There’s nothing quite like a summer road trip, especially in Montana. An incredible sense of freedom comes when you drive the back roads, pass through small towns, over mountain passes, through wildlife refuges and ghost towns. Keith Graham is instructing, or should I say, leading the road trip convoy for the Road Trip Montana workshop. We asked him what the week was going to be like and he sent this enticing itinerary:
Our Road Trip.
Once we leave Bozeman we will head down small roads past Norris Hot Springs and into the town of Ennis. The Madison River flows through Ennis and the valley has views of the Tobacco Root Mountains to the west and the Madison Range to the southeast.
About 15 miles south of Ennis we’ll head up a small road to see some gorgeous wildflowers. We will be on the Gravelly Range, home to the Madison Marathon, the highest marathon in the U.S., with ridge tops that are over 10,000 feet. Last year’s wildflowers were the second best in the last 30 years. We hope for another similar display this year. We’ll bunk in the town of Dillon that night. Don’t forget to check out the Patagonia Outlet in downtown Dillon – a must stop.
Next we head out to Bannack, one of the best-preserved ghost towns in the West and the first Territorial Capital of Montana. We go south 13 miles on a tiny dirt road. The Centennial Mountains will be ahead of you and the Snowcrest Range on your right. We actually jump on the Interstate for about 30 minutes – but don’t worry, we exit just before we enter Idaho and hit another dirt road that goes 28 miles before we enter the Red Rocks Lakes National Wildlife Refuge. The land is open, there are two small lakes, and mountains rise just to the south of the refuge. The evening and morning light makes for great landscape images. We’ll be staying at the Elk Lake Resort for the night. The dinner at the lodge will be fabulous. The next morning we will head east over some quiet mountain roads with forest views and perhaps we’ll spot some wildlife. We stay in Big Timber your last three nights. You will see the oldest church in Montana, 100-yr-old family-owned ranches, Shields Valley, and you’ll get to see the Crazy Mountains from both the east and west side. Depending on time we may get to venture to Halfbreed Lake National Wildlife Refuge or Hailstone National Wildlife Refuge.
Our last adventure will be covering the Big Timber rodeo, a sure-fire evening of fun.
Bring your camera, sunscreen, mosquito spray, bear spray and your imagination. And don’t forget your four-wheel drive vehicle. It’s the only way we can go for this off the road adventure.
P.S. Whoever comes will be guaranteed muddy boots, lack of oxygen on the mountain tops, glorious landscapes, a few annoying mosquitoes, a moose or two, lakes and creeks and rivers, good food and lots of hiking and great memories….plus photos you can’t find by being a couch potato!
Keith has spent countless hours driving across Montana and photographing rodeos. Here are some of his images.
Tags | Bog Timber Rodeo, Bozeman, Dillion, Montana, photography, road trip, Wildlife refuge