Bugless, humidity-free, warm days, cool evenings, mountain backdrop, pronghorn this describes our recent Montana family excursion. And it was wonderful.
Montana is one of the largest states area wise but certainly not in population, other than in wildlife.
In a rented 15-passenger van, with 10 people on board, my family, and my twin brother’s family took off at 4 a.m. for the beautiful, bounteous state of Montana. Each child had a cousin with whom to bide the time, and the ride became part of a much-enjoyed vacation.
With coolers packed full of beverages, treats, and lunch fixings, our first stop was a lunch break on the banks of the Missouri River. We trekked on to the Mount Rushmore area, where we spent the first night.
We were up early, and on to Little Bighorn Battlefield, where Custer and his men lost the battle and their lives to the Native Americans.
With a few hours spent learning about the history of the battle, we all packed into the van with our second-night stay in Bozeman, MT, where our niece went to college and currently resides.
As we toured the city and ate dinner downtown, we understood why she decided to stay in Bozeman. It is a ski lover’s paradise.
The next five nights we stayed at our rental home in Kalispel, MT, and what a beautiful, cozy place it was. We stayed at a farmhouse, completely renovated, with a large front porch, hardwood floors throughout, a fireplace, and rooms for all of us; we were set for comfort.
The house was nestled between Lake Blaine and a creek, and at the base of Glacier Mountains. Now, that’s a view!
Our days consisted of a guided bus tour of Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National Park, hiking the park, white-water rafting, horseback riding, swimming in the river, grilling steak and shrimp, eating huckleberry pie, and touring some of the local cities and shops.
Although we almost lost our rafting guide over one of the rapids, our kids said next time they would go for bigger rapids. They were plenty “rapid.” I thoroughly enjoyed rafting and seeing all of the beautiful wildlife up close.
My youngest daughter, Delaney, of course, would have liked to bring her horse, Shiloh, from horseback riding, home. She had a hard time parting with it; thus there was a purchase of a stuffed toy animal horse, which, of course, is named Shiloh.
South Dakota was our path to Montana on the way, and the North Dakota badlands were our travel path for home.
A stop and stay in Medora, ND was part of our vacation history education. This area was a favorite of Teddy Roosevelt. It was a reprieve for him, when both his wife and mother died on the same day in New York.
North Dakota is home to three National Park Service sites. Theodore Roosevelt National Park stretches across more than 70,000 acres. This park is a mecca for nature lovers.
Some of the wildlife we saw while hiking in the national parks included a couple of bears, mountain goats, bison, antelope, prairie dogs, pronghorn, bighorn sheep, and wild horses.
The wild West is full of beauty, serenity, nature, and history.