Tag Archives: Tour 200

The Road to Paradise, Montana

I’m not one to play favorites, but there is a place in Montana that I’m totally in love with. It’s like my own little piece of heaven under the state’s big blue sky. Its name: Paradise. As in, that’s literally the name of the actual place. Kind of perfect, right?

Oh hey, Paradise.

Oh hey, Paradise.

In the past, I’ve been pretty vocal about some of my favorite places in Montana and to be honest, that list seems to go on and on and on. But this place is something really special. As some of you know, I grew up in the countryside of Montana along the Rocky Mountain Front in a small (as in my graduating class had 12 people in it) town. And I think the reason that I love Paradise and the area around it is that it reminds me of real, true, small-town Montana. A few days ago, I had the need to head out that way for work, specifically to Quinn’s Hot Springs Resort (which is one of my top places to visit…read more about it here).

The pools at Quinn's Hot Springs Resort.

The pools at Quinn’s Hot Springs Resort.

To make the most of my day, I traveled west on Interstate 90 before jumping onto the St. Regis-Paradise Scenic Byway and returning back to Missoula on Highway 200. During that particular day, Montana’s weather was dramatic (just how I like her) and included rain, a snowstorm and glimpses of beautiful blue sky.

In Montana, even the interstates are pretty.

In Montana, even the interstates are pretty.

Fresh snow dusted the trees in the Lolo National Forest.

Fresh snow dusted the trees in the Lolo National Forest.

One of the overlooks along the St. Regis-Paradise Scenic Byway.

One of the overlooks along the St. Regis-Paradise Scenic Byway.

The snowstorm had just rolled through along the Clark Fork River.

The snowstorm had just rolled through along the Clark Fork River.

The newest addition to Quinn's Hot Springs Resort: the Paradise Hall Event Center. PS: its meeting space has gorgeous views.

The newest addition to Quinn’s Hot Springs Resort: the Paradise Hall Event Center. PS: its meeting space has gorgeous views.

Our new tagline: "Montana looks fake but is totally real" (courtesy of my friend Angie) totally applies to this view.

The tagline “Montana looks fake but is totally real” (courtesy of my friend Angie) totally applies to this view.

The railroad line heading into Paradise.

The railroad line heading into Paradise.

Oh the stories this barn could tell.

Oh the stories this barn could tell.

Another reason to love this corridor along Highway 200: this sign.

Another reason to love this corridor along Highway 200: this sign.

This corner of Montana will always have a piece of my heart. Your turn: where’s your piece of paradise?

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.

A Montana Road Trip: Highway 200

Earlier this week, I decided it was time for another adventure. One that would lead to one of Western Montana’s quietest areas: Highway 200. (I’ve shared my love for this region before….read more about it here). For this particular trip, I grabbed one of my favorite road trip buddies and we headed out to explore as much as we could in one day.

And explore we did. We made various stops along the way, including Paradise, Plains, Thompson Falls and Trout Creek.

One of the river put-ins on the Clark Fork River between Dixon and Paradise.

One of the river put-ins on the Clark Fork River between Dixon and Paradise.

The Clark Fork River winds through the aptly named community of Paradise.

The Clark Fork River winds along the aptly named community of Paradise and flows through Plains.

One of the major items on our list: Heather’s Country Cafe. It was recently featured on an episode of Restaurant Impossible on Food Network and since the episode aired, we’ve been jonesing to check it out.

A peek inside Heather's Country Kitchen in Plains.

A peek inside Heather’s Country Kitchen in Plains.

After filling our tummies, we drove to Thompson Falls for a bit of shopping in its cute downtown. Along the way, we saw a herd of bighorn sheep grazing in the fields west of Koo-Koo-Sint Bighorn Sheep Viewing Area.

The Koo-Koo-Sint Bighorn Sheep Viewing Area is about six miles east of Thompson Falls.

The Koo-Koo-Sint Bighorn Sheep Viewing Area is about six miles east of Thompson Falls.

I couldn't resist picking up this locally made bracelet at the Sunflower Gallery in Thompson Falls. The shop has 16 local artists who display their work at the gallery.

I couldn’t resist picking up this locally made bracelet at the Sunflower Gallery in Thompson Falls. The shop has 16 local artists who display their work at the gallery.

Taking in the view in Thompson Falls.

Taking in the view in Thompson Falls.

We also ventured to the Old Jail Museum and were lucky enough to have a sneak peek. The museum officially opens for the season on Memorial Day.

We also ventured to the Old Jail Museum and were lucky enough to have a sneak peek. The museum officially opens for the season on Memorial Day.

After a walk around Thompson Falls, we headed to Trout Creek — one of my favorite small towns in the region.

A mix of spring and winter at Noxon Rapids Reservoir.

A mix of spring and winter at Noxon Rapids Reservoir.

Needless to say, it was a good day.

xo,
TT

Bunking with Fairies, Hobbits and Trolls (Oh my!)

Nestled down a quiet dirt road in a beautiful river valley off of Montana’s Highway 200 is a magical place called the Hobbit House of Montana. It’s a place where imagination runs wild and free as a bubbling stream tumbles gently down the mountainside. And if you listen closely, you can hear the giggles of the fairies that call this place home. After all, this is a destination that was built around make-believe, imagination and fantasy. And I must say…I loved it.

While en route to the Hobbit House, I let myself imagine what it would be like once I arrived. Sure, I’d visited their website and knew their general location, but I wasn’t sure just how this place would transform fantasy into reality. But did it ever.

After meeting up with the keepers of the Hobbit House, a girlfriend and I embarked on a tour of the well-kept grounds (hobbits and fairies are very tidy). And along our walk, this is what we saw…

Luckily, I was there on party business.

We stumbled upon this quaint fairy home, complete with freshly hung laundry...

...so we paid them a visit.

This is where the trolls (big, ugly ones) live.

The trolliest of the trolls captured Connie...she's smiling because I had JUST finished negotiating her release.

Obviously, I made myself right at home.

My precious.

The Hobbit House, where I laid my hobbit-loving head for the evening.

And after my stay there, I can tell you this: it is a truly magical place.

All fantasy aside, one of the things that impressed me the most was the hospitality and warm welcome that instantly enveloped me upon arriving at this magical oasis in the mountains of Western Montana. The keepers of the Hobbit House, Chris and Steve, left no stone unturned. From sparkling juice in the fridge to specialty made hobbit cookies and “the ring” hanging from the rafters, their attention to detail was a large part of what made my stay there so wonderful.

And now? Well, it’s back to reality. But you better believe that I’ll be making repeat visits to the place where my imagination can run wild and I can delight in the magic of make-believe.

Happy daydreaming,
TT

Touring Montana’s Highway 200

Last week, I took a little overnight trip along Highway 200 in Western Montana. And as I traveled farther north and west away from my home in the “city,” I cruised through the area’s small communities, past fields filled with horses and cattle and some strikingly beautiful scenery.

And I started feeling something. As I continued to drive and soak up my surroundings, I realized what it was…I felt at home.

There’s something about this corner of Western Montana (located about equal distances from Kalispell and Missoula) that is innately special. And while I can’t pinpoint one single thing that makes it that way, I can say this…it delivered exactly what I was looking for at that moment in time.

Cruising Highway 200.

The color of the Flathead River at the Kookoosint Fishing Access Site was stunning.

Hello cutest welcome sign ever.

The Old Jail Museum in Thompson Falls.

When traveling through Tour 200, keep your eyes peeled for bighorn sheep.

Happiness.

I literally cannot wait to go back.
TT

PS: If you’re heading through the Tour 200 area, be sure to stop at Linda’s Montana Gifts & Gallery in Thompson Falls, Sunflower Gallery (it’s an artist co-op with locally crafted Made in Montana furniture, jewelry, photograph and artwork) in Thompson Falls and Auntie Pamela’s Antiques & More in Trout Creek.