Do you enjoy wandering around on secondary rural roads, off the beaten path but without the need for a four-wheel-drive vehicle? Here’s a great one: the Bitterroot Valley’s Eastside Highway, which stretches from Hamilton to Florence. It’s interesting to see a different view of the valley, and it’s always nice to get away from the traffic on U.S. 93.
Most of this road is officially called Montana State highway 269. One way to enjoy this drive is to make a loop by zooming straight down to Hamilton on highway 93. Turn left on E. Main, which becomes Marcus St. and then turns into the Eastside Highway. Then poke around as you leisurely head back north.
Along the way, it’s fun to take your time and check out the Daly Mansion. From there, as you continue north, you can browse and shop at unique businesses such as the Montana Suri Alpacas Ranch, Aspen Hot Glass Gift Store and Gallery in Corvallis, the Brooks Christmas store in Corvallis, Hamilton Packing, and more. In Stevensville, the road takes you right to the historic St. Mary’s Mission and Fort Owen. Up next is the Lee Metcalf Wildlife Refuge. Take a turn in there to cruise Wild Fowl Lane, sit a spell, and watch the wildlife (don’t forget to pack the binoculars!).
Not too far north of the refuge, the road curves west, crosses the river, and takes you to Florence and highway 93.
HOW TO GET THERE FROM MISSOULA
- Mileage: 48.6 miles
- Estimated Trip Time: 1 Hour
- How to Get There From Missoula: