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Fly Fishing the Madison
Essential reading for all fly fishers going to the Madison.
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Hiking the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness
This guide, a thoroughly revised and updated edition of Hiking the Beartooths, explores 40 trails in Montana's Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness. The wilderness area, located north and northeast of Yellowstone, is renowned for its spectacular scenery and abundant wildlife.
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The Crystal Lake Scenic Drive

Crystal Lake in the Big Snowy Mountains
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The Crystal Lake Scenic Drive is a twenty-four mile route that leads to the clear waters of Crystal Lake, a mountain lake tucked away deep in the Big Snowy Mountains of Central Montana. Although the drive itself isn’t the most scenic of drives in Montana, the views at Crystal Lake more than make up for the average views seen along the rest of the route.

Highlights of the drive include Crystal Lake, the excellent campground located along its shore, and great views of the Big Snowy Mountains from the lake.

The route begins off Highway 200. The easiest way to locate the road to Crystal Lake is to head east out of Lewistown. The junction with the Crystal Lake Road is about eight miles from town, and is well marked. Once on the Crystal Lake Road, it’s impossible to get lost as the road leads right to the lake.

The alternative way to reach Crystal Lake, for those coming from Eddie’s Corner and points west, is to look for the sign on Highway 200 pointing to the tiny town of Moore. Follow the road that leads through town. The road itself, called N. Trout Creek Road, isn’t especially well marked, but it’s the only south that heads due south through Moore. After following this road for several miles, turn to the east on Rockford Road and follow it until it ends at the junction with Crystal Lake Road.

The first half of the Crystal Lake Scenic Drive, regardless of which route you take, cuts through a dusty plain. The views of the Big Snowy Mountains are good, but the landscape around it isn’t exactly spectacular. Moreover, the road itself is usually dusty and often full of washboards, making the trip between Highway 200 and the National Forest a less than spectacular one.

Once the Crystal Lake Road reaches the Lewis & Clark National Forest Boundary, however, the drive becomes more enjoyable as the road climbs into the attractive forests that are part of the Big Snowy Mountains. Although views are limited due to the thickly forested terrain, there are enough open spots in the canopy to make the drive enjoyable.

The drive ends at the shore of Crystal Lake. The campground at Crystal Lake is, in my opinion, one of the nicer ones in Montana. The campground is spread out all along the lake, so people aren’t bunched tightly together like at so many other campgrounds. While this campground charges a small fee, unlike many other campgrounds the fee for this campground is well worth the price paid.

Overall, the Crystal Lake Scenic Drive is a nice diversionary trip for those passing through this part of Central Montana. The campground along Crystal Lake also makes a fine destination for those wanting to spend some time in the backcountry and out of the heat found down in the plains around Lewistown.

Quick Facts

  • Length: 24 miles
  • Highlights : Big Snowy Mountains, Crystal Lake
  • Road Type : Gravel
  • Nearby Towns : Lewistown
  • 4wd needed? : No, except when road is very wet
  • Traffic : Light
  • Trailers? : Yes
  • Season : Mountain section closed in winter

Map of the Crystal Lake Scenic Drive

The map below shows the route and location of the Crystal Lake Scenic Drive in Central Montana, near Lewistown.

Map of the Crystal Lake Scenic Drive

Topographical Map Books

Montana Benchmark Atlas : Large-scale Landscape Maps and a complete 30-page Recreation Guide make this an ideal planning tool for outdoor adventures.    More Info

Photos of the Crystal Lake Scenic Drive

Crystal Lake Homemade Raft Crystal Lake

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Where to Stay & Other Services

There are no services or lodging along the route. Lewistown is the best place to pick up supplies, although there is a nice gas station and restaurant at Eddie's Corner.

The lone designated campground is the Crystal Lake campground, which is set right along the lake. During weekends this beautiful campground can fill up with locals, but during midweek there should be no problems finding a nice camping spot. Some primitive camping can be done on some of the side roads that lead up to the lake. However, they aren't especially scenic.

For lodging, the best (and only) real place to find a hotel nearby is in Lewistown.

Lodging in Lewistown

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