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Oh Snap! A Montana Spring in Pictures

As you know, a picture is worth a thousand words, and when we get our fans and friends out there capturing Montana moments in Glacier Country, we’re left speechless. These snapshots of our corner of paradise speak for themselves. Do we actually get to live, work and play in this place? Yep, we sure do, and you’d be ahead to come experience the magic and wonder for yourself. There’s a reason why we call it heaven on earth. So, although we love telling you all about our stunning landscapes and unrivaled recreation opportunities, this time we’re going to just show you. (We’re still bragging, but with less words and more pictures.)

Warning: daydreaming for an unspecified amount of time is sure to ensue after you make your way through this post.

Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park.

Photo: Quinton Tolman (instagram.com/quintontolman)

Wildflowers in Glacier National Park.

Photo: Matthew Mason (instagram.com/mason.art.globe)

Waterworks Hill in Missoula, Montana.

Photo: Sara Schroeder (instagram.com/saraoutside)

Blodgett Canyon near Hamilton, Montana.

Photo: Hunter Day Photo (hunterday.photo/montana)

Horses at Bar W Guest Ranch.

Along the Bull River.

Photo: Glacier Country Tourism

Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park.

The forest near Bowman Lake in Glacier National Park.

Photo: Glacier Country Tourism

A mountain goat at Grinnell Glacier in Glacier National Park.

Photo: Kent Johns (instagram.com/kent_johns)

A wedding in Glacier National Park

Photo: Emil Rajkowski (instagram.com/raj_photo)

Aurora Borealis over the North Fork of the Flathead River.

David Marx Photo (instagram.com/davidmarxphoto)

A peaceful view of Flathead Lake.

Photo: Glacier Country Tourism

A kayaker rides Brennans Wave on the Clark Fork River in Missoula.

Photo: Glacier Country Tourism

How’s that for inspiring? There’s more where these came from. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for your daily dose of Western Montana beauty.

Want to share your incredible travels in Western Montana? Use #GlacierMT on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram for a chance to be featured.

The Brag-Worthy Beauty of Montana’s Wildflowers

Here’s a little something you may not know about us. In Western Montana, one of our best features is the wonder of our wildflower blooms. Just when you thought we couldn’t be any more jaw-dropping, these miniature miracles of nature brave cold nights and dramatic spring weather to sprout their way up into Montana’s landscape in a striking display of beauty. During our heavenly warm season, our mountain woodlands, prairie grasslands, foothills and alpine meadows are sprinkled with the splendor of nature’s loveliest and most colorful artwork. Montana’s rich flora thrives in several different ecosystems, drawing wildflower aficionados, visitors and locals alike on a quest for the carpet of color or the elusive stem hidden high on an alpine ridgeline.

Beargrass blooms in Glacier National Park.

BEARGRASS

Beargrass is a celebrity around these parts. The impressively high (5 to 8 feet) stalks of dense white clusters blanket the subalpine landscapes of Glacier National Park and draw visitors in for a glimpse. Contrary to what the name might suggest, bears do not eat this plant!

WHERE + WHEN:

Beargrass can be found throughout Western Montana, but it’s especially coveted in Glacier National Park. It blooms in late May in the lower country and can be found in the high country into August. Though it’s a perennial and therefore blooms every year, mass blooms occur every five to 10 years, when the climate is just right.

Indian paintbrush colors a Montana meadow.

INDIAN PAINTBRUSH

Indian Paintbrush (or prairie fire) is aptly named, having a vibrant paintbrush-like appearance and contrasting the glacial-carved terrain with rich scarlet hues. Glacier National Park boasts three red and four yellow species of paintbrush, which grow between 4 and 16 inches in height.

WHERE + WHEN:

During July and August, Montana’s alpine and subalpine meadows and mountain slopes are a canvas of Indian paintbrush. You’re certain to find them on the banks of the West Fork of the Bitterroot River in the Bitterroot National Forest.

Arrowleaf balsamroot blankets a hillside overlooking the Mission Mountains.
Photo courtesy of Randi de Santa Anna

ARROWLEAF BALSAMROOT

These easily recognized yellow flowers define our spring landscape and transform our hillsides into a golden-yellow. Part of the sunflower family, these plants grow in clumps 2 – 3 feet tall. Tribal nations once relied on Arrowleaf Balsamroot for food and medicinal purpose, and although these plants are still used for food today, they’re mostly eaten by our wildlife.

WHERE + WHEN:

These plants are common in low-elevation grasslands, on open slopes and ridges and in open ponderosa pine woodlands. They are often found in the company of sagebrush. Take a hike up Missoula’s Mt. Jumbo in early May to immerse yourself in the sea of yellow.

A yellowbell welcomes spring in the Seeley Swan Valley.
Photo courtesy of Randi de Santa Anna

YELLOWBELLS

These tiny treasures are beloved because their arrival means spring is upon us. They’re one of the first of Montana’s wildflowers to bloom and can even be found humbly poking up near lingering snow. Don’t miss the distinct reddish-purple ring around the base of the yellow flower.

WHERE + WHEN:

These bashful bells keep their heads down in grasslands and dry sagebrush prairies as well as ponderosa pine forests, blooming through early May.

Fireweed strikes a colorful pose on a Glacier National Park hillside.
Photo courtesy of Donnie Sexton

FIREWEED

A favorite among bees and delicious in jam and tea, Fireweed is a striking pinkish-purple 4 to 9-foot cone-like shoot against the stunning Montana landscape. They flourish in avalanche sites and burn areas, where they’re usually the first plant to emerge after a fire—hence the name.

WHERE + WHEN:

From June through September, you’ll find fireweed in open meadows, along stream banks or in open forest areas after wildfires.

Exploring Montana’s Rocky Mountains

Last weekend, I headed for the land of my birth: the Rocky Mountain Front of Montana. Because let’s face it, every once in a while a girl needs to make a break for it and head for home.

Going home is like bringing peace to my heart. I’m not sure if it’s the land opening up into a wide expanse as I’m coming off of Roger’s Pass or seeing the rolling plains run smack dab into the Rocky Mountains. Maybe it’s the rush of memories that remind me of all the hours spent adventuring into the mountains with my grandparents and cousins. Whatever it is, it makes my heart happy.

Making our way into the Rocky Mountains and passing Castle Reef.

Making our way into the Rocky Mountains and passing Castle Reef.

handprints2

En route to Gibson Dam.

Regardless of how many times my family has made the trek to Gibson Dam, we've always stopped to look at the Indian handprints. They serve as a reminder of the incredible history of this place.

Regardless of how many times my family has made the trek to Gibson Dam, we’ve always stopped to look at the Indian handprints. They serve as a reminder of the incredible history of this place.

Gibson Dam overlook.

Gibson Dam overlook.

My baby sister hoping to get lucky with a fish. (The fish were playing hard to get).

My baby sister hoping to get lucky with a fish. 

We met a friend on the trail and named him Mr. Bighorn.

We met a friend on the trail and named him Mr. Bighorn.

The next day, we ventured back into the mountains for some rock climbing. This little guy made it up the rock face TWICE.

The next day, we ventured back into the mountains for some rock climbing. This little guy made it up the rock face TWICE.

The view on the drive back to Augusta.

The view on the drive back to Augusta.

It was a good weekend.

xo,
TT

One Day in Glacier National Park

After last week’s family reunion in Glacier National Park, me and my messy hair decided to stick around the park for a couple of reasons.

photo

1. I didn’t want to leave.
2. Some lovely ladies from Helena were headed up to Glacier Country and I felt it was my duty to be their tour guide in Glacier National Park for the day. Hey, it’s a tough gig but someone’s got to do it.

And because this girl is a big believer in cramming as much as you can into one day (especially when it stays light out for ridiculous amounts of time), my partner in crime and I departed Whitefish in the morning, bound for St. Mary to meet the rest of the girls with our sights set firmly on driving the Going-to-the-Sun Road to Logan Pass. And because we are good hostesses who just happen to love being outside, we felt it was our mission to soak in as much national park air, charm and jaw-dropping scenery as possible.

And soak it in we did.

Here’s a look at one of the loveliest summer days I’ve ever spent in the Crown of the Continent…

Stop #1: The Goat Overlook on Highway 2 in Glacier National Park.

Stop #1: The Goat Overlook on Highway 2 in Glacier National Park. (Yep, that is indeed a mountain goat. And she had a baby with her!)

Stop #2: Glacier Park Lodge in East Glacier. Not only is the lodge as lovely as ever, but she's celebrating her 100th birthday this year.

Stop #2: Glacier Park Lodge in East Glacier. Not only is the lodge as lovely as ever, but she’s celebrating her 100th birthday this year.

Stop #3: Park Cafe in St. Mary. Not only are their servers hilarious, but they literally have the best pie in the West. (You can totally quote me on that).

Stop #3: Park Cafe in St. Mary. Not only are their servers hilarious, but they literally have the best pie in the West. (You can totally quote me on that).

Stop #4: Wild Goose Island Overlook on St. Mary Lake.

Stop #4: Wild Goose Island Overlook on St. Mary Lake.

Stop #5: Another view of St. Mary Lake. In all of my years, I had never seen St. Mary Lake as calm as it was that day.

Stop #5: Another view of St. Mary Lake. In all of my years, I had never seen St. Mary Lake as calm as it was that day.

Soaking up the day's rays, with St. Mary Lake as our backdrop.

Soaking up the day’s rays, with St. Mary Lake as our backdrop.

Stop #6: Passing through the tunnel just below Logan Pass, we saw one of the park's iconic red buses.

Passing through the tunnel just below Logan Pass, we saw one of the park’s iconic red buses.

Stop #6: Logan Pass and its blanket of snow. (This photo was taken on Monday, June 17).

Stop #6: Logan Pass and its blanket of snow. (This photo was taken on Monday, June 17).

Looking down the road from the top of Logan Pass.

Looking down the Going-to-the-Sun Road from the top of Logan Pass.

Our crew of lovely ladies Logan Pass.

Our crew of lovely ladies documenting our time at Logan Pass.

Stop #7: A boat tour at Two Medicine with Glacier Park Boat Company.

Stop #7: A boat tour at Two Medicine with Glacier Park Boat Company.

Stop #8: 'Just a messy-haired girl looking at Running Eagle Falls in the Two Medicine Valley.

Stop #8: A short hike to Running Eagle Falls in the Two Medicine Valley.

It was a good day. But I’ve got one question for my traveling partners: When are we going back?

Until next time,
TT

PS: Are you planning on spending time in Glacier National Park this summer? Peruse www.glaciermt.com for planning info or tweet questions to @GlacierMT.

Let’s Drive…the Going-to-the-Sun Road

How many of you have driven the Going-to-the-Sun Road?

Cruising the famous road in Glacier National Park.

Cruising the famous road in Glacier National Park.

Hands down, it is the most popular activity for visitors in Glacier National Park. Crossing the Continental Divide at Logan Pass, it connects St. Mary (the east entrance of the park) and West Glacier (the west entrance of the park) and is a must-do when visiting Glacier National Park.

In all honesty, it can be hard to know where to stop as you navigate your way along this 50-mile-long road. No matter which way you look, you’re going to be met with jaw-dropping views that include wildflower-filled meadows and glacial-carved terrain rising high above you, as well as rushing waterfalls and streams.

The good news: You no longer need to guess where to stop and snap that gorgeous photo.

The Going-to-the-Sun Road is filled with pull-outs that are ideal for re-enacting childhood photos with your sister and dad. (Or so I've heard).

The Going-to-the-Sun Road is filled with pull-outs that are ideal for reenacting childhood photos with your sister and dad. (Or so I’ve heard).


Meet my friend Jake Bramante.
Jake in Glacier National Park.  Photo courtesy: Hike734.com

Jake in Glacier National Park.
Photo courtesy: Hike734.com

An overachiever (and all-around nice guy), in 2011 he set out to hike all 734 miles of trails in the park. And again, because he’s an overachiever and because he is awesome, he shared his adventures on his blog.

And now two years later, Jake has a new project. Just this year, he released a driving guide for the Going-to-the-Sun Road that helps visitors have the perfect day in Glacier National Park. To which I say: Thank you, kind sir.

His guide is an ideal tool when you’re driving the Going-to-the-Sun Road, especially if you’re a first-time visitor. As part of his guide, Jake eliminated the guess work of where to stop and when, helping you take advantage of every minute you have in the Crown of the Continent. My opinion: It’s probably the best $9.95 cents you’ll ever spend.

Your guide to the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

Your guide to the Going-to-the-Sun Road.


Maps are available online or you can pick them up at retail locations within the park, as well as in Kalispell (Sportsman Ski Haus, Rocky Mountain Outfitter, Army Navy and Replay Sports), Whitefish (Red Caboose and Whitefish Chamber of Commerce) and Missoula (Trailhead and Fact & Fiction).

Happy exploring,
TT
 

PS: This year, the Going-to-the-Sun Road is slated to open in its entirety on June 21, 2013 (weather dependent).

A Montana Road Trip: Part Two

As you may recall from last week’s post, I’ve been doing a bit of road tripping.

Last week’s Montana-lovin’ journey included gems in Missoula, St. Ignatius, Charlo, Pablo, Polson, Kalispell and Whitfish. This week, we’re finishing it up with tidbits from the rest of our adventure.

Amtrak's Empire Builder brings travelers to Western Montana from the east and west. (It also provides STUNNING views of terrain along the way).

Amtrak’s Empire Builder brings travelers to Western Montana from the east and west. (It also provides STUNNING views of terrain along the way).

 

Base Camp Cafe in Columbia Falls serves up mouth-watering dishes. Plus, it's adorable.

Base Camp Cafe in Columbia Falls serves up mouth-watering dishes. Plus, it’s adorable.

 

Station 8 in Columbia Falls. (Side note: I now think I need a chandelier in every room in my house).

Station 8 in Columbia Falls. (Side note: I now think I need a chandelier in every room in my house).

 

A stormy day on Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park

A stormy day on Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park

 

The Montana House in Apgar Village is open 363 days per year.

The Montana House in Apgar Village is open 363 days per year.

 

Downtown Bigfork.

Downtown Bigfork.

 

Whistling Andy Distillery in Bigfork.

Whistling Andy Distillery in Bigfork.

 

Flathead Lake Brewing Company in Woods Bay.

Flathead Lake Brewing Company in Woods Bay.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go plan another road trip. Because when you live in a place that’s as magical as Western Montana, you have to soak up every last morsel.

xo,
TT

A Montana Road Trip: Part One

Some weeks are awesome. This past week, my Montana lovin’ friends, was one of them.

Why? Because it was spent road tripping from Missoula north along Highway 93 into the Flathead Valley with a group of lovely ladies.

Our goal for the week: To experience as much Montana goodness as we possibly could within five days. And boy howdy, did we ever.

Here’s a look at the first part of our road trip in Montana’s Glacier Country…

An evening stroll through Missoula's Caras Park.

An evening stroll through Missoula’s Caras Park.

Kicking back at Kettlehouse Brewery in Missoula.

Kicking back at Kettlehouse Brewery in Missoula.

The Smokejumper Visitor Center.

The Smokejumper Visitor Center.

The stunning St. Ignatius Mission. (A look inside will reveal 58 hand-painted murals on the walls and ceilings).

The stunning St. Ignatius Mission. (A look inside will reveal 58 hand-painted murals on the walls and ceilings).

The view from Allentown Restaurant at Ninepipes Lodge in Charlo.

The view from Allentown Restaurant at Ninepipes Lodge in Charlo.

Experiencing American Indian culture at The People's Center in Pablo.

Experiencing American Indian culture at The People’s Center in Pablo.

Kerr Dam near Polson. (This was one of my favorite stops on the road trip).

Kerr Dam near Polson. (This was one of my favorite stops on the road trip).

The Hockaday Museum of Art in Kalispell.

The Hockaday Museum of Art in Kalispell.

Downtown Whitefish. Adorable.

Downtown Whitefish. Adorable.

Our home for the evening: The Garden Wall Inn.

Our home for the evening: The Garden Wall Inn.

Every once in a while, you just need to get lost (in Montana).

Every once in a while, you just need to get lost (in Montana).

It’s been a lovely week.
TT

PS: Stay tuned for part two of our road trip, coming next week.

Go Soak Yourself

Every once in a while, I want to say the above words to people. The reason? It’s mainly because I get a kick out of it. And occasionally, I even want to say those words to myself.

This week, I directed a stern “Go soak yourself” line toward…well, myself. (And my messy hair). The last several months have included one project after another, with large helpings of travel, general hecticness and holidays thrown into the mix. So, I realized how wise those words were, took my own advice and headed off to Quinn’s Hot Springs Resort for a proper soaking.

En route to Paradise. Montana was in fine form.

En route to Paradise. Montana was in fine form.

Located on Highway 135 between St. Regis and Paradise, Montana, Quinn’s sits on the banks of the Clark Fork River. And I must tell you, it is one of the loveliest locations in the entire state of Montana. With no street lights, no neighbors and no cell service (it does have Wi-Fi), Quinn’s gives you the opportunity to fully relax in the crisp mountain air of Western Montana.

Hello, Paradise.

Hello, Paradise.

Getting my bearings at Quinn's Hot Springs Resort.

Getting my bearings at Quinn’s Hot Springs Resort.

Around these parts, hot springs are revered. Called “big medicine” by the Pend d’Oreille Indians, people have traveled from near and far to soak in the healing waters found around the region. While there are several developed and natural hot springs pool found around Glacier Country, Quinn’s has on-site lodging–ranging from private cabins to lodge rooms–as well as meeting space, a bar, gift shop and restaurant.

A cozy cabin.

A cozy cabin.

The pools at Quinn's.

The pools at Quinn’s.

My tips:
-While you’re soaking in the pool, look up. You’ll be rewarded with an unrestricted view of the night sky.
-Bring a suit. 🙂
-Bring slippers, sandals and a robe for navigating from your room to the pools.
-Order dessert. My recommendations are the huckleberry ice cream and creme brulee.
-If you’re visiting during winter, pack your snowshoes and explore the nearby trails.

Happy soaking,
TT

The Mountains Were Calling Me Home

Sometimes, you gotta go home. Like at Thanksgiving. And while this trip was definitely brought on by the Thanksgiving Holiday, I also needed to go. Why? I’m not sure. But I knew it was time to go as the mountains were calling me home.

Where I live now, I’m surrounded by mountains. Literally, they are all around me. I can’t escape from them even if I wanted to.

Mountains, mountains, mountains.

But there’s something different about the east side of this incredible mountain range. It’s rugged. Wild. Wind-blown. Brown. Vast. Endless.

It’s a place where I feel so incredibly connected to my surroundings. It’s where cowboys are tough old guys, ladies are tough old girls, babies grow up running around outside and start learning about work at a very young age. It’s a place where everybody knows your name, what car you drive, your age, your grandparents, etc.

And it’s a place that I love.

Behind these clouds are some of the loveliest mountains in the world. (Yep, I said world).

Haystack Butte in the afternoon light.

This is the view from my parent’s house. Lucky little ducks.

After a few days spent at home, it was time to pack up and head back over to my current side of the mountains. And Mother Nature must have known my heart was a little heavy to be leaving, so she left me with these images on the journey west.

Lover’s Lane.

Clear roads over Rogers Pass.

Saying bye for now to the east side.

Driving into Montana’s iconic Blackfoot Valley.

After all, when the mountains are calling, you must go.

TT

“The mountains are calling and I must go.” John Muir

 

Life in Montana: A Summer in Snapshots

I don’t know about all of you, but this summer feels like it’s cruising past at an excessive speed…if we were to clock it, I’d say this summer character is going 80 MPH in a clearly marked 45 MPH residential zone. And I’ll tell you this much, if I was a cop I’d totally give summer a ticket.

While I really want to tell summer to just “hold your horses” in my sternest mom voice, I’m afraid it’s not a strong listener. But instead of lamenting at how fast summer travels, how reckless she is with our sun-loving feelings and her need for speed, I’m simply trying to soak up as many Montana moments as possible.

Here’s a recap of the summer so far through snapshots…

Early summer drive near Flathead Lake.

Love.

Summer calls for eating as much ice cream as possible.

Summer also calls for rodeos, cowboys and bucking broncs.

One of my favorite places in the Bitterroot Valley: The Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge.

Summer happiness=floating the nearest river with my mom and baby sister.

Get Lost…in Montana. (Don’t mind if I do).

Strolling the grounds of the Daly Mansion in Hamilton.

Summer means long daylight hours and evening walks on the Clark Fork River.

Summer means taking the road less traveled and visiting historic places like the Big Hole National Battlefield.

June in Glacier means powerful waterfalls at Avalanche Lake.

Montana shaped sugar cookies: Yum.

Cruising Lake McDonald.

A nearly full moon over Montana.

All I can say is this: A tip of the hat to you summer for the fun you bring, the memories you make.

Happy, happy summer.
TT

PS: Have a summer snapshot from your travels in and around Montana? Share it on our facebook page.