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Bozeman & Environs – A Montana Smorgasbord

I wrote in the last post that I was interested in seeing a few somewhat familiar places as well as some new places in and around Bozeman – lots to do as I wrote – the week offered a real variety pack of possibilities…

I hope I can make some sense of all that we did…

It was interesting to see how Bozeman had grown – some “sprawl” was certainly in evidence as were numerous “ranch-ettes” that now dotted the hillsides that were previously home to huge ranches in the area. Seems lots of folks had decided to make this pretty spot home.

The downtown hadn’t changed much – a mix of shops and restaurants still catered to the tourists like yours truly as well as the MSU students that were returning when we arrived in town

The “Reluctant RV’er” spent some time checking out the boutiques – yup, she opened a couple of new accounts – as well as scored a couple of new outfits – just like Ouray and Telluride – see a pattern here 🙂

But mostly we wanted to spend time outdoors and exploring the area – time for a side trip to Big Sky; a run along the Madison River; hiking in the National Forest that surrounded us; a run through Yellowstone’s northern rim…

And, as always this “fire summer”, making adjustments due to fires and smoke…this time closer than I had previously encountered…

Yup – sitting having lunch in Big Sky was informed that a small fire had just started up the road a bit – west of Bozeman; next day, learned that on the other side of Bozeman – in Paradise Valley – another fire had started

Fire to the east of us – Fire to the west of us …woke up one day with ash on everything…the “small” fires were now over 10,000 acres each and growing…

So much for a hike on the Hyalite Creek Trail – described in Stone’s “Day Hikes Around Bozeman”…”the Hyalite Creek Trail is considered the most spectacular hike in the Bozeman area” ,and elsewhere, …”11 waterfalls in 11 round-trip miles make this one of Bozeman’s premier hikes.”

Did manage to get a couple of hikes in though despite the smoke…hiked the M trail in addition to the Kirk Hill trail and some of the Bear Canyon trail

The “M” stands for Montana State University and the 250-foot white rock letter was created in 1915 by MSU students and can bee seen from all over. “M” has two access routes. The right fork follows the ridge for a short and steep hike. The left fork switchbacks through a fir and juniper forest, making a more gradual ascent…we did a little of both – S pointed out a short cut 🙂 straight up! – a bit of a struggle but well worth it; on the return we did the more gradual descent to protect the knees.

Also, took advantage of the nearby Grizzly Encounter…just a few miles away from the RV campground. The Montana Grizzly Encounter is a Grizzly Bear Rescue & Education Sanctuary that was founded in 2004 to provide a spacious and natural home for rescued grizzlies. All of the bears were born in unfortunate captive situations and could never be released into the wild so now the Sanctuary is their home and also allows folks to get close and observe these amazing creatures. We had lots of fun watching and photographing Lucy, Brutus, and Sheena and Christi

Decided to get away from the smoke one day and head over to the ghost towns I had read about…No more colorful pioneer mining camp ever existed. Dramatic tales of the early days in this vicinity are legion. Rich placer diggings were discovered in Alder Gulch in the spring of 1863 and the stampede of gold seekers and their parasites was on! Sluices soon lined the gulch and various “cities” blossomed forth as trading and amusement centers for free handed miners. Virginia City, the best known of these and the sole survivor, became the Capitol of the Territory.

It is a remarkably well preserved old west Victorian gold mining town – but I didn’t get much photography in as torrential rains greeted us when we first arrived – always something – but that’s what the Iphone is for 🙂

And, since this is also a “journey de cuisine” and Montana is where the tagline rings truest – “Beef – it’s what for dinner” – we had to head out for some authentic Montana grub…

Yup, an evening out to Stacey’s Old Faithful Bar and Steakhouse – as authentic as it gets – looked like nothing had changed in decades – Stacey and Phyllis Crosby bought the Old Faithful Bar from previous owner May Ping Sellards in 1963. Was interesting to read that , May Ping had run the establishment since the end of prohibition in 1937 and from the looks of things , not much changed during the transition – the restaurant side has the requisites – “dead animals” on the walls, old posters from by-gone years, and big sky country tables and chairs – with denim seat covers – really ! – you can’t make this stuff up….

Stacey’s is also a local Montana bar – next to the restaurant side is the bar – a haunt for real working cowboys, fly fisherman after a day on the river, and the occasional tourist like yours truly. It has everything that a real bar should have – pool table, good drinks, bar-tenders with personality, an old , but still great jukebox, bathroom graffiti, walls adorned with pictures of local cowboys shown competing in rodeos and working on ranches. In other words, this is the real deal and not pre-fab stuff that you will see at TGI Fridays.

As you can see, lots for us to do and frankly more than this nomad can possibly report about in one post – other stops included – a short trip to Livingston; to a Yellowstone River overlook to watch the firefighting helicopters come in to pick up water (had become a real spectator sport); a bit of exploring the countryside down some gravel roads… a run through Paradise Valley to Yellowstone NP…

Yup, I said “Paradise” -I mentioned the Gallatin Valley in a previous post about my drive to Bozeman – it’s one of many beautiful and stunning valleys that Montana has – but only one is called “Paradise Valley” – one of the most stunning places in all of Montana – a valley that is cut by the Yellowstone River as it winds through a lush and spectacularly beautiful valley…thoroughly enjoyed the drive after some of the smoke had cleared – south to Gardiner where we would spend a night to explore Yellowstone in a more leisurely way – ie – no multi-hour drive round trip in one day …more to follow

Take care…see you down the road…

One Comment Post a comment
  1. suzanne #

    nice writing

    September 16, 2012

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