RV Life – Year 3 – Mountain Summer Pt.2

Eye of the Beholder - RV Life - Year 3 - Mountain Summer Pt.2
Going to the Sun Road, Glacier National Park

A mountain summer offers a delightful season of natural beauty.

The national parks of Wyoming and Montana can turn that delight into a sense of awe.

mountain summer

Our Mountain Summer was meeting expectations. The elevation we had gained since leaving the Texas Coast carried us to over 6,000 feet above sea level. The temperatures ranged from the lower 60s to the lower 80s, with low humidity in the 30-35% level. This produced the pleasant summer climate we were hoping for.

It was mid-July, 2019 when we moved the rig west from Rock Springs, Wyoming. Our destination was about 6 hours away, in the southwestern corner of Montana. We followed I-80 towards Fort Bridger, turning north onto MT Highway 412 to connect with US 189. At Diamondville, we headed west again on US 30, which eventually turns north near the Idaho border. At the town of Alpine Junction, the highway bends to the northwest and crosses into Idaho.

Eye of the Beholder - RV Life - Year 3 - Mountain Summer Pt.2

The majestic Grand Teton National Park beckoned to us from the distant horizon.

The Tetons remain a bucket list location for us that we will surely return to for a long visit. But we were on a mission for Montana, so the Tetons would have to wait.

With a few zig-zags on the north side of Idaho Falls we found US Highway 20 and continued north.

mountain summer

At Henry’s Lake State Park, we turned onto State Hwy 87 and crossed into Montana. The road meets-up with US Highway 287. This is the Madison River Valley, as beautiful as it gets, in southwest Montana. We parked at the Driftwaters Resort in the middle of this remote valley, about 25 miles south of the town of Cameron.

We had a spectacular spot with commanding views of the Madison Range and the Beaverhead Mountains. Over the next couple of weeks, we explored all over this region. A few of our favorites from the area include …

Yellowstone National Park mountain summer

Barely an hour’s drive from the campground is the West Yellowstone entrance into the park. We took a daytrip there, exploring many of the most popular stops inside the park. Geysers, springs, pools, basins, and waterfalls were all amazing. There’s so much to see and do in our nation’s first national park that I could devote an entire article to it. You should definitely go!

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Henry’s Lake State Park mountain summer

Just 30 minutes to the south of the Driftwaters Resort is this Idaho State Park. We drove to the marina, checked-out the campground and picnic spots, and wandered along the shoreline. We also drove around the residential areas near the lake gawking at the beautiful lake homes and cabins like annoying tourists .

mountain summer

Palisades Recreation Area mountain summer

This primitive campground area is a beautiful spot conveniently located right off US-287 on the banks of the Madison River. An impressive canyon wall rises high above the river valley.

Ennis, MT mountain summer

About 40 miles north of our spot near Cameron is the town of Ennis, where Madison River fly fishing is the central theme all over town. Surrounded by three beautiful mountain ranges (Madison Range, Gravelly Range, Tobacco Root Mountains), Ennis is a good-time western town full of cowboys, anglers, and outdoor enthusiasts. A lasting memory from our visit there was a delicious plate of traditional Shoshone fry bread smeared with local wildflower honey and huckleberry preserves. So good!

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Bozeman mountain summer

We took a daytrip to Bozeman, following the scenic route along the Gallatin Highway (US 191) through some incredible mountain landscapes. On the way back, on MT Highway 84, it was such a pleasant day that we had the windows down and the vents open to breathe-in the fresh mountain air. At about the same moment we both noticed a sweet aroma of honey. It was strong and pleasant, filling our senses with joy. We pulled over and stepped out to find the source of this delightful odor. It was the vast fields of yellow clover all around us. We picked a few blooms along the roadside and smelled them deeply. These little flowers smelled just like a fresh jar of raw honey, and there were thousands of them all over the place. We later learned that these blooms are called Yellow Sweetclover.

mountain summer

Our next destination was about 6-hours further north into Montana. On the shores of Flathead Lake is the small town of Lakeside, near Kalispell. We parked at the Edgewater RV Park and enjoyed a gorgeous view of the lake and mountains.

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We rented a boat from Wild Wave Rentals and spent the day on the clear waters of Flathead Lake. It was a perfectly warm and sunny day with light wind and calm waters. We traveled down to Wild Horse Island and back, stopping a few times to float in silence, listening to the lapping of waves, and the occasional call of a majestic bald eagle soaring high on the wind.

Eye of the Beholder - RV Life - Year 3 - Mountain Summer Pt.2

I knew that the water would be too cold for swimming, but decided to take the plunge anyway.

It was indeed a chilly jolt of glacial melt-water, but it was so refreshing and clean that I had to do it twice!

We explored all around the Kalispell and Flathead Lake area. A couple of memorable places include;

Ross Creek Cedars mountain summer

In the Kootenai National Forest, the 100-acre Ross Creek Scenic Area is home to a grove of giant western red cedars. Some of these trees are 12 feet around, 175 feet high, and 500 years old. We enjoyed a delightful picnic lunch in the shade of these giants with a pleasant aroma of natural cedar. We then strolled along a smooth nature trail through the old-growth forest.

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Kintla Lake mountain summer

We took an adventure road way out into the wilderness to Kintla Lake. Near the Canadian border, on the western edge of Glacier National Park, this rugged road was more primitive than I expected. We bounced along slowly for nearly an hour and finally reached the southern shore of the remote alpine lake. The beauty was stunning.

We wandered around the shoreline and enjoyed a lakeside picnic. After lunch I decided to trek-off alone to explore a nature trail running along the western shore. It was so peaceful and quiet that I found myself immersed in the nature experience. I stopped to snap a couple of photos and stood there in silence for several minutes.

An eerie feeling came over me as I realized how absolutely still everything around me was. Then it dawned on me. I was all alone, miles from civilization, in grizzly bear country! Trusting my intuition, I did a quick 180 and hiked out of there double-time. I don’t know if there was a bear nearby, but wasn’t going to hang around to find out!

We left Flathead Lake for our main destination, Glacier National Park. Less than two hours away from Lakeside is the tiny town of Essex, Montana, conveniently situated half-way between the East & West Glacier park entry points. We set-up camp at the Glacier Meadow RV Park and Campground.

Eye of the Beholder - RV Life - Year 3 - Mountain Summer Pt.2
Parking the Crusader in Essex. A glorious meadow in the heart of glacier country.

We were excited to begin exploring the main attraction, and our RV site was as beautiful as it gets. The only hitch was, we had no signal, for anything. No Internet, no cell phone, no TV, not even a radio station! The mountains blocked everything. See my Prepare for Launch article about My Internet & Phone.

As you can imagine, this was a problem for my Monday-Friday work schedule. I spoke with the campground office and they advised that my best bet would be the nearby towns of East Glacier or Browning.

Eye of the Beholder - RV Life - Year 3 - Mountain Summer Pt.2

In the heart of the Blackfeet Nation, East Glacier is a 30-minute drive from the RV park and Browning is about 45 minutes.

We drove to these two towns to explore options, checking libraries, hotels, coffee shops, and even the Glacier Peaks Casino.

There were no good options, so I had little choice but to spend the next couple of weeks working from the truck.

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Fortune offered a small favor when I found a live power outlet on a telephone pole in East Glacier next to a tourist information booth. So, I drove the 30 minutes into town every morning for the next 2 weeks, as if I were commuting to an office, and ran an extension cord to the outlet. I brought a cooler of drinks and snacks, and when I needed a restroom, it was only a couple blocks down the street to a gas station.

Despite the hassle, it worked out, and I was treated to some incredible sunrise drives during my “commute”. I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed such a beautiful window office as I did for those 2 weeks!

mountain summer

We explored all over the majestic Creation called Glacier National Park, viewing some of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. Some personal favorites include …

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Our most memorable experience was driving the Going to the Sun Road to Logan Pass. There are no words I can use to adequately describe how stunning this scenic drive is. This is something you absolutely must do for yourself.

I will never forget the awesome display of natural beauty as we rounded the corner near the Weeping Wall. Cheri gasped and urged me to stop. We pulled over and stepped out, utterly stunned to silence as we stood there in awe. Time seemed to slow as we gazed at the beautiful distance. I was moved in my soul by the majesty of it, as profound as my first encounter with the Grand Canyon. I understand clearly now why people refer to this masterpiece as the Crown of the Continent.

We reached the summit at Logan Pass and stopped at the Visitor Center to purchase a few souvenirs. We walked along a nature trail and was treated to a wildlife viewing opportunity as several rams were wandering around the area.

When we pulled-out of Essex for our next Montana destination, we were happy in our hearts with the incredible gift of Glacier National Park.

Psalm 145:5

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Steve Coryell