Off-Roading 101: Your Guide to the Best Jeep Trails in Montana

Montana is the fourth largest state in the US, so there are plenty of places for you to explore. There are many great Jeep trails to discover throughout the state, and I’ve compiled a list of the best ones to get you started.

So, whether you’re looking for a challenging trail that will test your driving skills or a more leisurely ride through some beautiful scenery, these trails have something to offer everyone.

So put on your favorite adventure gear and get ready to have a great time!

Are There Jeep Trails in Montana?

Montana is home to some of the best off-road and Jeep trails in the country. You can find trails of all levels of difficulty, so whether you’re a beginner or an experienced off-roader, you’re sure to find a trail that’s perfect for you.

Below is a list of some of the best Jeep trails in Montana, so get your gear ready and start planning your next adventure!

  1. Bannack Bench Road
  2. Bannack Road
  3. Conklin Lake
  4. Elk Lake
  5. Flatiron Mountain
  6. Ghost Village
  7. Gravelly Range
  8. Horse Butte Lookout
  9. Grinnell Lake Trail

The 8 Best Jeep Trails in Montana

Overview of the best Montana Jeep trailsBannack Bench Road

Bannack Bench Road starts from Corinne (Utah) all the way to Bannack (Montana). It was initially meant for transporting freight between the two cities. This freight road was established way back in 1862.

You can see the old cemetery that’s still there at Waypoint 4 to get a glimpse of the bygone Wild West era.

From the Bannack Road, you can access and explore the Bannack ghost town, which still features well-preserved buildings, structures, and relics of the past.

The trail winds its way through grassy hills and a wide valley with the Rocky Mountains visible in the distance, so there are plenty of natural sights to admire.

Bannack Road

Bannack Road leads into the Bannack ghost town, which happens to be the first territorial capital of Montana. This is where gold was found in Montana for the first time in 1862.

You can still visit and explore the old edifices that bring back memories from the past. You can even go inside these well-preserved buildings to behold the rich historical heritage of Montana’s old city.

You can view old artifacts like ore cars lining up along the main road. You can also see the bucket line dredges that were once operational along the Grasshopper Creek.

Wild West fanatics will certainly want to get inside the Skinners Saloon. According to old accounts, this is where Cyrus Skinner passed on provided information to the Innocents Gang and Henry Plummer. You will find plenty of stories on the walls detailing drunken shootouts and brawls that often broke out in this Wild West Saloon.

The Montana Territorial Courthouse is a pristine structure made of brick that still stands in good condition. You have to admire the builders who crafted a structure that has solidly stood the test of time.

You would also like to walk through and the gallows to ponder over how justice was meted out swiftly, efficiently, and ruthlessly during these often lawless times.

Conklin Lake

Conklin Lake Trail is relatively obscure despite the brilliant panoramas that you will enjoy in the Hidden  Lake and adjoining mountains. This trail is to be found within Beaverhead National Forest, close to the Continental Divide, not far from the Montana Idaho line. The trail passes near the West side of the Yellowstone National Park.

In the month of July, the lake is quite a sight to behold, with its flowers in full bloom swaying together captivatingly in the breeze. This is the best time to visit this site, where you will be rewarded with vibrant hues and lots of flowers fluttering in the wind.

This wonderful site is surrounded by mighty snow-capped mountains that look simply idyllic in the background.

Elk Lake

Elk Lake is a great spot for fishing. Since there is not much rush for much of the year, social distancing is easier. The clear blue water is sourced from a gentle brook. The Elk Lake Resort is a nice place to stay and enjoy the surrounding natural landscape. If you want to get away from crowds and enjoy the solitude, peace, and quiet of pristine nature, then Elk Lake will be the place to be with its fine resort.

While fishing in the turquoise blue waters, you can marvel at the sight of distant mountains that make for a stunning backdrop. The lake is in the midst of a forest with lots of trees. Lake water, birds, mountains, verdant scenery, and trees – this is as ideal as it gets for soaking up nature. It’s the kind of place that you remember long after your sojourn is over and yearn to see it again.

The rare Trumpeter Swan is also to be found here. Bird watchers, wildlife photographers, and nature enthusiasts will not want to miss these beautiful birds that were once almost extinct.

But Elk Lake is just half the story. There is more in store for you. As you move further along this enchanting trail, you will be welcomed into the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, which at over 3.3 million acres is the biggest national forest of the state of Montana.

The bottom of the Flatiron Jeep TrailFlatiron Mountain

Once you enter Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, you really must traverse the Flatiron Mountain Road. The trail is just under an hour’s drive from West Yellowstone and Ennis. From Big Sky Montana, it takes just under 2 hours to embark on this Jeep trail.

There are three connecting roads that, together with this trail make a loop that will take you around Flatiron Mountain. You can gaze with joy at the stunning background view that only the Centennial Mountains can provide. The wonderful thing about this trail is that each following view appears more enchanting than the previous one. Waypoints 4 and 5 are just plain majestic and surreal. This is the finest place for you to dabble in natural landscape photography for stunning pictures that you can be proud of.

Wildlife lovers will be glad to know that there is a good chance of seeing some interesting fauna. You can hear the melodious chirping of the birds interspersed with occasional screeches from red-tailed hawks.

The good news is that traffic is pretty low and there aren’t many people around. So you can enjoy some well-deserved peace while savoring the spectacular vistas of the very best that Montana has to offer.

Ghost Village

Ghost Village, Montana, sounds rather eerie, and it indeed has a sad morbid history.

The natural forest landscape itself, together with nearby mountains, is as good as it gets. The place is only half an hour away from West Yellowstone towards the northeast.

Tragedy struck in the region not too long ago in 1959 when a magnitude 7.1 rocked the area, unleashing a terrible landslide. The colossal mass of mud fell into the Madison River, choking it and effectively acting as a dam. The result was that the water level rose fast, inundating the surrounding area. Sadly, there was no way for many of the surrounding campers. 28 unfortunate persons lost their lives while lucky survivors managed to reach what is now remembered as ‘Refugee Point.’

To see full details of this most powerful quake to rock Montana state, you can visit the Earthquake Lake Visitor Center, where you will find rare videos, images, facts, and documents about this disaster.

Gravelly Range

If you fancy hunting in the most scenic natural landscape, then Gravelly Range Road is just right for you. Starting from Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, you can embark on this trail going through Gravelly Range itself and finally ending your expedition at Axolotl Wilderness Study Area.

One factor that you will want to consider is elevation. At the start of your journey, the elevation is an astonishing 6665 feet. At the end of the 30-mile trail, you will be at the height of 9600 feet above sea level. As you might expect, there are plenty of astonishing views and majestic scenes that adventurers can relish at these heights.

As you wind your way along the Gravelly Range ridge, you can enjoy an unhindered view of several miles in all directions where you can see verdant green fields and mountain ranges unfold with spectacular clarity. The lush green fields look lovely with their colorful wildflowers while towering majestic mountains present a marvelous view together with overhead clouds.

This trail goes through the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest. There are several more destinations that you can explore in the area if you have the will and the time.

On top of Horse Butte OHV Jeep trail in MontanaHorse Butte Lookout

The Horse Butte Lookout is just 20 minutes drive from the north of West Yellowstone. This historic site is situated within Custer Gallatin National Forest, which is renowned for its diverse flora. This forest covers over 3 million acres.

You should visit the historic fire watchtower. This point provides a scenic view of Hebgen Lake. Made in 1953, the live-in quarters on the top of the tower measures 14 feet by 14 feet at the height of 40 feet. A crow’s nest lookout was constructed earlier in 1920, and it can still be seen today.

The elevation is 7,000 feet at the endpoint of the trail. From here, you can view at leisure the wonderful countryside seated at picnic tables. The landscape is dotted with numerous tall trees.

You can hit the Montana jeep trails outlined above to experience the Mountain State like you never did before.

Mark Anders

I love my Jeep and will share my years of knowledge with you here! Stay with me and read on!

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