Saturday, August 3, 2013

Trip Recap

We made it home last Thursday afternoon with a 383 mile drive from Kanab.  The drive was specular from Jacob Lake to Flagstaff.  It is obvious that northern AZ has received a lot of rain lately as the desert was carpeted with green and the contrast with the red rock cliffs was breathtaking in many places.  As is typical we did have a little rain in Flagstaff but other than that the trip was uneventful.

Overall our trip was three weeks long and was the longest and best trip we have ever taken.  The scenery was unbelievable as our route took us literally from the deserts to the glaciers and everything in between.  While we spend most of the time in Montana we feel there is still a lot of that state to explore.  To recap the trip we traveled a total of 4046 miles, visited three national parks (one twice) and one national monument.  We stayed in two RV parks, 10 forest service campgrounds, two national park campgrounds, one BLM campground, three city/county parks, and two dispersed camp sites.  We were very pleased that we were able to avoid the RV parks for the most part. 

A few things we learned on this trip…

  • Don’t worry about getting a site in a national forest campground…. with very few exceptions they will not be full
  • Allocate much more time in the national parks.  You could easily spend 4-5 days in Glacier and Yellowstone.
  • The cheapest gas is in the valley!
  • It’s a long long way across Utah
  • The senior pass it the best thing going

These photos are from the Marble Canyon area





Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Driving Day

As we woke at Allred Flats this morning it stated to rain so we made quick work of getting ready to travel.  Shortly after getting on the road we had a close encounter with a deer.  Not sure how we didn’t hit it as at one point it was in front of us then jumped back just in time.  We only missed it by a few inches at most.  Other then that excitement the drive to Kanab was an uneventful 462 miles.  We took a little more eastern route which avoided Salt Lake City and rejoined I15 at Provo.  We are staying at the BLM spot north of town that we found on the way out three weeks ago.  Tomorrow the plan is to get back to the valley.

In the red rock country north of Kanab.


All setup at the BLM spot north of Kanab


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A rainy day

Yesterday (Monday) we made the short drive into West Yellowstone and got really luckily and found an open campsite in the Bakers Hole campground right out side of town.  We even had electric.  The plan was to stay two days so we could take the raft back out on Hebgen Lake but this morning it was raining and the forecast we for more of the same all day.  Therefore, we adapted and decided to head on south.  We made the drive through Yellowstone park again which was nice as usual even in the rain.  Shortly after entering the west entrance we noticed what looked like snow in the brush along the side of the river.  In a few more miles we found a snow/hail mixture of 1” to 2” deep on the road.  As we approached the Tetons on the south side of the park the rain cleared and we had a fairly nice view of the mountains.  We were in Yellowstone shortly after the fires in the late 80’s so it was neat to see how much the forest had regrown.  The area north of the south entrance was a moon scape when we were here last but now it’s a lush forest.  There are still a lot of burned trees but its all overgrown with new trees in the 15’ to 25’ range. After leaving the Tetons we continued on south through Afton WY where we are staying in the Alred Flats campground near the Idaho line.  All total we drove 222 miles today but most of it was very slow through the parks.

Road covered with snow/hail


Tetons are always beautiful!




Finally got our Moose photo…



Sunday, July 28, 2013

More beautiful country

Today we had a short 158 mile drive from the Wise River area to a BLM campground called Ruby Creek which is about 50 miles northwest of Yellowstone.  The campground is right on the banks of the Madison river and is fairly nice but the 2 miles of dirt road to it sure could have used a grader.  Once we arrived the wind really got strong but as the sun set the wind also died down.  The drive this morning was really nice as we continued along the scenic byway as it wound along the mountains and down into the valley at Dillon.  The views were fantastic but were somewhat obscured with smoke.  We stopped at an interesting place called Crystal Park which is on the side of the mountain and you can dig for quartz crystals.  Given the number of holes dug it must be popular.

Tomorrow we have a short drive to the Yellowstone area.



Lots of smoke in the air


They use these to pile the hay in large piles in the pastures.  Hay goes on the right side and it is thrown onto the hay pile as the left side is pulled down.


Some more wheat north of Dillon


The river next to our campsite


Saturday, July 27, 2013

Camping along the Wise River

Today we left Swan Lake and drove 239 miles to the Pettingill campground along the Wise River which is north west of Dillon in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge Forest. The drive south of Swan Lake toward Seeley Lake was very nice as the road followed the river and there were several lakes along the way.  It is clear that this is a major weekend/summer home area for Missoula as all the lakes were lined with home sites.  South of Seeley we left the mountains and were back into pasture and hay country.  Lots of pretty ranches and farms along the way.  Unfortunately the sky was very smoky as there must be a forest fire in the area.  We did see one truck from a WY hot shot crew heading west.  South of Butte we turned west to take the Pioneer Mtns Scenic Byway along the Wise River.  This area is very nice with lots of campgrounds along the river and it is not very crowded even though it is a weekend.  The temperature was a the upper 70’s which is a welcome change from the 100 degrees we had the past two days.

Tomorrow we plan to head south east of Dillon toward the Virginia City area.


All the farmers are getting their hay put up for the approaching winter.


Bet this house could tell a lot of stories…



View of the Wise River from the back of our campsite


Friday, July 26, 2013

Swan Lake

Yesterday we left Glacier and headed for Swan Lake.  Swan Lake is just east of Flathead lake and we choose it because it had openings whereas Flathead was all booked up.  The drive was very nice all the way from East Glacier to West Glacier with the road following the river and railroad.  We stopped south of Big Fork to get some Flathead Cherries.  Umm good.  We timed it just right as they just got ripe and sounds like they will only last a couple weeks.  The campground here at Swan Lake is nice but since its right across the road from the lake it is busy coming into the weekend.  The weather is been nice but very hot.  Yesterday afternoon it was 101 but it did cool off in the evening and was a little chilly this morning.  First thing this morning we put the boat in the water for a three hour cruise (should say paddle).  We did make it all the way across the lake which was about a mile and half.  Tomorrow we plan to head south of here toward the Anaconda area in search of cooler temperatures.  We have decided to scratch the idea of heading over to the coast and down to CA.  We definitely want to do that trip but decided we want to make that a trip in itself as it deserves much more time then we have.  Current plan is to head back toward the Yellowstone area and work south from there.

Nice setting in the Essex area.  Moments before this a train was on the trestle.


Flathead cherries..Yum  $3 per pound which seemed like a good price




Shore in the background is where we started.




Lots of nice homes along the shore


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Hiking Glacier

We were lucky today as the weather was perfect with a deep blue Montana sky and a nice temperature.  We headed to the St. Mary’s visitor center to catch the shuttle to Logan Pass.  The shuttle was about a half hour late due to a breakdown but we were glad we took the shuttle as the Logan Pass parking lot was packed full.  There was a constant stream of cars circling waiting for some one to leave.  After talking to the ranger we decided to head out on the Highline trail.  It was a beautiful hike and we were fortunate to see a group of 4 mountain goats including a young one.

Forgot to mention something funny that happened yesterday.  At the visitor center we ask the ranger what the rules were for fishing.  She gave us a handout and said  “All the rules are here in this handout but of course you can’t fish with dynamite”.  She said it with a straight face so guess that must be a problem here.

Tomorrow we head over to Swan Lake for a couple days.

With nearly 150 photos from today is was hard to pick the ones to include…..














Tuesday, July 23, 2013

East Side of Glacier

Today we made the short drive from Shelby to the East entrance of Glacier.  We are staying at the St. Mary’s campground just inside the park.  Once again the drive was outstanding as we traveled through rolling wheat country.  Also looks like they have a little oil and gas production in this area.  After getting setup in the campground we took the boat out on St. Mary lake and even tried to do a little fishing.  Didn’t have much luck fishing but was still fun.  In the park they don’t require a fishing license which was an extra bonus.  The views of the mountains from the lake were outstanding.  Tomorrow we plan to spend most of the day on the Going to the Sun Road which goes from the one side of the park to the other.  Hopefully we will see some wildlife.  The park service has a bus service that you can ride that will let you on and off at various stops along the way. 

Glacier park is combine with the Waterton park in Canada which is why the Canadian flag is also flying at the visitor center.


Some mountain views from the visitor center.





This is a view of the campground from our site.  Not too bad for a National Park Campground


We had a strong wind on the lake which made rowing a bit of a job.


Hoping to catch supper but no luck