Category Archives: Montana

Big Water Boasts Big Adventure

One of Glacier Country’s greatest assets is our rivers. Just the mere mention of Western Montana conjures visions of sparkling waterways winding through some of the country’s most scenic landscapes. Our rivers are wild and free, and they all offer diverse adventures, from fly-fishing to scenic multiday float trips to adrenaline-pumping whitewater excursions. A Western Montana vacation isn’t complete without a day (or more) on the water. 

Whitewater rafting is one of the best ways to cool off on a hot summer day in Western Montana. Photo: Donnie Sexton

As winter turns into spring, snowmelt means our rivers begin rolling at peak volume and vacationers and locals alike flock to Glacier Country for whitewater rafting adventures or lazy, scenic floats (later in the summer).

BITTERROOT RIVER

The Bitterroot River—one of Montana’s more scenic waterways—offers a peaceful float down the panoramic Bitterroot Valley, with views of the Bitterroot and Sapphire mountains. Flow is slow to moderate, which makes for a gentle, pleasant trip, ample wildlife viewing and plenty of fishing. Don’t forget your camera on this picturesque float!

CLARK FORK RIVER’S ALBERTON GORGE 

The Clark Fork River’s Alberton Gorge is a popular rafting destination and serves as a whitewater headquarters in this part of the region. The 16-mile Class III rose-colored canyon stretch is perfect for beginners and families looking to get their feet wet (literally) on a hot summer day. The Gorge is close to Alberton, Superior and Missoula, offering paddlers and rafters adventure on and off the water.

KOOTENAI RIVER

It’s been said that the Kootenai River is as close to the Zambezi as you’re going to get in Montana. This remote northwest corner of Big Sky Country is worth the drive and offers Class I scenic floats on the upper and lower Kootenai River, but adrenaline seekers can navigate the middle Kootenai River for Class IV+ whitewater and a view of the rowdy Kootenai Falls—some of Montana’s biggest water. 

FLATHEAD RIVER

Looking toward Glacier National Park, the Middle Fork of the Flathead is a designated Wild and Scenic River, and all of the West Glacier rafting companies run the whitewater stretch as well as scenic floats on the lower parts of the Middle Fork and the North Fork of the Flathead (also a Wild and Scenic River). The North and Middle forks comprise Glacier’s western borders and offer breathtaking views into Glacier National Park. Whitewater difficulty varies with flow levels, the scenery is unimaginable and the water is an unforgettable crystal-clear aqua. This is definitely one of the most gorgeous parts of the state—and the country for that matter—to be on the water. In fact, Glacier Guides and Montana Raft is offering a half-day whitewater rafting or scenic float trip for two. (Make your way to the end of this blog post for more information.)

The West Fork of the Flathead River runs through West Glacier. Stop on Belton Bridge to catch a glimpse of one of the more peaceful portions of the river. Photo: Emily Hall

GO WITH A GUIDE:

Guided rafting trips are always your best bet and the safest way to exploreWestern Montana’s rivers. If you’re new to rafting, but you’re ready for the adrenaline rush, go with one of Glacier Country’s many experienced rafting companies. Western Montana outfitters and guides customize floats to your comfort level, whether you’re looking for the thrill of our biggest runs, a scenic raft trip or a family float.

Western Montana river guides focus on quality of experience with half and full-day interpretive trips and multiday floats. All of our guides are Montana lovers. They’re enthusiastic, highly trained, professional, friendly and as knowledgeable about the area as they are about how to keep you entertained (not that the scenery alone isn’t capable of that). Some of our guides have happily been at this for over 30 years!

Sometimes one day on the river just isn’t enough. Multiday rafting experiences are offered for those who long to sleep under the star-studded big sky and enjoy steaming, organic coffee riverside in the cool quiet of a Montana morning. If you’re not up for experiencing Montana’s backcountry by foot, overnight rafting is the way to go. Guides do all of the work, from setting up tents to cooking delicious, locally sourced meals, while you sit back and enjoy Montana by boat.  

When you’ve reached the river takeout, end your rafting trip on the best note possible by heading to the nearest watering hole for a local Montana brew and a chat with the locals, who, chances are, also spent the day on the water.

A group of Western Montana adventurer’s make their way through the raging waters of the Flathead River.

RULES OF THE RAFT:

Water is wild and safety is a priority. First and foremost, go with a guide! You’re in good hands with licensed, professional Western Montana river guides, who basically live on the water. It’s important to listen to their instructions…they know what they’re talking about. And, as always, wear a personal flotation device (PFD). Also be sure to wear the right clothing (including a hat) and sunscreen for a hot, sunny day on the water. Bring your camera, and, if you’re getting into whitewater, be prepared to get splashed.

Guide companies rarely ride just one river. To help you sort through your options, here’s a list of some of our region’s finest guides and outfitters, all of whom have made their life’s work out of ensuring your river adventure is second to none.

 


 

Glacier Guides and Montana Raft have been riding Montana’s wild and scenic rivers for 30 years.

RAFTING GIVEAWAY: Glacier Guides and Montana Raft is giving away a Half-Day Whitewater Rafting or Scenic Float Trip for Two, plus, they’ll help outfit you for a day on the river with GGMR Nalgene water bottles, Chums sun/eyeglass retainers, sunscreen, lip balm and GGMR hats!

Enter to win here:

Best Day Hikes in Western Montana: Part II

Last week in Part One of this series, we explored some of our favorite day hikes in the southerly region of Glacier Country (if you missed it, you should definitely go take a peak). This week, we’re finishing the list by heading up the map toward Highway 200, the Jewel Basin, Tobacco Valley and the Crown of the Continent: Glacier National Park.

If you’ve already read Part One, skip ahead. For our friends new to the blog, we have a couple pointers to help keep you safe and happy:

Rules of the Trail:

  1. It’s always a good idea to wear layers and comfortable hiking shoes or boots. It gets a little cold around here (in case the name “Glacier Country” didn’t tip you off), though temperatures still reach into the 80s and 90s during summer. Wear broken-in hiking footwear so uncomfortable feet don’t distract you from our breathtaking views.
  2. Be bear aware! Make noise and carry bear spray. You’re in bear country, and no matter how wild you think you might be, we can assure you the wildlife have you beat. (It’s also never a good idea to try to feed the wildlife).
  3. Make room in your pack for water, snacks and a camera. It’s good to stay hydrated, and good to have a camera ready to capture your Montana moments.
  4. Always stay on the trail. Wandering Montana’s splendor is easy to do, but it’s important not to lose your way. We promise you won’t miss out on anything.
  5. Ask the locals. Montana is full of secrets and who better to ask than a Montanan?

Now that we’ve got our safety suggestions out of the way, here’s your much-awaited Part Two:

Huckleberry Mountain Lookout

Photo courtesy of Kristal Martin (IG: @kriszm_)
The hike to Huckleberry Mountain Fire Lookout is on the west side of Glacier National Park. After getting back from this beautiful hike, venture into Apgar Village or West Glacier in search of huckleberry pie. The search is half the fun.

DIRECTIONS: Head to Glacier National Park from West Glacier and Apgar Visitor Center. About two miles into Going-to-the-Sun Road you’ll take a left onto Camas Road. Find the trailhead six miles in on the left. The trail is six miles in, six miles out and climbs 3,400 feet in elevation. If this trek sounds like more than you bargained for, keep driving up Camas Road to find the much tamer 1/2 mile Huckleberry Nature Trail.

ROUND-TRIP: 12 miles
PERMIT: National Parks Pass
HIGHLIGHTS: When “huckleberry” is in the name, it means there could be bears nearby. Bring friends and make noise so you don’t get into trouble.

Gable Pass

The Gable Pass trail system takes you through a beautiful alpine meadow with views of Mount Cleveland, Gable Mountain and Chief Mountain (pictured). Photo courtesy of Glacier Guides and Montana Raft.

DIRECTIONS: Gable Pass is northwest of Babb on the east side of Glacier National Park and begins at the Lee Ridge Trailhead. To get here, take Highway 17 (Chief Joseph Highway) north. You’ll find the trailhead about half a mile before Chief Mountain Trailhead at the International Border Crossing (you should see a sign that says “Customs 1/2 Mile Ahead”). Find parking for the trail in the pullout about 150 yards north at the top of the hill.

ROUND-TRIP: 12 miles
HIGHLIGHTS:  View Mount Cleveland, Gable Mountain and Chief Mountain from this lush alpine meadow.

Ross Creek Cedars

DIRECTIONS: For a truly awe-inspiring stroll, head to Ross Creek and walk among the over 400-year-old western red cedars. If you’re coming from Thompson Falls, take Highway 200 northwest to Highway 56. You can also reach Highway 56 from Highway 2 heading east from Troy or west from Libby. South of Bull Lake on Highway 56, turn east onto Forest Service Road 398 (locally known as Bull Lake Road). Drive this paved road 4 miles to a parking area.

ROUND-TRIP: 1 mile
HIGHLIGHTS: Drive 2 miles farther up Bull Lake Road for a scenic view of the Cabinet Mountains and Bull River Valley.

Mount Aeneas

The view from Mount Aeneas on a bluebird sky day. Photo courtesy of Glacier Guides and Montana Raft.

DIRECTIONS: From Highway 83 north of Bigfork, take Echo Lake Road north and take a right onto Foothill Road. Follow Foothill until the road turns into Jewel Basin Road. Continue about 11 miles up Jewel Basin to Camp Misery Trailhead. Follow the old service road behind the gate 1 mile before the trail narrows and turns into trail #717. Follow the signs half a mile and stay on #717. From here, the trail takes quite the elevation gain. Follow the switchbacks up the mountain to get to the ridgeline for views of Glacier National Park, Flathead Valley and the Bob Marshall Wilderness.

ROUND-TRIP: 6 miles
HIGHLIGHTS: This is a great mountain goat viewing area.

Little North Fork

DIRECTIONS: From Rexford, travel 7 miles south past the Koocanusa Bridge. Take Road 336 and follow for 1 mile to the marked trail.

ROUND-TRIP: Under 1 mile
HIGHLIGHTS: This short hike takes you past a sparkling waterfall.

Powerhouse Loop Trail

Thompson Falls is adding 1.5 miles of ADA-friendly trails to Powerhouse Loop in the summer of 2017. The additions will lead visitors to Thompson Falls State Park. Photo courtesy of the Sanders County Community Development Corporation

DIRECTIONS: After exploring Thompson Falls, head west on Main Street (Highway 200). Turn left on Pond Street, and take another left on Maiden Lane. Here you’ll find the PPL Montana Power Park and a great parking spot. Walk into the park and head to the powerhouse gates. To the left of the gate, you’ll see signs pointing to the trail. The signs will take you in a nice loop leading you back to Main Street and your car.

ROUND-TRIP: 2.3 miles
BONUS: Dog-friendly

Swift Creek Trail

DIRECTIONS: North of Whitefish Lake, Swift Creek has multiple trailheads perfect for a variety of visitors. To get here from Whitefish, drive north on Baker Avenue and continue on as the road turns into Wisconsin Avenue. Then head east on East Lakeshore Drive around the west side of Whitefish Lake. You will pass Big Mountain Road and continue another 5.9 miles before reaching the trailhead.

ROUND-TRIP: 3 – 6 miles
BONUS: The Swift Creek area includes an ADA accessible trail leading to the Swift Creek overlook.

Must-Stop Family Road-Trip Attractions

There’s nothing quite like loading up the family and embarking on an epic road trip to make some everlasting memories and there’s no place to make those memories better than Montana. From the Bitterroot Valley to Glacier National Park, Western Montana has enough scenic byways for a lifetime of cruising. We love road trips and camping so we partnered with Bretz RV & Marine to bring you a spring camping gear giveaway. Enter to win, load up your RV, chart a route through our charming small towns and make it a point to pull over and check out these fun and unique roadside attractions.

A Hefty Hereford

Stoney’s Bull sits at Clearwater Junction and greets travelers along Highways 200 and 93.

Along Highway 200 at Clearwater Junction, you’ll find a 15-foot-high, 18-foot-long Hereford steer.

50,000 Silver $ Bar

50,000 Silver $ Bar

Stop in St. Regis to visit the infamous 50,000 Silver $ Bar, stay for the burgers, shakes and souvenirs.

Stay: Salmon Lake State Park, Clearwater Junction, Big Larch Campground

Flathead Cherries

Flathead Cherries

At 3,000 feet above sea level, Flathead Lake has the perfect growing climate for cherries. Make your way around the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi to see the orchards, and be sure to stop at a roadside stand for a taste of this prized fruit.

Stay: Campground St. Regis, Nugget RV Park

Amazing Fun Center

The Amazing Fun Center in Coram, MT

When you’re done exploring Glacier National Park take the kids to the Amazing Fun Center in West Glacier. With a 1.5-mile maze, go karts, bumper boats and mini golf, you won’t leave without being at least a little a-MAZE-d.

Stay: Flathead Lake KOA in Polson, Polson Motorcoach & RV Resort, Edgewater R.V. Resort & Motel in LakesideDiamond S RV Park in Ronan

Seeley Lake

A family docks their boat as the sun sets over Seeley Lake

With easy water access, a walk-up burger joint (Bay Burgers, right on the lake!) and ice cream shops (try a blue-goo swirl cone at The Ice Cream Place), your family will fall in love with this little lake town.

Stay: Seeley Lake Campground

Darby

What road trip is complete without a stop at an old-fashioned candy store? Darby, Montana’s Old West Candy Store is the perfect spot to satisfy your sweet tooth. Don’t miss out on the huckleberry options!

Stay: Travellers Rest Cabins and RV Park

Float the Clark Fork River and Ride the Carousel

A Carousel for Missoula

Stop in Missoula to ride one of the fastest carousels in the West. If you’re there on the weekend, be sure to check out one of several farmers markets on Higgins Avenue. Cool off with a scenic float down the Clark Fork River afterwards.

Stay: Jellystone RV Park, Cabins, Campground, Boat & RV Storage, Jim & Mary’s RV Park, Missoula KOA

A couple enjoys their RV stay in Glacier Country

We’ve partnered with Bretz RV & Marine of Missoula to help you on your journey to find these Western Montana roadside gems. Store gear, grill and lounge with this custom camping set perfect for your next adventure.

Enter to win here:

Explore-Worthy Excursions in Western Montana

We all need a little adventure in our lives, and we all have different thoughts about what that means, so here are a handful of travel ideas to explore, depending on your “adventure type.”

The Bookish Explorer: Montana Valley Book Store

Montana Valley Book Store in Alberton, Montana

You know the type—they carry a novel in their bag everywhere they go and insist on stopping in a bookstore in every new town they visit. If this is you, we’ve found your heaven on earth in Alberton, Montana. The Montana Valley Book Store houses more than 100,000 unique and rare books at any given time. Their shelves are constantly rotating, waiting for the perfect book lover to walk in. Open year-round, the owner lives only five minutes away and will come unlock the store for whomever stops by.

Inside Montana Valley Book Store.

Pro tip: For lunch, stop at the Flyin’ R Café for a homemade patty melt on marbled rye. Write your name next to ours on the wall, snap a pic and use #GlacierMT to say hello!

Write your name on the wall at Flyin’ R Cafe’.

Patty Melt at Flyin’ R Cafe’ in Alberton, Montana.

The History Seeker: Garnet Ghost Town

Overlooking Garnet Ghost Town.

The most intact ghost town in Montana—Garnet—takes its name from the ruby-colored stone. The town itself hasn’t been inhabited since the late 1940s, though volunteers help visitors explore the buildings for anyone who hikes in during the summer. If you’re a cold-weather history seeker, click into your cross-country skis and glide into town. Be sure to peek in the windows of the hotel, general store, post office and saloon. Visit our ghost towns page to learn more about the old mining campsites on Garnet Range Road and how to get there.

Pro Tip: The Bureau of Land Management rents out two Garnet Ghost Town cabins in the winter.

The Backcountry Rambler: Holland Lake Waterfall

Stand-up paddleboarder enjoys an early spring day on Holland Lake.

Nestled in the Seeley-Swan Valley and good for an adventure in any season, Holland Falls is a three-mile round-trip trek up trail #42. To get there in winter, strap on your snowshoes, or hike up on a hot summer day to cool off in the mist of the massive falls. The trail ends just before the falls and overlooks Holland Lake. Then, head back down for a little water play in the lake. It’s is a popular spot for campers, canoers and stand-up paddleboarders.

Overlooking Holland Lake from Holland Falls.

The Pioneer: Martin City + Hungry Horse

Hungry Horse Reservoir.

There are three things you need to know about Martin City and Hungry Horse, Montana.

  1. In 2017 they held their 39th annual Cabin Fever Days and Barstool Ski Races.
  2. The towns were created after World War II during the construction of Hungry Horse Dam.
  3. They love your dam puns.

The Romantic: Fire Lookouts

Come on, we know you’ve dreamed about escaping to a cabin in the middle of nowhere, wistfully sipping coffee while you watch the sun rise over the Rocky Mountains. Well, here’s your chance, you romantic, you. The U.S. Forest Service rents fire lookouts and cabins throughout Montana on a first-come first-served basis. This off-the-beaten-path getaway can be yours for a small reservation fee. Western Montana houses eight of these 360-degree-view, picturesque lodging options. Reserve your spot at recreation.gov.

The Foraging Fiend: Huckleberries

Huckleberries.

This finicky native shrub only grows in high elevations, making Montana’s mountains a perfect home for its tasty berries. Huckleberries look like small blueberries and taste like a cross between a blueberry and blackberry. While you can find huckleberry syrup and jam at many Western Montana stores and farmers markets, the true forager will take to the hills looking to find their own “purple gold.” Most Montanans won’t give just anyone their secret berry spot, but we can tell you that the state’s legislature coined Trout Creek the “Huckleberry Capital of Montana.” Plan to visit in August for the Huckleberry Festival, and they just might share their secrets.

Pro Tip: If you decide to forage for huckleberries, be sure to make some noise and carry bear spray. Montana is bear country, and huckleberries are bear food.

Kayaker paddles through Holland Lake on a peaceful fall morning.

What’s your adventure type? Tell us by tweeting or gramming @glaciermt or #glaciermt.

Save

Save

Save

Montana’s Top 5 Backcountry Skiing Tips

It’s the middle of winter, Mother Nature just hit us with some serious snow and, let’s face it, we all have a bit of cabin fever. It’s a good thing Montana’s cold-weather recreation options keep expanding. From miles of groomed trails to acres of untouched terrain, our mountains are waiting for you to come shred some powder. And since we know that planning a vacation can sometimes feel overwhelming, we made a little list to help you out of your winter rut.

1. Cat Skiing for Experts and Amateurs Alike

Photo: Great Northern Powder Guides

If you’re ready for some pristine high-country exploration in our awe-inspiring outdoors, Great Northern Powder Guides out of Whitefish is ready to help you climb more than 10,000 vertical feet into some of Montana’s best backcountry terrain. The fine folks at GNPG tailor their trips to every skill level—from families to seasoned experts—and they also specialize in avalanche safety training, so, rest assured, you’re in good hands. And if you’re looking for an overnight adventure, they offer backcountry yurts for a truly unique on-the-mountain lodging experience.

2. We Ski With a Little Help From Our Friends

Pro skier KC Deane drops powder pillows in the Great Bear Wilderness while internationally famous photographer Chris Burkard looks on. Photo: Devin Schmidt of Glacier Adventure Guides

Our friends at Glacier Adventure Guides are the experts among experts when it comes to backcountry skiing. These self-described “igloo-dwelling powder hounds” are always ready for a wild time, and they aren’t messing around when it comes to keeping you safe. They’re all certified in First Aid and CPR and trained in Outdoor Emergency Care (OEC), mountain travel and rescue, and avalanche awareness. These powder hounds are powder ready, just like our mountains.

3. Ski the Park

While winter in Glacier National Park means fewer lodging options and limited road access, it also means epic backcountry skiing. The National Park Service is our go-to resource for all Glacier National Park safety help. Their website shares safety tips for skiing, snowshoeing, trails and area closure reports. It’s always a good idea to check out avalanche reports and road closures before heading in. See Glacier Country’s Going-to-the-Sun Road status feed here. And when in doubt, ask a ranger! After gathering your safety gear, pick up your backcountry pass and a skiing and snowshoeing brochure from the park headquarters at the Apgar Visitor Center on your way into this backcountry winter wonderland.

4. Something Borrowed

LB Snow, Missoula, MT Photo: David Bosler

Not everyone has all the right gear to face the exhilarating elements and snow-covered landscape of Western Montana, but someone here always has what you need. If you don’t have a great uncle in the backcountry with 70 years of alpine gear in a trunk ready to lend out, try out one of these local rental shops:

5. We’re Here for You

Glacier National Park

We know Glacier Country like the backs of our hands…or gloves (depending on the season), and we’re always checking weather and trail reports because making sure you’re taking advantage of the best backcountry conditions is one of our favorite things to do.

We also love to chat, whether by phone, 1.800.388.5072, or live message, so get in touch anytime Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., and let’s plan your Montana backcountry ski adventure together.

Find even more inspiration and enter today for a chance to win monthly prizes in Western Montana’s Glacier Country at glaciermt.com.

Making a Move: Montana to Wyoming

I’m not quite sure how to tell you this, so I’m just gonna come right out with it: I’m leaving Montana.

Goodbye, Montana.

Goodbye, Montana.

For those of you who’ve been reading this blog or following me on social media, you know how much I love Montana. My love for this state is as expansive as Montana’s big sky and as deep as my family’s roots in this place we’ve been lucky enough to call home for generations. But I’m packing my rig (AKA my 4WD Jeep), pulling on my cowgirl boots and heading south for the beautiful, wild, romantic and adventure-filled state of Wyoming.

Hello, Wyoming.

Hello, Wyoming. Photo: Andy Austin

While it hurts my heart to leave Montana, I’m thrilled, happy and excited to explore the Forever West, and I can’t wait to help tell the incredible stories about the people, places and experiences that make Wyoming so special. And if there’s one state I could possibly leave my love Montana for, it’s Wyoming. Also, in case anyone is keeping score, Montana and Wyoming are BFFs (read more about why MT + WY are BFFs here). After all, they share three of the most special place in the country: Yellowstone National Park, the Beartooth Highway and Bighorn Canyon.

MT + WY = BFFs.

MT + WY = BFFs.

And while I’m leaving Big Sky Country, I’d love it if we could still be friends…maybe even BFFs like Montana and Wyoming? If you’re interested in keeping up with my new adventures in another absolutely stunning part of the world, you can follow me on instagram at @MontanaTia (PS: I totally know I’m going to have to revisit my instagram handle ;)), where I’ll be sharing photos, stories and more from life in Wyoming.

And while I said it in last week’s blog post (you can read that here), I need to say it again: thank you for letting me be part of your lives. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it and feel honored to have spend so many years sharing my adventures with you as I’ve been living, working and playing under Montana’s big blue sky.

Until we meet again—this time under Wyoming’s wild skies—happy trails to you.

xo,
TT

Happy Trails to 2016, From This Montana Girl

You guys, first things first: I’m so glad we’re friends. When I think back on this blog, I feel incredibly fortunate that I’ve been able to take you on my Montana-loving journeys and share all the things that make Big Sky Country so special to me. I love reading your comments and receiving your emails about the latest blog posts, and I really love when you share your memories of Montana, family or life with me. So from the bottom of my windblown, silly, happy and joyful heart, I want to say one thing: thank you. Thank you for letting me be part of your lives.

My Montana.

My Montana.

Maybe it’s the holiday season or just taking the time to think about another year passing as we all gear up for the arrival of 2017, but I’ve been feeling really sentimental about this past year. 2016 held a plethora of adventures with some of my favorite people, from snowshoeing in Glacier National Park to the #PictureMontana trip with friends both new and old and taking the trip of a lifetime into the heart of Montana’s Bob Marshall Wilderness to my family reunion at Placid Lake State Park. When I look back on all of the life that was packed into the last 12 months, I can’t help but be happy. So, just because, I thought it’d be fun to look back at some of the best Montana moments of 2016.

Take a look…

Starting 2016 at the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge.

Starting 2016 at the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge.

Ranger led snowshoeing in Glacier National Park, Glacier Country

Snowshoeing in Glacier National Park.

Taking in the stillness of winter in Glacier National Park.

Taking in the stillness of winter in Glacier National Park.

Several of my Montana memories involve this lady: photographer Donnie Sexton.

Several of my Montana memories involve this lady: photographer Donnie Sexton.

Stopping to take in the view along I-90 near Alberton, Montana.

Stopping to take in the view along I-90 near Alberton, Montana.

Perhaps my most favorite barn shot, ever.

Perhaps my most favorite barn shot, ever.

After work, I headed out west of Missoula to watch the soft evening light fall over the valley.

After work one day, I headed out west of Missoula to watch the soft evening light fall over the valley.

2016 also brought my first-ever visit to Cody, Wyoming.

2016 also brought my first-ever visit to Cody, Wyoming.

My traveling partner and I fell in love with downtown Cody, Wyoming.

Downtown Cody, Wyoming.

The first bike outing of the year on the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

The first bike outing of the year on the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

This last year also brought two blissful, almost picture-perfect days at Flathead Lake Lodge.

This last year also brought two blissful, almost picture-perfect days at Flathead Lake Lodge.

In May, I was able to welcome 17 writers to Western Montana. Definitely one of my most memorable trips ever (in the best way possible).

In May, I was able to welcome 17 writers (who I’m lucky enough to call my friends) to Western Montana. Definitely one of my most memorable trips ever (in the best way possible).

One of the most special experiences of 2016: watching American Indian dancers perform at Ninepipes Lodge.

One of the most special experiences of 2016: watching American Indian dancers perform at Ninepipes Lodge.

Another thing I've learned: it's important to capture memories.

Another thing I’ve learned: it’s important to capture memories.

I also crossed another destination off my bucket list: Bighorn Canyon in Southeast Montana/Northeast Wyoming.

I also crossed another destination off my bucket list: Bighorn Canyon in Southeast Montana/Northeast Wyoming.

The second bike outing on the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park.

The second bike outing on the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park.

Home. PS: when your hometown is as small as mine, you have no problem laying on Main Street to take photos.

Home. PS: when your hometown is as small as mine, you have no problem laying on Main Street to take photos.

Holland Lake Road, with Swan Mountain views.

Holland Lake Road, with Swan Mountain views.

Just a quick visit to my favorite spot with one of my favorite girls.

Just a quick visit to my favorite spot with one of my favorite girls.

This past summer, I fulfilled a lifelong dream and went on a week-long pack trip into the Bob Marshall Wilderness.

This past summer, I fulfilled a lifelong dream and went on a week-long pack trip into the Bob Marshall Wilderness.

My friend Amy taking in the view of the Chinese Wall in The Bob.

My friend Amy taking in the view of the Chinese Wall in The Bob.

For as long as I can remember, seeing the Chinese Wall in person has been one of my dreams.

For as long as I can remember, seeing the Chinese Wall in person has been one of my dreams.

Special thanks to my friend Tommy for this shot.

Special thanks to my friend Tommy for this shot.

The crew standing on top of the world.

The crew standing on top of the world.

This morning view was one of my favorites from the entire year.

This morning view was one of my favorites from the entire year.

A must-do activity: driving Glacier National Park's Going-to-the-Sun Road in fall.

A must-do activity: visiting Glacier National Park in fall.

Don't tell anyone, but this lady is one of my favorites.

This little lady is one of the best adventure partners in the land. 

There's something about a dirt road and Montana.

There’s something about a dirt road and Montana.

Adventuring on Two Medicine Lake in fall.

Adventuring on Two Medicine Lake in fall.

Sunrise over the St. Mary Valley in Glacier National Park.

Sunrise over the St. Mary Valley in Glacier National Park.

Fall at Travelers' Rest State Park. My traveling friend and I (see previous photo) were the only ones there.

Fall at Travelers’ Rest State Park. My traveling friend and I were the only ones there.

A favorite fall memory: driving Chief Mountain Highway.

A favorite fall memory: driving Chief Mountain Highway.

One thing I've learned this year: sometimes you just have to go.

One thing I’ve learned this year: sometimes you just have to go.

For those of you who have been my adventure buddies this year, thanks for the memories. And for those of you who’ve kept up with my travels this year, thank you for letting me share my Montana with you.

xo,
TT

You Can Go Home Again: The Magic of Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front

Oh you guys, where do I start? Well, with the truth I guess: last week was a rough one.

I won’t bore you with the details (AKA I won’t complain about my life, since I’m the first to admit how blessed I am), but I had a couple of days where I just didn’t feel like myself. To sum it up, I was sad. For those of you who know me personally (or from reading this blog), sad is not a word that’s used to describe me. So I went to the place that I knew would help me with that feelings: I went home

Take a look…

Lover's Lane, the street I grew up on.

Lover’s Lane, the street I grew up on.

Wide-open spaces, an old barn and Haystack Butte.

Wide-open spaces, an old barn and Haystack Butte.

Roads like these are home for me and I drove quite a few of them over the weekend.

Roads like these are home for me and I drove quite a few of them over the weekend.

Fresh snow in the mountains.

Fresh snow in the mountains.

Twilight looking east.

Looking east at twilight.

The landscape seemed endless, even for this local Montana girl.

The landscape seemed endless, even for this Montana girl.

That Montana sky set my heart aflutter.

That Montana sky set my heart aflutter.

My baby brother, niece and I drove out to watch the sun set behind Haystack Butte.

My baby brother, niece and I drove out to watch the sun set behind Haystack Butte.

Shades of my life stretched out on the horizon.

Shades of my life stretched out on the horizon.

The aptly described Rocky Mountain Front, where the plains and mountains meet.

The aptly described Rocky Mountain Front, where the plains and mountains meet.

As for me, I left that weekend filled with the magic of the Rocky Mountain Front, my home and family and knowing that no matter what, I can always go home again. And for that, I’m forever grateful.

xo,
TT

PS: For more daily photo updates of the West, be sure to follow us on instagram at GlacierMT.

A Weekend at Home in Augusta, Montana

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know by now that I’m a Montana girl through and through. I live here, love it here and my soul feels at home here. I currently live in one of the “big cities” of Montana and I have to tell you that while I love where I live, there’s no place like home. For me, home is a 2-hour drive over the mountains to a small town that sits along Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front: Augusta.

Main Street, Montana.

Oh hi Augusta, Montana.

My family (which is big, wild and fun) is firmly entwined in the community of Augusta, Montana and each year I go home for one of the biggest weekends of the year—the Augusta American Legion Rodeo (which celebrated 80 years of rodeo this year)—to help my mom and dad at our family business, the general store that sits on Main Street. Plus, it’s not just the store that needs some attention during the weekend. I also work our family taco stand. Yep, you read that right. We have a taco stand that is only open one weekend each year. Years ago (as in 35+ years ago), my aunt started the stand when she was home for the summer and it’s an always-present staple during rodeo weekend. Growing up, I worked that taco stand every rodeo weekend and I’m kind of nostalgically happy that that tradition hasn’t changed. Sidenote: I didn’t get any photos of the taco stand or the delicious tacos we serve each year because the stand was insanely busy! 

Anyway, while we worked the entire weekend, it was one of the best weekends and visits home that I’ve had in a long time. Here’s a look at a weekend at home in Montana…

My mom was decked out and ready for the weekend. You can just call her "Cowgirl Sue."

My mom was decked out and ready for the weekend. You can just call her “Cowgirl Sue.”

The much loved and most demanding member of our family, the store.

The much loved and most demanding member of our family, the store.

Evening light lit up the store beautifully.

Evening light lit up the store beautifully.

Ready to ride.

Ready to ride.

The pick-up crew.

The pick-up crew.

Oh hey, cowboy.

Hey cowboy.

Taking in the view of the rodeo arena.

Taking in the view of the rodeo arena.

Night falls over Sawtooth Mountain. PS: this photo was taken at 10:06 p.m.

Night falls over Sawtooth Mountain. PS: this photo was taken at 10:06 p.m.

It was a good weekend.

Your turn: where does your soul feel the most at home?

xo,
TT

Montana is Wild: Top Rules and Tips for Safely Visiting the West

You guys, I don’t love writing about sad things on this blog. And I hate telling you about sad things, especially when they happen in the place that I love and adore: the West. But the fact of the matter is this: it’s only mid-June and we’ve already had several negative wildlife encounters and an unfortunate, heart-breaking experience in Montana and Yellowstone National Park.

Always give bears plenty of room and never approach. Photos: GlacierNPS Flickr (Tim Rains)

Always give bears plenty of room and never approach. Photos: GlacierNPS Flickr (Tim Rains)

To date this year, we’ve had visitors approach wildlife and get way too close (examples include selfies with bison, a tourist picking up a baby bison and placing it in his car and a woman being charged and hit by an elk) as they invaded the animal’s space. In addition, Yellowstone National Park had a group of adventure travelers walk off the boardwalk (and film it, for pete’s sake) and most recently, a visitor tragically lost his life when he went off the boardwalk and fell into one of the boiling geysers.

Meanwhile, in my neck of the woods, I was in Glacier National Park earlier this month sitting at The Loop eating lunch when a black bear meandered across the Going-to-the-Sun Road. He was a nice bear who literally paid the 10 of us no mind as he crossed the road, even when a lady started running after him. Yep, you read that right. We were all sitting there marveling at the chance to see a wild bear in Glacier National Park and she ran after him to take a photo. This, my friends, is one of my worst nightmares and we actually had to say these words, “Ma’am, don’t chase the bear. Ma’am! Don’t chase him.” Honestly, I never thought I’d have to tell someone to not chase a WILD ANIMAL in the WILD.

All of these stories are not meant to cast shame or embarrass anyone; instead they’re meant to educate.

Perhaps the worst part about the examples listed above is that they could be have been avoided by following the rules and regulations that are in place to not only protect us as visitors to these special places, but to protect wildlife, their habitat and the ecosystem in which we all live.

The fact of the matter is that the West is still wild. One of the best things about visiting the wild places that still exist in Montana and Wyoming is that we’re able to experience raw, true, genuine nature.  To do that, it’s important that we follow the rules, guidelines and regulations that are put in place to help everyone have a wonderful time in Montana, Glacier National Park and Yellowstone National Park.

Here are some rules to remember when visiting the West…

Stay on designated trails, pathways and boardwalks. Always.

Boadwalks are put in place to give us safe access to viewing geysers, hot springs and rushing waterways.

Boadwalks are put in place to give us safe access to viewing geysers, hot springs and rushing waterways. Photo: YellowstoneNP Flickr

View wildlife from your car or from a safe distance. For bears, you should stay at least 100 yards (the length of a football field) away, while you should stay at least 25 yards away from other large animals, including bison, elk, bighorn sheep, deer, moose and coyotes.

This visitor is WAY TOO CLOSE to the bears. Photo: YNP Flickr

This visitor is WAY TOO CLOSE to the bears. Photo: Yellowstone NPS Flickr

Do not approach wildlife. Even for a selfie. Truth time: Yellowstone and Glacier are not zoos. The animals who live here are wild and there are no barriers between you and them. Never, under any circumstances, approach wildlife. Also, don’t touch or pet them. Ever. Deal?

Let wildlife know you’re nearby. When hiking, be sure to hike in a group, carry bear spray, stay on designated trails and make noise at regular intervals. This messy-haired girl likes to sing (you’re welcome bears and humans) and say “hey bear” loudly at regular intervals or clap my hands as I walk along. PS: Do us all a favor and don’t rely on bear bells as your noisemaker. Most of them are not loud enough.

For more information, you can read more safe wildlife viewing tips here and here.

Wishing you all safe travels this summer,
TT