Monday, June 30, 2014 It was a blustery morning with winds gusting out of the northwest. Part of our drive today will give us a cross breeze and that will be the worst for driving. It’s supposed to get worse by this afternoon, but we should be parked and secure by then. Today’s high should reach 64 degrees in Red Lodge where we’re staying tonight. Back down in the valley, the temps will climb to the 90’s. Hopefully, the wind will end soon. It’s doing a number on our gas mileage.
Traveling through the Crow Nation, there were a lot of horses grazing in fields. Many of them were beautiful pintos. I’m a horse lover, so I love to see it. One of the few travel trailers we saw on the road today was a Sunset Trails like ours. We’ve traveled 3000 miles so far and this is the first one of our vintage we’ve seen. Traveling away from the Bighorn Mountains, the land became flat prairie grassland sprinkled with sagebrush, interspersed with fields of tillable farmland. Near Billings, the topography changed drastically with steep hills and added trees.
Rimrocks appeared along the bluffs.
Descending from the hills into the city of Billings, we got a view of the snow-capped mountains of the Absaloka and Beartooth Ranges.
Granite Peak, (12,799 ft.) is part of that range and the highest point in Montana.
Passing on the southern outskirts of the city, we saw the rimrocks–Billings’ most stiking natural feature that rise 400 ft. above the Yellowstone Valley running the length of the city and beyond.
The highway took us southwest with a great view of the mountains.
As we drove, the mountains always seemed to be in front of us. The road seemed to run right towards the mountains and Granite Peak. As we got closer and closer to the mountains, the views became more magnificent.
Before I knew it, we were at our destination–Red Lodge KOA just outside of the town of Red Lodge. I was so busy admiring the view, that we were there in no time, arriving at 11:15.
We pulled into our campsite, set up, and had lunch.
It stayed extremely windy the whole way to Red Lodge and still cool, but I couldn’t contain my excitement of being close to the mountains and one step closer to Glacier Nat’l Park. We hung out for awhile and then decided to take a ride into town.
On our way into town, we could see the Red Lodge Mountain Ski Area. According to the locals, they are still skiing higher up in the mountains off the Beartooth Highway.
Red Lodge is bigger than I thought it would be and seems to be a thriving, growing town.
We parked and walked down Main St. to check it out. I wanted to stop in the Snow Creek Saloon, but it wasn’t open today.
This old bank is where Sundance Kid committed one of his first robberies. He was caught and returned to Deadwood according to the plaque on the wall.
Main Street is very welcoming with flower pots adorning the street lights and lots of benches for resting awhile. This one was very creative. A good use of your old skies.
This building is the 1859 Carbon County Courthouse with the words Justitia Dedicata inscribed above the door.
We found an old country candy store. We bought a 25 cent bag of popcorn and some old-fashioned candy. It was decorated with many antiques.
On a hill behind Main St. sat what looked like an old mine in the side of the hill.
We had to have a beer to wash down the popcorn, so we stopped in the Snag Bar. (We were parked right in front of it).
It was very unique inside with a tin ceiling and a ornately decorated back bar. The wood inside was all original and the bartender/owner was very personable. We had a great time talking with him about the town, the Beartooth Highway, and sights to see nearby.
We made our way back to the campground after a stop at the True Value and Beartooth Grocery Store. Bob bought some steaks and said we would reward ourselves with a steak dinner tomorrow if we make it back from our Beartooth Highway drive. Here’s a picture of the road we’ll drive tomorrow just for the thrill and the scenery.
It was dubbed the “most beautiful road in America” by Charles Kuralt and voted #1 motorcycling road in America. It climbs to 10, 947 feet above sea level. It has 20 peaks over 12,000 ft. in elevation, including Granite Peak, Montana’s highest. It has over 950 alpine lakes and hundreds of miles of trails. It winds it’s way from Red Lodge to the northeast entrance of Yellowstone National Park, but we will only go as far at Cooke City, about 50 miles. I can’t wait! We ate dinner and took our evening walk waiting for the wind to die down this evening. It was a great day!