(There will be LOTS of pictures in this post)
One of our favorite things that we did this trip to Montana was to drive out to Red Lodge and then up the Bear Tooth Highway. It is called the most scenic highway in the US – and I can believe it. The road is full of sharp curving switchbacks – thank goodness we remembered to give Elizabeth that dramamine, we didn’t have a single problem the whole way. A few miles out of Red Lodge before you really begin to climb you are greated by stoney tree covered mountains rising up beside you and in the distance. The reall sharp craggy peaks are just barely out of view, tantalizing your senses and driving you onward.
We were probably stopping every two minutes for crazy mom to hop out and take ANOTHER picture. 🙂 The first official stop we made was at the vista point where we hauled all the kids out and went on a nice little paved walk. The kids were delighted to see a chipmunk who wanted desperately to make friends.
I was delighted to see some beautiful wild flowers and cool looking trees growing right out of the rock (must be my Dad in me – the whole time I was teasing my husband about collecting rocks – which my Dad did all the time on our trips. I didn’t even collect one rock though 😉 ).
The kids climbed on every rock they could find and were allowed too – and the view was simply amazing.
We continued on our drive up the mountains and at some point we decided to pull over (again, probably for another photo). I walked to the gaurd rail and gasped. There below me, invisible from the road, were the “Twin Lakes” in glorious dark green blue scattered in a small valley below us. I could hardly convince Elizabeth to get back in the car, “It’s so beautiful Mom, I want to stay hear forever.”
We drove some more, hopping out frequently for short walks and oohs and ahs. Finally we came to a stop at a semi grassy hill looking down to “Gardner Lake”. With the mountains towering in the back ground and the lake at the feet the view was so perfect and picturesque that was decided to fling out a blanket and have lunch right there. Towards the end of our lunch however we saw rain clouds moving in – fast. The very warm temperature was dropping to slightly chilly and the wind was beginning to really blow. We wrapped lunch up rather quickly and continued on our way.
One of the kids favorite sites was the snow – glacier upon glacier. “Can we hike to one and play in the snow?” They asked repeatedly. Unfortunately with a storm moving in many were to long of a walk, but we finally got lucky and found a little glacier just off the side of the road. It didn’t take long for the kids to get freezing cold as they slipped and slided across the snow and flinging snowballs.
Managing to stay ahead of the storm, we stopped by Beartooth Lake with Beartooth Butte rising just behind it creating a beautiful scene that the kids loved – and wished they had their suits to go for a swim.
We passed a couple of marvelous waterfalls. The first was too long a distance to walk and quite some ways below the highway we were on. The second was a short little walk right of the highway. It had formed a kind of tunnel in the rock and crashed and roared its way down the mountain side.
Pouring over the map I saw that a neat point of interest was marked just off the main highway as Clay Butte. It didn’t take much to convince Paul to go bumping along the dirt road and our delight was complete when we saw a fire tower sitting at the top of the butte. We were dissapointed in that the fire tower had a display and was closed. By now the skies had gone dark and the rain began to fall in sheets upon us. Drenching us quickly as we hurriedly enjoyed the amazing view and wildflowers upon the hills.
As we drove to Cooke City, Pilot Peak rose higher and more majestic ahead of us and Elizabeth begged us for a photo.
In Cooke City we once again beat the coming storm and wandered the quaint little streets for a bit and said hello to an old friend of Paul’s whom he hadn’t seen in many years. Then we were off again and heading towards Cody and home. We still had to stop for mom and her photo snapping oportunities, but by now the kids were slumbering in the car. The last three photos are three highlights taken on the Cheif Joseph Scenic Highway as we raced the storm, often getting caught in it, towards home. Finally as we were headed towards Billings once more we were caught by the full force of the storm as sheets of rain poured upon the car and high winds whirled around us. We were very glad to be off the mountains during this storm. 🙂
This was an amazing gorge, that made even me – who is usually not even dented by hieghts, quake a bit in my shoes as I leaned over the rail to take the photo.
By now the girls were awake once more and enthralled by the glorious red rock on these buttes.
There are a lot more photos on flickr if you want to see more – not to mention on my camera which I didn’t even put on flickr (free account you know, have to save SOME space for other pics).