Monday, July 26, 2021

Going to the Sun Road again

 Yesterday we made our last trip into Glacier National Park. We drove east on US-2 which follows the south end of the park and ends up on the east side of the mountains. We went north on US-89 to the Canada border. Then we went back to St. Mary and entered the park from the east entrance. From there we drove the entire Going to the Sun Road then back to our RV at Columbia Falls. The entire trip was about 250 miles, a long day of driving the mountains. We leave Columbia Falls on Tuesday, heading east and south to Yellowstone National Park.

The Marias Pass elevation is 5,213 feet, a mountain pass in the Rocky Mountains. It is on US-2 and along the BNSF rail line. It is the lowest crossing of the Continental Divide between the Canada border and New Mexico and is open to automobile traffic year-round.

Two Medicine valley from MT-49

Cattle running across the road. Signs indicate "open range" in many areas.

Here comes the Canada border but we turned around.

This is as far north as you can go in the US.

This area is in the Blackfeet Indian Reservation.
They have their own police, laws and regulations.

A Prairie Dog greeted me while taking these photos.

Looking west from the Blackfeet sign, it almost looks like Devils Tower again.
The wildfire smoke today spoiled the view in many places.

These three videos are some of the many my dash camera captured. I have many more but these show what the drive across the Going to the Sun Road looks like. Each video is 4 minutes long. Click on the arrow twice to start the video.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Going to the Sun Road

In the Glacier National Park, driving this road had to be done after 5:00 pm when the park gate was unmanned. This avoided to "ticket" to drive during the day. Daylight here is good until after 10:00 pm, due to being farther north of the equator. We started about 4:30 pm and finished by 9:00 pm. We decided to enter at the north entrance to avoid the crowds, not my best idea. The road was good blacktop until the blacktop stopped. The 12 miles of rough gravel road was all washboard and shook the Jeep all the way. The Jeep survived but we wondered if it would. After reaching the north entry, we made it as far as Logan Pass, the Continental Divide.  US-2 is being paved so we are planning for Sunday afternoon, if paving has halted, and NOT going through the north entrance. That way we will make it to the east side of the mountains and return on the Going to the Sun Road.

The gravel road was Forest Service property.

The video below is the gravel road.
Watch and you will see the Jeep shaking.
It was much worse than the camera shows. 

The first thing you pass on the Going to the Sun Road is Lake McDonald. 
It was formed by glaciers thousand of years ago.

The blue lake water is crystal clear.

After the lake, elevation starts to increase.
The video below is from the higher elevation, heading to Logan Pass.

Some snow remains. The road was closed until the middle of
June due to snow. Plows work for weeks to clear the road.

Water always drains from the Weeping wall.

Logan Pass is about 1/2 way to the east entrance.
That was far enough so we could return before dark.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Columbia Falls MT

 We arrived yesterday at an RV park in Columbia Falls. Today, we explored some around the area. Driving into Glacier National Park is a problem. It now requires an online ticket to go through the gate, plus your regular gate fee or a national park pass. They are limiting the number of vehicles in the park. There are 375 tickets tickets available online every morning for the next day. I tried this morning at exactly 8:00 am but all tickets were taken within 20 seconds. It looks like we have to compete with thousands of people just to enter the park. Then there is the smoke from the numerous forest fires west and south of this area. There are no fires here at this time. Visibility of the mountains is very poor. The mountains here are the new western Smokey Mountains. This may not be a great visit. 

Hungry Horse Dam is located near the park entrance. This is a large dam with constructed starting in 1948. The Hungry Horse Reservoir is 30 miles long, south of Glacier NP.

Hungry Horse Reservoir

The dam is 564 feet high. It generates electric power
at the building below the dam.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Battle of Little Big Horn

Seventy miles north of Sheridan WY is the memorial for Battle of Little Big Horn (Custer's Last Stand) in Montana. We could not stop with the motorhome towing the Jeep so we drove there in the Jeep this afternoon. This memorial is operated by the National Park Service.

The site includes a National Cemetery.

Custer's Last Stand at the top of this hill.

Markers are installed that indicate where soldiers had fell.

About 40 horses are buried at the memorial site.

This memorial is at the end of a five mile road. Other soldiers were backup for Custer but they did not provide help. They had their own battle here. This entire battlefield area is on a ridge.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Sheridan WY Big Horn Mountains

 We are in Sheridan Wyoming for a few days then heading north on I-90 on Friday. Unknown to us, there is a world champion rodeo in Sheridan this week. We do not plan to go due to huge crowds and apparently all tickets are sold out. Yesterday, we drove through the Big Horn Mountains. By road, we were at 9200 feet elevation at the highest point. The height of the mountain peaks is still higher.

Greybull is on the west side of the mountains.
Our round trip was over 200 miles.

We did not take this side trip, it was 32 miles into the mountains on a dirt road.

Going east into the mountains on our return to Sheridan.

East side before descending the mountains. Sheridan is 25 miles to the right.

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Devils Tower and a Close Encounter

Almost everyone has seen Devils Tower on TV or other video. We are staying near the base of it in a KOA campground. There is quite a crowd here and more cars coming in all day. The single National Park Service entry point has traffic backed up for maybe a mile. They need a second lane to move more cars through.

If you were born by 1970, you may have seen the famous Steven Spielberg movie call Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Alien spacecraft were flying round and people were doing crazy things. We saw it shortly after it hit the drive in movies in 1978. You can still see it on the internet. It was a great movie and part of it was filmed right here at Devils Tower since it was the focus of the movie. The campground shows the movie every night about dark next to the KOA building. We watched it last night. The campground and building were not here then, just the small NPS park entry building. I can see in the movie just about where we are located in the campground. The campground was started later with money from the use of the property. Here is more info and a link to the movie's short video.

There is a 2.5 mile path all the way around the rock ora 1.2 mile path
on the west side by the visitor center.

People climb the rock, not me. There were a few climbing
today but it was hard to see them from the ground.

Indian prayer cloths are found in several areas.

The short path, we made it to here for a better look at the rock.

The sides look like tubes of rock.

The field below the tower is full of  prairie dogs.

Watch the movie, I won't tell you what is happening here.

Aliens from the big ship.

Watch the movie! Amazon, Netflix and other sources are available.