Marias Pass in Montana

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Marias Pass

Carving its way through the northern Rocky Mountains and shadowed by the mighty Middle Fork, the Marias Pass thrills drivers with its autobahn like twists and stunning mountain scenery.

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  • Be inspired by the beauty of this picture perfect drive as Marias Pass winds over the Continental Divide from West to East Glacier. 
  • Enjoy the views of majestic mountain tops of Glacier National Park just north of the highway or the vastness of the Bob Marshall Wilderness, the Great Bear Wilderness and the Lewis and Clark Forest to the south. 
  • Bring your camera because every turn of Highway 2 offers stunning scenery and opportunities for wildlife viewing. 
  • Learn a little area history and enjoy a picnic lunch at the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Square.

Why should I drive the Marias Pass? 

While driving over the Marias Pass you night feel like you’re driving across a Montana postcard as the two-lane highway reaches its summit at 5,213 feet and passes over the Continental Divide. 

Marias Pass is a drive through history, so take time to learn a little about the area at the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Square. In 1805, Lewis and Clark explored the area, but due to weather never discovered the pass. However Marias Pass gets its name from Captain Meriweather Lewis, who named a nearby river Marias, in honor of his cousin. Traversed by Native Americans for years, in 1889 the pass was “discovered” by civil engineer John F. Stevens, who mapped out the pass for the railroad.

Where does the Marias Pass begin and end?

Marias Pass begins in West Glacier and follows Highway 2 for 56 miles to East Glacier.

How long does the take to drive? 

Depending on your speed and how many stops you make, it takes approximately 1 to 2 hours to drive it.

What will I see along the way? 

  • Wildlife: Starting from West Glacier along Highway 2, the road begins to rise through deep cut granite canyons while it skirts the banks of the Middle Fork. With the mountains of Glacier National Park to the north and vast forests to the south, visitors are sure to spot some of the area’s abundant wildlife. 
  • Wilderness: On the south side of Highway 2, Marias Pass borders on the three spectacular wilderness areas that make up a portion of the Flathead National Forest: Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex, Great Bear Wilderness and Lewis and Clark National Forest. 
  • Mountains: On the west side of the Continental Divide, between West Glacier and Essex, the highway features a steady incline and sweeping views of the big mountains such as Mount Stimson, Mount Phillips and Mount Despair. 
  • Picnic Area: At Marias Pass’s summit enjoy a picnic at Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Square. The area features the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial 60-foot granite obelisk, which commemorated the President’s leadership in forest conservation, as well as a statue to honor John F. Stevens, who mapped out the pass for the Great Northern Railroad. 
  • More Wildlife: On the east side of the summit, Highway 2 divides the southern tip of Glacier National Park from the Lewis and Clark National Forest all the way to East Glacier. The landscape transcends from rugged mountain terrain into rolling meadows. This is a great area for spotting moose, elk and many deer.