Tag Archives: road trip

Hitting the Road in Search of Montana’s Best Fall Colors

It’s probably no surprise that I’m a big fan of fall in Montana. In fact, I think it may be my favorite season. But to be honest, the changing colors of autumn in Big Sky Country tend to get overlooked for other more colorful destinations. Which I totally get. If you ask me, one of the reasons Montana is glanced over as a fall color destination is because people just don’t know that we actually have fall foliage here.

A perfect fall scene of the Bitterroot Mountains in Hamilton.

A perfect fall scene of the Bitterroot Mountains in Hamilton.

Which is why I’m glad my buddy Andy Austin, a local Montana photographer, decided to embark on a Montana Fall Tour in which he drove hundreds of miles to soak up, play in and photograph autumn’s beauty. He traveled from Bighorn Canyon in the southeast corner of Montana (read more about the canyon here) to the expansive Paradise Valley and the ice-carved peaks of Glacier National Park on his search for Montana’s best fall colors.

Montana's Paradise Valley.

Montana’s Paradise Valley. Photo: Andy Austin

And while I lived vicariously through him on instagram while he was hitting the road, he said I could share his photos on the blog so you can have an up-close look at fall in Montana.

Take a look at his trip through Western Montana’s Glacier Country

The Middle Fork of the Flathead River from Belton Bridge in West Glacier.

The Middle Fork of the Flathead River from Belton Bridge in West Glacier. Photo: Andy Austin

A glimpse at Glacier National Park.

A glimpse at Glacier National Park. Photo: Andy Austin

A perfect fall sunset from Oberlin Peak in Glacier National Park.

A perfect fall sunset from Oberlin Peak in Glacier National Park. Photo: Andy Austin

Looking into the St. Mary Valley in Glacier National Park.

Looking into the St. Mary Valley in Glacier National Park. Photo: Andy Austin

Fall at Whitefish Lake.

Fall at Whitefish Lake. Photo: Andy Austin

Tamarack trees (and the most beautiful fog I've ever seen) at Salmon Lake State Park.

Tamarack trees (and the most beautiful fog I’ve ever seen) at Salmon Lake State Park. Photo: Andy Austin

Hands down, the Seeley-Swan Valley is one of the best places to view tamarack trees (AKA western larch).

The Seeley-Swan Valley is one of the best places to view tamarack trees (AKA western larch). Photo: Andy Austin 

Soaking up Missoula's colors from Waterworks Hill.

Soaking up Missoula’s colors from Waterworks Hill. Photo: Andy Austin

To see more of fall in Montana, check out the #MontanaFallTour on instagram.

Oh and Andy…don’t forget to stop and pick me up on your next Montana road trip.

xo,
TT

Fall in Montana: Exploring the Bitterroot Valley

I think L.M. Montgomery said it best when she wrote, “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” Truth be told, October (with November being a close second) is one of the most underrated months of the year, especially in Montana. And I get it. Weather in Montana can be a little unpredictable, but if you’re bold enough to visit in October you’re going to find that it’s actually quite lovely. Plus, when the weather has one of her “moods” she typically snaps out of it pretty quickly and returns to her pleasant self, complete with sunshine and gorgeous fall foliage.

October in Hamilton.

October in Hamilton, Montana.

And as we all know I’m in a constant search for fall colors in October, my road trip buddy and I decided to hit the road to Montana’s Bitterroot Valley. Located just south of Missoula, the Bitterroot Valley is flanked by the Bitterroot Mountains on the west and the Sapphire Mountains on the east. It’s also home to the Bitterroot River, lots of cute towns, incredible history and it still has plenty of open spaces to explore. And while we only had a few hours to explore, we soaked up as many incredible fall moments as we could with stops at Travelers’ Rest State Park in Lolo, the Daly Mansion in Hamilton and St. Mary’s Mission in Stevensville.

Take a look…

As we left Missoula, a soft snow started to fall. (I told you Montana's weather was dramatic.)

As we left Missoula, a soft snow started to fall. (I told you Montana’s weather was moody.)

And just like that, she snapped out of it and sunshine returned.

And just like that, she snapped out of it and sunshine began to return.

Our first stop: Travelers' Rest.

Our first stop: Travelers’ Rest.

Crossing the bridge at Lolo Creek.

Crossing the bridge at Lolo Creek.

Prior to being used by the Lewis & Clark Expedition, this site of Travelers' Rest was used by Montana's First Nations.

Prior to being used by the Lewis & Clark Expedition, the site of Travelers’ Rest was used by Montana’s First Nations as a gathering place and trading grounds.

We also made a stop to see the Historic St. Mary's Mission, which celebrated its 175th anniversary in September 2016.

We also made a stop to see the Historic St. Mary’s Mission, which celebrated its 175th anniversary in September 2016.

Main Street in Victor, Montana, looks like it's out of a western movie set.

Main Street in Victor, Montana, looks like it’s out of a western movie set.

The Bitterroot River (with the Bitterroot Mountains) in the background.

The Bitterroot River (with the Bitterroot Mountains) in the background.

Up next: the Daly Mansion Museum AKA one of my favorite places.

Up next: the Daly Mansion Museum AKA one of my favorite places.

The view of the grounds from the front porch of the Daly Mansion.

The view of the grounds from the front porch of the Daly Mansion. The mansion’s grounds are one of the best places in Western Montana to see fall colors.

No matter how many times I see a barn in Montana's countryside, it warms my heart.

No matter how many times I see a barn in Montana’s countryside, it warms my heart.

You'll also find small farms and ranches up and down the valley.

You’ll also find small farms and ranches up and down the valley.

Our last stop (and one of my favorite places): the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge. PS: Read more about the refuge here.

Our last stop: the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge. PS: Read more about the refuge here.

If you plan to explore the Bitterroot Valley, here’s a few things to keep in mind:
-The valley is long (as in 96 miles long) and there’s so much to explore. I’d recommend noting a few of the key places you want to visit and then just see where the trip takes you. Basically, have a flexible plan for your visit.
-Take time to stroll the communities in the valley. Stevensville, Hamilton and Darby have charming downtowns with locally owned shops, boutiques and restaurants.
-If you like local beer, the valley is home to some great breweries. Check out Lolo Peak Brewing Company in Lolo, Bandit Brewing Co. in Darby, Blacksmith Brewing Company and Wildwood Brewery in Stevensville, and Higherground Brewing and Bitterroot Brewing Company in Hamilton. PS: the fish tacos at Bitterroot Brewing are amazing and Higherground Brewing has yummy pizza and salads.
-While you can do a day trip to the Bitterroot Valley from Missoula, it’s definitely worth staying a night or two. For lodging options, consider Alta Ranch in Darby (be sure to bring your fishing rod), Bitterroot Cabins in Hamilton, Time After Time Bed & Breakfast in Victor and Stevensville Hotel in Stevensville.
-If you’re doing a day trip, be sure to travel on Highway 93 one way and the Eastside Highway on your return trip.
-There’s abundant outdoor recreation options in the valley and it’s perfect for hiking, biking, bird watching, fly-fishing and camping.
-Be sure to check out the Bitterroot Trail, a 50-mile-long walking and biking path that connects Missoula and Hamilton.

And as for me, I’ll always be glad to live in a world (and a place like Montana) where there are Octobers.

xo,
TT

Family-Style Dining + Small Town Montana: a Perfect Thursday

If there are three things I love in life, they are small towns, butter and homemade rolls. (You guys, deep down I’m a really simple country girl…with a crazy love for butter.) So last week, when I had a friend in town visiting from the east coast, we decided to combine our mutual love of small town Montana with our love of food and take our maiden voyage to a place we’ve both been wanting to try: The Dinnerbell.

The Dinnerbell.

The Dinnerbell AKA homemade roll headquarters for Western Montana.

Located off Interstate 90 at the Gold Creek Exit (between Drummond and Garrison, Montana), The Dinnerbell is a deli and store that’s a fun stopping point when you’re traveling through Western Montana. But the best part—and what brought us here in the first place—is the home-cooked dinner they offer every Thursday.

Take a look…

Pretty sure this made-on-site jam and rolls will be in heaven.

Pretty sure this made-on-site jam and rolls will be in Heaven.

Prior to dinner here, I didn't like peach jam. And now? I love it.

Prior to dinner here, I didn’t like peach jam. And now? I love it.

The first Thursday dinner of the month: meatloaf.

The first Thursday dinner of the month: meatloaf.

These were by far the creamiest mashed potatoes I've ever had. Plus, they were delicious.

These were by far the creamiest mashed potatoes I’ve ever had. Plus, they were delicious.

Apparently I'm also a big fan of pie.

Apparently I’m also a big fan of pie.

Dinner was served completely family style, with help from the Sommer's family.

Dinner was served completely family style, with help from the Sommer’s family.

Dessert: cherry pie and peanut butter pie. PS: the peanut butter in the pie is HOMEMADE.

Dessert: cherry pie and peanut butter pie. PS: the peanut butter in the pie is HOMEMADE.

A few other things I loved about dinner in Gold Creek, Montana: they opened the meal with a prayer (The Dinnerbell is owned by Marion and Rhoda Sommer, a Mennonite couple), dinner is served family style and they end each meal with a hymn. Plus, their setting is beautiful. After dinner, we hung around on the lawn outside, visited and watched the sun go down.

Katie and Milo listening to the song at the end of the meal.

Katie and Milo listening to the song at the end of the meal.

The barn added to the ambiance of the evening.

The barn added to the ambiance of the evening.

Three friends + full bellies = a perfect Montana moment.

Three friends + full bellies = a perfect Montana moment.

The boys taking in the view.

The boys taking in the view.

A few things to note: 
-The Dinnerbell only serves dinner on Thursdays and reservations are required. Call 406.288.2579 to reserve your spot.
-Dinner starts promptly at 6 p.m.; be sure to arrive a few minutes early.
-On the first Thursday of the month, they feature meatloaf as their entree. The other Thursdays feature fried chicken.
-Cost: $13.50/adults (for ALL YOU CAN EAT).
-After dinner, be sure to check out their on-site store and deli. I left with a bag of rolls and a package of chocolate crinkle cookies (which, by the way, are delicious).
-Gold Creek is about a one-hour drive from Missoula, Helena and Butte.

As for me, if I ever go missing on Thursday nights you’ll more than likely be able to find me in Gold Creek, Montana. I’ll be the one eating all the rolls.

xo,
TT

A Summer Road Trip: Clearwater Junction to Polebridge, Montana

It’s hard to stay in one place during summer in Montana. There’s something about this time of year that makes me want to adventure in, around and through this place I call home. And I have to tell you, this year is no exception and with gorgeous weather, the need to hit the road came earlier than usual. So on one sunshine-filled day this June, my two traveling companions (affectionately known as boo and baby girl) and I loaded up the car and decided to take a road trip north. Our destination: Polebridge, Montana.

Polebridge, Montana.

Polebridge, Montana.

Why did we choose Polebridge for this specific road trip? Well, it’s because neither boo nor baby girl had been there and the three of us decided it was time to change that because Polebridge is a place that everyone should visit during their lifetime.

Often when we travel north through Western Montana’s Glacier Country, we hit Highway 93 and travel along Flathead Lake. But not this time. Instead, we opted to go through one of Montana’s most lovely valleys: the Seeley-Swan on Highway 83. And I have to tell you, it was such a perfect day. The company was fun, the views were beautiful and the drive from the southern end of the Seeley Valley to the northern end of the Swan Valley is one of the prettiest in the state.
Sidenote: you can read more about my love of the Seeley-Swan Valley here

Our travel route for the day.

Our travel route for the day.

On this particular day, we decided to officially start our trip at Clearwater Junction, home to Stoney’s and the most photographed bull in the state.

Good morning, handsome.

Good morning, handsome.

Additional stops in the Seeley-Swan included Salmon Lake, the Clearwater Canoe Trail, Holland Lake and Laughing Horse Lodge (which is now officially on my must-stay list!).

Take a look…

Taking in the view from the shore of Salmon Lake.

Taking in the view from the shore of Salmon Lake.

Gotta love these clear waters.

Gotta love those clear waters.

Hands down, the Clearwater Canoe Trail is my FAVORITE activity in the entire valley.

Hands down, the Clearwater Canoe Trail is my FAVORITE activity in the entire valley.

This valley is home to hundreds of lakes, including Summit Lake which sits just west of Highway 83.

This valley is home to hundreds of lakes, including Summit Lake which sits just west of Highway 83.

This view, with a dirt road that seemed to lead to nowhere, called to my heart.

This view, with a dirt road that seemed to lead to nowhere, called to my heart.

A short drive down Holland Lake Road from Highway 83 will take you to Holland Lake.

A short drive down Holland Lake Road from Highway 83 will take you to Holland Lake.

From the trailhead, the hike to Holland Falls in an easy 1.6 miles.

From the trailhead, the hike to Holland Falls in an easy 1.6 miles.

Just one reason to love country roads.

The grounds at Laughing Horse Lodge.

The grounds at Laughing Horse Lodge.

The garden at Laughing Horse Lodge.

The garden at Laughing Horse Lodge.

I could have spent all afternoon here.

I could have spent all afternoon here.

It was my first time stopping at Laughing Horse Lodge and by the time we left, all three of us were ready to just end our trip here.

It was my first time stopping at Laughing Horse Lodge and by the time we left, all three of us were ready to just stop and spend the night here.

Kathleen (the owner of Laughing Horse Lodge) tends the gardens, cooks the dinners (which look amazing) and welcomes guests to her property. Oh, and she's nice. Nice people should never be taken for granted.

Taking advantage of my visit to the garden. Kathleen (the owner of Laughing Horse Lodge) tends the gardens and cooks dinner at her on-site restaurant. Oh, and she’s nice.

After we left the Seeley-Swan Valley, we continued north but not without making a stop for lunch at my favorite Montana cafe: Basecamp Cafe in Columbia Falls.

Note: if you ever want to woo me, just make me tacos with cilantro.

Note: if you ever want to woo me, just make me tacos with cilantro.

After fueling up (and loading up our starving tummies), we continued the drive to one of the wildest and most awesome places in Montana: the North Fork and Polebridge.
Sidenote: all of the electricity in Polebridge is from generators or solar power. 

Baby girl and I donning our new snapbacks from our pal Kevin at Flathead Lake Lodge.

Baby girl and I donning our new snapbacks from our pal Kevin at Flathead Lake Lodge.

There are two routes you can take to the North Fork: 1) you can take the North Fork Road from Columbia Falls to Polebridge and 2) you can go through the west entrance of Glacier National Park and take the Camas Road to North Fork Road. Route #2 cuts some gravel off your drive and gives great views of Lake McDonald.

There are two routes you can take to the North Fork: 1) you can drive the North Fork Road from Columbia Falls to Polebridge and 2) you can go through the west entrance of Glacier National Park and take the Camas Road to North Fork Road. Route #2 cuts some gravel off your drive and gives great views of Lake McDonald.

The famous Polebridge Mercantile.

The famous Polebridge Mercantile, home to huckleberry bearclaws and macaroons.

The Northern Lights Saloon, owned by another sweet gal named Heather, is a great place to stop and get a cold beverage or have dinner.

The Northern Lights Saloon, owned by another sweet gal named Heather, is a great place to stop and get a cold beverage or have dinner.

After spending time in the merc and saloon, we ventured into Glacier National Park and drove to Bowman Lake.

The trail to one of the prettiest places in the park.

The trail to one of the prettiest places in the park.

Bowman Lake.

Bowman Lake.

Boo, myself and baby girl at Bowman Lake.

Boo, myself and baby girl at Bowman Lake.

My only question is this: where are we off to next?

xo,
TT

Montana to Wyoming: A Wild West BFF Road Trip

Truth time: two of my favorite states in the country are Montana and Wyoming. Sure, in the past we’ve joked about the (friendly) rivalry between Big Sky Country and the Forever West (you can read about the smackdown between Montana and Wyoming here and here), but the fact of the matter is that these two states are BFFs.

BFFs.

Montana + Wyoming = BFFs.

For me, it’s just that I feel like the wide-open spaces and friendly people of Wyoming get me. They’re like kindred spirits for this Montana girl that hails from the middle of nowhere Rocky Mountain Front. So when work duty called, I grabbed one of my best traveling buddies and we set off for a destination that was new to both of us: Cody, Wyoming.

From start to finish: 406 miles.

From start to finish: 406 miles.

And I have to tell you, it was one of the best road trips I’ve taken in a long time. The weather was beautiful, the scenery was diverse and stunning and we enjoyed checking out many of the highlights along the way.

Bye, Missoula!

Bye, Missoula!

Because when you pass a sign for a used cow lot, you have to stop.

Drummond, Montana. (Because when you pass a sign for a used cow lot, you have to stop.)

 

Cruising a backroad between Columbus and Joliet.

Cruising a backroad between Columbus and Joliet.

After several hours on the road, we came to the Montana/Wyoming border. And I don’t care how many state lines I’ve driven across in my lifetime, it’s always fun to hit a new one. Plus, these Montana girls love a good photo op!

Goodbye (for now), Montana.

Goodbye (for now), Montana.

Hello, Wyoming!

Hello, Wyoming!

<3

We all know I can’t resist a selfie.

From here, we made our way to Cody and had some free time to explore the town.

The Buffalo Bill Center of the West.

The Buffalo Bill Center of the West.

Two words: totes adorbs.

One word: yee-haw!

Legends Book store had MONTANA tea!

Legends Book Store had MONTANA tea!

Just two cowgirls, wandering about town.

Just two cowgirls, wandering about town.

Oh hey historic hotel, named for Buffalo Bill Cod's daughter Irma.

Oh hey historic Irma Hotel. PS: the hotel was named for Buffalo Bill Cody’s daughter Irma.

Buffalo Bill and the gang.

Buffalo Bill and the gang.

PSA: this is the only bison you should ever approach.

PSA: this is the only bison you should ever approach.

Going out with my boots on.

Going out with my boots on.

A few things I loved about Cody, Wyoming (and think you will too):
-It’s super close to Montana.
-Cody is one of the hubs for exploring Yellowstone National Park. And it’s really easy to get to Montana from Cody, via Yellowstone.
-It has great history!
-It’s adorable and charming. Not even kidding, every shop we went into they asked where we were from (don’t worry, we proudly told them Montana) and they genuinely cared about our experience in Cody.
-I had the best steak (possibly ever) at the Proud Cut Saloon & Steakhouse.
-It was an easy drive from my home base in Western Montana + the drive was seriously beautiful.

After such a great three days road tripping from Montana to Wyoming and back again, I’ve got two questions: 1) When can I go back? 2) Who wants to go with me?!

xo,
TT

A Montana Road Trip: Polson to Whitefish

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Montana is beautiful during late winter and early spring. Remember a couple of weeks ago when I took a road trip from Missoula to Polson (you can read more about that—and see photos from that stunning drive—here) on a picture-perfect day? Well, the truth of the matter is that I kept on going and the second half of that day took me from Polson to Whitefish. And it, my friends, was beautiful. Here’s a look at the views from Montana’s Flathead Valley.

Hello, Flathead Lake.

Hello, Flathead Lake.

Polson, Flathead Lake and the Mission Mountains.

Polson, Flathead Lake and the Mission Mountains.

The view from Dayton, on the west shore of Flathead Lake.

The view from Dayton, on the west shore of Flathead Lake.

The clouds that day were incredible.

The clouds that day were incredible.

When traveling through Montana, you're more than likely to encounter several barns along the way. In a way, they almost become part of the landscape while still having their own stories to tell.

When traveling through Montana, chances are you’re going to come across one of the state’s barns. My advice? Stop and take in the view. 

The final stop: the outdoor fire pit at The Lodge at Whitefish Lake.

The final stop: the outdoor fire pit at The Lodge at Whitefish Lake.

It was a good day.

xo,
TT

A Montana Day Trip: Missoula to Polson

Yesterday was one for the record books in Big Sky Country. While it’s early March here in Montana’s Glacier Country, it was one of the most stunning days I’ve spent exploring in a long time.

A spring-like peek at The Wilma in downtown Missoula.

A spring-like peek at The Wilma in downtown Missoula.

Because it was such a beautiful day, a girlfriend and I hit the road from Missoula to Polson. While this 70-mile-long road trip typically takes just over an hour, it took us THREE HOURS. And to be honest, it was worth every minute. Here’s a peek at the scenery that made us slow down, pull over and take in this incredible place that we call Montana.

Our first stop: Z5 Guest Ranch in Arlee.

Our first stop: Z5 Guest Ranch in Arlee.

Stop two: this view of the Mission Mountains from the top of Ravalli Hill.

Stop two: this view of the Mission Mountains from the top of Ravalli Hill.

Up next: my favorite dining room view in all of Montana at Ninepipes Lodge.

Up next: my favorite dining room view in all of Montana at Ninepipes Lodge in Charlo.

Hello, Ninepipes Wildlife Refuge.

Hello, Ninepipes National Wildlife Refuge.

Pro Montana tip: if you see a backroad, take it.

Pro tip: if you see a backroad, take it.

A sure sign of spring in Montana: baby cows (also known as calves).

A sure sign of spring in Montana: baby cows (also known as calves).

Q: Am I the only one who wants to know what this barn has seen? A: _______

Question: Am I the only one who wants to know what this barn has seen?

The final stop: Polson and the view of Flathead Lake.

The final stop: Polson and this view of Flathead Lake.

Needless to say, it was a good day.

xo,
TT

A Montana Food Tour

You guys, if there are two things I love, they are Montana and food. I come by my love of both honestly. After all, when you grow up in Montana at the foot of the Rocky Mountains and when you have a grandpa who was constantly cooking in the backroom of my family’s general store and regularly asked if I wanted to “taste something good,” you’re bound to fall in love with both food and Big Sky Country. Sidenote: Much to my grandpa’s dismay, I didn’t think everything he made was as delicious as he did. 

Earlier this month, I was able to combine those two loves on a road trip that took me and a few friends on a foodie tour through Western Montana, with stops at some of the state’s tastiest dining establishments. We started our trip in Bozeman, where we checked into our adorable rooms at The Lark in downtown. (Honestly, I cannot say enough good things about this hotel. It’s now my #1 pick for hotels in Bozeman). After settling in, we headed out to Victory Taco (located in the hotel’s parking lot) to fill our tummies on tacos and ice cream.

My room at The Lark. Things I loved: the barnwood door, the ridiculously soft sheets and the hand-painted murals above the bed.

My room at The Lark. Things I loved: the barnwood door, the ridiculously soft sheets and the hand-painted murals above the bed.

Tacos happen to be my favorite thing to eat. Also, be sure you try their guacamole. I think it's a little piece of heaven here on earth.

Tacos happen to be my favorite thing to eat. Also, be sure you try their guacamole. I think it’s a little piece of heaven here on earth.

Truth.

Truth.

Happiness is freshly toasted coconut ice cream.

Happiness is freshly toasted coconut ice cream.

After spending the night in Bozeman, we traveled north to Montana’s most funky city—Butte. Honestly, this Montana girl has not spent that much time in Butte and…I LOVED it. We arrived in Butte in time for lunch, which was a pork chop sandwich at The Freeway Tavern, before hopping on a trolley tour. The tour gave an in-depth look at Butte and I’m now determined to spend more time there. Sidenote: That pork chop sandwich was so good that I’m still thinking about it. 

Another must stop destination: Headframe Spirits in uptown Butte.

Another must stop destination: Headframe Spirits in uptown Butte.

The trolley tour was a great way to cover a lot of ground in Butte, America.

The trolley tour was a great way to cover a lot of ground and our guide gave great insight and history into this once wild city.

After Butte, we ventured to one of my favorite Montana towns, Philipsburg, via Montana Highway 1. After mining for sapphires (where I found my biggest sapphire to date – a 3.6 carat stone!) at The Sapphire Gallery, we headed over to the Philipsburg Brewery where we hung out with locals, loaded up on chocolate caramels at The Sweet Palace and had a tasty dinner at The Silver Mill.

My precious. ;)

My precious. 😉

Cheers!

Cheers!

I'll give you two guesses at my favorite store in Philipburg.

I’ll give you two guesses as to which store is my favorite in Philipsburg.

The next stop on our food adventure through Montana was Superior for a BBQ lunch along the Clark Fork River with Rugg’s Outfitting. After our afternoon outside, we headed for Paradise and Quinn’s Hot Springs Resort. (You can read more about my love for Quinn’s here). 

Locally raised beef burgers paired perfectly with beer from Montana's newest brewery, Dunluce Brewing in Superior.

Locally raised beef burgers paired perfectly with beer from Montana’s newest brewery, Dunluce Brewing in Superior.

My Montana cowgirl attire includes a baseball hat and an Irish bandanna from Butte.

My Montana cowgirl attire includes a baseball hat and an Irish bandanna from Butte.

Our two-hour trail ride went through meadows, along a river and around a mountain lake.

Our two-hour trail ride went through meadows, along a river and around a mountain lake.

Kicking back at my creekside cabin.

Kicking back at my creekside cabin at Quinn’s Hot Springs.

These two were the perfect ending to a prime rib dinner.

These two were the perfect ending to a prime rib dinner.

Any stay at Quinn's requires a soak in the hot springs.

Any stay at Quinn’s requires a soak in the hot springs.

On the last day of our trip, we decided to head to Missoula in time to visit the farmers markets before our afternoon kayaking adventure on the Clark Fork River with Montana River Guides

Our float along the Clark Fork was gorgeous.

Our float along the Clark Fork was gorgeous.

Before dinner, we hydrated at Plonk in downtown.

Before dinner, we hydrated at Plonk in downtown.

Big Dipper (and this guy and his Montana tattoo) were a perfect end to the evening.

Big Dipper (and this guy and his Montana tattoo) were a perfect end to the evening.

My traveling companies. Miss you, girls!

My traveling companions. Miss you, girls!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I better go hike a mountain (or seven).

xo,
TT

PS: Where are YOUR favorite places to eat in Montana?

Exploring the Spaces Between the Places: West Glacier to East Glacier Park, Montana

There are certain travel corridors in Montana that I’m obsessed with: Highway 200,  the Seeley-Swan Valley and Highway 2  near Glacier National Park. And after last week’s adventure along a backcountry road (you can read more about that here), my traveling companies and I continued our spring road trip and headed toward a place that this messy-haired girl loves and adores like it’s a member of the family: Glacier National Park

The view of Many Glacier from Glacier National Park's webcam.

The view of Many Glacier from Glacier National Park’s webcam.

We planned to start our trip in West Glacier and end it in East Glacier Park. But this wasn’t just going to be simple drive from west to east. You see, that’s just not our style. On this trip, we also wanted to soak up the beauty and experiences on the Blackfeet Nation. Sidenote: if you’re not familiar, the Blackfeet Nation is the largest Indian reservation in Montana and is home to the Blackfeet Tribe.

As we had a full travel day, we opted to stay overnight in West Glacier at the Glacier Outdoor Center in one of their cabins. And, happily enough, this is the view we woke up to.

Good morning, mountain peaks in Glacier National Park.

Good morning, mountain peaks in Glacier National Park.

After soaking in the quiet stillness in West Glacier, we continued east to have breakfast at one of my other favorite spots: the Izaak Walton Inn in Essex. (You can read more about my love for the Izaak here).  

When in doubt, order huckleberry pancakes.

When in doubt, order huckleberry pancakes.

Izaak Walton Inn

The view of the train tracks from Izaak Walton Inn.

If you follow me on instagram (@MontanaTia), then you will know I had to get a shoe shot in the lobby.

If you follow me on instagram (@MontanaTia), then you will know I had to get a shoe shot in the lobby.

After filling our tummies to the brim, we loaded up our rig and headed to East Glacier Park and the Blackfeet Indian Reservation to meet up with our friend Alger Swingley for a day of sightseeing in and around Glacier National Park.

Here’s a look into our rain-filled, misty, beautiful and magical day exploring Glacier National Park and the Blackfeet Nation.

One of the viewpoints on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation.

One of the viewpoints on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation.

Standing on the shore of Swiftcurrent Lake in Many Glacier.

Standing on the shore of Swiftcurrent Lake in Many Glacier.

One of the many gorgeous views in Many Glacier.

One of the many gorgeous views in Many Glacier.

Soaking up every moment.

Soaking up every moment.

This was one (of two!) moose we saw in Many Glacier.

This was one (of two!) moose we saw in Many Glacier.

This grizzly slowly meandered across the road behind us.

This grizzly slowly meandered across the road behind us.

The new interpretive overlook near St. Mary.

The new interpretive overlook near St. Mary.

Our accommodations: The StoneHouse at Duck Lake.

Our accommodations: The StoneHouse at Duck Lake.

These Blackfeet warriors can be found at the four entry points onto the Blackfeet Nation.

These Blackfeet warriors can be found at the four entry points onto the Blackfeet Nation.

We ended our day with tasty Mexican food at Serrano's in East Glacier Park.

We ended our day with tasty Mexican food at Serrano’s in East Glacier Park.

While I’ve lived in Montana my whole life, there’s something incredibly special about this corner of Big Sky Country. Maybe it has to do with the wind-swept prairies running into the rapidly rising peaks of the Rocky Mountains or maybe it’s the feeling of home I get when visiting Blackfeet Country and the east side of Glacier National Park. Whatever it is, I’m grateful for it.

And if you plan on visiting Glacier National Park and the Blackfeet Nation this spring (or summer), here’s what I’d recommend…

Where to stay: There are lots of really lovely places to stay around Glacier National Park. I’d recommend The Stonehouse at Duck Lake (perfect for a getaway with friends), Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Browning (ideal for a family friendly stay – they’re open year-round and have a waterslide), St. Mary Lodge & Resort in St. Mary and Travelers Rest Lodge in East Glacier Park.

What to do: For a great tour on the Blackfeet Nation, book a guided jeep tour, rafting trip or fishing trip with Blackfeet Outfitters. Other recommendations: visit the Museum of the Plains Indian in Browning, make the short hike to Running Eagles Falls in Two Medicine and take a boat tour with Glacier Park Boats in Two Medicine, St. Mary and Many Glacier.

Where to eat: Serrano’s Mexican Restaurant in East Glacier Park (open daily at 5 p.m.), Johnson’s of St. Mary (their family style fried chicken meal on Sundays is the best) and Bison Creek Guest Ranch in East Glacier Park. Also, be sure to stop at the Rock and Roll Bakery in East Glacier Park (across the street from Serrano’s) for a huckleberry-filled grizzly roll…trust me on this one.

xo,
TT

Clark Fork River Montana

A Spring Road Trip Adventure in Montana’s Glacier Country

Last week, it was time to hit the road and explore one of my favorite areas in Western Montana’s Glacier Country: Interstate 90 and Highway 200. While I realize that saying the area along I-90 is one of my favorite places may be a bit surprising (after all, it is an interstate), I have good reasons for feeling that way: it’s stunning (really and truly), fairly untouched and full of some of the cutest small towns. Plus, both of these scenic driving routes are surrounded by gorgeous landscapes, lush forests and some of the loveliest waterways in the Montana.

We started our journey by taking I-90 west to St. Regis, before taking the St. Regis-Paradise Scenic Byway (Highway 135) to Highway 200 and the charming small town of Trout Creek.

Clark Fork River Montana

Hello, gorgeous. This view is brought to you courtesy of the St. Regis-Paradise Scenic Byway.

The Tour 200 area in Western Montana is full of scenic views like this.

The Tour 200 area in Western Montana is full of scenic views like this.

Trout Creek Montana

Breathing in the fresh air along Noxon Rapids Reservoir in Trout Creek.

After a lovely afternoon in Trout Creek, it was time for us to continue north to our next destination. Sidenote: if you’re looking for a cute and cozy place to stay, be sure to check out Lakeside Motel & Resort on the shore of Noxon Rapids Reservoir. 

Being the adventurers that we are, we decided to take a truly off-the-beaten path route that went around the reservoir, through the Cabinet Mountains and along some of the most stunning backcountry scenery I’ve ever seen.

Winding through the national forest.

Winding through the national forest.

Lyons Gulch in the Cabinet Mountains.

Lyons Gulch in the Cabinet Mountains.

A stunning view along a long Forest Service Road.

Views included rushing creeks, open mountain meadows and snow-capped mountain peaks.

That mountain peak put a big smile on my face.

After navigating backcountry gravel roads, that mountain peak put a big smile on my face.

It was a good day.

xo,
TT

PS: You can read more about road tripping along Montana’s Highway 200 here.