Glacier National Park
I have wanted to make the trek to Glacier National Park for years now, so it was nice to see my desires realized. While I was there, Glacier was celebrating its 100 years as a National Park. 100 years ago there were more than 150 glaciers in the park; today, sadly only 25 remain—which was certainly a disappointment since the few that remain are difficult to reach, as much of the park is inaccessible by vehicle. Glacier National Park is quite stunning, with beautiful ice-carved terrain of ragged ridges, protruding peaks and dramatic vistas—with over 200 lakes, waterfalls abound and thick forests covering more than 1.2-million acres. Deer are among the most commonly spotted wildlife but elk, moose, mountain goats, eagles, bighorn sheep, wolves, grizzly and black bears (I actually saw a grizzly right at the west entrance one day) roam its wild vastness.In summer a plethora of flowers, grasses and budding trees covers the landscape high and low. Snow-white mountain goats, with their wispy white beards and curious stares, are seen in alpine areas, and sure-footed bighorn sheep graze the high meadows in the short summers. The largest population of grizzly bears in the lower 48 states lives in-and-around the park. Since I visited Glacier during the summer, I can only imagine the contrast of the winter and how wonderful it would be to go exploring with a pair of cross-country skis or snowshoes.
UnderCover Ale Works
Nestled hillside off highway 70, just outside of Graeagle, CA, I discovered (thanks to my friend Debra) a covert local attraction fermenting liquor of the malted variety. UnderCover Ale Works is the brainchild of Rich and Susan, two artisan brewmasters with a passion for hop-infused spirits. There were a number of folks at the brewery, all intently listening to Rich enthusiastically tell us about the beer making process. After a while, we each took a glass of our favorite style ale and headed to some outdoor seating in a clearing among tall pines. It was a lovely evening, so I broke out my chessboard and challenged Debra to a game. We ended up playing three…actually, the third game never finished as lively discussions began to ensue.
Beartooth Highway 78
No trip to Red Lodge would be complete without taking a drive through the Beartooth highway. Designated an All-American Road in 2002, the Beartooth Highway has been described by Charles Kuralt (former CBS newsman) as “the most beautiful drive in America.” Reaching heights of nearly 11,000 feet, the 50-mile drive offers awe-inspiring views of snow capped peaks, glaciers, alpine lakes and plateaus (note: Hwy 212 is only open seasonally). Recreation opportunities are abundant in the area. Visitors can cross-country ski in; hike across the broad plateaus; view and photograph wildlife (Rocky Mountain goat, moose, black bear, grizzly bear, marmots, mule deer); take a guided horseback trip; fish for trout in the streams and lakes and camp in the thirteen National Forest campgrounds. Even when the Highway is formally closed to cars, snowmobilers may travel the route and enjoy a spectacular winter wonderland.