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Let’s Roadtrip Out West!

August 10, 2021


Katy DuBois

Hi, Katy here! Join me on my cross country roadtrip out west — final destination Montana and Glacier National Park! My husband and I had flights booked from South Bend to Kalispell (basically right where we needed to go) for surprisingly low rates, but noooo we decided it would be a better idea to drive instead (with our 2.5 year old husky, I may add). I got a bit anxious leading up to the trip, but now that we’ve done it I am SO glad that we did! We had the best time with our doggy and seeing sights along the way. Warning: The theme of this blog post will be centered around hiking and beer!

First things first, we rented an SUV from Enterprise. We figured our Toyota Corollas just weren’t going to do it for 26 hours and a 60 lb pup.

Day 1:

First stop was for lunch at The Boathouse in Madison, Wisconsin. The food was amazing and it has a beautiful lake view!! Three words: The Wisco Burger.

For dinner we went to Nortic Brewing Company in Monticello, Minnesota. They have a dog friendly patio, great brews, and a yummy BBQ place in the building with them. After dinner we kept the car rollin’ and stayed in Fargo, ND! (tip: La Quinta’s are pet friendly and have no fee!)

Day 2:

You know we had to stop at another brewery, right? 😂 We love hitting up local places and trying new things, so brewery stops along the way fall right in line with that! This time we went to Laughing Sun for lunch in Bismark, ND to meet up with my cousin that lives out there! Once again, great beer and super good food!

After lunch we stopped along the way at Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Cool scenery with lots of wildlife! We saw bison, wild horses, and prairie dogs! For the park ticket, we ended up doing a National Park Annual Pass since we were doing a few parks on this trip! If you plan to do 3+ National Parks within a year,  it is worth the bang for your buck. Most parks are $35 per vehicle, but the annual pass is $80.
Pro Tip: If you are Military or have a 4th grade student their pass is free!

Stayed in Billings, MT tonight!

Day 3:

STILL. DRIVING. Today is the day that we make it to our destination! We stopped to walk the cute strip in Livingston, MT. I grabbed an iced chai latte at Coffee Crossing mmm it was seriously of the best I’ve ever had!

FINALLY, we arrive at our home away from home for the next two nights: Trinity Lutheran Church Camp in Big Fork, MT at Flathead lake. Why there you ask? Well, the actual reason behind this trip was to celebrate my husband’s cousin’s wedding! They got married during COVID, so this was their big event! At the camp you can rent out cabins with bunk beds at a low price for a million dollar view!

Day 4:

We got up at 5:40am (on a Saturday) and hiked Mount Aeneas as a group! It’s a moderate to advanced hike with INCREDIBLE VIEWS. We saw mountain goats (our dog, Frisco, had a little standoff with one) and once again…THE VIEWS.

Hiking Tips in Montana:
Take Bear Spray (can’t fly with this)
Have a bear bell
Take lots of water (in a bladder in your backpack for long hikes or for easy access)
Have snacks to munch on at the summit!

For dinner we ate at Burger Town Dairy Freeze – I HIGHLY recommend.
Zach got the Flathead Monster Burger and huckleberry shake (Montana is known for huckleberries) and I got the peanut butter shake. Seriously so good!

Day 5:

We did the Going to the sun road drive in Glacier National Park. It was probably the most beautiful drive/place I’ve ever seen!! You will need to purchase a $2 ticket for the road and a pass for Glacier National Park (which your annual pass will work for if that’s what you choose to do!) There’s lots of places to stop off to take photos and see the views. Honestly, the hardest part was trying to decide when NOT to stop.

If you have time, also try to make it to Many Glacier – you’re almost guaranteed to see Bear or Moose there. We saw a black bear and a grizzly!

Tonight we left the camp and stayed in Lakeside, MT at a VRBO!

Day 6:

Glacier National Park
There are SO many hikes in the park. I think you could spend an entire season there and only touch the tip of the iceberg. We ended up only doing one hike in the actual park because dogs are not allowed on the trails there. However, this one was SO beautiful. We did the hike to Avalanche Lake and I would say if you are out here, definitely do this one. It’s a pretty straight forward, easy, and family friendly hike; mostly in the shade until your final destination! It starts through Trail of the Cedars. Some of the cedars you’ll see here are 80ft tall! The view at Avalanche lake is incredible. It’s a great hike for an amazing view – you will NOT be disappointed. We even saw a Black Bear swimming in the lake (across the lake from us, so I felt safe).

After our hike we stopped Freda’s bar in West Glacier for celebratory craft beer!

Day 7

The last day we did a hike that was obviously beautiful as well, but it was about 100 degrees and the payoff wasn’t near as beautiful as the other hikes I’ve mentioned. However, after the hike we went to Tamarack Brewing Company for a drink and dinner….see hiking and beer.  They have a GREAT menu. I ended up getting the wing appetizer as my meal and it was a lot of food.

Day 8

Heading back to Indiana we stopped at The Huckleberry Patch so I could grab a Huckleberry Milkshake. I have to be a tourist here, don’t judge me. Then we had to stop in Bozeman to hang with the Dutton’s (Yellowstone TV show reference for those that may think the Dutton’s are more long lost cousin’s I have on the route). We ate “liner” at Bozeman Taproom. I got the Kale salad….so good!!

More driving…and we stayed in Gillette, WY. Make sure to get gas when you see stations along the way because about 2 hours outside of Gillette there is NOTHING but land.

Day 9

Our big tourist day! Hey, if we drove out here I want to see/do all of the things. Before getting to South Dakota, we stopped to see Devil’s tower (included in your annual park pass). Then, we made our way to Deadwood, Mount Rushmore, Wall Drug, and the Badlands (also included in your park pass). Wall Drug is probably a one time visit for me, but I’m still glad we went! Mount Rushmore has always been on my list, but the Badlands really surprised me. They are so strange, but incredible.

After all that sightseeing we “needed” to fuel up! If you want to experience a divey, small town bar with great food along the way, stop at “The Smoking Mule” in Chamberlin, SD. I got a half chicken with fries mmmm.

Kept driving…and stayed in Sioux Falls, SD!

Day 10

We are getting home! Basically at this point our motto was “stop as little as possible”.

Thanks for coming along with me! If you want to road trip and see the country, this was a super fun way to do it! Regardless, go to Glacier National Park. You will NOT regret it! Montana is such a special gem and I’m already excited to visit again!

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