Amazing advice man, I honestly want to do all of this lol Montana and Wyoming are definitely top on my list so I'm okay with spending more time in those parts, but as of now I would have 6-7 days max to go Spokane, WA -> Glacier National Park -> Yellowstone National Park -> Denver. I am definitely going to use some of your suggestions on the way to Glacier NP, but you seem like the right person to ask about the ride from Glacier to Yellowstone too cus that is the highlight of my trip. So I'll take anything you got and please keep the food suggestions coming! haha
Also how much extra fuel is enough? I planned on taking a 5.2 gal, do you think I need more? And I have never been off roading in the mountains only in Florida which is mainly mudding and forest trails. Anything special I should know or be prepared for when going off the beaten path in the mountains?
How much extra fuel is enough? That depends on how lost you get. ;-)
I wheeled all over Montana and Wyoming, and never needed to use my spare fuel. Except for the ride home one Sunday afternoon when all of the gas stations along the path less traveled were closed.
The important thing would to be to know where you are going, let someone know where that is and when to call search and rescue if you don't check in.
There will be zero cell coverage, do not depend on cell navigation. My Jeep has the factory navigation system, and most of the forest service roads are in there, but stop at the ranger station and buy a paper map. It's not uncommon to get 40 or 50 miles from the pavement, and that's a long way to walk out if something goes wrong. You might also consider an emergency beacon since you're likely to be traveling alone.
Downed trees can ruin your day. Bring a good saw and an axe. There's nothing worse than being 30 miles into a 40 mile cut through the mountains and finding a tree across the road. You either need to be able to clear the path, or turn around. Turning around is likely to add many, many hours to your journey.
Also high on the list would to be prepared to deal with dangerous animals in the backcountry. Even in "town" you are not at the top of the food chain. Surprising a sow grizzly in the middle of a few million acres of nothing but forest is a good way to get dead. Likewise with mountain lions, wolves, moose, elk and the odd bit of gravity. There are not many guard rails and warning signs in Montana. Take bear spray at the least, and a hand cannon if you can.
There's a decent campground at Fishtrap Lake. And the jaunt from there up to Stony Lake is worthwhile. I once left my office at 3 in the afternoon, made the hour long drive up to Stony Lake, and caught over 70 trout from my small boat before it got dark. It's hard to get to, and getting a boat in there is even harder, but the payout was gold.
Unfortunately, I don't think I'll be out there at that time or I'd show you around personally. I'll PM you my number in case you get there and want to discuss a route or location.
If you want further ideas, or maybe some support for a group ride hit up these guys:
In Western Montana:
There's also a great guide book called "4x4 Routes of Western Montana" by Willie and Jeanne Worthy that list lots of trails and gives detailed descriptions and ratings. They are active in the Western Montana FB group.
As for Glacier and Yellowstone:
Oh boy, what a can of worms we have here.
The big attraction here is Going to the Sun Road. It'll be busy, but incredible. Not incredible like most people say about something, but incredible... like you'll wonder how this place can possibly exist.
Not much wheeling to be had, but just outside the park on the west side is a small, remote town of Polebridge. There's a Mercantile there that sells home-made pastries. People from all over the world trek to there to get one. they're not really that great, but the drive is pretty cool, plus you can get into the park from there at that remote gateway.
Hands-down, #1 on my GNP list is to watch the sunset from the porch of the Many-Glacier lodge. It's on the east side, and kind of a pain to get to, but it will NOT disappoint.
Lots of hiking to be had is the altitude doesn't get to you.
I've been to Yellowstone probably over 50 times. I still have barely scratched the surface of what there is to see in there. It's HUGE. People who have never been are taken back by the sheer size. Plan on 4 or 5 hours just to drive straight through.
If you want to try staying in the park, the "Rough Rider" cabins near tower junction were my choice. I didn't care for the hotels much. they were pricey, and not that nice and no air conditioning.
Take the chance to soak in the river North of Mammoth, you're not likely to get another chance ever, to do so.
Absolutely take the route through Cooke City and over the Beartooth Pass DO NOT MISS IT. It's unbelievable, like GNP, but more open. Lots of side trails and lakes at the top to explore, and places to camp. On the Red Lodge side of Beartooth Pass, just before the heavy climbing, on the opposite side of the valley is a dirt road up to Hellroaring Plateau. That's 100% worth the trip to the top. Once up there it turns into wilderness area, and you can hike in further if you want.
From the top of Beartooth Pass is the St. Joseph Scenic highway that leads back towards Cody, Wyoming. It dumps you out not far from Clark Canyon and the beginning of the Morrision Jeep Trail. The Morrision trail is a brutal climb up a series of very, VERY narrow switchbacks. I prefer to go up rather than down. You might check with the Magic City guys about the status of the Morrison, it's subject to seasonal closures to protect wildlife, and the winters have been known to destroy the switchbacks which take a while to get repaired. At the bottom in the valley is a great place to try your hand at fly fishing. Also, at the bottom take time to notice the geology of the valley and whatever cataclysmic action took place there to form that. it's truly humbling.
If you want even better fishing, try hiring a guide at the Northfork Angler in Cody, WY. That's a great fly shop ran by some nice folks.
Also, speaking of Cody, WY. Unless you're vegetarian, DO plan to eat dinner at the Erma Hotel one evening. They have an all-you-can eat prime rib buffet that will give you the meat sweats. If you're tired of roughing it in that area, I recommend "The Cody" hotel.
On your way to Denver, it might be worth diverting through the Wind River Canyon. It's pretty scenic, and a geological oddity, if you're into that sort of thing. Also, east of Cody, is the Pryor Mountains, which has some decent interesting trails, and a couple of ice caves that are worth a visit. these caves trap cold air, and remain frozen year round. It's a nice treat on a hot day.