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  1. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Day 3.

    After a good nights sleep in our comfy room we were soon up and out again for another busy day on the road. First though we wanted to take in some of Twin Falls local sights and started out with a short drive to Centennial park next to the Snake river. It was very quiet with just the odd morning jogger along the road, we got nice views of the park and river and our first glimpse of Perrine Bridge from the top of the hill.

    It was another wonderful bright and sunny morning and we enjoyed our stroll around the park and by the river.

    Our next stop was at Perrine Bridge. We parked in Bridgeview Boulevard and started our short walk to the bridge. We noticed a small crowd of people gathering on the bridge, near a man on the railings....... and then he jumped !

    Look carefully at the picture and you can see the jumper on the way down.

    Fortunately he was part of a group who were 'Base jumping' from the bridge and had a parachute attached. It turned out Perrine Bridge was a hotspot for this and a common site. Although as a local reminded us, it's not without danger and only 4 days prior to this a young man's chute failed to open and he was still in a bad way in an intensive care unit.

    The Perrine Bridge was most impressive as were the surrounding views.

    After spending more time than we had planned to, it was time to take the short drive to Shoshone Falls, aka the 'Niagara Falls of the West'. Although dry at this time of year they still made an impressive site, I would love to see them at full flow one day though.

    The clock was ticking and we still had 330 miles and Craters of the Moon to cover before arriving in Darby MT.
    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 05-29-2014 at 12:48 AM.

  2. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada


    Loved that photo of Shoshone Falls -- even though it is the dry season -- Makes it seem all the more unusual.


  3. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Day 3 cont........

    North into Montana.

    We left Shoshone Falls well behind schedule and started our journey to our next port of call, Craters of the Moon National Monument. We arrived in the town of Shoshone to discover that road crews had dug the road up in the middle of town and after a delay and driving around a neighbourhood or two we soon discovered we could not continue on US93. There wasn't much in the way of information from diversion signs and 'Ethel' [GPS] was giving us instructions that I thought was going to put us back on US93, but queueing on the wrong side of the roadworks again without any hope of continuing where we wanted to go. We spotted a local man who confirmed we couldn't get on US93 north from town and suggested we took ID75 to US20 and back onto US93. Although it delayed us some more it was a great drive to the 'Peaks to Craters Highway'. As we neared Craters of the Moon there were miles and miles of Lava rock in the surrounding fields close to the Highway.

    As we stood by the information board a woman asked if I would mind taking her photo next to it. She was a small senior lady, all geared up in full leathers with a huge Harley D as her 'steed'. We had a nice chat and after telling us she had ridden all the way from Seattle and was on her way to Glacier NP we said we would keep an eye out for her on the road. Our paths did not cross again, but full respect to the Lady !

    The Craters of the Moon was quite fascinating and once again we spent longer there than we had intended to, but you can't rush a good thing !

    We continued on our way and stopped in Arco and had a very nice lunch in the local Deli- Sandwich- Pizza shop. The drive north on 93 was pleasant as we passed through Mackay to Challis and started to track the Salmon River north surrounded by mountains.

    Unfortunately we didn't have enough time to consider some of the great suggestions we were offered in the planning thread, but there is always another day !

    We did want to stop for a quick break from the car though and I had just the spot, 'Dug out Dick's Place', aka the 'Salmon River caveman'. He seemed to be quite a character and when he passed away at the age of 94 in 2010 the BLM blocked up the caves he had dug for 'safety's sake'. He would often let his caves out to other travellers for $2 a night or long term.One story here.

    We crossed the old bridge and headed a short way up the gravel road. I had heard there wasn't much left to see as the caves had been covered, but we took a little walk and were surprised to find some info boards and his old building tucked around the corner.

    By the door is a small wooden cross with stones holding 2 feathers at it's base.

    It was a quiet, idylic spot, no wonder he fled the nursing home to come back here !

    As we got back on the road we passed a sign informing us that we were half way between the Equator and the North Pole, we were heading to niether. We arrived in Salmon as the sun was setting and we needed fuel and food, we found both side by side and took the easy option, 'fine dining' in Burger king next to the gas station. We then continued our journey to Darby in MT, driving over the steep and twisty Chief Joseph Pass in the dark and into Montana. We arrived in Darby at 9pm and found our Motel. The owner/attendant lived in the room out the back of the office and after ringing the bell he came out in a T- shirt and bed shorts looking ready for sleep. He was very pleasant though, even though I don't think he was expecting us and our booking hadn't been registered. He said he had a room that used to be smoked in but he could tell I wasn't overley impressed, so for an extra $5 he gave us a newly decorated room with a huge tub/Jacuzzi in it, bargain !

    We rounded the day off with a stroll over to Dotsons Bar in town and had a beer. Well Lezli discovered 'Twisted Tea', an alcohol tea drink, her 2 favourites mixed together ! Just kidding, but it did put a smile on her face.

    Mileage 365. Average speed = 48mph. Returned 34mpg

    Total Mileage = 1147.

    Next we continue North to Kalispell.
    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 03-29-2014 at 11:04 AM. Reason: Removed broken Map link

  4. #14



    Good read and feel the enthusiasm of your trip. You bring back some happy memories. Looking forward to your reports to come. Eris.

  5. #15
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default For me too !

    Good read and feel the enthusiasm of your trip. You bring back some happy memories.
    Thanks Eris.

    It was a bit of a whirlwind trip and while looking back over my notes and working through my photos as I write this report, it is already bringing back some memories that were 'stored away'. [Rather than forgotten.)


  6. #16
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Day 4.

    Darby to Kalispell.

    We had less miles to cover today, but a lot of options to explore along the way. However we liked Darby and after a long soak in the huge Jacuzzi/bath tub we had a wander down the main street through town, the place just had a good vibe and we were relaxed. It was another glorious morning ! After having a look in the old Antique store and Candy shop we had a peak at the Marshalls office and then had a great breakfast in Deb's restuarant. They were a real friendly bunch and the service and food was top notch. They asked where we were from and then asked if we would mind writing our name and location on a piece of paper and pin it to the map they had at the counter. We duly obliged as many others clearly already had. The walls were covered in witty signs which kept us amused the whole time we were there. One sign had a replica gun underneath it which read; 'Be nice or leave, we don't dial 911'.

    Darby MT.

    It was time to drag ourselves away from this peaceful town, but it was only a short way out of town that we took a detour to Lake Como. I had read that it can be a mecca for Jet Skies in the summer [not sure how true that is] but today it was so peaceful you could hear a pin drop. Apart from ourselves there was just a father and son fishing on the opposite shore. The lake level was low and had left a beach for us to stroll along. The clear waters reflecting the mountains plus the absolute silence made it tough for us to drag ourselves away, we could have walked, or just sat here for hours.

    Lake Como.

    An hour or so up the road we stopped in Missoula for an hour. We went to a local supermarket and topped up on our water and Trail mix supplies plus a couple of other bits before taking a short stroll over the river by way of the pedestrian bridge near Jacobs Island Park. 'A river runs through it' was a film directed by Robert Redford and starred Brad Pitt and was filmed in and around Missoula and helped put it on the map. To be honest I had not heard of it myself.

    I'm not sure if this statue is of Redford or Pitt, but he's a good looking devil ! [not. LOL]

    After a quick stroll along the river we hit the road again, heading north on US93 once more, the next stop is the National Bison Range. We spotted a large herd of Bison close to the road before we entered the range.

    We entered the park and went to the visitor centre where there was plenty of useful info, friendly staff and a large Bison that had visited the Taxidermist ! After enquiring at the desk we were told that to see the park fully you needed to drive the 19 mile one way gravel road with steep hills and tight curves which would take at least an hour and a half. We were once again checking the clock and thinking it's one way so no turning back, but we decided we're here, it sounds fun, so lets do it.

    Ooops, gotta go, more later..............

  7. #17
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Enjoying the report!

    Loved the peaceful view of Lake Como!

  8. #18
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Day 4, cont........

    Our first Bear !

    The National Bison range is a wildlife refuge formed in 1908 and covers 18500 acres in the southern portion of the Flathead Valley. The rolling prarie land with hills and small mountains offer great views and the streams that create small wetland areas attract other species to the area, such as Elk and Antelope herds. There is very little opportunity to do any walking apart from a couple of short walks near to the top of the mountain, the sight seeing is done from within the car along the gravel road. I guess this is to maintain the Prarie in it's natural state and to keep people safe from the 300 odd Bison that roam here.

    Outside the visitor centre is a stack of Antlers that have been collected from natural deaths.

    As we start the drive it's not long before we are on the 'twisties' as the road winds it's way through the Range. Here you can see a section of the road that does so back along the hillside, although it's a lot steeper than it looks.

    We saw a few lone Bison on the way up but no sign of a big herd like that before we entered.

    On the way we spotted a herd of Antelope a long way off in the distance. I stopped to take a photo and through my telephote lense they suddenly started to look nervous and twitchy. There was no one else around and I thought surely they can't be that camera shy when Lezli said "Look, look" quite excitedly.

    It was our first Bear sighting and although some distance away he made quite a site running across the prarie. It wasn't easy tracking him using 30x zoom from the confines of the car, but I managed to capture one very [below] average shot of him.

    We started to make our way down from the top where the road was steeper and a bit rougher, probably the result of a long season of traffic wear. We saw more Bison, including a big herd of Bison that were way off in the distance, and either Deer or Antelope.

    At the base of the hill their were some 'locals' down at the watering hole.

    We really enjoyed the drive and we could have easily spent longer than the 2.5 hours we did here, but with a 19 mile drive on a road that demands you don't go much over 15/20mph you need at least 2 hours, remember there is no turning back.

    We exited the park on MT212 and took a brief stop at Ninepipe Nat wildlife refuge before rejoining US93 north before turning off again and driving past Pablo Reservoir/wildlife refuge to Kerr Dam. We passed some open farm land on these small rural roads where the harvesters were hard at work before arriving at the dam.

    Kerr dam is an Hydroelectric plant located on the Flathead river and raises the depth of Flathead lake by 10 feet. The concrete arch dam is 205ft tall [higher than Niagara Falls] and is loctated within Flathead Indian Reservation territory, it provides them with an annual income of over $9 million. The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes have a right to take ownership of the dam in 2015 and the transfer is expected to go ahead.

    Ninepipe Refuge.

    Flathead river.

    Kerr Dam from scenic viewpoint.

    We then went to the lakeshore town of Polsen at the southern end of Flathead lake where we strolled in the riverside park eating our snack purchased from a local Deli. It was then north on the west side of the lake and up to Kalispell, our stop for the night. We stopped a couple of times along the way to enjoy the lake, including Big arm State park for views of Wild horse Island. Wild horse Island is still home to a handful of wild horses and other wildlife including bighorn sheep, mule deer, songbirds, waterfowl, bald eagles, and falcons. The horses are reported to have got there when the Salish-Kootenai Indians used it to pasture horses and prevent them from being stolen by other tribes. The Island is only reachable by boat and unfortunately we did not have the time.

    We arrived in Kalispell and checked into our Motel 6 for the night before walking up the road and enjoying a nice Steak and Shrimp at Scotty's bar on the recommendation of the check in clerk.

    Todays mileage 245. Averaging 38mph. Return of 31mpg

    Total miles 1392.


  9. #19
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Day 5, Going to the sun. ?!?

    Glacier NP.

    As far as budget hotels go, we were very pleased with our room at Motel 6 in Kalispell. We walked across the road to the Montana club for breakfast, where I had a very nice traditional Benedict and Lezli had pancake with egg and sausage patte. The food and atmosphere was good and the waitress was amazing, she was so energetic, smiley and bubbly [without being OTT] so I said I would have what ever it was she had had for breakfast and hope it worked on me !

    It was a slow start today and by the time we had wandered back to the Motel, loaded the car and filled up the tank, it was already 11am before we left town. It wasn't much further up the road that the grey skies turned black and the heavens opened, the wipers were on full speed and could barely clear the screen and there was a lot of standing water on the road. It was then that our trip very nearly took a turn for the worse. We were in the centre lane with a truck to our right when an old SUV shot out of a gas station across the 3 lanes of traffic coming towards us. [He must have got impatient waiting as he had no right to go when he did with the oncoming traffic] The lane on my left was vacant so I thought he would filter into that, although I was now alert to him. I don't know what he was thinking but he drove straight into our lane right in front of us , which caused me to have to brake heavily and swerve to the outside lane as smoothly as I possibly could, missing him by fractions. I knew it was close when Lezli's silence was broken as she cursed [rare event] and removed her foot from the imaginary passenger brake peddle !

    My original plan was to take North Fork road [486] up to small community of Polebridge MT and then into Glacier to McDonald Lake on Camas road. The weather was really heavy now, it was grey and everything was cloud covered so there was not much to see, plus it was later than planned, so we went straight to Apgar village next to Lake McDonald via West Glacier on US2.

    Just when we thought it couldn't get much worse it rained even heavier, so we went into the gift shops in the village and spent longer than we normally would have done. My thoughts were turning to our drive over the Going to the Sun road today and looking at the mountains I didn't hold out much hope for the spectacular views I was hoping for. Right up until this point we had been spoilt with the weather with every moment we had ever spent in the States and I knew it, so it was a case of shaking off the dissapointment and hoping for the best.

    The weather started to lighten a little and I managed a couple of shots of Lake McDonald before the weather moved in again and we moved on.

    We started on our way up the GTTSR and stopped at Lake McDonald Lodge where we bought a snack from the qauint little store located nearby. The clouds continued to cover the mountains but as the heavy rain had turned to a drizzle it seemed a good idea to walk in the woods and took to the Trail of the Cedars and Avalanche creek with a stop at McDonald Creek. One advantage of the rain is that the Creeks and rivers were flowing nicely. [Always look on the bright side of life !]

    McDonald Creek.

    Trail of the Cedars.

    Avalanche Creek.

    All the time the cloud was hugging to the mountain tops, it would clear at times to show us some of the beauty along the GTTSR, the cloud made it quite spectacular at times and at others blanked our views completely. We stopped at 'The Loop' and it was clear enough for a while to see Heavens Peak and surrounding mountains.

    Some shots along the GTTSR.

    We got a glimpse of Jackson Glacier on the way, but for 2 or 3 miles high up on the road we could barely see 20 yards in front of us.

    We were staying in a cabin at the Rising Sun motor Inn by St Marys Lake, and as we approached the lake in good time, we decided to walk to St Marys Falls before checking in for the night. It was early evening and the light was fading under the cloud cover as we made our way to the Falls. We passed a few people on the way but by the time we got to the Falls everyone had left and we had the place to ourselves.

    We spent close to an hour at the Falls and river. There was complete silence, other than the noise of flowing water, and as the mountains began to reveal themselves from the cloud cover, we 'breathed in' the moment. Back at our cabin we sat on the porch and reflected on what had turned out to be a great day. We went over to the 'Two Dogs Flat' dining room had a great meal, followed by a drink sitting on our cabins porch under the [now] clear starry night sky.

    Todays mileage 88. Average speed =24mph. Return= 28mpg

    Total mileage = 1480


  10. #20
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Day 6

    Many Glacier to Great Falls MT.

    Although a little overcast this morning it was a much better start to the day, the sun trying to break through and light up the mountain tops.. As we sat on the porch with our morning coffee I was debating whether or not to drive back to Logan Pass to see the views that were clouded out yesterday. The higher mountains still had cloud hanging onto them and the Many Glacier section of the park was on our agenda today, so we decided to leave going back to the pass for another day, an excuse to come back. Not that we need one !

    Just chillin'

    We walked cross the road to St Marys Lake before heading to the 'Two Dog Flats' diner that provided an excellent breakfast that consisted of a wonderful Huckleberry syrup over Waffles with sausage and strawberries. Wierd Huh ? But somehow it worked.

    St Marys Lake.

    It was tough leaving our lovely little cabin and wished we could spend another night here, but it was time to hit the road. We drove the rest of the Going to the Sun road alongside St Mary Lake to St Mary and then headed north on 89 alongside Lower St Mary Lake until we reached Many Glacier Road and then headed past Lake Sherburne to Many Glacier. The skys were clearing leaving some cloud clinging to the peaks, the scenery was quite spectacular.

    We stopped at Many Glacier by Swiftcurrent Lake and had a short walk across the bridge at Swiftcurrent Creek, but as it was busy here we didn't stay long and continued to Swiftcurrent Inn for a walk along the Continental Divide Trail to Fishercap and Redrock Lakes. It was an easy hike that was not to busy and the views were fantastic once again. We found a small secluded path to detour down to the shore of Redrock Lake and sat down and had a drink. As we were taking in the peaceful surroundings another visitor had found a quiet spot to have a paddle and a drink.

    Mr Moose.

    I'm not sure what is in the water up here but he looked a little unsteady on his feet. We watched him for 15 mins or so and at about the time we decided to make a move, so did he and he wandered off around the corner and out of sight. We got back to the Swiftcurrent Inn around 2pm, it was a lot quieter than when we had arrived, so we had our lunch here and very nice it was too ! We try and make a point of eating at slightly odd hours, when most other people have finished eating. We find it more relaxing as it is quieter and the staff are not under so much pressure.

    It was getting near 3pm when we started to head towards the park exit and to Great Falls MT for the night, but we didn't get far before we were stopping again, thanks to this little fella.

    We arrived in Great Falls just after 6pm and checked into our Hotel, La Quinta Inn by the Missouri River. This was a wonderful Hotel ! After checking in and having a coffee we decided to walk up to Riverside Park and check out Sacajawea Island, named so in honour of the Shoshone Indian girl who became famous in helping the Lewis and Clark expedition. We passed the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Passenger Depot on the way where stood a statue of what I think was, half Bison and half fish. We enjoyed a sunset by the Missouri river before heading back to the MacKenzie river Pizza Co. for an evening meal. It was located next door to the hotel. Great Pizza washed down with 'Mikeys Hard Lemonade along with friendly service made the perfect end to a perfect day !

    Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Passenger Depot,

    Sunset over the Missouri River.

    Todays mileage 210. Average speed 49mph. Returned 33mpg

    Total Mileage 1690


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