Tag Archives: Montana

Fall in Montana: Driving Glacier National Park’s Going-to-the-Sun Road

Last week, my favorite travel partner and I hopped on Amtrak’s Empire Builder and rode it from Whitefish to East Glacier Park. (You can read the full post on our train trip in Montana here.) And you guys, it was such a fun adventure! But our trip didn’t end there.

After disembarking the train, we decided to head into Glacier National Park and drive the Going-to-the-Sun Road. From East Glacier Park, we took Looking Glass Highway (Highway 49) above the Two Medicine Valley and made our way to St. Mary and the east entrance of Glacier National Park.

Looking into Two Medicine from Looking Glass Highway.

Looking into Two Medicine from Looking Glass Highway.

Fresh snow in Glacier National Park.

Fresh snow in Glacier National Park.

Truth time: Looking Glass Highway is one of my favorite drives in the state.

Truth time: Looking Glass Highway is one of my favorite drives in Montana.

After a quick stop at St. Mary Lodge & Resort, we headed into St. Mary and started driving the Going-to-the-Sun Road. And you guys, it was incredibly beautiful!

Take a look…

Hello, St. Mary Valley.

Hello, St. Mary Valley.

Looking up the road from Two Dog Flats.

Looking up the road from Two Dog Flats.

Going-to-the-Sun Road.

Going-to-the-Sun Road.

As we were driving past St. Mary Lake, the reflection practically begged us to pullover. So we did.

As we were driving past St. Mary Lake, the reflection practically begged us to pullover. So we did.

I'm confident I could have sat here for hours.

I’m confident I could have sat here for hours.

Fall colors + St. Mary Lake = me in love.

Fall colors + St. Mary Lake = me in love.

Hi.

Hi.

Wild Goose Island on St. Mary Lake.

Wild Goose Island on St. Mary Lake.

Debbie taking in the view.

Debbie taking in the view.

The fall color on the trees and underbrush was starting to really change, so we took a short hike down from Wild Goose Overlook.

The fall color on the trees and underbrush was starting to really change, so we took a short hike down from Wild Goose Overlook.

This is my piece of heaven on earth.

This is my piece of heaven on earth.

Driving up the road out of the tunnel.

Driving up the road out of the tunnel.

Fresh snow on Going to the Sun Mountain.

Fresh snow on Going-to-the-Sun Mountain.

Two Montana-loving traveling buddies.

Two Montana-loving traveling buddies.

You guys, check out the fresh snow on the ground behind me.

You guys, check out the fresh snow on the ground behind me.

The view from Logan Pass. (I love this view, but it's so pretty it almost looks fake. But it's not, I promise.)

The view from Logan Pass. (I love this view, but it’s so pretty it almost looks fake. But it’s not, I promise.)

After driving up to Logan Pass and back down again, we had some free time before we needed to return to East Glacier Park and catch our train home. So we did what any two Glacier National Park-lovin’ gals would do: we drove to Many Glacier.

Take a look…

Two Guns (Glacier Park Boat Company's wooden boat) heading to the head of Swiftcurrent Lake.

Two Guns (Glacier Park Boat Company’s wooden boat) heading to the head of Swiftcurrent Lake.

Two Guns under Mount Grinnell.

Two Guns under Mount Grinnell.

The view from the dining room at Many Glacier Hotel.

The view from the dining room at Many Glacier Hotel.

A few things to note if you plan to visit the east side of Glacier National Park in fall:
-Rental cars are available from spring to fall at Glacier Park Trading Company in East Glacier Park.
-Plan for cool weather. While it was gorgeous when we went, we did bust out our scarves and coats at Logan Pass. Weather in the mountains can change quickly, so always be prepared.
-Bring water.
-If you plan to visit Glacier National Park in the fall and want to stay in one of the historic park lodges or motor inns, plan to book your travel early (like now).
-Don’t be afraid to stay outside of the park. There are plenty of lodging options just outside the park that tend to stay open later in the season.
-If you time it right, you can catch dinner at Serrano’s Mexican Restaurant in East Glacier Park. They’re open for dinner through September 30.
-The Going-to-the-Sun Road is slated to be open in its entirety through October 16, weather dependent. You can check the road status here.

Needless to say, it was a good day.

xo,
TT

7 Things to do in Montana this Fall

We all know it’s coming. It’s been sneaking up on us like a thief in the night, taking a few minutes of daylight in the morning and leaving a crispness in the air every night. You know what I’m talking about…fall. 

Mount Sentinel in Missoula.

Fall colors along the Clark Fork River in Missoula.

Around here, if you ask a Montana local, chances are they’ll tell you that fall is one of their favorite seasons. And to be honest, fall is one of the best times to visit Big Sky Country. The weather is gorgeous (always pack layers, just in case) and September offers some of the most consistently nice temperatures of the year, the changing foliage is stunning and there’s still so much to do. But there’s also a catch when it comes to fall travel to Western Montana: sometimes you don’t know where to start when it comes to planning your travel. To which I say, let’s remedy that.

As a lover of all things fall and Montana, I’ve rounded up the best things to do and see this autumn under our big blue sky.

1. Take a drive. Montana’s a scenic place, which means many of our roadways are perfect routes for seeing stunning colors, complete with snow-capped peaks and wildlife-watching opportunities. Some of my favorite drives include the Bitterroot Valley, the Seeley-Swan Valley and Highway 200. Sidenote: read more about my top three fall drives here

This view is located just off Highway 93 at Ninepipes Lodge near Charlo.

This view is located just off Highway 93 at Ninepipes Lodge near Charlo.

2. Visit Glacier National Park. I’m going to be very honest with you here: fall might be THE BEST time to visit Glacier National Park. Plus, the Going-to-the-Sun Road is open in its entirety through mid-October (weather dependent) making it easy to explore the trails along the road. Plus, you can take a boat tour with Glacier Park Boat Company through late September, a red bus tour through mid-October or a guided hike with Glacier Guides. Sun Tours also offers tours through September 30. Some of my favorite hikes include Hidden Lake and Scenic Point.
ICYMI: read about last fall’s trip to Glacier National Park here

Kayaking on Lake McDonald.

Kayaking on Lake McDonald.

3. Play at Whitefish Mountain Resort. Located 15 minutes from downtown Whitefish, Whitefish Mountain Resort offers on-mountain activities on the weekends (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) through late September.

Biking the trails on Big Mountain.

Biking the trails on Big Mountain.

4. Tour the Daly Mansion. Located on 46 acres outside of Hamilton, the Daly Mansion is one of the best places to visit during fall. Drive (or walk) down the tree-lined drive just to look at the colors before taking a guided tour at the mansion. Daily tours are offered on the hour through the first week of October.

The lane at the Daly Mansion.

The lane at the Daly Mansion.

5. Visit the Blackfeet Nation. You’ve heard me say it before (and let’s face it, this isn’t the last time I’ll say it), but I love the Blackfeet Nation. Located on the east side of Glacier National Park, fall on the Rocky Mountain Front is pretty incredible. Plus, there’s year-round lodging and attractions in Browning that include The Museum of the Plains Indian and Faught’s Blackfeet Trading Post. Visitors can also take the self-guided Blackfeet Trail Tour.

6. Bike the Hiawatha Trail. Located in Montana and Idaho, the Route of the Hiawatha is a blast to ride during fall. They’re open daily through the last full weekend in September and the trails offers great views of the Bitterroot Mountains. Plus, you get to ride through tunnels and across high steel trestles.

Riding through one of the tunnels on the Route of the Hiawatha.

Riding through one of the tunnels on the Route of the Hiawatha.

7. Paddle the Clearwater Canoe Trail. There are several reasons to paddle this canoe trail (located just a few miles north of Seeley Lake) in fall, including the fact that the Seeley-Swan Valley is a gorgeous destination for viewing fall foliage. Plus, it’s even quieter in autumn.
Insider tip: you don’t have to bring your own canoe. Rocky Mountain Adventure Gear rents canoes and kayaks in downtown Seeley Lake. 

Paddling the canoe trail.

Paddling the canoe trail.

And if that’s not enough, be sure to check out more fall travel ideas here.

xo,
TT

A Pack Trip in Montana’s Bob Marshall Wilderness: Part One

Taking a pack trip into Montana’s Bob Marshall Wilderness has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember. I grew up on the doorstep of The Bob along Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front where I could look out my window and see it everyday, and while I had played in this wilderness on day hikes and rides, I’d never spent an extended amount of time in my backyard treasure. Which, let’s be honest, is kind of weird and really lame.

Montana's Rocky Mountain Front AKA the gateway to the Bob Marshall Wilderness.

Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front AKA the gateway to the Bob Marshall Wilderness.

While several members of my immediate and extended family did horseback pack trips or hiking trips in the Bob Marshall pretty regularly, including my mama (who went in every summer with her family growing up), my grandpa (who made countless trips into The Bob, even during his later years in life) my big sister and both of my little brothers. And yet, my messy-haired blond self never went on any of those trips.

However, ALL of that changed this summer when I was able to fulfill a lifelong dream of mine and spend a week in the heart of one of Montana’s most spectacular places—the Bob Marshall Wilderness. And in case you’re wondering how this dream of mine finally came true, it was because of my friend (who is also my cousin, because Montana is small and my family is big) Amy Mills. Amy and her husband Tucker own Mills Wilderness Adventures and they regularly take guests into The Bob and as luck would have it (and because they’re really nice and knew I had never gone on a pack trip), they invited me to join them for a trip this summer. Needless to say, I jumped at their invitation and on July 14 we headed into the Bob Marshall Wilderness to spend a blissful week in one of the most incredible places on earth.

On the first day of our trip, we met in Augusta and headed to the Benchmark Trailhead for a trip that was sure to be one of the best adventures of my life. We got to the trailhead where Tucker and his crew were waiting for us with pack strings and horses saddled and ready to go.

Morning light at Benchmark Trailhead.

Morning light at Benchmark Trailhead.

By 8 a.m. we were on the trail making our way to White River, our camp for the week. Today’s ride was 24-miles-long and would include cresting the Continental Divide at White River Pass. There was a moment on the ride where I looked back at the rest of the group and saw the mountains rising behind them and wondered if this is how early explorers felt when they set out to explore the West. That feeling was quickly replaced by one that is best described as surreal. Even though The Bob has always been my backyard and I’ve looked at its landscapes thousands of times, I almost couldn’t believe the beauty of it was real. Our views included open meadows, cliffside trails and terrain that was burnt during a forest fire in 2007.

Making our way through a landscape that was burnt in a 2007 forest fire.

This part of the ride (through an old forest fire burn) was hauntingly beautiful.

At our mid-morning break, the pack strings passed us. Those mules can MOVE.

At our mid-morning break, the pack strings passed us. Those mules can MOVE.

Amy and Hawk leading our group up the trail.

Amy and Hawk leading our group up the trail.

White Rive Pass: Elephant Ear to the left and Haystack Mountain (the start of the southern portion of the Chinese Wall) to the right.

White Rive Pass: Elephant Ear to the left and Haystack Mountain (the start of the southern portion of the Chinese Wall) to the right.

Janet, an avid horsewoman and perhaps one of the loveliest gals ever, checking out the view of the Flathead Alps from White River Pass.

Janet, an avid horsewoman and perhaps one of the loveliest gals ever, checking out the view of the Flathead Alps from White River Pass.

I loved seeing the rest of the guests loving my Montana so much.

Beth and Jeanine capturing a memory. I loved seeing the rest of the guests loving my Montana so much.

"Meet me in Montana, I want to see the mountains in your eyes."

“Meet me in Montana, I want to see the mountains in your eyes.”

After 8+ hours of riding, we arrived in White River and my feelings about camp may have been partially due to my incredible sore booty and achy legs, but it was so beautiful.

The view from camp at White River.

The view from camp at White River.

Day two of the trip was spent doing one thing and one thing only: resting our booties. We also wanted to give the horses a day off, since they were the ones who actually hauled our behinds the 24 miles in to camp. Also, I’d like to give a special thanks to my horse, Popeye. He carried me and my cameras into camp like it was no big deal.

Each night, the horses and mules were put out to pasture. And each morning, the wranglers would bring them back in.

Each night, the horses and mules were put out to pasture and each morning, the wranglers would bring them back to camp.

Crossing White River.

Crossing White River.

Bob finishing up his morning wrangle.

Bob finishing up his morning wrangle.

After a full day of rest, day three brought the moment of the trip I was most excited about. We were going to ride 12 miles from White River to one of the most stunning geological formations in the country: the Chinese Wall. A 22-mile-long rock escarpment, the Chinese Wall reaches heights of 1,000 feet and runs through much of the Bob Marshall Wilderness. Standing here, on top of the wall and looking out over endless mountain ranges, is one of my most special memories.

The mountain ranges seem to go on forever.

The mountain ranges seem to go on forever.

Dream come true. Photo: Tommy Meyer

Dream come true. Photo: Tommy Meyer

Amy and Tucker, taking in the landscape.

Amy and Tucker, taking in the landscape.

Standing on top of the wall.

In addition to the cooking, planning, driving and leading guests in and out on horseback, Amy is also a great sport and moonlights as a model when I ask her. 🙂

I think this is what they call a #MontanaMoment.

I think this is what they call a #MontanaMoment.

Basically on top of the world. Photo: Tommy Meyer

Basically on top of the world. Photo: Tommy Meyer

White River from Haystack Mountain (the Chinese Wall).

White River from Haystack Mountain (the Chinese Wall).

Jumping for joy after spending time on top of the Chinese Wall.

Jumping for joy after spending time on top of the Chinese Wall.

And that my friends, is just the beginning. Can’t wait to share parts two and three with you soon!

xo,
TT

Happy 100 Years, National Park Service

This week, we’re officially commemorating the centennial of the National Park Service. While we’ve been celebrating all year (you can read more about how we’ve been marking 100 years of stewardship here and here), the official century mark is Thursday, August 25. And you guys, that’s a BIG birthday.

Cheers to 100 years.

Cheers to 100 years.

And here’s the thing about birthdays: in my family, we always celebrate them. When it’s your birthday, everyone in attendance at your dinner, party, etc., takes a turn and tells the birthday boy or girl what they love about him or her.

So, in honor of the 100th birthday of the National Park Service, here’s a few things I love about our national parks.

1. The national parks are truly America’s best idea. If you’ve ever been to a national park, especially Glacier National Park, you realize what an incredible place it is. There’s nowhere on earth that’s quite like Glacier and there’s a real reverence, peace and sense of awe that accompanies every visit.

A red travels along the Going-to-the-Sun Road as part of the FDR commemorative trip in Glacier National Park. Photo: Glacier NPS Flickr/Jacob W. Frank

A red travels along the Going-to-the-Sun Road as part of the FDR commemorative trip in Glacier National Park. Photo: Glacier NPS Flickr/Jacob W. Frank

2. They are more than just a pretty face. Sure, pretty much all of our national parks are beautiful. But they’re so much more than that. In Glacier National Park, evidence of human use dates back 10,000 years and today, this park has a diverse past that’s home to American Indian history, mining, hunting, fur trapping and settlers. Meanwhile, in Yellowstone National Park researchers have found that there were places in the park that were used around 11,000 years ago and that Salish (who called the Bitterroot Valley home) spent time in and around the park 3,000 years ago.

Blackfeet tipis. Photo: Glacier NPS Flickr/Jacob W. Frank

Blackfeet tipis. Photo: Glacier NPS Flickr/Jacob W. Frank

3. National parks were created for the benefit and enjoyment of the people. If you ask me, creating national parks was one of the most selfless things the government has ever done. Sure, national parks can get crowded and maybe people don’t always observe rules, safety regulations, etc. but the point is that they are there enjoying our most precious places. PS: if you are visiting one of the national parks in the West, read this blog and follow the rules

The Roosevelt Arch welcomes visitors to Yellowstone National Park. Photo: YNP Flickr

The Roosevelt Arch welcomes visitors to Yellowstone National Park in Gardiner, Montana. Photo: Yellowstone NPS Flickr

4. I love how they make me feel. There are some places (you could easily switch out the word places for people or experiences) that have the ability to make you feel at peace. For as long as I can remember, Glacier National Park has been that place for me. And I can’t really put into words why, all I know is how I feel when I spent time in the Crown of the Continent.

One of my favorite places: Two Medicine.

One of my favorite places: Two Medicine.

5. National parks are always within reach. There are certain people and places that I know without a doubt that I can call or visit when I need them. If you ask me (let’s just pretend you did), our national parks and national historic sites have been cultivated to be within reach of all people, no matter where you’re from, how much money you make, your abilities or what you believe. The National Park Service is more than just national parks; it’s many of our country’s national monument and other historical properties (including historic trails, heritage corridors and battlefields). Plus, the National Park Service offers several fee-free dates that give everyone the opportunity to visit a national park site near them.

Many trails in the park are accessible for visitors of various abilities, including Trail of the Cedars/Avalanche Lake. Photo: Glacier NPS Flickr/Jacob W. Frank

Many trails in the park are accessible for visitors of various abilities, including Trail of the Cedars/Avalanche Lake. Photo: Glacier NPS Flickr/Jacob W. Frank

If you want to join me in celebrating the National Park Service Centennial, leave a comment and let me know what YOU love about our national parks.

A few things to note:
-Montana’s Glacier National Park is hosting an InstaMeet on Thursday, August 25. The public is welcome to attend; meet in the Apgar Village parking area at 6 p.m.
-Many units of the National Park Service are hosting InstaMeets. Check out the full schedule here and plan to attend one near you.
-Entry into all national parks is free August 25 – 28, 2016.
-See more centennial events taking place in Glacier National Park here.
-Be sure to share your national park love by using #FindYourPark on twitter and instagram.
-Check out more happenings and celebrations for the National Park Service Centennial here.

xo,
TT

25 Photos from Summer in Montana

Truth be told, it doesn’t get much better than summer in MontanaAnd this year, summer has been pretty fantastic. From visiting Bighorn Canyon in Southeast Montana to biking the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park, it’s been full of adventure, beautiful weather and lots of memorable moments. Before the days of summer fully give way to fall, I thought it’d be fun to take a look back at a summer spent in Montana.

Here’s a look at 25 of my favorite summer memories from living, working and playing in Big Sky Country.

1. Bighorn Canyon. 

Visiting Bighorn Canyon in the southeast corner of Montana was the highlight of June.

Visiting Bighorn Canyon in the southeast corner of Montana was the highlight of June.

2. Mission Mountains from the top of Ravalli Hill. 

One of the best views in Montana.

One of the best views in Montana.

3. Gladiator Mountain. 

To get here, you're well-advised to take a hearty horse.

To get here, you’re well-advised to take a hearty horse.

4. American Indian dancers at Ninepipes Lodge in Charlo. 

The dancers + this backdrop made for a perfect morning.

The dancers + this backdrop made for a perfect morning.

5. A late summer sunset. 

A Missoula sunset.

A Missoula sunset.

6. Horses at Flathead Lake Lodge in Bigfork. 

Letting the horses out to pasture.

Letting the horses out to pasture.

7. A misty morning in Glacier National Park. 

Snow and low clouds lingered in mid-May.

Snow and low clouds lingered in mid-May.

8. Missoula from Waterworks Hill. 

Taking in the view of the Garden City.

Taking in the view of the Garden City.

9. Twilight on Flathead Lake. 

I think this is what they call a perfect Montana summer night.

I think this is what they call a perfect Montana summer night.

10. Riding through remnants of a forest fire. 

Riding through several miles of forest-fire burn was one of the most vibrant memories from the summer.

We rode through several miles of forest-fire burn and this experience is one of my favorite and most vibrant memories from the summer.

11. The Rocky Mountain Front east of Lincoln. 

Country roads, take me home.

I can only imagine the scenes along this road.

12. The Clearwater Canoe Trail. 

Sky and land collide near Seeley Lake.

Sky and land collide near Seeley Lake.

13. Storm clouds over Lake McDonald. 

One of my favorite scenes, the boats of Glacier Park Boat Company at Apgar in Glacier National Park.

One of my favorite scenes, the boats of Glacier Park Boat Company at Apgar in Glacier National Park.

14. The Blackfeet Nation + Glacier National Park. 

This view is just off Highway 2 between East Glacier Park and Browning.

This view is just off Highway 2 between East Glacier Park and Browning.

15. Main Street in Augusta, Montana. 

One of the perks of small-town living: little traffic.

One of the perks of small-town living: little traffic.

16. Biking the Going-to-the-Sun Road. 

One of my favorite memories of the entire year: biking in Glacier National Park.

One of my favorite memories of the entire year: biking in Glacier National Park.

17. The Augusta Rodeo. 

One of the greatest things about summer is that nearly every town in Montana has a rodeo.

One of the greatest things about summer is that nearly every town in Montana has a rodeo.

18. Playing in the water at Placid Lake. 

The Seeley-Swan Valley is home to hundreds of lakes. Placid Lake just happens to be my personal favorite.

The Seeley-Swan Valley is home to hundreds of lakes. Placid Lake just happens to be my personal favorite.

19. Cotton-candy clouds. 

Montana sunsets may be the best sunsets.

Montana sunsets may be the best sunsets.

20. White River, Bob Marshall Wilderness. 

Montana's backcountry looks like THIS.

Montana’s backcountry looks like THIS.

21. Sawtooth Mountain + Montana’s plains. 

One of the most stunning places to see is where the mountains and plains meet.

One of the most stunning places to see is where the mountains and plains meet.

22. The Chinese Wall in Montana. 

Standing on top of the Chinese Wall.

Standing on top of the Chinese Wall, a 22-mile-long rock escarpment in the Bob Marshall Wilderness.

23. Country roads. 

Driving Montana's country roads is something I highly recommend when visiting Big Sky Country...because of views like this.

You can never go wrong taking a country road.

24. The Crown of the Continent. 

Many park visitors come in July and August. This photo is why I love visiting in June.

Many park visitors come in July and August. This photo is why I love visiting in June.

25. A barn in Gold Creek. 

To me, farms and ranches are Montana.

To me, farms and ranches are Montana.

It was a great summer.

xo,
TT

Family-Style Dining + Small Town Montana: a Perfect Thursday

If there are three things I love in life, they are small towns, butter and homemade rolls. (You guys, deep down I’m a really simple country girl…with a crazy love for butter.) So last week, when I had a friend in town visiting from the east coast, we decided to combine our mutual love of small town Montana with our love of food and take our maiden voyage to a place we’ve both been wanting to try: The Dinnerbell.

The Dinnerbell.

The Dinnerbell AKA homemade roll headquarters for Western Montana.

Located off Interstate 90 at the Gold Creek Exit (between Drummond and Garrison, Montana), The Dinnerbell is a deli and store that’s a fun stopping point when you’re traveling through Western Montana. But the best part—and what brought us here in the first place—is the home-cooked dinner they offer every Thursday.

Take a look…

Pretty sure this made-on-site jam and rolls will be in heaven.

Pretty sure this made-on-site jam and rolls will be in Heaven.

Prior to dinner here, I didn't like peach jam. And now? I love it.

Prior to dinner here, I didn’t like peach jam. And now? I love it.

The first Thursday dinner of the month: meatloaf.

The first Thursday dinner of the month: meatloaf.

These were by far the creamiest mashed potatoes I've ever had. Plus, they were delicious.

These were by far the creamiest mashed potatoes I’ve ever had. Plus, they were delicious.

Apparently I'm also a big fan of pie.

Apparently I’m also a big fan of pie.

Dinner was served completely family style, with help from the Sommer's family.

Dinner was served completely family style, with help from the Sommer’s family.

Dessert: cherry pie and peanut butter pie. PS: the peanut butter in the pie is HOMEMADE.

Dessert: cherry pie and peanut butter pie. PS: the peanut butter in the pie is HOMEMADE.

A few other things I loved about dinner in Gold Creek, Montana: they opened the meal with a prayer (The Dinnerbell is owned by Marion and Rhoda Sommer, a Mennonite couple), dinner is served family style and they end each meal with a hymn. Plus, their setting is beautiful. After dinner, we hung around on the lawn outside, visited and watched the sun go down.

Katie and Milo listening to the song at the end of the meal.

Katie and Milo listening to the song at the end of the meal.

The barn added to the ambiance of the evening.

The barn added to the ambiance of the evening.

Three friends + full bellies = a perfect Montana moment.

Three friends + full bellies = a perfect Montana moment.

The boys taking in the view.

The boys taking in the view.

A few things to note: 
-The Dinnerbell only serves dinner on Thursdays and reservations are required. Call 406.288.2579 to reserve your spot.
-Dinner starts promptly at 6 p.m.; be sure to arrive a few minutes early.
-On the first Thursday of the month, they feature meatloaf as their entree. The other Thursdays feature fried chicken.
-Cost: $13.50/adults (for ALL YOU CAN EAT).
-After dinner, be sure to check out their on-site store and deli. I left with a bag of rolls and a package of chocolate crinkle cookies (which, by the way, are delicious).
-Gold Creek is about a one-hour drive from Missoula, Helena and Butte.

As for me, if I ever go missing on Thursday nights you’ll more than likely be able to find me in Gold Creek, Montana. I’ll be the one eating all the rolls.

xo,
TT

My 5 Favorite Photo Moments in Montana’s Bob Marshall Wilderness

You know those times when you’ve just experienced something amazing that you don’t even know how to start putting the experience into words? Well, that’s me right now at this exact moment as I’m trying to write about my week-long pack trip into the Bob Marshall Wilderness with Mills Wilderness Adventures

And since I don’t currently have the words, for now I thought I’d show you my top 5 photography moments into a place that’s affectionately called “The Bob” by locals.

Take a look…

1. The Chinese Wall. 

Taking in the view from the south end of the wall.

Taking in the view from the south end of the wall.

2. Morning light in White River. 

Looking at our tents from the cook tent.

Looking at our tents from the cook tent.

3. Wildflowers + Gladiator Mountain. 

After crossing rocky terrain, this lush mountain meadow was an incredible surprise.

After crossing rocky terrain, this mountain meadow was an incredible surprise.

4. Forest light. 

Turk walking his horse down a short path to the river.

Turk walking his horse down a short path to the river.

5. The morning wrangle for horses + mules. 

Each morning, a wrangler would go and gather the horses and mules.

Each morning, a wrangler would go and gather the horses and mules.

Can’t wait to share more about the trip!

xo,
TT

The Best Hidden Gems in Glacier National Park

When I think of Glacier National Park, the first thing that comes to mind is the Going-to-the-Sun Road. After all, the 50 miles of this two-lane highway takes travelers to some of the most stunning landscapes in Glacier Park. But I have to tell you that there’s so much more to the Crown of the Continent than just driving the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

The tunnel on the west side of the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

The tunnel on the west side of the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

In an effort to help you get the most of your visit to Montana’s Glacier National Park, I’ve rounded up some of the park’s best hidden gems. 

1. Going-to-the-Sun Road. Okay, we all KNOW this is not a hidden gem, but the timing of when to drive it is indeed a hidden gem. My best advice: go early in the morning (as in be through the park entrance and on the road before 8 a.m.) or in late afternoon (we’re talking after 5 p.m). Most of the visitors to the road are hitting it during late morning, mid-day or afternoon and to be honest, the road gets really crowded during this time of day during July and August.

Taking in the view from a roadside pullout.

Taking in the view from a roadside pullout.

2. Take a boat tour at Rising Sun. While there are many places to take a guided tour with Glacier Park Boat Company in Glacier National Park, Rising Sun (located on the east side of the park on St. Mary Lake) is one of the lesser-visited destinations. Plus, this lake cruise is different from some of the others, due to the incredible landscapes and history of this side of the park.

Little Chief cruising on St. Mary Lake. Photo: Tyrel Johnson

Little Chief cruising on St. Mary Lake. Photo: Tyrel Johnson

3. Enjoy a cocktail at Many Glacier Hotel. Truth time: there’s limited lodging availability at Many Glacier Hotel during July and August, but don’t let that stop you from visiting this incredible place. Even if you’re not staying at the hotel, it’s well worth making the drive to the Many Glacier Valley and enjoying a cocktail (I recommend the huckleberry smash) on the massive deck that overlooks Swiftcurrent Lake.

Taking in the view of Swiftcurrent Lake.

Taking in the view of Swiftcurrent Lake.

4. Cruise the Going-to-the-Sun Road with Sun Tours. Offering three tours daily (two tours depart from the east side of Glacier Park , while one departs from the west side), Sun Tours provides an incredible look at the Backbone of the World from the perspective of the Blackfeet Tribe. For more photos of what to expect on a tour, check them out on instagram.
Sidenote: I’ve taken one of these tours and they are amazing! Not only do you get to sit back and soak in the beauty of the park, but it’s incredible to be able to learn about the park from Blackfeet tribal members. 

Views of Mount Oberlin, Birdwoman Basin and Mount Cannon. Photo: Sun Tours/Bear Star Photography

Views of Mount Oberlin, Birdwoman Basin and Mount Cannon. Photo: Sun Tours/Bear Star Photography

5. Visit Kintla Lake. It’s no secret that I love Polebridge and Bowman Lake, but if you want to explore a place that’s even more off-the-beaten-path than those two, head to Kintla Lake. While it’s located in the North Fork of the park and is fairly close to Polebridge and Bowman, it takes longer to get there which means one thing: fewer people. Plus, it’s beautiful.
Sidenote: the road out to Kintla Lake is pretty rugged, so be sure you have a high-clearance vehicle (SUV, truck, etc.) and take your time. 

Kintla Lake. Photo: Tim Rains/NPS

Kintla Lake. Photo: Tim Rains/NPS

Happy summer!

xo,
TT

Montana and Wyoming: Celebrating the National Parks with Pepsi

It’s no secret that 2016 is the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, which is resulting in more people than ever getting out to explore and visit our national parks. In Montana, we’re fortunate to have two national parks: Glacier and Yellowstone,  while our BFF to the south—Wyoming—also has two national parks: Grand Teton and Yellowstone. 

Glacier, Yellowstone and Grand Teton.

Glacier, Yellowstone and Grand Teton.

And since we’re BFFs (and because many of the visitors to Wyoming and Montana visit more than one national park during their time in our two states) we decided to team up and do something fun to celebrate the National Park Service Centennial: we worked with our pals at Pepsi to create a special edition fountain cup. 

Cheers.

The cups are already making their way into local stores!

The Pepsi cups feature photography from Glacier, Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, as well as a website where you can enter to win weekly prizes AND a grand prize 5-day road trip from Jackson Hole, Wyoming to Montana’s Glacier Country. If you want to enter to win (of if you just want one of these cups), you can find them in stores from Jackson Hole to Whitefish and Idaho Falls to Great Falls.

But I want to tell you the best part: you don’t HAVE to snag a cup or buy a soda to win prizes. Just go to glaciermt.com and enter to win.

Hey you pretty little cup.

Hey you pretty little cup.

Two cuties (aka my mom and brother).

Two cuties (aka my mom and brother) modeling their Pepsi cups.

About to go fill this with all the Diet Pepsi I can find.

About to go fill this with all the Diet Pepsi I can find.

IMG_3720

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some (diet) pepsi to drink!

xo,
TT

A Summer Weekend at Placid Lake State Park

I feel like we’re at the point in our relationship where it’s time to introduce you to one of my favorite places that I’ve been kind of keeping a secret. Please meet my love, Placid Lake State Park

A Fourth of July sunset.

A third of July sunset at the lake.

While I’ve mentioned Placid Lake in the past, I haven’t really shared too much about it with you. But it’s time and the truth of the matter is that Placid Lake is—hands down—one of my favorite destinations in Western Montana.

Why? Well, I’ll tell you…
1. It’s just off-the-beaten-path enough that it takes a little more effort to get there.
2. The campground is fantastic (with electric sites for those of you with RVs and campers).
3. The boat launch is easily navigable and you can rent boat slips.
4. They have showers. (And to be honest, the fact that I can take a 3-minute shower while camping for $1 in quarters is what truly converted me to loving this state park the most).
5. It’s a short drive to Seeley Lake.
6. I really, really love state parks.

Here’s a look at a recent weekend at Placid Lake State Park.

Sunset at the lake.

Sunset at the lake.

My favorite spot on the boat.

My favorite spot on the boat.

Purple mountain majesties.

Purple mountain majesties.

A view from the campground.

A view from the campground.

My buddy Dwain playing on the water.

My buddy Dwain playing on the water.

A perfect day for sailing.

A perfect day for sailing.

Your turn: where’s your favorite place for a weekend away? 

xo,
TT