Travelers exploring Big Sky Country will discover that Montana’s backroads lead to a town filled with charming western history, Helena. National Park enthusiasts will find themselves along the Rocky Mountain Front while traveling between Yellowstone National Park and Glacier National Park. Helena’s central location in the state makes it a natural starting point for those wanting to discover true Montana culture.
From Helena, explore the vast landscape that Montana has to offer. Travel to Glacier, Yellowstone, or find yourself traveling to smaller less discovered towns while venturing to Bozeman, Billings, Missoula, or Kalispell.
Let us help guide you to and from Helena with route suggestions and things to see along the way.
Driving times to Helena: (click the links for Google Directions)
These times do not include stops for animals, sightseeing, bathroom, or lunch breaks! Take your time and take in the splendor!
From the North:
Glacier National Park:
Glacier National Park has 7 entrances and each is about ~3.5 hours driving time from Helena, ~200 miles.
- Main Gate
- Eastern Gate
- Kalispell: There is more than one way to drive from Kalispell to Helena, and the drives are 3.5-4 hours of driving time.
- Whitefish: There are a couple of different routes from Whitefish to Helena and like the Kalispell drive, they range from 3.5 – 4 hours of drive time.
From the South:
The drive from Bozeman is close to 100 miles and takes about 1 hour 45 minutes to 2 hours.
The drive from Billings to Helena is a solid 3 hours 45 minutes if you stick to the interstate. Driving times in Google for some of the smaller roads return similar drive times, but from experience, they are rarely accurate and take an extra 20-30 minutes due to slow moving traffic, animals, and poor road conditions during late fall and winter.
Driving from Salt Lake to Helena takes slightly more than 7 hours driving time, or you can catch one of the several direct flights a day that take less than 2 hours.
There are a couple of different routes between Boise and Helena, and under the best road conditions take about 8 hours. Just keep in mind, there are some big mountains to cross and during the off season drive times can be much, MUCH longer.
There are two entrances to Yellowstone from the Montana side and both entrances are almost exactly 3 hour drives from Helena. And they are both some of the most beautiful drives in the state!
The town of West Yellowstone houses the far western entrance to Yellowstone National Park. It is also one of the least traveled entrances to the park and can be a wonderful way to enter during the peak of the season. It is a bit closer to Old Faithful than the northern Gardiner entrance.
The town of Gardiner is the northern entrance to Yellowstone in Montana and it is one of the busiest. It has great access to Mammoth Hot Springs, Canyon Village, and the Yellowstone River.
From the East:
North Dakota and South Dakota border eastern Montana and they are both just slightly over an 8 hour drive time.
From the West:
The drive from Missoula to Helena takes 1 hour 45 min to 2 hours depending on the route. The road takes you over scenic MacDonald pass and winds along the Clark Fork and Blackfoot rivers. It is one of the most spectacular drives in Montana.
From Helena to Spokane, you are going to drive through Missoula and keep going another three hours. The total drive is near to 5 hours.
As you travel through Montana, keep an eye out for signs pointing you toward Helena. The closer you get, the more frequent these signs will become. Helena is not the largest town in Montana, but it is the state capital, centered in the western part of the state. Like Rome of old, all roads lead to Helena!
After you are in the general vicinity, it is simply a matter of following the main road into town. You can’t miss it!
Once you arrive in Helena, there are plenty of things to do and see. If you are feeling adventurous, take a hike in one of the many nearby parks, try your bike on one of the dozens of mountain bike trails, or check out the headwaters of the Missouri River. For those looking for a more relaxed experience, try one of our many locally owned and operated breweries or enjoy a stroll through our historic, downtown walking mall and explore the shops and restaurants.