Head out on the open road from Montana to Arizona to discover some of the USA’s best craft beer paired with wide-open landscapes. Enjoy distinctive brews filled with local flavor, and dramatic desert and mountain scenes peppered with stunning red rock formations. What to bring: taste buds ready for micro-brewed favorites, a love of local culture, and hiking gear for national parks and mountain trails.
Jump headfirst into the rugged American West by flying into Great Falls, Montana – the first stop on your Craft Beer Trail. This city sits at the meeting of the Missouri River and the Sun River, and offers vast expanses of wilderness and breathtaking views. Work up a thirst on one of the hiking trails before checking out the local Mighty Mo Brewing Company and the nearby Front Brewing Company.
Start your craft beer adventure in Polson, Montana. This charming lakeside city offers adventure, scenery and the first of many breweries. Stop at the Kerr Dam, which is roughly 60 meters high and has a 300-meter boardwalk that takes you right above the waterfalls and offers stunning views of the surrounding canyons. Polson is home to the Glacier Brewing Company, which offers beers by the sampler tray or pint in its own beer garden. Time it right and you can also head for the limited hours at Moscow Brewing’s taproom.
Your next stop is in Jackson, Wyoming, found on the southern tip of the Jackson Hole Valley. In town, stop for a photo at the Antler Arch in Jackson Town Square and then wander the downtown with its Western boutiques, high-end eateries and art galleries. When you’re ready, head for the tasting part of your tour and sample award winning beers at Snake River Brewing Company and Roadhouse Brewery – both serving up gourmet eats alongside their craft brews! Save time for the great outdoors as the town is within easy striking distance of National Elk Refuge, Grand Teton National Park and the world-famous Yellowstone National Park. Winter is a prime time to see elk and catch some powder at nearby ski resorts.
Your next stop is Salt Lake City, Utah, a flourishing metropolis nestled at the foot of the Wasatch Mountains. This friendly city has it all – scenic parks, mountain views, boutique shopping, a vibrant culinary scene and of course, local breweries. Find your new favorite brew by starting at the all-American Uinta Brewing, which was founded in Utah in 1993. After that, head over to Squatters Pub, which poured its first local beer in 1989 and is now known throughout the American West.
A short drive will take you to Park City, Utah, a well-loved ski town that’s also home to the renowned Sundance Film Festival. After you’ve settled in, head to Wasatch Brewery, which proudly claims to be the first brewery in Utah and turns out a wide variety of playful beers to try. The trendy Talisker serves short rib shepherd’s pie for a rustic treat. For a break from beer, be sure to stop by High West’s award-winning Distillery, where you can get a distillery tour, educational whiskey tasting and sample classic western cuisine—don’t miss the lauded Campfire Whiskey.
Next on the beer trail is Denver, Colorado, home to the Great American Beer Festival and more craft breweries than you can visit on one trip. En route to Denver, stop in Fort Collins for a tour of New Belgium Brewery, the fourth-largest craft brewery in the USA. Once in Denver, it’s worth taking the time out for a multi-day craft beer exploration – the “Mile High City” features many well-regarded breweries and other sites like the Denver Art Museum, LoDo and Union Station. Standout spots include Denver’s first brewpub, the Wynknoop Brewing Company, the Great Divide Brewing Company, and Denver Beer Company. Denver is also home to Coors Brewery, the giant in the industry and the biggest single-site brewery in the world.
Snake your way from Denver to Albuquerque, New Mexico, with splendid views of the towering Sandia Mountains. Albuquerque is New Mexico’s largest city, shaped by a rich history and influenced by Native American and Spanish colonial cultures. After you’ve explored and taken in the desert scenery and adobe-style houses, sip samples of La Cumbre Brewing’s finely crafted beers at their tap room. To finish on a high note, close with the industrial microbrewery Bosque Brewing.
Keep driving to get to sunny Santa Fe, New Mexico nestled in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. This historic capital city was founded in 1610 as a Spanish colony, evidence of which you can see its central plaza, and it is known for its iconic pueblo-style buildings. Santa Fe is also known as an artistic hotbed with numerous museums and art galleries along the famed Canyon Road. To get in the spirit, plan to spend an evening at the Santa Fe Opera House after touring the Museum of International Folk Art. Stay cool throughout your trip by sipping on Barrel Aged Sours made by The Santa Fe Brewing Company or a handcrafted beer from Second Street Brewery.
The drive to Sedona, Arizona promises even more awe-inspiring landscapes. Slide Rock State Park has beautiful red rocks, tree-lined roads and outdoor activities like swimming, hiking and fishing. Afterward, head towards Oak Creek Brewery and Historic Barrel+Bottle House for a variety of tasty brews. For even more variety, check out some of Sedona’s well-regarded wines. One of the best loved tours is the Water to Wine tour, which combines a kayak adventure on the Verde River with a tasting at the Alcantara Vineyards.
After a gorgeous two-hour drive you will be in the Greater Phoenix Area, where outdoor adventure and craft beers await. Head to the famed Camelback Mountain for a short hike with panoramic valley views. Channel your inner cowboy in Old Town Scottsdale. If you have the energy, check out the city’s museums and stroll along the artsy Roosevelt Row. Afterwards, sip your last few pints at Phoenix Brew or Four Peaks Brewery before you head home.
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