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Laughing Horse Lodge, Swan Lake, Montana

What is the Laughing Horse Lodge all about? The name sounds a bit whimsical, but a little more digging tells the full story about this lodging gem. To begin, the Laughing Horse Lodge is a seasonal business, opening on May 12 and closing in October in 2019. May 12 is Mother’s Day and the Laughing Horse aims to please mom. At brunch you’ll be entertained with music by Second Wind. At supper, Electric Avenue Blues is on the “stage.” In the main lodge, visitors are greeting by a cozy dining area and a bar. Chef Kathleen is a wonderful lady and she wants to make you feel right at home. In case you want authenticity, listen to Kathleen:  “In our 18th years here at the Horse, the practices we have tried to implement as much as possible are providing natural, hormone-free, known-sourced food…”  Dining here is special. Try Kathleen’s baked cambozola topped with Turkish figs and warm organic fig preserves served with crostini. A lovely garden is immediately out the back door. A few steps away are several small cabins all nicely decorated with log furniture and western art. Cozy quilts cover the beds. No TVs, great! Very homey for sure. Laughing Horse Lodge is located a few miles south of Bigfork on Montana Highway 83. Glacier National park and Flathead Lake are not too far away. If I were asked to give a rating, I’d say the Laughing Horse gets five stars. Contact them at 406-886-2080. Laughing Horse Lodge.

Red Lodge Music Festival Montana

The highly acclaimed Red Lodge Music Festival is a premier event in Montana.  Participants learn and perform:  musical groups include wind ensembles, jazz ensembles, and orchestras.  Talent shows, ball games and more make this event so enjoyable.

Performances, by faculty and students, are scheduled for the general public and are held at the Red Lodge Civic Center Auditorium.  For 2019, this event runs June 1-9.

Schedule of performances open to public, Red Lodge Music Festival:

Faculty Chamber Concerts are June 1, 2, 3, 5, and 8.
Concerts begin at 7:30 and are held at the Civic Center.
Tickets are $12.00 each per concert.

Student ensemble concerts are Thursday and Friday the 6th and 7th and start at 7:00.  No charge.   The final band and orchestra concert is Sunday afternoon, June 9th.

Don’t miss this one.  A ton of talent here.  So nice.

Mountain Man Rendezvous in Montana

The era of the mountain man, the most active period being roughly 1810-1850, is one of the most interesting periods in northern Rocky Mountain history.  People who live in Montana have not forgotten this special period.

Modern day folks gather to celebrate the culture and history of mountain men.  These events are called a rendezvous.  This summer a dedicated bunch of locals in western Montana puts on a great show at the Wildhorse Rendezvous, near Cyr and Alberton, about 18 miles west of Missoula.  Specific location is Saw Mill Gulch in the Lolo National Forest. 

No Green River excesses (as of early day gatherings, 1830s, of mountain men in Wyoming) at the Wildhorse Rendezvous.  This event is pure family fun.

In 2019, Wildhorse Rendezvous runs mainly Saturday & Sunday, May 25-26.  Active participation or just hanging out is okay.  Public welcome.  Vendors come too with period clothing and food. 

Check out their Website at:

Cafes in Montana Locals Like

Popular wisdom says, if you want to eat at good cafes with best prices go where the locals go.   Even while travelers and tourists occasionally want to seek out fine dining in new cities, at times just a great meal is all that’s wanted.  A few good cafes in Montana come to mind:  In Helena, Steve’s Cafe; in Bozeman, Western Cafe; in Missoula, Burns Street Bistro; and in Billings, Dude Rancher Restaurant. 

Price comparisons are interesting.  For example bacon, eggs, and biscuit/toast cost:

Steve’s Cafe, Helena:  $7.95
Western Cafe, Bozeman:  $6.50
Burns Street Bistro, Missoula:  $9.00
Dude Rancher Restaurant, Billings:  $9.00 (includes hashbrowns)

Tourists are usually unfamiliar with local communities, so finding the best cafes can be elusive.  Hey you can always pay more. The Shack Restaurant in Missoula quoted $13.00.  Asking a local on the street corner or a clerk in a store often points the way.  Another clue is to watch  where local policemen dine.  As a tourist, you don’t want to turn this search into a science.  But money saved on dining can leave more cash for other fun things.

*data from phone interviews March, 2, 2019 or from online menu

Glacier National Park Can be Dangerous; Death for Some

Glacier National Park is a place where nature is king, and nature operates and plays by its own rules, not the niceties and within boundaries understood and set by man.  Since 1910, when Glacier National Park was established, 260 people have suffered death at the hands of nature  and from other causes in Glacier.  Many more experienced dangerous situations and lived to tell about it.

The National Park Service does all it can do within its power to make the park safe for visitors. But when nature and people come together, bad things can sometimes happen.

For those who want to learn more about tragedy from Glacier’s history, the book Death & Survival in Glacier National Park: True Tales of Tragedy, Courage, and Misadventure by C. W. Guthrie (Farcountry Press, 2017) tells the story.  Still another book, “Death in Glacier National Park: Stories of Accidents and Foolhardiness in the Crown of the Continent by Randi Minetor (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016) recounts much of the same.

Perhaps the most shocking and tragic event in Glacier’s history occurred in August,1967.  Within the space of a few short hours, at separate locations in the park, two teenage girls, Julie Helgeson from Minnesota and Michele Koons from California, met death at the hands of marauding grizzly bears. This story is told in a book entitled Night of the Grizzlies, by Jack Olsen (Homestead, 1995).

Visitors to Glacier should learn lessons from the past and be careful; further, religiously heed and follow the rules and guidelines for visitor activities and behavior set forth by the National Park Service. Every visit to Glacier should and can be a wonderful and safe experience.  This post is not of the cheery sort, but of important things to know about nevertheless.

Bozeman MT – Town of High Prices

Bozeman is a very expensive city for travelers.  A local hotel recently charged $339 for a one night stay in late September. At one restaurant on Main Street a simple buffalo burger with coffee cost $20.13 (including tip).  A car rental (Wednesday to Wednesday) in September, from a local new car dealership, for a Chevy Malibu cost $591.43.  One visitor offers, “visitors to Bozeman should plan to leave their wallets behind when they drive out of town.”

Grizzly Bear Science

High interest and much progress in grizzly bear science is reported in a recent technical paper by John Sandy.  This research appears in the journal Science & Technology Libraries.


Grizzly bears inhabit wilderness areas in the northwestern region of the lower forty-eight states, western Canada, and areas of Alaska. Because of the settlement of the west and loss of prime habitat, populations declined rapidly in the nineteenth century, and in 1975 federal action was taken to protect grizzlies under the Endangered Species Act. Since 1950 about 722 technical papers have been written on the grizzly bear. Major research has focused on ecology, conservation, reproductive biology, behavior, dietetics, anatomy, and physiology, among other topics. Due to geographic distribution of the species, much of the research has been carried out by authors and organizations in western regions of the United States and Canada where major grizzly populations exist. A significant number of technical papers appear in three key journals: Ursus, the Journal of Wildlife Management, and the Canadian Journal of Zoology. According to data in WorldCat, about 1,167 records, covering monographs and technical reports, contain information on grizzlies and present research findings. The bulk of monographs appeal mainly to a general audience. However, citation analysis reveals a core of highly cited technical papers, many written with an emphasis on special themes or topics, whereas others focus on the grizzly itself, all together advancing the science on this species.

Keywords:  Grizzly bear, Ursus arctos horribilis , brown bear, zoology, ecology, wildlife, Yellowstone ecosystem, conservation, recovery, bibliography, citation analysis, Alaska, California, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Washington

Little Bighorn Battlefield, Montana

A new technical paper on Little Bighorn Battlefield is ready for readers.  Just released.  Abstract of paper is  shown below.  This technical paper is a preprint on deposit in the Institutional Repository at The University of Alabama.


Characterization of Geographical Aspects of the Landscape and Environment in the Area of the Little Bighorn Battlefield, Montana

John H. Sandy

 Abstract:  On June 24, 1876, a large military force of the United States Army 7th Cavalry converged on the lower Little Bighorn Valley in the Montana Territory, aiming to capture a large number of Native Americans.  A major military battle ensued over the following two days.  The landscape near the Little Bighorn Battlefield is both gentle and very rugged.  The upland to the east of the Little Bighorn Valley is highly dissected by a complex drainage system, consisting of ravines, coulees, and ridges.  Elevations from the valley floor to the upland change as much as 340 feet.  The slope in parts of the upland is greater than 10 degrees, and in rugged areas of the bluffs and along some ravines and other erosional features in excess of 30 degrees. The Little Bighorn Valley itself is a gentle northward sloping plain, with the Little Bighorn River flowing to the east side of the valley adjacent to the upland.  Local vegetation of the area is highly diverse, bearing a close relationship to the physiographic features, hydrology, and climate of this area.  Certain characteristics of the Little Bighorn River and the bordering riparian zone add to the diversity of the landscape.  A brief analysis suggests ways that elements of the landscape and environment affected the course of the battle.

Keywords:   Little Bighorn Battlefield, physiography, weather, topography, vegetation, Montana, military history, Lakota Sioux, Northern Cheyenne, U.S. Army, George Custer, Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull

Montana Farmer’s Markets, for Tourists too

Montana Farmer’s markets sell mainly to locals, but travelers and tourists can find some very good fresh fruits and vegetables at these places too.  Farmer’s markets are located in most major Montana cities.  Think of food from local Farmer’s markets as an alternative to dining out for three meals a day.  Sure Montana has many great restaurants, but travelers and tourists can save money and get great nutrition at the same time when buying food at farmer’s markets.  That you help independent farmers make a little extra money is nice as well.  Search to find where to shop for some very wholesome food.

Web Address Bozeman.MT (Montana) Launches this Week


For immediate release

Categories: travel; tourism; business; lifestyle

This week launches a boutique Web address, Bozeman.MT.  With Bozeman.MT users have another way to find Montana Traveler on the Web.  This new, easy to remember, Web address looks and sounds Montana down home.  It’s a great way to focus travelers and others on Bozeman local.  Lots of good information about Bozeman displays on the site.  And, of course, all the stuff Montana Traveler offers to sophisticated travelers is available as well.  The site’s custom search engine is an added bonus and shares specifics on things to do and places to dine and stay as described by Montana’s travel businesses.   Montana Traveler is the leading Website covering the best things related to travel in Montana. 

Montana Traveler is on the Internet at www.Bozeman.MT  and


John Sandy, publisher, Montana Traveler