“Tap ‘er Light”

State Flower, Bitterroot (from 50states.com)

On July 10th we left Wyoming traveling north on Interstate 90.  Our first stop in Montana was the Mountain Range RV Park in Columbus. This quiet little town of 1900 sets on the banks of the Yellowstone River.  The river was running high and out of its banks and the mountains surrounding Columbus were topped with snow.  After touring town and the surrounding area we spent our evening in our coats, visiting, eating popcorn, and drinking hot chocolate. Before getting back on the road we dropped by Stillwater County Museum.

State Bird Western Meadowlark (Wikipedia)

Our next stop was Bear Canyon Camp east of Bozeman, Mt.

View from Bear Canyon RV Park

We set up camp and then headed into Bozeman to explore.  Bozeman’s population is 38,000, the fourth largest city in Montana. We walked the downtown Art Walk and dropped in many of the galleries , Powderhorn Sporting Goods,the Chocolate shop, and Ace Hardware.  This Ace had the biggest inventory of gourmet cooking  supplies I’ve ever seen.  It made William Sonoma look small.  We stopped in Bob’s Burgers for a scrumptious  hamburger and onion rings.  Suddenly the clouds moved in and it began to rain dropping the temperatures into the 50s and sending us back to the trailer.

Mining in Montana

Butte, Mt., a short 82 miles from Bozeman would be our next camp.  Just as we settled in the 2 Bar Lazy H RV park we were once again greeted with afternoon showers.

Butte, Montana

We postponed our trip into town until the next morning.  Butte’s population is 32,000 and at one time was known as the Richest Hill on Earth.  We took a trolley tour around town and toured the mining museum. The older part of town sets on a very steep hill with less than an arm’s length between the homes.  The trolley driver gave a very entertaining account of the town’s history.  He ended the tour with”Tap ‘er Light” The phrase comes from the practice of setting explosives which miners had to pack into holes drilled in the rock face, carefully tapping them with a hammer. Hit the charge too hard, or miss and strike a spark off the rock, and BOOM! Today the phrase means, “take it easy,” or “be careful and have a good day.”

Hard Rock Mining's Greatest Disaster

Leaving Butte we traveled west to Missoula and then turned north to Kalispell,Mt.  The west entrance to Glacier National Park is 32 miles from Kalispell.  We found a RV park along the Flathead River and settled in.  The 50 mile Going-to-the-Sun Road that crosses Glacier National Park opened the day before we arrived.

Logan Pass

The road was late in opening this year due to the large amounts of snow. 10 to 15 feet of snow still remained at the top of Logan Pass.

Going-to-the-Sun Road

Karl sizing up two cedar trees

The park runs a shuttle bus from both sides of the Going-to-the-Sun Road. This is a great way to see the sights and not have to focus on driving this winding narrow mountain road.  The bus allows you to get on and off at any of the trails and viewing areas.   We took in the unspoiled forests, rugged granite peaks, stunning lakes, and numerous wildlife.  Karl and I returned to the park to revisit some of our favorite spots and to do some hiking.  We hiked about 8 miles from the Lake McDonald lodge to Avalanche Creek.  The area is very wooded with plenty of hills and a vast variety of plants and trees.

Before leaving Montana we spent a day exploring Kalispell.   We bought huckleberry jam and syrup, Flathead cherries, visited the Museum at Central School, road the Rails-to Trails bike trail, and shopped.  The skies were clear and blue with temperatures in the low 80s.  Perfect!

Facts about Glacier National Park taken from the Montana Guide book.

*America’s 10th national park, established May 11, 1019

*Approximately 1,580 square miles

*More than 700 miles of trails

*70 species of mammals including grizzly and black bears

         *26 glaciers                                              *The Going-to the-Sun Road was completed in 1932

*Lake McDonald is the Park’s biggest lake; 9.4 miles long and 464 feet deep, filling a basin gouged out by ice age glaciers.

Put Glacier National Park and Montana  on your “bucket list”.  You will be pleased with the experience that awaits you.

Hike to Avalanche Creek

“Tap ‘er Light”

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