Ten Interesting Things to Explore in Montana

Glacier National Park, Going to the Sun Road

1. Visit Garnet Ghost Town – Drummond, Montana

Garnet has been named one of “America’s Coolest Ghost Towns” by Travel + Leisure. Garnet is home to a preserved gold rush town. In Garnet, experience the ways of the past, and experience your inner frontier. Experience the real Wild West! Garnet is near Missoula, Montana.

Garnet Ghost Town
Photo Credit: Laura Kelly Information and License

2. Explore the Garden of One Thousand Buddhas – Arlee, Montana

Designed to be a spiritual pilgrimage destination for people of many faiths, the Garden of One Thousand Buddhas is a sight that is sure to bring peace and mindfulness.

The Garden of One Thousand Buddhas
Photo Credit: Flea8888 Information and License

3. Experience the Montana Vortex and House of Mystery – Columbia Falls, Montana

The Montana Vortex and House of Mystery is a place that makes one reorient their understanding of physics and nature. The experience is sure to be mind-blowing! The location is an internationally known sacred site. Native Americans often visit.

Montana Vortex and House of Mystery
Photo Credit: sporst Information and License

4. Travel Glacier National Park and the World-Renowned Going to the Sun Road

Visit the Crown of the Continent and experience nature at its best! Glacier National Park (United States) is one-half of the world’s first international peace park with Waterton Lakes National Park (Canada) being the other-half to form Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park. Glacier National Park is designated a Biosphere Reserve by the Man and the Biosphere Programme of the United National Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site by the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage. Plus, Glacier National Park and its sister park, Waterton Lakes National Park of Canada, are recognized as an International Dark Sky Park by the International Dark Sky Association (IDA). One can see breathtaking views in Glacier National Park and on the Going-to-the-Sun Road!

Glacier National Park, Going to the Sun Road
Photo Credit: Mountain walrus Information and License

5. Encounter Yellowstone National Park and the Largest Supervolcano on the North American Continent!

Yellowstone National Park is the first national park in the United States of America and widely considered the first national park in the world! The supervolcano located at Yellowstone National Park is one of the few supervolcanoes around the globe. The cornerstone of the Roosevelt Arch at the North Entrance of the Park in Gardiner, Montana, was laid by President Theodore Roosevelt.

Yellowstone National Park Waterfall
Photo Credit: Scott Catron Information and License

6. Discover the Spectacular Great Falls of the Missouri River, known by the Lewis and Clark Expedition to Be a Grand Sight

Visit the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center in Great Falls, Montana, near the falls to learn more about Lewis and Clark and the falls. Seeing the Great Falls of the Missouri River will connect individuals to history!

Great Falls of the Missouri River
Photo Credit: Tim1965 Information and License

7. Encounter the Ringing Rocks of Montana

The Ringing Rocks of Montana are a natural phenomenon. The rocks will allow you to hear nature! The Ringing Rocks are near Butte, Montana.

Montana Ringing Rocks
Photo Credit: Bureau of Land Management Information and License

8. Voyage to Pompeys Pillar, and See William Clark’s, of Lewis and Clark, Signature

Pompeys Pillar, near Billings, Montana, bears the only remaining evidence of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Visit Pompeys Pillar and experience the Lewis and Clark Expedition!

Pompeys Pillar in Montana
Photo Credit: Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Information and License

9. Take a Scenic Cruise to Wild Horse Island on the Crystal-Clear Flathead Lake

The world-recognized Flathead Lake is home to the Wild Horse Island. Take a relaxing cruise around Flathead Lake and run with the “Wild Horses!”

Flathead Lake
Photo Credit: Paul Frederickson Information and License

10. Visit the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument

The Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument contains a United States National Cemetery, Custer National Cemetery. The Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument includes self-guided tours that have audio.

Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument
Photo Credit: Durwood Brandon Information and License

 

Nicolas R. Ream, the author, is studying Marketing, Management, Entrepreneurship, Leadership, and Pre-Law at the University of Montana in Missoula, Montana. Nicolas works at Montana Heritage Home Builders, Inc., a high-performance luxury custom home builder in Columbia Falls, Montana.

Nicolas Ream
Nicolas R. Ream

Connect with Nicolas: Facebook Twitter Instagram LinkedIn

References and Sources: See hyperlinks, also personal experience and knowledge.

This blog post has been created in the BMKT 440: Marketing Analytics class with Professor Mario Schulzke.

My Favorite Places Along The Oregon Trail

If you went to school in the 80’s or 90’s you probably played the computer game The Oregon Trail.  While on your exciting and fateful journey you learned about dysentery and getting run over by a wagon.  Luckily, on this journey you have very little chance of those things happening.  However, there is a high chance you will learn about our ancestors and have a bit of fun.  So let’s get started…

We’re going to begin our journey west in Independence, Missouri.  All of the historic trails—Oregon, Santa Fe, and California, started at or near Independence.  This was a popular “jumping off” point where the pioneers

could stock their wagons before their arduous journey.  Spend some time getting acquainted with the trail at the National Frontier Trails Museum. This museum researches, interprets, and preserves the history of the pioneers who traveled along the trials.  After seeing the museum head to the Independence Courthouse Square, this was the official start of The Oregon Trail.  Walk around the square and try and get a sense of what it was like to have all of your earthly possessions crammed into a wagon to set off on a dangerous journey across the continent.

Make your way west to Rock Creek Station which is near Fairbury, Nebraska.  Rock Creek Station was a Pony Express station and road ranch that served the

pioneers along the trail.  It is here where Wild Bill Hickok shot his first man.  You can see reconstructed buildings, pioneer graves and trail ruts.  While in the area you should definitely check out the wonderful Homestead National Monument in Beatrice, Nebraska.

Keep heading west to Kearney and The Great Platte River Road Archway, one of the coolest spots along the trail.  The monument is a museum that honors the people who followed the historic trails and built America.

After visiting The Archway head to the south side of the interstate to visit Ft. Kearney.  This was an important outpost along the trail, it allowed the pioneers to resupply and offered them a safe resting area in a sometimes harsh territory.

 

Continue on brave pioneer, you’re 15% finished with your journey!

 

We are next headed to the Scottsbluff area and there is A LOT to see here so make sure you have some snacks.  This would also be a great area to make your home base for a few days.  The first landmark you can see from a distance is Courthouse and Jail Rocks.

These are the first rock formations that the pioneers would have seen on their journey west.  At one time there was also a Pony Express station located here.

 

 

Just a mere fifteen miles further west stands Chimney Rock.

One of the most awe inspiring and famous landmarks along the trail, Chimney Rock rises over 300 feet above the valley.  Do you have some quarters in your pocket?  If one is a Nebraska state quarter then you will see a wagon in front of this majestic landmark.  While you’re here make sure to check out the pioneer cemetery.

After Chimney Rock head over to see the fabulous landmark Scotts Bluff National Monument.  Scotts Bluff encompasses over 3,000 acres and towers 800 feet over the valley.

Visitors to the monument can walk in the footsteps of the pioneers of the Oregon Trail, drive to the top of the bluff via the Summit Road and stand in awe at the sight of the bluffs rising up from the prairie.

Before you leave Scotts Bluff pay your respects to an Oregon Trail pioneer, Rebecca Winters. Her grave lies on the eastern side of the town of Scottsbluff at the corner of South Beltline Highway and US Highway 26.  Rebecca died in 1852 after contracting cholera, a friend chiseled her name on an iron wagon tire which still stands on her grave today.

Keep heading west, pioneer, to Ft. Laramie.  You’ve made it to Wyoming! You’re a quarter of the way there! The fort was constructed in the 1830’s to support the fur trade and it soon became the largest and most important fort on the frontier.  Travelers would stop here for several days to rest, mail letters home, and resupply.  Today you can stroll the grounds and visit some of the many restored buildings and ruins.

Just down the road a bit from Ft Laramie is the town of Guernsey where you can see Register Cliff and the Guernsey Trail Ruts.  Register Cliff contains the engravings of hundreds of trail pioneers in the soft sandstone.  Register Cliff, along with Independence Rock and Names Hill, is one of three prominent “recording areas” in Wyoming.

The Guernsey Trail Ruts, or the Oregon Trail Ruts State Historic  Site, is an amazing section of preserved trail ruts.  Decades of pioneers, wagons, and animals wore down the sandstone two to six feet.  Take some time and walk in the ruts.

Next on our journey is the town of Casper, Wyoming.  This would be an excellent place to rest for a couple of days.  While you are here make sure to visit the National Historic Trails Interpretive Center. This museum showcases the several different trails with artifacts and interactive displays.

 

Just a few miles away is Ft Caspar, this is a military post that was named for Caspar Collins who was killed during the Battle of Platte Bridge Station.  Yes, Caspar really spelled his name that way.

 

 

Independence Rock, which lies about an hour southwest of Casper, is a large, rounded monolith that is known as the “register of the desert.”  The rock was a major landmark for the pioneers, they needed to make it here by July 4th to ensure they made it across the Rocky Mountains.  If you walk all the way around the rock you’ve walked about a mile.  Also try and climb to top so you can see the many pioneer inscriptions.

Head west on Highway 287 and south on Highway 28 you’ll see some of the most gorgeous Wyoming landscapes, you’ll be traveling through what’s called South Pass.  This is also the half way point of the journey west. Hopefully, you’ll get to witness the graceful antelopes bounce through the sage.  Make sure to stop at some of the roadside pull offs where you experience both the past and present.

Next you’ll want to make your way over to Montpelier, Idaho and visit the National Oregon/California Trail Center.  This is a living-history center, which sits directly on the site of the historic Clover Creek Encampment on the Oregon Trail.  The center contains displays and artifacts and depicts the pioneers’ journey along the trail.

Fort Hall is just a short drive from Montpelier but it would have taken the pioneers several days to get there.  The fort was originally used as a fur trading post but soon became a major resupply center for the pioneers.  They had been traveling for weeks since a resupply and hundreds of thousands of immigrants made use of Fort Hall.

Keep cruising along, pioneer, we are almost there!

Just west on I84 is Three Island Crossing.  This was a major point for the pioneers.  It was here where they had to decide on whether or not to cross the dangerous Snake River.  If you remember from the Oregon Trail game many pioneers never made it across.

The last stop on this Oregon Trail journey is the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center in Baker City, Oregon.  Yes, you made it to Oregon!  This 500 acre site features original Oregon Trail ruts.  The center also features dioramas, artifacts, and theater presentations.

Well, pioneers, you’ve made it to Oregon!  Hopefully, no one drowned, died of dysentery, or got bit by any snakes.  There are many more amazing places to see along the trail, hopefully you’ll be inspired to go on your own manifest destiny across the plains, prairies, and mountains of the west.

 

 

Top 6 Ski Areas Near Missoula…

There are a ton of options for skiing within the western part of Montana, whether this is in our beloved home state, or one of our close neighbors. There is plenty of fresh powder to go around…

To Start off this list we are going to lay down a few guidelines. All of these ski resorts are within 200 miles of Missoula, and for those of you that were worried…They all sell beer as well.

  1. The Montana Snowbowl  (15 miles outside town)      

Snowbowl will always have a special place in the hearts of Missoulians, for its close proximity to town, and your ability to go from class to the slopes in under 20 minutes.  While Snowbowl may have its ups and downs, you can always count on good skiing when they get some fresh snow up in the bowls. Priced at $48 for a student day pass, it’s not going to break the bank too bad. But they make up for it with $4 beers in the lodge at the base.

2. Lookout Pass Ski & Recreation Area (105 miles outside town)

Lookout pass ski area is known as the #1 Powder Place, and they definitely live up to that name. Lookout gets the most fresh snow out of all the resorts near Missoula, and for the most part, has pretty good weather. This resort is about an hour and 45 minutes from campus and never gets too crazy so you’ll always have a parking spot. A student day pass for Lookout will run you about $46, but the snow makes it worth it!

3. Discovery Ski Area (91 miles outside town)

Discovery ski area is located about an hour and a half from Missoula and will never let you down. With a really good mix of steep groomers and powder-filled trees, this resort is perfect for everyone. For those seeking a thrill, Discovery has an expert only backside of the mountain with some truly crazy runs. The only downfall of this resort is the road up to the lodge can get pretty bad, but you’ll always be able to find a ride up from the bottom. Discovery will run you about $50 for a day pass, but you’ll be able to go on a different run every time all day.

4. Lost Trail Powder Mountain (75 miles outside town)

Lost Trail is another favorite among locals, for its close proximity to town and amazing snow. You can almost always count on fresh snow at Lost Trail, and when the Montana side is open it is absolutely mind-blowing. This resort is never too crazy, and it also has a hot spring just down the road for an after skiing relaxation break. A day pass will run you about $45 and you’ll be able to get food and beer at the base lodge for a pretty reasonable price.

5. Whitefish Mountain Resort (140 miles outside town)

Still known to many locals as “Big Mountain” because of the name change back in 2007, but none the less this mountain is absolutely insane. The most powder you can find in western Montana and offers some of the most diverse terrains. Even though this resort is pretty far from Missoula, it makes up for it with the beautiful views and the chance to go on an inversion day. A day pass will run you about $83 and that’s pretty steep for most college students, but a trick it to go buy 2 day passes for $120 from Costco.

6. Blacktail Mountain Ski Area (120 miles outside town)

Blacktail is known for having some serious terrain, with steep faces and ungroomed runs all over the mountain. This resort gets a good amount of powder and can definitely prove to be tough in some spots. With its close proximity to Whitefish, the resort is pretty easily accessible and doesn’t break the bank at $45 for a day pass.

How to not be THAT tourist when visiting National Parks

 

Every year more than 318 million people visit our National Parks (NPS). What many call our nation’s “best idea”, National Parks have been treasured by Americans for over a century. Some might say we’re even loving them to death. 

I have spent the last 10 years living and working in multiple National Parks including Olympic, Glacier, and, most recently, Yosemite. As both a resident of and tourist to the Park’s, I have a unique perspective of the intersection between natural and human communities that call these special places home. Both your experience and the impact you have on the National Park(s) you chose to visit will be greatly improved if you avoid these 5 classic missteps.

 

  1. Driving like a Tourist

The chance to see a wild animal, especially from the safety of our cars, is a thrilling experience. And sometimes the beauty of a place can cause you to forget you’re driving at all. However, the temptation of stopping in the middle of the road to take a picture, swerving into oncoming traffic while your gaze stays on the “wild” deer, driving so slowly that the ground squirrels can keep up with you is not only a bother to the locals but is actually dangerous. We know it’s beautiful. We know it’s exciting. Just please pull over.  

Picture: An example of “tourist driving” (Washington Post)

 

 

2. Dismal Bathroom Etiquette

This misstep is the main reason that you cannot drink straight from a mountain stream without fear of giardia. It’s not the animal poop that will make us gut wrenchingly sick, it’s our own human feces. So please, PLEASE, bury that poop! The vast majority of people either choose not to or are uninformed of this critical Leave No Trace protocol. Also, pack out your toilet paper if you choose to use it. “Paper lilies,” as they are sometimes referred to, not only pollute the environment but are a major eye sore while hiking. 

Picture: The dreaded paper lilies (Pacific Trail Crest Association) 

 

 

3. FOMO (fear of missing out)

A large draw of our country’s remaining open, undeveloped spaces is the silence. Many seek to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life and connect with nature. If you are coming to the National Parks for “solitude” and “relaxation,” do not fall into the trap of FOMO. The hoards generally start hiking around 10:00 a.m. and all go to the same “can’t miss” trails. If you really want some solitude, start your hike either before 9:00 a.m. or after 4:00 p.m. and put in the effort to hike the longer trails.

Picture: Glacier’s famous Hidden Lake Overlook Trail at its worst (NPS)

 

 

4. Domesticating the Wildlife

Yes, they are cute– and their fur makes them seem so cuddly! But please, don’t be the person who feeds mountain goats skittles. Not only is human food unhealthy for wild animals, feeding wildlife can disrupt their natural foraging rhythms, causing them to starve in the winter months. Or worse, animals that become aggressive towards humans often have to be put down by Rangers. Resist the urge! Save a bear. 

 

Picture: The first director of the National Park Service, Steven Mather, feeding a bear in 1923 (PBS). We know better now. Read the “Night of the Grizzlies” if you still think feeding bears (or any other wildlife) is a good idea. 

 

 

5. Accidental Death

There is a 607 page book called “Death in Yosemite.” Do not make the book 608 pages! A major rising cause of accidental deaths in recent years is, you know it, the “selfie.” Though selfies appear innocent and safe, if you’re trying to get that –perfect– shot dangling over a 2,000 ft. waterfall luck may not always be on your side. The quest for extreme selfies killed 259 people between 2011 and 2017…don’t be the next selfie victim! (BBC)

Picture: Dumb Selfie (National Park Trips)

 

 

 

 

Author: Sara Edwards

Sources:

https://www.nps.gov/subjects/socialscience/annual-visitation-highlights.htm

https://www.bbc.com/news/newsbeat-45745982

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/if-youre-dumb-there-are-lots-of-good-ways-to-have-a-bad-time-at-a-national-park/2019/05/14/ec3eade0-7653-11e9-b3f5-5673edf2d127_story.html

https://www.pbs.org/nationalparks/media_detail/280/ Continue reading “How to not be THAT tourist when visiting National Parks”

MONTANA WINTERS ARE THE BEST!

 

“I’m in love with Montana. For other states I have admiration, respect, recognition, even some affection. But with Montana it is love. And it’s difficult to analyze love when you’re in it.”
― John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America