Montana Road Trip with a visit to Yellowstone

Geri rides past the Weeping Wall on the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park.

Be sure to see this seriously fun slideshow from our trip!

In mid-July, Geri and I took what we wish was an annual road trip to Montana. It has been more like every two to three years that we actually have time to make the long trip north.

Our first stop was Bozeman which is about a 10-hour drive through northern Colorado and Wyoming. We were able to hook up with our friends Doug and Stana Loneman for a quick but fun visit. Doug is a former newspaper photographer who now has a unique portrait and wedding photography studio.

Our destination was Kalispell, where we have a handful of friends and family, including Geri’s sister and brother-in-law. From there we made day trips to East and West Glacier, including a rafting adventure on the Middle Fork of the Flathead River with friends Amy and Craig.  The float was for “ski patrol members from Flathead Nordic Ski Patrol”. About 30 of us floated the river on a perfect warm, blue sky day.

One of our goals was to bike Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park, 16 miles up a steep, narrow road with dramatic drop offs. The road typically opens in July or when the snow melts, whichever comes first. It’s only accessible for a few months each year and had actually closed for a 48-hour period earlier in the week, when a flash flood took out two different sections of the road, trapping cars and causing injuries to two motorists. This left us with a one day cycling opportunity. And did I mention, bikes are only allowed on the road before 11AM and after 4PM. The morning of our ride was cool and cloudy and there was about a four-mile stretch of gravel due to the rock slide and other construction projects.

On our drive back to Denver, we stopped in Yellowstone National Park and stayed at Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel, near the north entrance to the park. That evening, we decided to hike down to the Boiling River where hot springs run into the Gardner River, creating hot springs pools through a mix of cold and hot waters. We arrived at the trail head just before sunset and were warned by hikers that there were two, large mule deer on the trail. It’s about a half-mile walk to the swim spot. Just before we got to the river, we came upon two, female elk blocking the trail. One of them got close enough to the point that it actually licked me! It was a strange experience, being accosted by wildlife. We attempted to shoo them away and when the elk finally walked off, we hiked down to the river only to be met by some kind of black bug swarm that buzzed about our heads. Fly fisherman’s paradise! It was a freaky, fast and not so relaxing dunk in the river. We decided to beat feet and get out of there before it got totally dark. Oh, and Geri almost broke a toe walking on the slippery river rocks.

The next morning we explored the Lamar Valley in the northeastern part of the park, saw a wolf hunting for breakfast and made a few fun bison pictures before heading over to Old Faithful Geyser, which is always cool to watch even with a 1,000 tourists surrounding it. P.S., it’s running about ten minutes late these days.

From there we drove through Grand Teton National Park at sunset, wishing that we had had time to bike through the park and on the bike path leading into Jackson Hole, WY.

Cheers for now, Kent

World Cup cross-country equestrian event at Rebecca Farm in Kalispell.

Highway construction just outside of East Glacier.

Sailing at sunset on Flathead Lake

Floater on the Middle Fork of the Flathead River through Glacier.

Kids jump into the Middle Fork of the Flathead River through Glacier.

A Flathead Lake cherry stand.

A collodion wet plate glass negative of Liberty Cap at Mammoth Hot Springs by Photographer Patrick Bakken.

Thermophiles, heat-loving microorganisms, create a colorful tapestry at Mammoth Hot Springs.

A bison in the Lamar Valley rolls in the dirt.

A Yellowstone wolf hunts in the Lamar Valley.

Bison blocking the road and causing a traffic jam in Yellowstone.

A couple watch Castle Geyser.

The Grand Tetons

A bronze moose stands guard at the visitor center in Grand Teton National Park.

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