In Montana's Glacier National Park, the celebrated Going-to-the-Sun Road boasts a smooth new surface after a decade-long rehabilitation. On your way to the park, check out five towns along the Flathead River.
The largest of the park's gateway communities, Columbia Falls has bigger stores and more amenities than the others. Join locals at the BackRoom for an enormous plate of barbecued country-style ribs, broasted chicken, and heavenly fry bread with butter. Expect to leave with leftovers.
Wild huckleberries are king in eclectic Hungry Horse, meaning you must stop at the Huckleberry Patch—a shop, deli, candy store, and cannery—for a piece of its famous pie filled with the tart fruit. Or order a huckleberry shake to go for your visit to 564-foot-high Hungry Horse Dam, the tallest in the state.
Though it bustled during the construction of the dam, Martin City is now a tranquil village that makes a stellar access point to vast wilderness. Follow the signs from Hwy. 2 East to Hungry Horse Reservoir, where you can fish, boat, water-ski, or swim. From about mid-July to early September, bring a bucket for huckleberries.
Coram offers a beautiful view of Desert Mountain and activities for every age. Adults can sample Montana spirits in Glacier Distilling's bright-red barn, and the whole family can enjoy the challenging 1.5-mile wooden maze at the Amazing Fun Center.
Barely beyond the national park's border, West Glacier marks home base for adventure seekers. The tour company Glacier Guides and Montana Raft, known for leading rafting and hiking excursions, also rents bicycles and provides interpretive guided biking on Going-to-the-Sun Road. This is especially handy to know because bikes are allowed on the road earlier in the season than motorized vehicles.