The state of Montana has a reputation for abundant natural beauty—and major attractions like Glacier National Park draw visitors from near and far to experience it for themselves. That’s for good reason, too—there's absolutely no denying the kind of loveliness that photos (and even videos) probably can’t totally do justice. (After all, humans have five senses—so photos and videos just aren’t always going to cut it.)
If there’s one thing you can count on, it’s locals to set you straight about places you should visit when you’re in their part of the world. As it happens, Amanda Zito, the one-woman force behind the As The Magpie Flies YouTube moto-travel channel, is a native of western Montana. She and her brother were born and raised there, which makes seeing western Montana through their lenses a special treat.
The pair start their journey in the small town of Libby, which is also known as the gateway to Lake Koocanusa. It’s one of only two places to stop for food and/or gas if you’re traveling around the lake, according to the Zitos, so riders (and other visitors too, we guess) should plan accordingly.
Next, we get a good look at the Kootenai Falls Swinging Bridge, which looks absolutely insane—not a bridge to ride across, but a bridge to walk across. (If you have issues with heights, maybe not for you—I'd probably get some serious vertigo, to be honest with you, but it looks amazing on my computer.) They also advise checking out the Lake Koocanusa Scenic Byway, particularly if you’re on a bike. There are loads of places around the lake for camping, fishing, and otherwise enjoying all the beauty the area has to offer, as well.
If you’re in need of the kinds of things best found in big cities—such as bike parts—then Whitefish or Kalispell might belong on your list of places to stop. However, they’ll be more expensive if you’re also planning to book a hotel. The Zitos suggest that Columbia Falls is a much easier choice for non-camping accommodation on your wallet.
While in the area, the siblings stopped off at the Montana Vortex—which Amanda said she didn’t think she’d visited since she was about nine years old. (Hey, you know how it is with siblings, right? Sometimes, you just have to.) Depending on who’s in your group, it might also be a fun place for you to visit on your trip, if you’re in the area.
The trip winds through the Seeley-Swan Valley, stopping in Big Fork for some groceries before heading off along the Seeley-Swan scenic drive. It’s basically an extremely foresty valley, filled with just about any size of natural lake you could want to see. There are apparently hundreds of them, all nestled in this one area between the Mission Mountains and the Swan Range.
The two check out Holland Lake Campground, which is apparently so hidden that even some locals they spoke to didn’t know about it. Nevertheless, it was just as beautiful as promised—and they even did a little fly fishing (not catching anything, though) before the sun went down. If you enjoy the kind of mental replenishment that only spending serious time out in nature can provide, visiting this area seems like a no-brainer.