How to Get to Montana: Traveler’s Guide

As a state renowned for its stunning Rocky Mountain vistas and rich outdoor offerings, Montana welcomes explorers with diverse travel options.

This guide provides practical insights into accessing Big Sky Country, detailing the international airports with year-round or seasonal flights and the available bus routes, including transfer points from major cities like Ithaca, New York, Chicago, and Minneapolis.

Whether you’re considering air travel, car travel, railway travel, or bus travel, this guide aims to equip travelers with valuable information for a seamless and informed journey to Montana.

Where is Montana Located?

A map of Montana

Montana is geographically nestled in the northwestern part of the United States and is bordered by the Canadian provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan to the north.

To the east, it is neighbored by North Dakota and South Dakota, while Wyoming lies to the south and Idaho to the west.

Discovering this diverse state is a journey that will leave a lasting impression, making it a must-visit destination for any avid traveler.

How Far Is Montana From Other States?

A grassy field next to a highway in Montana.

With its wide open spaces and rugged mountains, Montana may seem isolated, but in reality, it’s not as far away from other states as you might think.

StateDistance to Montana via PlaneRoad Distance via Car
CaliforniaApprox. 838 miles (1,349 km)1,305 miles (2,100 km)
IllinoisApprox. 1,130 miles (1,818 km)1,370 miles (2,200 km)
North CarolinaApprox. 1,834 miles (2,952 km)2,114 miles (3,400 km)
TexasApprox. 1,169 miles (1,881 km)1,424 miles (2,290 km)
FloridaApprox. 2,049 miles (3,297 km)2,479 miles (3,990 km)
New YorkApprox. 1,763 miles (2,837 km)2,109 miles (3,396 km)
PennsylvaniaApprox. 1,698 miles (2,732 km)1,926 miles (3,100 km)
OhioApprox. 1,444 miles (2,324 km)1,633 miles (2,630 km)
GeorgiaApprox. 1,769 miles (2,847 km)2,138 miles (3,443 km)
MichiganApprox. 1,277 miles (2,055 km)1,600 miles (2,575 km)

The travel time to Montana can significantly vary based on your starting location. Estimating travel duration can be done by considering distances and typical transportation speeds.

Recommended Travel Options

An RV Traveling Through Montana.

When exploring new destinations, selecting the ideal travel options can significantly enhance your overall experience.

Diverse transportation options, whether it’s air travel, road trips, train journeys, or other modes, provide unique perspectives to craft a personalized trip that aligns with your preferences.

This variety allows you to curate experiences and tailor your journey according to your desired style and memorable moments.

Get to Montana by Plane

Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport from the outside

Montana boasts 5 international airports, offering year-round or seasonal direct flights from various major cities.

These airports ensure convenient accessibility and provide easy connections from other locations, facilitating smooth travel experiences for visitors heading to the Treasure State’s landscapes and adventure-filled terrains.

The airports in Montana that receive flights from various locations include:

  1. Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport (BZN) – Located near Bozeman, Bozeman Airport This beautiful airport serves as the entry to the southwest region of Montana, including Yellowstone National Park.
  2. Missoula International Airport (MSO) – Serving as the entry to the western part of the state, including Missoula and surrounding areas.
  3. Billings Logan International Airport (BIL) –Located in Billings, it serves as the entry to the southeastern part of Montana.
  4. Great Falls International Airport (GTF) – Located in Great Falls, it serves as the entry to the central part of the state, including Great Falls and nearby areas.
  5. Helena Regional Airport (HLN) – Located in Helena, the state capital, a domestic airport that serves as the entry to the central region.
  6. Kalispell Glacier Park International Airport (FCA) – Serving as the entry to the northwest part of the state, including Kalispell and Glacier National Park.

The costs of flight tickets to Montana are influenced by various factors affecting Montana flight prices. These factors include the departure location, choice of airline, and specific travel dates.

Several airlines, including Southwest Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, and United Airlines offer flights to Montana from various cities.

The average flight time ranges from 2 to 4 hours, depending on where you’re coming from.

Get to Montana by Car

A convertible car driving down a road with mountains in the background.

If you’re considering a trip to Big Sky Country, traveling by car is certainly an option worth exploring.

The driving distance going to Montana will depend on your starting location, but there are 3 main routes that you can take to reach the state by highway.

The following are the primary routes to reach Montana by highway:

  • Interstate 90 (I-90) – Runs east-west, connecting various states and entering Montana from both the east and west. It passes through cities like Billings, Bozeman, and Missoula.
  • Interstate 15 (I-15) – Travels north-south and intersects with Montana from the south, passing through cities like Helena and Great Falls.
  • Interstate 94 (I-94) – Although not directly entering Montana, I-94 is nearby and intersects with I-90 in eastern Montana. It runs from the Great Lakes region to the west, passing through cities like Chicago, Minneapolis, and Fargo.

Traveling to Montana by car is a great alternative, as the state offers scenic routes that can make your trip enjoyable.

Just be sure to have a travel guide for the roads, as some routes in Montana may close during the winter season.

Get to Montana by Train

A train traveling through the picturesque mountains of Montana.

If you’re considering traveling to Big Sky Country by train, I highly recommend taking Amtrak’s Empire Builder.

This scenic train ride takes you through the Hi-Line of Montana and the northern tier of Glacier Country, providing amazing views along the way.

The Empire Builder train stops at several towns in Montana, including Cut Bank, Browning, East Glacier Park, Essex, West Glacier, and Whitefish, allowing you to easily access different parts of the state.

Operated daily from both Seattle and Portland, as well as Minneapolis and Chicago, the Empire Builder provides convenient options for travelers from various locations.

Get to Montana by Bus

Travelers sitting in the back of a bus at sunset, exploring Montana.

Travelers can reach the Treasure State via various bus operators, including OurBus, Streamline, Greyhound USA, Flixbus USA, and Jefferson Lines.

Passengers can access Montana via bus transfers from major states through locations like Ithaca, New York, and key stations in Chicago and Minneapolis.

These transfer points connect travelers to Big Sky Country, offering convenient routes despite the absence of direct bus connections from all states.

These routes connect travelers to Billings, MT, facilitating access to Montana from diverse regions nationwide.

So, if you’re looking for an economical way to travel to the state, consider hopping on a bus.

It may not be the fastest mode of transportation, but it’s certainly a scenic way to travel.

How to Get to Montana Final Thoughts

An RV traveling down a road in Montana with mountains in the background, providing a picturesque scene for travelers seeking to get an immersive experience.

Accessing Montana encompasses a range of transportation choices tailored to suit diverse traveler preferences.

Five international airports — Bozeman Yellowstone, Missoula, Billings Logan, Great Falls International, and Kalispell Glacier Park — provide year-round or seasonal flights, ensuring convenient access to various parts of Montana.

Alongside these aerial options, interstate highways such as I-90, I-15, and I-94 offer scenic drives into the state, showcasing captivating landscapes for road travelers.

The Amtrak Empire Builder train winds through Montana’s northern tier, providing an immersive journey with stops at several communities, unveiling the state’s landscapes and rural charm.

Bus operators like OurBus, Streamline, Greyhound USA, Flixbus USA, and Jefferson Lines facilitate access to Montana via transfer points in various cities in the US.

Montana’s varied entry points cater to distinct travel preferences, offering a mix of convenience, adventure, and scenic experiences.

Pick your travel preference to experience Big Sky Country in your own unique way!

Check out these other articles for more on planning a trip to Montana:

How to Get to Montana FAQs

1. What Is the Quickest Flight From California to Montana?

The shortest duration for a direct flight between San Francisco Airport and Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport is 2 hours and 19 minutes.

Alaska Airlines, Delta, United Airlines, and Southwest Airlines all operate flights on this route, offering travelers a range of options to reach Bozeman efficiently.

2. What Is the Cheapest Time to Travel to Montana?

The cheapest time to travel to Montana is January, known for its lower travel demand just after the festive season. February also tends to offer reasonably priced flights to the state.

During the holiday season, flight prices to Montana tend to rise, but they significantly drop once the season concludes.

This makes January a particularly appealing travel time for travelers seeking affordable flights, as demand decreases, leading to more budget-friendly options.

3. What Is the Best Way to Visit Montana?

Traveling to Montana via plane is highly recommended due to the relatively short travel times, spanning roughly 2 to 4 hours from other states.

Bozeman-Yellowstone International Airport (BZN) enjoys excellent connectivity with numerous major cities across the United States, ensuring convenient and accessible air travel options to reach Montana.

4. Why Is Montana So Popular?

Montana’s popularity stems from its stunning landscapes, including the Rocky Mountains and national parks like Glacier and Yellowstone. It’s a magnet for outdoor enthusiasts with activities like hiking, skiing, and wildlife spotting. The state’s charm, friendly communities, and rich heritage also draw visitors seeking immersive experiences in nature. No matter what your interests, there are many reasons to visit Montana.

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Written by:

Chris Hall
Hi, I'm Chris Hall, co-founder of Growing up among Montana's breathtaking landscapes ignited my passion for travel. While I've journeyed to many corners of the world, the allure of Montana's wild beauty always draws me back. To me, travel is about understanding the soul of a place, and Montana has a special place in my heart. It's where endless adventures meet raw nature.

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