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Good half way point from Kalispell to Gardiner-most scenic?

upstate NY
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Good half way point from Kalispell to Gardiner-most scenic?

Hi everyone,

We are a family of four spending a week exploring Flathead lake and GNP and then will drive down to Gardiner to explore Yellowstone. We are super excited and would love suggestions about which route to take (scenic vs. fast for sure) and ideas for a good town to stop half way (or a little less) would be much appreciated. We leave Kalispell about 4pm, if that helps.

Thanks in advance-

Upstate NY mom

Georgia
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for Atlanta, Savannah
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1. Re: Good half way point from Kalispell to Gardiner-most scenic?

We stop at Great Falls between GNP and YNP - but that's a good option from the East Glacier Park side of the park (not Kalispell).

Billings, Montana
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2. Re: Good half way point from Kalispell to Gardiner-most scenic?

What time of the year? What time do you want to quit driving that night?

Kalispell to Missoula is 121 miles via the west side of Flathead Lake and St Ignatius (cool mission church there to see but it will probably be closed by the time you drive through) . Even though its only 121 miles I would suggest staying in Missoula for the night.

Another option is to drive from Kalispell to Big Fork and then take Hwy 83 through Seeley Lake to the junction of Hwy 200 and then go to Missoula for the night. This is about 145 miles. We drove it for the first time last August and loved the drive.

If you wanted to drive later into the evening there are lots of other options you could do. I would suggest getting a paper map of Montana so you could look at all the possibilities. Montana has so many two-lane roads its easy to take lots of different road segments to get from A to B especially if you have the time and want to see different scenery.

Deb

Edited: 21 January 2016, 07:42
upstate NY
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3. Re: Good half way point from Kalispell to Gardiner-most scenic?

Thanks so much-We are traveling the weekend before July 4th, so I'm guessing hotels will be busy/booked. We have to leave Kalispell around 4pm because we'll be coming off a rafting trip, so I'd prefer to just drive a few hours the first day and the bulk of the trip the second.

Georgia
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4. Re: Good half way point from Kalispell to Gardiner-most scenic?

What about Helena? 3 hours, 19 minutes

Sunset will be about 9:23 pm. Plenty of daylight left.

Finish the 2:45 hour drive to Gardiner the next day.

We really enjoyed the 2 hour boat ride at Gates of the Mountains just north of Helena - but you'd probably be in a hurry to get to Yellowstone. We really liked Helena too. If you go to Helena, go to Big Dipper Ice Cream!

tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g45212-d31…

upstate NY
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5. Re: Good half way point from Kalispell to Gardiner-most scenic?

That sounds perfect-thanks so much!

Georgia
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6. Re: Good half way point from Kalispell to Gardiner-most scenic?

Friends in Great Falls recommended the Big Dipper ice cream. It was great!

It's in a delightful section of historic Helena - Last Chance Gulch. We really enjoyed walking around there a bit. If you are interested in a nice Italian restaurant, their favorite is Lucca. (links below).

I'm not sure if I read your post correctly, but I'd definitely book hotels ahead of time. Montana is not a great place to "wing it" re hotels in summer. Too much demand with too little supply. I don't have hotel recommendations because we stayed on a friend's ranch. Have fun!

tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g45212-d10…

http://wwhttp://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g45212-d1791365-Reviews-Big_Dipper_Ice_Cream-Helena_Montana.html

…tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g45212-d1…

upstate NY
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7. Re: Good half way point from Kalispell to Gardiner-most scenic?

Ice cream and Italian food sound wonderful-I am all about advance travel planning, so will definitely book a hotel way ahead of time...

thanks so much to all-

Billings, Montana
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8. Re: Good half way point from Kalispell to Gardiner-most scenic?

If you are leaving Kalispell at 4pm after a rafting trip, IMO, Helena is a long drive especially on narrow two-lane roads. I believe there are about 4-5 highway junctions that you have to watch for if you drive from Kalispell to Helena. Maybe I don't drive as fast as other people do but I would plan on it taking about 4 hours to drive that section.

It's a very beautiful drive but if you don't stop somewhere along the way to eat dinner, you will be eating a very late dinner in Helena. Speaking of somewhere to stop to eat dinner, there is basically nowhere to stop to eat after Seeley Lake so plan accordingly.

Having lived in Montana all my life and driving many of its two-lane roads in the early and late evening when wildlife are starting to come out, I recommend going as far as Missoula for the night. If you were leaving Kalispell around 2pm I wouldn't have any qualms about recommending driving to Helena.

Deb

9. Re: Good half way point from Kalispell to Gardiner-most scenic?

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