackson.

Time permitting, the Bitterroot Valley is scenic, as are Chief Joseph Pass and Big Hole Pass. You get to see areas of Montana few tourists ever see.

As you can see, you have many travel options. It all depends on the time you have. One final note. Make sure your vehicle is in good shape. if you break down on some of these quality Montana/Wyoming back-roads, even with a cell phone calling AAA for a tow, you will be there for a while as the distances can be long.

Best of luck.

Montana
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2. Re: Scenic Routes between Yellowstone & Glacier/Cody

For time. From Billings and Laurel, MT to Helena, on I-90 and Hwy 287 is 3 1/2 hours. You can drive fast in Montana as the roads are good and, well, we just drive fast up here.

Montana
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107 posts
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3. Re: Scenic Routes between Yellowstone & Glacier/Cody

From Cody to Laurel, (I-90) takes me not quite 1 1/2 hours and I always enjoy the drive through the Clark's Fork river valley.

phoenixville, pa
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4. Re: Scenic Routes between Yellowstone & Glacier/Cody

Cav1865: thanks so much; I really appreciate all of your help! I'm sorry to hear about Beartooth -- but I know we'll see many beautiful sights on our trip even without travelling this scenic road. Thanks again for taking the time to answer.