Montana is a land full of big skies and long winters. With a small population spread out over a large landmass, there are plenty of spots to snowmobile without ever seeing another person. It’s an impressive place, to say the least.
Hi, I’m Chaz, a snowmobile enthusiast who has been riding in the Rocky Mountains for almost 30 years. I’ve had to chance to snowmobile in Montana a handful of times over the years and have visited some fantastic locations.
This article will show you some of the best places to snowmobile in Montana. There is a variety of terrain to explore here, and the regions and areas below give you access to all of it.
Get your gear together, and let’s get to it.
Table of Contents
1. Seeley Lake
My favorite place to ride in Montana has to be Seeley Lake. The lake itself is an amazing sight to see in the winter months, but it’s simply the starting point to a vast network of trails and backcountry access to explore.
The Seeley Lake area gives you access to nearly 400 miles of trails that shoot you into the Mission and Swan mountain ranges that dominate western Montana’s landscape. You’ll get mountain views, open meadows, and rolling hills to ride on when you visit here.
There are guide services and towns in the area that cater to snowmobilers, and you can turn a trip here into action-packed winter vacation. Some groomed trails here are suitable for beginners alongside plenty of public lands to venture deep into the backcountry wilderness.
The Driftriders is a local snowmobile club that maintains many groomed trails in the area and is a good resource for any visiting rider. The club hosts several events throughout the winter and provides maps and trail condition updates as well.
2. West Yellowstone
While most of Yellowstone National Park sits inside northwestern Wyoming’s boundaries, the western portions cross over into Montana and make for an unforgettable snowmobiling opportunity.
In the area surrounding the park, you’ll find plenty of snowmobile trails that give you access to untouched terrain that captivate adventure seekers and offer a glimpse of true wilderness. If you want to know why they call it the Big Sky state, one bluebird powder day here will show you.
If you want to venture within the park boundaries, you’ll need to get the necessary permits and probably use a guide service. But if you want to explore the forests and trails that sit just outside, you can do that without any special requirements.
It’s a wild country in West Yellowstone, so always ride safe and go with other people. Towns are scattered few and far between – which means you’ll have large stretches of land all to yourself but limited assistance if anything goes wrong.
3. Flathead Valley
Another top snowmobile destination in Montana is Flathead Valley. This region sits right next door to the world-famous Glacier National Park in the northern part of the state. The views and terrain here are stunning, and there is plenty of room to get out and explore.
Within the Flathead Valley region, you can find over 200 miles of groomed trails and another 2,000 miles of Forest Service roads that make for quality trails during the winter. It also gets plenty of snow to provide you with good coverage and fresh tracks all season long.
I like to pop up to one of the mountain tops within the valley to get a good glimpse of Glacier National Park and the lower Canadian Rockies. The views are beautiful, and in the wintertime, it’s a surreal experience without many visitors.
The Flathead Snowmobile Associate provides updates on trail and weather conditions all winter long and helps maintain many groomed trails in the region. If you have questions or want to connect with other riders, this club is a good resource.
4. Skalkaho Pass
This is a lesser-known snowmobiling spot that is somewhat difficult to access but opens the doors to some fantastic riding if you put in the effort to get here. Skalkaho Pass sits between Hamilton and Georgetown Lake, and the road closes to regular traffic in the winter.
When you arrive here, the riding opportunities will appear like a winter mirage. Since no regular traffic is allowed over the pass during the winter, the mountains and forest surrounding the road take on an entirely different dynamic.
Backcountry trails are in plenty here – some established and others awaiting the intrepid off-trail rider. There are good beginner spots to bring the family and some more technical terrain that will shoot you up and over peaks and into canyons.
Skalkaho is somewhat of a local secret, so be sure the respect the land and other riders you might encounter here. Pick up after yourself if you are winter camping, and make sure to leave the place better than when you found it so other riders can enjoy it for years to come.
Have you ever wanted to visit a ghost town by snowmobile? Have you ever even heard of such a thing? Greenough is home to the Garnet Ghost Town trail system, giving you access to over 100 miles of trails that lead to a historic ghost town.
You can only reach Garnet Ghost Town by over-snow means during the winter months, and snowmobiling is the easiest (and arguably to most fun) way to visit. You can even rent the cabins found here for overnight stays.
History buffs and lovers of the old west are sure to love the adventure and spirit of visiting an old mining encampment. But the trails provide access to pristine wilderness and amazing views of the Mission Mountains and nearby Blackfoot Valley.
The Missoula Snowgoers is the local snowmobiling club, and they provide groomed trail reports, weather conditions, and other resources for riders who live are visit the area.
6. Cooke City
Cooke City is another great spot to score some fresh tracks and explore the backcountry in the southwestern part of Montana. The area is renowned in snowmobiler circles for offering some of the best backcountry riding opportunities in the world.
Even though there are some very technical and remote conditions in the Gallatin National Forest surrounding Cooke City, there are trails and terrain for every type of skill level from beginner to expert.
There are a handful of groomed trails you can access from the northeast gateway of Yellowstone via the town of Gardiner. This access point is better for beginners.
If you want a more remote backcountry experience, park at the Pilot Creek Parking Area on the east side of the national forest and ride the 12 miles into Cooke City. You’ll get amazing views of the Beartooth Mountains along the way.
Here’s a map of the Cooke City area and the snowmobile trails you can find there.
Montana is worth visiting any time of the year, but the winter months provide some unique and stunning riding opportunities for snowmobilers. You can venture deep into the backcountry or bounce around beginner trails, all while witnessing the unmatched beauty of the West.
I’ve only been riding in Montana a few dozen times, but I always start planning my next trip every time I leave. Once you visit here, I’m sure you’ll feel the same way. Any of the places listed above are sure to be more than memorable.
Do you know of a place to snowmobile in Montana that didn’t make the list? Let us know in the comments below!About Chaz Wyland