I was very interested in seeing Montana – it seems to have a bit of a mystique about it. I was right – very good vibes in Montana!
We headed out from Red Lodge early to partly back track on I-90 before passing Bozeman and into new territory. I had read a bit about Butte – our overnight – and that it was at one point a large city based on mining. And boy howdy do these like like to dig in the ground!
The history of Butte is interesting – it was one of the largest mining boomtowns in it’s heyday in the late 1800s and early 1900s. A lot of history here including labor disputes, large-scale mine disasters and huge environmental impact in a town that once boasted 100,000 residents in a city full of saloons and brothels! My kind of place.
Now – like most places that have anything going for them in the west – it looks like an attractive place to live if you are an outdoor enthusiast or want to escape the big cities of the west coast (and elsewhere!).
That afternoon I checked out the Glacier website to see about tickets to drive the Road to the Sun (now required like the Fossil Gallery in Dinosaur). I needed to get on a 8AM and try and get tickets. So we stayed and I got skunked. Good news I found out later from a local in Columbia Falls you can go early (before 6AM) or late (after 5PM) with no ticket. So that is the plan.
We drove to the park we are staying at in Columbia Falls – essentially the gateway to the western entrance to the park and the famous Road to the Sun road – that morning. Once you leave I-90 and head north from Kalispell it becomes very scenic.
It also starts to look very expensive given the cars, homes and boats in the beautiful Flathead Lake. This is obviously a big-time outdoor recreation portal on a scale I have never quite seen before. Closer to the park entrance there must be a half dozen very large resorts offering everything from rafting to zip lines to putt-putt golf. America’s backyard for sure!
One Month on the Road
As we arrived in Columbia Falls we celebrated one month on the road! 5400 miles long we have come to the turning point in the trip and set our sights on heading back south and east. What an excellent adventure it has been so far!