Talk about a road trip! We logged some serious mileage, checked some blocks, discovered charming towns, spectacular views, snow, wildlife, delicious bakeries and a taco bus worth seeking out. I will definitely keep these on my list of places for future exploring.
Big Sky Country + More
Montana, you did not disappoint! Sweeping, open spaces with rolling foothills, rivers, mountains and truly the most cows I’ve seen in one state.
One of of my adventure buddies and I set out to take in the Beartooth Highway in Montana. I had never heard of this 68 mile, National Scenic Byways All American Road linking Red Lodge, MT and the northeastern entrance to Yellowstone National Park.
After a long day in the car and several misadventures our first stop was the town of Dillion. Originally founded as a railroad town thanks to its proximity to gold mines Dillion is a bustling small town filled with friendly locals and tourists -LOTS of outdoor recreation and agriculture in this area. If you find yourself in Dillion and like Mexican food the Fiesta Mexicana Taco Bus is a MUST!
Nevada City, MT
Nevada City, MT gives you a glimpse into what a mining town looked like in its heydays. This town is a “living historical museum” (aka tourist destination). Luckily, we stopped attracted by the authentic old west look. On this sleepy summer morning we had the place mostly to ourselves. We walked through time down the wooden boardwalk marveling at the huge collection of history.
Red Lodge, MT 😍
I loved this little town! Not only is it located by the Beartooth Mountains – Montana’s highest peaks – it’s a charming and welcoming town. We arrived just in time to walk to downtown and check out locally owned shops and restaurants. There was decent mountain food for dinner and then Cattail Bakery for breakfast treats and treats for the road. I stocked up on a muffin, cherry strudel and something called a morning roll – worth every extra calorie!!
The Beartooth Highway
We quickly climbed up out of town and headed into the mountains. The highway takes you up, up and up via switchbacks to 10, 947 feet. There was plenty of snow still hanging around but not a ton of traffic or people. We could stop at all the overlooks and take as many pictures as we wanted! The views are spectacular and at the end we discovered Cooke City. Boosting a summer population of 300, this charming town is an outdoor lover’s dream! Shops and restaurants dot the main thoroughfare. Not to be missed is MontAsia “serving world class takeout” – this is no exaggeration!
Yellowstone and Beyond!
From Cooke City we wound down into Yellowstone National Park. The views were epic, the crowds moderate and the wildlife abundant. We saw bison, elk, bison, deer, bison, bears, bison, pronghorn and did I mention bison? There are a lot of bison in Yellowstone. In fact, Yellowstone is the only place in the US where bison have lived continuously since prehistoric times and they seem to be a species that is doing well there.
We stopped in Ashton, ID for the night. Bring your own food, but DEFINITELY DO stop in the Shoppe on Main for coffee and maybe a unique gift or souvenir. You’ll be delighted by the owner, the coffee and the local creations.
Morning coffee and tea in hand we headed to Salmon, ID. We got there just in time to catch their Farmer’s Market. Exploring the streets of this scenic, mountain town was just what we needed. Good advice from a local sent us to Oddfellows Bakery for some lunch. We both purchased a beautiful loaf of bread and we split a pastry to go. Back to the car to finish up our epic tour through Stanley and Idaho City then home to Boise. This was a long way for a day, but we both had commitments at home and couldn’t do the 2- night minimum weekend stay in Stanley (this time).