Crown Circle Route

I think this is probably one of the best mountain drives in North America. The route covers two countries (have your passport available), two provinces and one state. The route extends from the Whitefish range to the Elk Valley and Crowsnest Pass to the prairies and then back to Waterton National Park and then up into the towering height of the Going-to-the-sun Road.

Layers

Day 1

Garden Wall Inn
1
Garden Wall Inn
Accommodation | Inn
You may want to anchor your trip by starting and stopping in Whitefish and staying at the Garden Wall Inn. High season will need early reservations. You might want to try this trip in September or maybe in June right after the Going-to-the-Sun road opens and the waterfalls are epic in the park.

An impeccably restored 1920s house-turned-inn, the Garden Wall Inn offers five guestrooms- each furnished with authentic period antiques. The inn is a one-block tree-lined walk from downtown Whitefish’s excellent restaurants, charming shops, and…

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Buffalo Cafe
2
Buffalo Cafe
Food or Drink | Restaurant
Start your day in Whitefish with breakfast at the Buffalo Cafe. My favorite is the egg's benedict. Spend a little time exploring downtown Whitefish and the shops of Central Avenue. After a while start north on Highway 93 towards Eureka, Montana and the Canadian border.

The Buffalo Cafe has been a favorite Whitefish meeting place for locals and visitors since 1980. Homegrown specialties riff off a central theme: Heaping plates of potatoes, eggs, chorizo, and tortillas, a unique Mexican-Montana blend.

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Ant Flat Historic Site
3
Ant Flat Historic Site
Museum, Theatre, Interpretive Centre | Visitor or Interpretive Centre
Take a short jaunt off the highway and spend a few minutes looking at this historical site and also meeting some local people while you're at it.

Short nature trail cuts through old railroad camp and Forest Service headquarters, now an outdoor education center. Public is invited to explore nature trails and enjoy day use area.

Ant Flat is one of the first administrative sites in…

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Tobacco Valley Historical Village
4
Tobacco Valley Historical Village
Historic or Prehistoric Place | Historic Site
A series of restored buildings with a museum and boardwalk along the edge of town. Worth spending a little time here. I would also suggest spending a little time walking up the main street of Eureka and peeking into some shops and getting a bite to eat.

Pioneer buildings were moved to save them from drowning when Libby Dam created Lake Koocanusa in the 1970s. Browse Fewkes General Store for historical artifacts. And if you buy a locally made quilt you’ll be helping provide funds for village upkeep.

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Ancient Cottonwoods Trail
5
Ancient Cottonwoods Trail
Outdoor Adventure | Hiking Trail or Trailhead
As you're heading up the valley towards Fernie, stop here and take a walk among the old Cottonwoods!

Veloured in dense green moss, 400-year-old cottonwood trees congregate on the side of the Elk River at Morrissey Bridge. A nature walk steers you around wet spots and avoids sensitive cottonwood roots.

This forest is managed by the Nature…

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Fernie C.P.R. Station
6
Fernie C.P.R. Station
Museum, Theatre, Interpretive Centre | Visitor or Interpretive Centre
While in town, check to see if the restored CPR Station has any live events while you're in town!

Authentically preserved mountain-style railway station now a community centre for the arts and live entertainment.

Built in 1908, the former C.P.R. station is the last survivor of a type designed specifically for the Crowsnest Route.…

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The Brickhouse
7
The Brickhouse
Food or Drink | Restaurant
Stroll Fernie's historical mainstreet and have dinner at the Brickhouse Restaurant.

The Brickhouse Bar & Grill is a newer addition to Fernie's downtown nightlife and culinary experiences. This restaurant and lounge is housed in the historical 1909 Imperial Bank of Canada building. The bank operated in Fernie until 1963 after the…

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Red Tree Lodge in Fernie
8
Red Tree Lodge in Fernie
Accommodation | Lodge or Resort
Fernie is a good mid-point and overnight stop for this trip. Stay at the Red Tree Lodge, but don't forget to explore the main street of Fernie which is not on the main highway.

The Red Tree Lodge in the Rocky Mountain town of Fernie provides guests with relaxed, modern, and comfortable accommodation complimented by extensive facilities.

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Day 2

Terex Titan
9
Terex Titan
Historic or Prehistoric Place | Historic Site
While driving up the Elk Valley, stop for a minute at the giant Terex truck and also learn about the mining present and history in the valley.

The town of Sparwood is home to the world's largest tandem axle dump truck, the Terex Titan. The Terex Titan is a legacy of Sparwood's mining heritage. It was brought to the town in 1978 to work in the mines, arriving by train on eight rail flat cars.…

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Crowsnest Lake
10
Crowsnest Lake
Natural Area | Lake, River, or Waterfall
While driving over the Crowsnest Pass you'll pass a series of lakes with very beautiful and crystal clear waters.

This large, deep, natural lake lies just east of the Continental Divide along Alberta Highway 3. The abandoned brick power plant at the lake's east end was coal-fired and does not, as one might suppose, signal the presence of a man-made dam. Instead,…

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Cinnamon Bear Bakery & Cafe
11
Cinnamon Bear Bakery & Cafe
Food or Drink | Cafe, Deli, Coffee House or Bakery
Stop for a bite to eat in the Coleman historical mining district.

Excellent home baking (especially muffins and sticky buns), made-to-order sandwiches, and ethically sourced coffee make this a favorite road stop between the Alberta prairie and the mountain playgrounds of British Columbia.

 

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Frank Slide Interpretive Centre
12
Frank Slide Interpretive Centre
Museum, Theatre, Interpretive Centre | Visitor or Interpretive Centre
Spend time exploring the history of the Frank Slide disaster, when early one morning an entire town was covered up by a mountain slide. The visitor center and subsequent walk through through the debris field are sobering and also a very interesting experience.

At 4:10 a.m. on April 29, 1903, 90 million tons of limestone broke loose from the top of Turtle Mountain and came crashing down on the valley below. A portion of the sleeping coal mining town of Frank was destroyed and more than 90 people lost…

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Old Dairy Ice Cream Shoppe
13
Old Dairy Ice Cream Shoppe
Food or Drink | Restaurant
Another good spot to stop for some local treats and meet some locals.

Slurp a shake through a straw, or race melting ice cream around the lip of a crisp waffle cone, at the Old Dairy ice cream shop.

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Leitch Collieries Provincial Historic Site
14
Leitch Collieries Provincial Historic Site
Historic or Prehistoric Place | Historic Site
Right next to the road, I recommend stopping for a moment to walk through these historic ruins.

The high-flying technology companies of the 1990s did not invent wishful-thinking as a business model. The ruins of Leitch Collieries at the eastern extremity of Crowsnest Pass attest to similar irrational exuberance among entrepreneurs and…

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Waterton Lakes National Park
15
Waterton Lakes National Park
Natural Area | National Park or Protected Area
A trip to the townsite of Waterton and the Waterton Lakes National Parks is a must. The park is the Canadian side of the Glacier-Waterton National Park complex. While there you can check out the historical Prince of Wales hotel. I also suggest you spend a little time exploring the Red Rock Parkway.

Rugged, windswept mountains rise abruptly out of gentle prairie grassland in spectacular Waterton Lakes National Park. Here, several different ecological regions meet and interact in a landscape shaped by wind, fire, flooding, and abundant plants…

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Mountain View Inn near Waterton Park
16
Staying directly in the Waterton townsite is nice -- but things book up early. This is a good alternative just outside of town on the prairies. You will still need to book ahead if you want to stay around this area during the high summer months of July and August.

Enjoy a private getaway or a group retreat at the Mountain View Inn near Waterton Lakes National Parks. The Inn includes two large buildings with gorgeous grounds and views of the mountains, just off the highway between Waterton National Park and…

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Day 3

Going-to-the-Sun Road
17
Going-to-the-Sun Road
Outdoor Adventure | Scenic Drives
Drive the Going-to-the-Sun road through the heart of Glacier National Park. The road will wind along lakes and to the summit of Logan Pass. There are many short hikes and stopping points along the way so I suggest taking a large part of the day for this drive including stops and walks.

An engineering marvel completed in 1932, the cliff-hugging Going-to-the-Sun Road traverses the Continental Divide. A drive along the Sun Road is the most popular highlights of the park. The road spans 50 miles through the park's wild interior,…

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Avalanche Creek Trail
18
Avalanche Creek Trail
Outdoor Adventure | Hiking Trail or Trailhead
The Trail of Ancients is a must stop along the Going-to-the-Sun road in Glacier National Park. You can choose to hike all the way to Avalanche Lake or just do the .5 mile boardwalk which terminates at the beautiful chasm.

One of the highlights of Glacier National Park. The Avalanche Creek trail has three main features: the Trail of the Cedars, which is an easy universal access boardwalk through an old growth cedar forest culminating at the Avalanche Creek Gorge bridge.…

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West Glacier Village, Montana
19
West Glacier Village, Montana
Community | Appealing Downtown Area
Spend a few moments to get a bite to eat and explore the shops of Apgar Village and also the village of West Glacier before heading back to Whitefish.

Change is glacial in this gateway village, where you can enjoy the same general store, saloon, restaurant, and service station that have served park visitors since 1938.

Located at the West Entrance to Glacier National Park, this village…

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The Shops at Station 8
20
The Shops at Station 8
Local Point of Interest | Unique Shopping
Antique lovers will want to spend a little bit of time here on the way through Columbia Falls.

We are listed on National Geographic's top 50 places to visit in Montana http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/local-montana/shopping/.  We…

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Garden Wall Inn
21
Garden Wall Inn
Accommodation | Inn
You may want to anchor your trip by starting and stopping in Whitefish and staying at the Garden Wall Inn. High season will need early reservations. You might want to try this trip in September or maybe in June right after the Going-to-the-Sun road opens and the waterfalls are epic in the park.

An impeccably restored 1920s house-turned-inn, the Garden Wall Inn offers five guestrooms- each furnished with authentic period antiques. The inn is a one-block tree-lined walk from downtown Whitefish’s excellent restaurants, charming shops, and…

Read more
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Trip Plan Details

Activities:
Driving:
Duration:

In This Trip Plan

1 Garden Wall Inn
2 Buffalo Cafe
3 Ant Flat Historic Site
4 Tobacco Valley Historical Village
5 Ancient Cottonwoods Trail
6 Fernie C.P.R. Station
7 The Brickhouse
8 Red Tree Lodge in Fernie
9 Terex Titan
10 Crowsnest Lake
11 Cinnamon Bear Bakery & Cafe
12 Frank Slide Interpretive Centre
13 Old Dairy Ice Cream Shoppe
14 Leitch Collieries Provincial Historic Site
15 Waterton Lakes National Park
16 Mountain View Inn near Waterton Park
17 Going-to-the-Sun Road
18 Avalanche Creek Trail
19 West Glacier Village, Montana
20 The Shops at Station 8
21 Garden Wall Inn