Notes From the Road: Springtime Drives: Bozeman to Livingston


One of the great joys of living in Montana’s Yellowstone Country is the scenery. Biking down Main Street or even just sitting on my back porch often rewards me with 360 degree views of four different mountain ranges. And even just a drive to the grocery store leaves me saying to myself, “I can’t believe it’s real.” Even two years after moving here.

Drift 406 is a car enthusiast group local to Yellowstone Country that agrees with just that sentiment. Every Tuesday evening, the group gets together in downtown Bozeman to talk about everything from car restoration to driving techniques and to show off their rides. If this was the 50s and we were all in high school, these guys would be your town greasers. About four times a year, Drift 406 takes a Sunday drive together.

The group appreciates cars as transportation but, much like the scenic Sunday drives of yesteryear, they also appreciate what cars allowed Yellowstone Country residents to do in their free time. On their Sunday drives, Drift 406 plans a specific route that has exciting turns, beautiful views and the feeling that they’re getting away from their daily grind.

A few weeks ago, Drift 406 had their first drive of 2014, starting in Bozeman and taking the scenic route to Livingston. The best part?

Mark’s In and Out, the drive-thru burger joint in Livingston, where the group finished their drive. But it wasn’t all about juicy burgers or chocolate shakes. Drive-thrus were a popular thing back when flashy cars were in their heyday.

“You’d take your hot rod and your hot girl down to the drive-thru to show off. Finishing the drive at Mark’s seemed nostalgic and tied the whole day together,” said Drift 406 member Will Papallos

So, while the hiking trails are still a bit muddy, I recommend you take advantage of the gorgeous scenery in Yellowstone Country from the front seat of a car. Here’s the drive that Drift 406 completed this spring:

1. Starting from the intersection of 19th Street and Main, in Bozeman, head south.
2. At the intersection of 19th and Kagy Boulevard, head east.
3. Kagy Boulevard becomes Bozeman Trail Road. Stay on it until coming to Kelly Canyon.
4. Take Kelly Canyon north until the intersection with Highway 86 (Bridger Canyon Drive).
5. Head east (and eventually north) on Highway 86 (Bridger Canyon Drive)
6. Continue past Bridger Bowl and past Dry Creek.
7. At the intersection of Highway 86 and Highway 89, head south through the small town of Wilsall.
8. For a scenic rest stop, pause at the Thunder Jack lookout on Highway 89, about .7 of a mile past the junction with Highway 86.
9. Continue south on Highway 89 until you reach Highway 191/I-90.
10. Get on Highway 191/I-90, heading west, at exit 340.
11. Get off Highway 191/I-90 at exit 337.
12. Turn left on Park Street and go through the town of Livingston.
13. Finish at Mark’s In and Out (look for the huge neon marquee).