The Perfect 4 Day Montana Itinerary: Bozeman and Beyond

The Big Sky State is a bucket-list adventure for many. Montana is famously the “Last Best Pace”, and I’d have to agree with the sentiment. From unspoiled land, old western-styled cities, and picture-perfect views of the Rocky Mountains, this 4 day Montana itinerary takes you to see the best of Montana. 

I was born in Montana, and have lots of family still in this great state. I have visited Montana more times than I can count, and every time I get to see something new and different. From the beautiful National Parks of Glacier and Yellowstone to the small towns in between. I absolutely love this beautiful state.

Although a 4 day Montana itinerary is not enough time to see it all. My goal with this itinerary is to see the best, and as much of Montana as possible in a 4 day Montana itinerary. From Bozeman to Big Sky, there are lots of awesome destinations included in this itinerary.

This 4 day Montana itinerary takes you to see all the BEST spots in Montana, from major tourist attractions to hidden gems only locals know about. Also, the goal of this is to minimize driving and maximize time doing activities! Let’s dive in!

Reeder's Alley In Helena Montana - 4 day montana itinerary

Table of Contents

The Perfect 4 Day Montana Itinerary: Bozeman and Beyond

How Many Days Do I Need in Montana?

Montana is the fourth largest state in the country with the fourth smallest population. This state is massive, and it’s spread out. While a 4 day Montana itinerary isn’t enough to cover the vast size of Montana, you can still get a good lay of the land. However, I recommend spending at least 7 days in Montana. 7 days in Montana will give you enough time to see the big national parks, Yellowstone and Glacier, while having a little extra time to explore the cities.

Of course, longer than 7 days is better. Ideally, you need 7-10 days in Montana. In the extra days, you can explore more of the state parks and spend extra time in the cities.

What Are the Best Places to Visit in Montana?

yellowstone national park - 7 day montana itinerary
Yellowstone National Park

When choosing a 4 day Montana itinerary, the best places to visit differ from person to person. But, the most popular places to visit are Glacier National Park and Yellowstone National Park. Cities such as Bozeman, Missoula, and Helena also make it on many traveler lists.

Montana is home to 8 National Parks and 55 State Parks. The two main ones are Yellowstone and Glacier, which are both in the western part of the state. The other 6 National Parks are spread out around the state, from the East to the West. Unless you have a goal of visiting every National Park, I recommend just visiting the most popular two.

Additionally, the State Parks are a wonderful way to spend a 4 day Montana itinerary. The State Parks are much less touristy, and many are beautiful and worth visiting!

When is the Best Time to Travel to Montana?

mt. helena with a field of sunflowers- 4 day montana itinerary

Without a doubt, the best time to plan a 4 day Montana itinerary and visit Montana is in the summer months, May-August. This time of year is the busy summer months here and offer great weather and long days. This makes it ideal for road trips within the state.

September is the shoulder season in Montana. This month can be unpredictable. The earlier in this month you visit, the more likely you are to get good weather. Later in the month creeps into snow season, which can shut down the roads in Glacier National Park.

If you are looking to ski and do other winter sports, November to April are the best months to visit.

However, for this 4 day Montana itinerary, the best months are the summer months to take advantage of long days, enjoyable days in cities, and great hiking weather.

4 Day Montana Itinerary

map of 4 day montana road trip

Day 1 – Bozeman: Museum of the Rockies, Hiking Trails, and a Hip Downtown

Morning: Fly into Bozeman International Airport (BZN)

Begin your 4 day Montana itinerary with a morning flight to Bozeman. The Bozeman airport is the largest airport in Montana, making it the easiest and most accessible to reach. The airport is known as the gateway to Yellowstone but also is close to the big university campus, Montana State University.

Although it is the biggest airport in Montana, it only services 12 gates still. It’s very easy to navigate and get around.

The BZN airport is about a 15-minute drive out of the city. You’ll want to rent a car here to get you from the airport downtown and use it for the duration of your 4-day Montana itinerary.

Late Morning: Check into the Hotel and Brunch

Once you’ve got your rental car, you’re ready for your 4 day Montana itinerary to begin! Start by checking into your hotel. I recommend you stay as close to downtown as possible. Bozeman is a fairly small city, so anywhere you book will not be too far of a drive.

Once you are checked into your hotel, you may be hungry from your early morning of flying.

Head to the downtown area to grab some brunch. I recommend visiting Jam! For brunch. This restaurant is super hip and fun with good food. You’ll want to fill up for your busy day ahead.

Afternoon: Museum of the Rockies

Spend your afternoon at the Museum of the Rockies. This museum is huge, and home to one of the most impressive dinosaur collections in the United States! In this museum, you will find some of the biggest dinosaur bones, an impressive planetarium, and lots of interactive exhibits.

The Museum of the Rockies takes most visitors around 4 hours to complete. It’s a huge museum where you learn about the Rocky Mountains. From the people who have inhabited the land for many years to the fossils and more.

Late Afternoon: Enjoy a Nearby Hike

hiking trail in montana - 4 day montana itinerary

It’s time to get outside! Next, head out on a nearby hike. With only a 4 day Montana itinerary, you want to squeeze in as much as possible. So, next, we will head to a nearby mountain to enjoy the city from a different vantage point.

Just 6 miles, or 15 minutes driving, outside of Bozeman you will find the trailhead for Drinking Horse Mountain Trail. Drinking Horse Mountain Trail is a very popular trail, so you’ll probably find others as you are hiking.

This is a 2.2-mile trail, that takes around 90 minutes to complete. At the top, you will find awesome views of the Rocky Mountains.

Evening: Dinner and Downtown

After your big day in Bozeman, Montana, you’ll head back to the downtown area for dinner and some exploring.

Bozeman is a very hip and trendy university town in Montana. This means it has a lot of cool restaurants and shopping in the area.

Downtown Bozeman is relatively small, so once you park, you can walk everywhere. Park as close to the downtown area as possible.

For dinner, there are lots of restaurants in walking distance. From fine-dining Italian to American pubs. I recommend the Brigade, but the choice is yours!

After dinner, half a walk around the downtown strip and explore. 

At the end of the first day of your 4 day Montana itinerary, had to your hotel for a good night’s sleep, as tomorrow is another big day exploring!

Day 2 – Butte: Three Forks, Butte Mining Tour, and more!

The second day on your 4 day Montana itinerary takes you from Bozeman to Butte. This 4 day Montana itinerary is meant to keep the driving minimal and maximize lots of time outside.

Morning: Drive from Bozeman to Butte

Rise and shine, it’s time to hit the road for day two of your 4 day Montana itinerary. Today, wake up early to grab some breakfast and then hit the road.

Today, you will drive 85 miles, 1 hour and 15 minutes, from Bozeman to Butte. But, along the way, stop at some amazing state parks and lookout spots!

Once you hit the road, here is a list of where to stop along the way!

three forks montana with a river and mountain - 4 day montana itinerary

  • Three Forks – Three Forks Montana is a very small, yet mighty town. It’s famous because it is the town where three rivers, Jefferson, Madison, and Gallatin, converge to form the great Missouri River. This will be connected later in the itinerary, where you will take a boat ride down the Missouri River! It’s also a detailed part of the 1805 Lewis and Clark Expedition. Once you’re inside the park, there are lots of signs, picnic tables, and opportunities to go on small hikes and play in the rivers. It’s really relaxing and worth stopping in for an hour or so.

Also in Three Forks, MT, you’ll find Wheat Montana! Wheat Montana is a must-do on any Montana road trip! This side of the road gas station is famous for its deli and bakery. This is an awesome spot to load up on snacks or sandwich supplies for the day ahead.

  • Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park – Go deep inside caves to see otherworldly limestone and unique rock formations! This state park is the best-known and most popular state park in Montana. Here, you can book a 90-minute guided tour of the cave to learn all about it. Beware, inside the caverns it’s a chilly 50 degrees Fahrenheit, so pack your sweaters! Additionally, you can also hike some trails in the area. 

From Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park, continue the remaining 43 miles to Butte.

Afternoon: Butte World Museum of Mining Underground Tour

butte mining tour inside the cave - 4 day montana itinerary

Butte is a small Montana city that has a big reputation for mining. Right off the side of the freeway, you will even see a massive mine lining the city sky.

Head to the World Museum of Mining to book an underground tour.

After having visited Butte many times, the underground tour remains my favorite thing to do in Butte. This awesome tour begins in an over-the-top recreation of a mining town. It definitely gives elementary school field trip vibes. However, I love it.

Once you explore the cute town, it’s time to begin your tour. The tour provides you with hard helmets and a flashlight to stay safe inside the cave. After all, you will be going down 100-feet into the cave!

While on the tour, you’ll be provided with Montana’s mining history, Butte’s mining significance, and stories of the mine over the years. As a 24-year-old at the time of the tour, I was not sure of how much I would like it. But, I truly loved the tour!

butte mining tour in the historic cowboy town

If you have extra time, Our Lady of the Rockies is a 90-foot statue of Mary dominating the skyline in Butte. Think Rio de Janeiro but on a much smaller scale. It actually sits on the continental divide, which makes it pretty unique.

While you cannot drive to the top, there are guided tour buses that have access to the top. The tour takes a total of 2.5 hours and offers beautiful views from the top and gives you a chance to get up close to this awesome statue.

Evening: Hotel, Dinner, and Sleep

Days are long in Montana in the summer, and today was full of awesome tours and sightseeing. Spend the evening grabbing dinner. Butte is a small city in Montana, that has a very walkable downtown. Just park your car anywhere near downtown, and you should be within walking distance of many good restaurants.

Day 3 – Helena: Capital Building, Boat Tour, and Historic Homes

Day 3 of your 4 day Montana itinerary, you will visit the capital city of Montana! I am biased, but Helena is my favorite city in Montana.

As someone who visits Helena almost every year and has family in the city, I have done everything there is to do in Helena, MT. So today, i have crafted the best one day Helena itinerary to maximize your time here.

Morning: Drive from Butte to Helena, Gates of the Mountains Tour

Missouri river gates of the mountains tour - 4 day montana itinerary

Get an early state this morning to drive from Butte to the Gates of the Mountains. The Gates of the Mountains is just a 30-minute drive north of Helena, and it’s well worth it.

Here, you will take an awesome guided boat tour along the famous Missouri River. Along the way, you’ll follow in the footsteps of the Lewis and Clark expedition through what they journaled as “the gates of the mountains”.

It gets its name because of the unique rock formations, seemingly opening and closing access to the river. During the boat tour, you’ll learn more about the name, rock formations, wildlife in the area, and stories about the region.

The boat tour takes place during the summer months every day a few times a day. You will want to wake up early and get on the first boat of the day, usually around 9 a.m. This way, you can maximize your time back in Helena!

Check the website for the most up-to-date information regarding the tour schedule.

Afternoon: Capital and Tour of Helena

After your tour of Gates of the Mountains, drive 30 minutes back into the city of Helena. Once you’re back, we have a lot of sightseeing to do! But first, it’s time to eat.

Montana State Capital from the outside


Without a doubt, my favorite lunch spot in Helena, MT is The Parrot. This unique diner has a small menu that has hardly changed in look or price in its 100 years of operations! Witness the charm of Helena inside this shop. 

At The Parrot, you can order its famous chili, tamales, old-fashioned sodas, ice cream, and more! Also, on the way out, stop to buy some chocolate! The in-house-made chocolate is delicious!

the parrot - old school cafe in helena montana - 4 day montana itinerary

Things to Do 

After lunch, you should have enough time for a few of the following activities. Today, there are lots of options for things to do, so choose what best suits your interests!

  • Capital Building Tour – Head inside the fourth smallest state capital city! Inside you can take a self-guided tour or a guided-tour. The capital is open during normal operating hours and should take about an hour to complete.
  • Last Chance Train Tour – This 2-hour train tour takes you to all the best stops in the city! Located right in the heart of the downtown, near The Parrot, this train tour gives you an awesome overview of the city and it’s history.
  • Governor’s Mansion Tour – Close to downtown, you will find streets lined with old victorian era styled homes. Once of which, is the Governor’s Mansion. In a free guided tour, you will get the opportunity to tour the Governor’s victorian style home. During the tour, you’ll learn about Helena’s history and what its like to be a woman during the gold rush era.
  • Hike Mt. Helena – Mt. Helena is the mountain closest to the city. It takes about 90 minutes to 2 hours to complete this hike. There are multiple trailheads around the city that will take you to the top, and one of them is really close to the downtown! At the top, you are treated to 360-degree views of the Rocky Mountains as well as a nice view of the city of Helena.

READ MORE: 20 Fun Things to do in Helena, MT

Evening: Dinner and Hotel

It seems to be a recurring theme, but you will spend the evening checking into your hotel and grabbing dinner. Hopefully, you got a chance to complete a few of the activities mentioned above. For dinner, head back to Last Chance Gulch. Here, you will find a variety of bars, restaurants, and shopping.

Day 4 – Big Sky: Hiking and Nature

The last day of your 4 day Montana itinerary is spent in beautiful Big Sky, Montana. In the winter Big Sky comes to life as a premier ski resort in the US. But, for the summer it remains as nature’s paradise with lots of hiking and beautiful views.

Today, you will also be flying out of the Bozeman Airport (BZN). The airport is just under a 1 hours drive from Big Sky. Hopefully, you are able to book a later flight in the day, so you can enjoy more time in Big Sky.

Morning: Drive from Helena to Big Sky

The drive from Helena to Big Sky is the longest one yet, at 132 miles. This should take you just over 2 hours without stopping. Try to get an early start today, so you will have plenty of time to soak in Big Sky before your flight out.

Montana road with pavement and mountains in the distance- 4 day montana itinerary

Afternoon: Hiking

Although Big Sky is most popular for its skiing, the summer months offer some spectacular adventure activities too!

Here is a list of some activities you can do in Big Sky, MT.

  • Scenic Chairlift – The chairlift they use during the ski season is also used during the summer! This is an awesome chance to see the mountains from a different perspective, and also the easy way up for many hiking trails!
  • Hiking– Hiking is a huge part of life in Big Sky, MT. Check alltrails  to find the best hike in the area for you.
  • White Water Rafting – There’s lots of white water rafting in the area, but beware, you will get wet! This activity is not for the faint of heart, as its really adventurous. But, it’s an epic way to spend time in Big Sky.
  • Ziplining – Zipline through the heart of the Rocky Mountains! This scenic zipline through the mountains is an adrenaline pumping activity that offers great views!

Evening: Fly out of Bozeman Airport

Your 4 day Montana itinerary has come to an end, and I hope you had an amazing time! Spend the evening driving back to Bozeman to head out to the airport for an evening flight. If you have a flight early the next morning, I recommend returning the car in the evening and getting a hotel close to the airport.

Final Thoughts on This 4 Day Montana Itinerary

Montana is a spectacular state with so much to see an do. From the major US National Parks to small towns, there is something for everyone. I want this road trip to be realistic, and a way to see the true, less touristy side of Montana. 

This 4 day Montana itinerary minimizes drive time, while still seeing the best parts of Montana and learning about what makes this state so great. With only 4 days, it’s impossible to do everything, but you can get a feel for the state. 

Drive safe, and enjoy this perfect 4 day Montana itinerary. 

mt. helena - 4 day montana itinerary

I’m Danika! A travel obsessed, Disney adult, with a knack for budgeting.

In 2020 I was furlough from my “dream” job at Disney and have pursued my first love of travel ever since. I have traveled to 33 states and 28 countries spanning 5 continents.

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