8/5/22 to 8/10/22
We departed Glacier National Park bright and early since we knew we had a long drive ahead of us. We decided to stop part way at Kings Hill Campground which is south of Great Falls Montana at an elevation of 8000 ft, so the temperatures were very comfortable and the setting was peaceful. Originally this was going to just be a coffee break but since we liked it so much we decided to stay and camp there for the evening. We spent the late afternoon pursuing the arts. Ross played some guitar and I painted the Airstream in this beautiful setting. Buddy is still trying to decide what his artistic passion is.
We awoke to some rain which made for a great travel day. Arriving in the cute little town of Red Lodge, Montana, we quickly could see the damage from the big storm and flooding in June. The roads in places had been repaired, an amazing feat considering the time frame, but many were still in poor condition, and many structures including bridges were either destroyed or damaged.
Still, Red Lodge was back in business, and we were happy to have finished the 8-hour drive from Glacier National Park.
Needing a place to camp we found a delightful boondocking site just a few miles west of town. Our terrific spot in the Custer Gallatin National Forest was next to a raging river, the Lake Fork Trailhead and a few other nicely spread-out campers.
We had come to Red Lodge to drive the BearTooth Highway, an All-American Byway constructed in 1936 which climbs 5000 feet (up to 11000 feet) and is only open a few months of the year once the snow has been cleared. It’s not a hard drive, or a scary one, but do make sure your car brakes are in good working order for this trip!
The spectacular drive affords stunning views in all directions, and then crosses from Montana into Wyoming at the Summit. We spent a few hours enjoying all the sights before putting the brakes to the test on our descent. I’m pleased to report we made it down alive!
Next morning, well-armed with bear spray, we took advantage of the great little hike outside our door, the Lake Fork trail, which would track a magnificent raging river through a beautiful forest into the Absaroku Wilderness Area.
That afternoon as the temperatures started to rise, Suzanne was drawn to paint our beautiful location on-site and reflect on how beautiful this part of the world really is. It is a painting that is now half finished and hopefully will capture the feel back in the studio.
Due to the heat wave we decided to head back to Boulder a few days early and made a quick stop over in the Buffalo WY for the night. The campground provided us hookups which we needed for some air-conditioning, a re-supply of beer for Ross and some great camping humor as well.
Our 3500-mile, 4 week road trip was coming to an end and we felt fortunate to have experienced so many great things. Our highlights were: driving two amazing roads: the Going To The Sun road in Glacier National Park and the BearTooth Highway in Montana. An incredible hike through wildflowers in Crested Butte and a quick visit to the Little Bighorn National Monument, Montana, and not least an incredibly successful painting competition in Driggs, Idaho for Suzanne.