Wednesday, October 16, 2019

2019 - Idaho_Montana - Part Four

Part Four

We were up early, packed up and headed into McCall for fuel and a big breakfast at the Pancake House.

We drove around Payette Lake on Hwy. 55 through parts of the Payette National Forest, connecting with Hwy. 95, continuing North through the Payette National Forest and Nez Perce National Forest.  The drive was beautiful as we had pine trees on both sides of the road.

Several of the campgrounds along Hwy. 12 that we marked as possible sites were closed and the gates locked.  We passed close to a dozen closed campgrounds.  We crossed over Lolo Pass at the Idaho/Montana border and stopped to talk to the ranger.  They had 4’-6’ of snow two days before.  There was snow on the ground and in the pine trees.  We decided to cross into Montana and stop at Lolo Hotsprings.  They have a campground and we picked a site, and then walked across the road to soak in the hotspring.  We started in the outdoor cooling pool (80 degrees) and then moved into the indoor pool, which was 104 degrees.  We soaked for an hour.  We regretted not trying some of the other hotsprings along our route, and plan on stopping on our next trip to Idaho.

Big Timber, MT to Badlands National Park

Badlands NP to Anita Lake State Park, IA

Anita Lake SP to Carmel, IN

Three Forks, MT

We drove west on Highway 12, picking up I-90 and heading to Three Forks, MT.  We stopped at the famous Wheat Montana Bakery for lunch. 

We had not decided on a place to camp, so we decided to check out Missouri Headwaters State Park.  The campground was very small and crowded.  We drove up to the viewing area.  This is a point were Lewis & Clark camped during their journey.  This is a place where the Jefferson River and Madison River end the Missouri River begins.  A mile downstream the Gallatin River flows into the Missouri, thus the name Three Forks

 Lolo Pass

 Homestake Pass 6,393 ele

We then back tracked slightly to check out Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park.  We were able to get and electric site, and the campground was close to the Jefferson River.  There were only 2-3 campers in the campground, so we basically had the campground to ourselves.  We had the Tobacco Root Mountains as a backdrop.  The caverns were closed for the season.

We headed back to Wheat Montana Bakery for their famous pastries.  Our next destination was Big Timber, MT to spend a couple of days with my cousin.  On the way we stopped in Livingston.  I had not been in Livingston since 1961.  In 1959-61 we would catch the Northern Pacific Limited from Livingston to Chicago Union Station.  I had heard that a number of years ago the railroad station had been re-modeled.  I wanted to walk the grounds and take a few photos.  It has been all freight since the ‘70’s.  Passenger service was moved to the Hi-Line through Havre, MT and Glacier National Park.

Livingston, MT Train Station, once the station for the Northern Pacific Railroad, their emblem on the decorative corners

We arrived at my cousins house and he cooked a pizza for lunch and then we headed to his cabin on the Boulder River for a day.  The Beartooth- Absaroka were covered with snow and there was a little on the ground around the cabin and along the river bank.  We had a great day at the cabin.  The next morning I got an hour and a half of flyfishing.  I might have had 1-2 hts, but no luck.  Four fishing days and I was  0-4. 

Lions Head

We drove back into Big Timber after lunch and then we took my cousins to dinner at our favorite place, The Grand Hotel.  We love staying there for a night, but this trip we didn’t have enough time. 

We camped at the house, and in the morning after our goodbyes we headed to the pastry shop and then decided to go to Badlands National Park a day early.

The Northern Pacific made a 6am mail stop in Big Timber and this is where I got off the train. My grandmother, aunts and other relatives would all be waiting along the tracks.  1959-61

Crazy Moutnains, the only mountain range in Montana not part of the Rockies

Sarah waiting for her banana slices

We arrived at Badlands National Park around 4:30pm, and after a 29 mile drive on the loop road arrived at the campground.  We hoped to get the site we reserved for the next night, but it was full so we picked the site next to it and moved when the person had left and the host placed our reserved card on the post.  In the middle of the first night there 35-45 mph winds, with wind gusts from 50-65 mph

We spent the entire day Saturday sightseeing throughout the park, and visited the Minute Man Missile Visitor Center and Silo D-9, a deactivated site.  We stopped at the only National Grasslands Visitor Center, but it isn’t open on the weekends.  We did drive through the grasslands.  For lunch we drove into Wall, SD and visited the famous Wall Drugstore.  


We were up early and departed for home.  We drove over 9 hours and spent our last night camped at Anita Lake State Park in western Iowa.  We had a site on the lake and the sunset was beautiful.  We arrived home around 5 pm on Monday October 7th.  This was a great trip and we were sad that it ended.  

Our trip lasted eighteen days and covered 5,103 miles.  There is so much more to see in Idaho and Montana.  We enjoyed every minute of the trip and look forward to spending more time in Idaho.