Assuming that driving back and forth from college doesn’t count, I undertook my first solo road trip these past couple of weeks across Montana and Wyoming. As a single female traveling alone, I took some precautions but didn’t let them get in my way of seeing two states that I had visited only briefly in the past.
Here are a few places to visit and stay if you decide to take a similar trip.
Stay: If you can, stay at Hotel Jackson. Beautiful and modern, and located right in the heart of town. The staff was incredibly friendly and it was an awesome place to start my journey. I also spent one night at the Wort hotel and while it also had an incredible location, it had quite a bit more of a country/traditional feel.
Work: I work on my other website from the road and often look for a place to hang out for a few hours to catch up on email and tackle projects. Cowboy Coffee was just the spot.
Eat: Many of my meals were quick because I was eager to get out to shoot photos of animals when they come out in the morning and at dusk. Some places I tried were Cafe Genevieve, Persephone Bakery, Gather and Pinky G’s. Of these, Gather was my favorite for dinner and had some delicious starters. Be prepared to spend a lot on meals in Jackson Hole.
See animals: I had good luck when I was in Jackson Hole and was able to see moose and bears. Any wildlife photographer will tell you that it takes a lot of persistence to see animals, but it’s well worth it. I was able to spot a mom and her two bear cubs on Moose Wilson road, and moose on the road to Kelly. Both sightings were in the early evening between 6 and 8pm.
Tour company: Eco Tour Adventures did a good job, but unfortunately we didn’t see any animals the first day out – which lasted from 6am to 2pm. This was disappointing, but if I hadn’t taken the tour I wouldn’t have known the best spots to see animals the next day. I used the same company to visit Yellowstone and we did see the key spots in a full day. The best thing about Eco Tours was the small size – one day we only had about 5 people and the next it was about 7 total.
I absolutely loved Bozeman, especially the main street area and independent shops. The best place to stay is the Element Bozeman hotel which is right off main street and is modern and very comfortable. For dinner, check out Copper Whiskey Bar and Grill, and sit at the bar if you’re traveling on your own. The sunsets from Bozeman and vibrant and the drive up from Jackson Hole takes you through beautiful Big Sky.
East Glacier & The Red Bus Tour
The Glacier Park Lodge is defined as frills-free and rustic… what that meant is that there was a sink in the main bedroom and some very old looking blankets. Not quite my cup of tea, but perfect for those who want a step up from camping. The fact that they only show photos of the outside of the hotel should have been a clue! That being said, the restaurant on site was very good and the staff was nice. They have some rockers out back with a view of the mountains that you can enjoy with a good book. I stayed one night instead of three and moved over to Whitefish.
The all day Red Bus tour provided a good overview of Glacier National Park. We saw some beautiful vistas and took the Going to the Sun road, but unfortunately didn’t see much wildlife. They took us to several of the lodges that their parent company manages, which felt a bit salesy, and we could have likely seen more spots. The driver of our bus was passionate without being annoying and I’d recommend them to anyone who wants to see a lot of the park without driving.
Whitefish / West Glacier
After a night of a rustic adventure at Glacier Park Lodge, I moved over to the Lodge at Whitefish. This was a beautiful spot about 40 minutes from the West park entrance and sits right on the lake. They have some outdoor sofas right in front of the lake which provided a great place to sit, read and watch the sunset. The rooms have a country feel, but are highly upgraded and comfortable. Whitefish has a small town area that is perfect to stroll around and explore, along with providing some other restaurant choices. Overall, Whitefish was a great getaway spot.
Billings was my last stop before heading home since I abandoned plans to go to South Dakota. It was my least favorite town, in part because it was industrial and felt the least safe to walk around on my own. The Northern hotel was located right in downtown and primarily operates as a business hotel. Walkers Bar and Grill around the corner has fantastic pasta and you can keep yourself busy for a while at places like the Pictograph Cave, although it is only about a 3/4 mile loop and goes quickly. Use Billings as a stopover spot, but don’t allocate much time there.
Ready to travel? Take a look at some of the travel deals on my other site.