Oh, Give Me a Home Where the……. National Bison Range, Montana – May 13-15

Our next adventure was visiting the National Bison Range in Montana. To break the trip up we spent one night in Cheney, Washington at Ponderosa Falls Resort, $10/night with Coast to Coast points. We broke camp early the next day and headed to our base of operations for the bison caper, St Regis, Montana. We stayed at the St. Regis Campground for $43/night with Good Sam’s. This is a beautiful area in a beautiful state.

After setting up camp we decided to tour the area and then head over to the Bison Range early the next morning. The afternoon local tour was great. The area has Quinn’s Hot Springs Resort on the Clark Fork River, many scenic drives and trails. We really enjoyed the afternoon.

We got an early start the next day and were on the way to the National Bison Range by 8 AM. The Bison Range was dedicated in 1908 as a National Wildlife refuge, the oldest in the United States. It is the top bison research center in the US. A little history about the bison, also known as the buffalo. Bison is the correct word for this majestic creature. Buffalo is also an accepted term but the purist out there may give you a little grief over it. By 1890 the bison were nearing extinction due to the US Government’s efforts to eradicate the bison during the Indian Wars. The plan was to kill off the Native Americans by starvation by getting rid of their major food source, then move the survivors to reservations. It was a land grab by the European settlers, aided and abetted by the US Government. Sad.

The National Bison Range is 18,800 acres in the Lake and Sanders Counties of Montana. It is in the Mission Mountain Range and is located in the area of the Glacial Lake Missoula, a glacial lake formed more than 18,000 years ago. There is a small remnant of the glacial lake in the valley. The valley is spectacular, as are the views, the fauna and the flora. This National treasure only gets 250,000 visitors a year. It’s a little known gem.

We decided to take the Red Sleep Mountain Drive through the bison range. The drive is a 19 mile, one-way dirt road which winds over the mountain and valley. It did not disappoint us! Magnificent! The area was in full spring bloom and we had a great experience there. I highly recommending a day there. You can drive the road through the range in 2.5 hours but if you travel that fast, you’ll miss so much. We spent about 6 hours taking everything in. It was exciting. Ray had a small encounter with a teenage bull. The bull side eyed him, snorted and pawed the ground. Ray slowly and quietly moved inside the open door of the truck. Trouble averted. Please enjoy the following pictures. I had fun taking them.

We enjoyed this area very much. We watched animals interacting with each other. The Pronghorns were nestled for their rest right in the middle of the bison herd. The valley was full of song birds that we sat and listened to as we watched the herds. What a great way to spend a day.

Next up: Glacier National Park. Thanks for reading!

If it’s Tuesday, it must be Torrey, Utah. April 9-12 Capitol Reef, Fruita, Escalante

Our home for the next few days was Thousand Lakes RV Resort ($36.45/night with Good Sam’s) just outside of Torrey, Utah. Torrey has a population of 180 with median household income of $47,369. It’s a good place to anchor for day trips to surrounding areas.

The weather was a little unpredictable with snow and flurries on higher elevations and warmer weather in the valleys. That didn’t slow us down one bit. An interesting thing happened at the Torrey Trading Post. As we were leaving, after a very long day, we were approached by two ladies from the local paper. They talked to us about our visit and took our photo for the paper. It was a nice exchange. Almost famous!

The first day we visited the Fruita Mormon settlement and the Fremont area of the Capitol Reef Park. The Mormons settled the area near the juncture of Fremont River and Sulfur Creek in 1880. The group was led by Nels Johnson and originally called the settlement “Junction.” The name was changed in 1902-1904 to Fruita because of the large orchards that were established by the Mormons on the Fremont River. The town was abandoned after World War II with just a few buildings remaining. This is a beautiful area with large herds of mule deer and Petroglyphs. If you’ve been following my blog you know I love petroglyphs.

We rode out to the Grand Wash Trail, a nice trail that weaves in and out of a dry river bed or wash, known as the Waterpocket fold. We took the Grand Wash Road, a winding dirt and rock road out to the trail head. The trail is about 2.2 miles one way but well worth it. It’s rated as an easier trail but it is rocky and uneven. Make sure to take a lot of water as it was 89 degrees while we were there this month. Make sure to watch for rains as there are flash floods anytime and the trail runs on a wash. There are petroglyphs and pioneer records on the walls in areas of this trail. I thoroughly enjoyed this hike and was invigorated when finished. The down side as I see it was the total disrespect for the petroglyphs as modern vandals (no other word for it) have ruined many of them by carving their names and dates. Too bad.

Our next adventure was the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. This area is one of the most remote in the United States and dinosaur fossils are still being found near there. The latest was found in 2013 and has been dated as 75 million years old. Human settlers have been in the area since the Basketmaker era AD 500. The first white settlers was Captain James Andrus in 1866, when he led group of cavalry to the headwaters of the Escalante River. The Mormons on the 1879 San Juan Expedition passed through the Monument, answering the call to start colonies in southeastern Utah. We visited the Hole-In-The-Rock Museum and it was fascinating.

Some of the roads in the Monument were closed due to late snows but we enjoyed what we could see.

This was a marvelous adventure and I recommend visiting this area. Next up: Kanab, Utah… Bryce Canyon and Zion…. Stay tuned!