Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Beartooth Scenic Byway


I am writing this on September 29. We are in the Black Hills of South Dakota. As usual, I am a bit behind on my blog. In this entry, I will write about the events of a week ago. Much has happened since then and I will write about that in the coming days. In the interest in keeping my family and friends up to date, I need to let you know our plans. Last night we got a message from our daughter, Shannon. She and her Husband were headed to the hospital because she was having contractions and the doctor wanted to check her out. She is not due for three weeks. We were all concerned that the baby was going to be born last night. As it turned out, she was sent home and we will wait a bit longer. The problem is that we are about 1000 miles from Missouri. Kim was ready to hitch up first thing this morning and get to Missouri in about 3 days. After talking to Shannon this morning we have decided to do a very abbreviated tour of the Black Hills and The Badlands NP today and then head for Missouri tomorrow. That all could change at any minute if the little baby decides to make an early appearance.

OK, back to our regularly scheduled programming…

On September 22, we were camped at Cooney Reservoir State Park in central Montana. It was a decent park and we had a nice site on the lake. Here is a shot of our site and the lake:



The sunset was pretty nice. See those mountains in the distance? Well, I will tell you all about them…



The only real problem with this park is the dirt road you have to take to get in there. It was dusty and wash boarded. I told an employee of the park when we arrived about my concerns about the road and she said they have been trying to get the county to grade the road. We were awoken the next morning by a grader working out side of our rig.


The road was much improved after he got done.

Rarely in life do you have the ability to get a second chance at a missed opportunity. Back in May, we visited Yellowstone National Park. We made a drive up through the Lamar Valley and through an area east of the park. We thought we had driven over what people were calling Beartooth pass. After reading the account and seeing the pictures posted by our friend Darrell in his blog, we knew we had missed it. We went south on the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway. I have heard from a number of people how impressive this drive is.

Now, on our trip back to the east, I noticed that we were going to pass fairly close to this road. We could approach it from the north and drive back to the point on the other side where we had turned off back in May. I was very excited to right this wrong. We were blessed with a beautiful sunny day.

We left Cooney SP and headed up through Red Lodge, Montana. It is a very cool little town with a very busy Main Street. It is also a home to a couple of ski areas.

After we drove out of Red Lodge the scenery got awesome very quickly. I got this shot as a title shot for the day:


We headed up into a beautiful valley. The valley is full of large rocks and other formations. It is breathtaking.



The other really cool thing about this day is the Quaking Aspens were turning and near peak. As you can tell by my title photo on the blog, We love Aspens. The contrast with the green and the rocks is awesome.


We stopped at a campground at the foot of the first major uphill. It was one of the most beautiful campgrounds I have ever seen, but it was already closed for the winter. That seemed strange because of the beautiful weather on this day.


Then we headed up the mountain. It climbed and climbed with some serious switchbacks.



The view across the valley just kept getting better.


Here is a shot of the road we were driving on:


We came to a scenic overlook and we thought we were near the top. Boy, was I wrong. The overlook was out on a point and you had views off of both sides.




We continued the drive and continued to gain elevation. I took about 50 pictures, so I won’t publish all of them, but here are a few of my favorites:




The views were simply indescribable. This area is one of the most scenic I have ever seen. If you have been on the “Going to the Sun” Road in Glacier NP. Think just as beautiful, but much larger. It certainly helped that we had such an awesome weather day. We made the summit at nearly 11,000 feet and went down the other side where the Aspens were in full majesty.




This is my favorite shot of the day. This is Pilot and Index mountains.


The grandeur of the place can not be described. I spent the day in awe and must have said “WOW!” 1000 times. This stuff never gets old to Kim and I.


We were so happy that we got a second chance at Beartooth Highway. We loved it!

Now it was time to move on. We had a plan, but you never know how that plan was going to work out. Our next campsite was along the Bighorn river on the Crow Indian Reservation. I hope that our reception to Crow country is more friendly than the one that Lewis and a small detachment of the Corp of Discovery had. You will have to come back to see how that experience turned out.

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