Category Archives: Travel Forum

Yellowstone Park Entrances

RED LODGE POST

Most visitors arrive at Yellowstone National Park during the summer months. This is expected as schools are not operating, and the weather is nice.

Is there any way to avoid crowds heading into Yellowstone? Maybe. Yellowstone has five entrances (East, South, Northeast, North, and West). Choosing one over others may be a tactic to get away from some of the congestion. A look at the number of visitors at each of the Park’s entrances is helpful in this regard.

Yellowstone entrances
Yellowstone National Park entrances. Map courtesy National park Service.

During July (2019), 12.3% of visitors entered the Park from near Cody, Wyoming; 21.8% of visitors entered from near Jackson, Wyoming; 6.6% entered from near Red Lodge, Montana; 16.0% entered from near Gardiner, Montana; and a whopping 43.2% entered from near West Yellowstone, Montana. A total of 936,062 visitors entered Yellowstone at all entrances in July 2019.

These numbers depend on lots of factors, such as where visitors come from (home states) and nearby “feeder” cities. Bozeman is many miles from the northwest side of the Park, but many people fly into the Bozeman airport, then head south to enter the Park at West Yellowstone, Montana. Jackson, Wyoming likely draws many who take in Grand Teton National Park before heading north to Yellowstone.

Where visitors enter the Park depends on circumstances of their travel. Still travelers from the Northwest, Midwest, and Canada, may want to choose entrances near Red Lodge or Gardiner Montana. Both Red Lodge and Gardiner have lots to offer before heading to an official Park entrance.

Northeast Entrance

Red Lodge is a charming town. Plus, Red Lodge is a starting point for travel up the amazing, scenic Beartooth Highway (U.S. 212) as it winds up into the mountains toward the Northeast Entrance to the Park. Inside the Park, the highway passes through the Lamar Valley, a scenic area, home to bears, buffalo, and other wildlife.

MTbest: In Red Lodge stay at the Pollard Hotel (406) 446-0001; dine at Carbon Fork Restaurant.

North Entrance

When entering the North Entrance of the Park at Gardiner, visitors are greeted by the famous Roosevelt Arch. A few more miles down the road is Mammoth Hot Springs.

Before heading to the North Entrance of Yellowstone, many travelers stop in Livingston, about 53 miles north of Gardiner. Time spent in Livingston is sure to please, since Livingston is such an attractive small town. Livingston has many art galleries, nice restaurants, a historic hotel, an amazing historical museum, and much more.

Murray Hotel MT
Photos in this ad courtesy Murray Hotel. Sandy Archives.

MTbest: In Livingston, stay at the Murray Hotel (406) 222-1350; dine at Gil’s Goods Restaurant.

West Entrance

The West Entrance of the Park, near the village of West Yellowstone, puts visitors close to the Old Faithful Geyser and lower geyser basin.  West Yellowstone has an abundance of lodging and restaurants. Grizzly bears in captivity can be viewed at Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center at the east edge town.

MTbest: In West Yellowstone stay at the Hibernation Station (800) 580-3557; dine at Three Bear Restaurant.

East Entrance

Starting from Cody, Wyoming, visitors arrive at the East Entrance to the Park not far from Yellowstone Lake. The drive from Cody to the East Entrance is very scenic as the highway winds up into the mountains to the Park’s boundary. There’s lots of things to do in Cody. This makes the East Entrance ideal for entering or exiting the Park.

MTbest: In Cody, stay at the Chamberlin Inn (307) 587-0202; dine at Irma Hotel Restaurant.

South Entrance

The South Entrance is the gateway to Grand Teton National Park to the south and all the fun stuff in Jackson, Wyoming.

https://www.MontanaTraveler.com
Copyright © 2020 John Sandy




Current Weather in Montana

RED LODGE POST

Plan for a change in the weather

It was a bitter cold winter day in Billings. Snow swirled across city streets and residential front yards. Then a chinook wind came down from the mountains. In a matter of a few hours, the weather turned balmy and the snow was gone. Much as if spring had arrived early.

Children rushed outside to play in parks. Retired folks headed out for their favorite golf course. A good time go outside and wash the car, too. This, in February, in south-central Montana.

Further to the west, in Bozeman, summer daytime temperatures are pleasant. But as soon as the sun slips behind the mountains, the temperature starts to drop in a matter of minutes. A Hawaiian shirt by day and a comfortable wool sweater or jacket by night is a common coping strategy for many.

Indeed, the weather in every area of Montana can change quickly. This is true on the plains and in the mountains and in every season. Be prepared if you are traveling in Montana. Doubly so if you plan to spend any time in the great outdoors.

Crazy Mountains MT
Crazy Mountains near Big Timber, Mont. Snow can fall at higher elevations in any season. Photo courtesy Crazy Mountain Museum.

The widgets on this page give current weather conditions for selected cities and an idea of what the forecast holds for days to follow.

Billings

Bozeman

Missoula

Helena

Great Falls

Kalispell

Lewistown

Havre

Livingston

Butte

Glendive

Yellowstone National Park

Glacier National Park

Be inspired to visit the Treasure State, a song to listen to: “Montana On My Mind” by Scioto River Band and Catherine Leigh (MTbest). Download the song on iTunes.

https://www.MontanaTraveler.com
Copyright © 2020 John Sandy




Glacier Reborn

RED LODGE POST

A window to Pleistocene history Glacier National Park, Montana, c 12000 years ago.

Glacier Park
McDonald Valley, Glacier National Park. Photo captured from GNP Web cam on Apgar Mountain.

A massive alpine glacier fills McDonald Valley, Glacier National Park, Montana. Photo from a GNP Web cam at Apgar Mountain, September 28, 2020, 7:30 a.m.

 

Glacier Park
Lake McDonald, Glacier National Park. Photo captured from GNP Web cam on Apgar Mountain.

Beautiful glacial Lake McDonald in McDonald Valley, Glacier National Park, as it appeared on September 9, 2020, 1:13 p.m. Photo from a GNP Web cam at Apgar Mountain.

Mystery unraveled:

In the first photo, nature revisits the geologic past. A giant cloud hovers over current Lake McDonald and the McDonald Valley, below the surrounding mountain peaks, simulating how the valley may have appeared c 12000 years ago when the valley was filled by an alpine glacier.

Glaciers are a cyclical phenomenon of the recent geologic past in North America. The present time is likely an inter-glacial period. This suggests that massive alpine glaciers will cover much of the northern Rocky Mountains in North America, including Glacier National Park, again in the future.

https://www.MontanaTraveler.com
Copyright © 2020 John Sandy




Montana on my Mind

RED LODGE POST

Montana on My Mind is a really cool video with music performed by the Scioto River Band, Columbus, Ohio. Lead singer is “Cat” Leigh. A woman with a wonderful voice for sure. In the video “Cat” yearns for a trip to the West with hopes of experiencing, wildlife, a mountain pass, wild rivers,  huckleberries, aspen larch and pine, wheat fields, horse culture and so much more.

After watching and listening to this one, you’ll want to pack your bags and leave yesterday. Montana has adopted an official state song, not this one. But Montana on My Mind is the first and only one you’ll want to listen too. Enjoy.

The song Montana on My Mind is available for download from iTunes. The Video is hosted on YouTube.

Get in the mood for Montana travel

Listen and watch “Montana on My Mind performed by Scioto River Band (Columbus, Ohio) and sang by Catherine “Cat” Leigh. Version re-mastered by Abbey Road Studios, London, England.

 

https://www.MontanaTraveler.com
Copyright © 2020 John Sandy




Spreading Human Ashes Glacier NP

RED LODGE POST

People often have fond memories of visiting Glacier National Park, even decades after their journey to the park ended. Some may think that spending eternity in Glacier would be a dream come true, a gift from God.

Saint Mary Lake
Saint Mary Lake and Wild Goose Island, Glacier National Park. Photo courtesy National Park Service.

Well, the National Park Service may be able to accommodate, that is, make a dream reality. According to the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 36, Section 2.62b (Memorialization), cremated ashes of humans can be spread in national parks.
Section 2.62b says, “The scattering of human ashes from cremation is prohibited, except pursuant to the terms and conditions of a permit, or in designated areas according to conditions which may be established by the superintendent.”

The key language here is “except pursuant to the terms and conditions of a permit, or in designated areas according to conditions which may be established by the superintendent.”

Glacier Park
Glacier National Park Application for Special Use Permit, p.1. Form courtesy NPS.

At Glacier National Park, the steps to make this happen are straightforward. Complete an Application for Special Use Permit, Spreading of Ashes. In this case, in the “proposed activity” part of the application, is your request to scatter cremated human ashes. Add details as you choose, such as a statement about relationship to the deceased. The application also asks for detailed information about preferred date, location, and time, as well as alternate choices. Other specific information is requested on the form, as well.

The Park’s administration will review the application and make its decision on whether to issue a permit, which allows for an individual to go forward with scattering human ashes in the Park.

PDF of the application is online on Glacier National Park’s Website.
Or obtain an application form from:
Administration
Glacier National Park
P.O. 128
West Glacier, MT 59936

Spreading human ashes is a private and sensitive matter, so exercise good judgement when on public lands. Doing its part, Glacier National Park’s administration has special rules/regulations/guidance pertaining to this activity.
On its Web site, the Park’s administration writes as follows:

“In Glacier National Park, human ashes may be disbursed only in undeveloped areas of the Park; that is, not within 200 feet of any developed location, such as a road, trail, building, parking lot, boat ramp, swimming beach, campground, lake, etc. The ashes must be scattered and not deposited in any type of container. No marker or memorial of any sort may be placed at the site.”

“Also, please keep in mind that winter-like weather can occur at any time during the year, usually November through April, which may make access to a particular area impossible.”

“When you are ready to disburse of the ashes, send in a special use permit application and a letter will be sent to you which will serve as the official permit required by the citation referenced above and the instructions regarding location and notification will serve as the terms and conditions required by the citation. This letter or a copy thereof must be in the possession of at least one member of the party present when human ashes are scattered in the park.”

How many permits for spreading of ashes in Glacier National Park have been approved in recent years? According to Park officials, 2015: 17 permits; 2016: 16 permits; 2017: 27 permits; 2018: 21 permits; 2019: 20 permits; 2020: 16 permits (through September).

Some believe that spirits of the departed soar over the mountain peaks and valleys in Glacier during warm summer evenings. During winter months, spirits hibernate beneath timber falls and openings in nooks and crannies of mountain sides at lower elevations.

That the National Park Service and the U.S. government are happy to accommodate the wishes of many Americans is appropriate in this case. All parties gain satisfaction with this arrangement. Surely, peace of mind comes to family members. Further, the ashes, once a life, are returned to the natural environment, co-mingled with the elements and plants and animals in the Park.

https://www.MontanaTraveler.com
Copyright © 2020 John Sandy




Glacier National Park

RED LODGE POST

What is the weather like in Glacier National Park? How crowded is the park? And when do visitors arrive? Savvy visitors usually  weigh all three factors when timing their visit to Glacier. Data in the charts below is useful for planning a trip to Glacier.

Glacier park weather
Weather at West Glacier, Montana. Chart courtesy NPS.

Data in this chart is for West Glacier, Montana, at 3,200 feet in elevation. This weather station is at the west entrance to Glacier National Park. At Logan Pass, along Going-to-the-Sun Road, inside the park, the elevation is 6,647 feet. Expect much cooler temperatures at Logan Pass, as temperatures decrease with increasing elevation.

During July and August, the weather is very pleasant with comfortable, warm, daytime highs and cool nights. As can be expected for northerly latitudes, average daytime highs are still nice in June and September. In May and October, however, it’s time to wear cold weather clothing.

With average low temperatures in the 40s or less in every month, extra clothing is always a necessity.

Most visitors to the park arrive from May through September.  The peak months are July and August, with somewhat fewer visitors in June and September. Earlier and later in the season, the number of visitors is low. The park’s opening and closing, plus the weather are big factors in the number of visitors going to the park. And, of course, mid-summer is when many Americans and others hit the trail.

During the peak tourist season, Glacier National Park gets very crowded. Only one road, Going-to-the-Sun Road, runs through the Park. In a word, think traffic. It’s not uncommon for NPS to report that Apgar parking lot near Lake McDonald is full early in the day. NPS on its Website says, “Expect crowding and congestion in many areas of the park. Plan accordingly.”

Visitors Glacier NP
Visitors Glacier National Park 2019. Chart courtesy NPS.

Data in the chart show visitors to Glacier National Park in 2019. The table provides statistics for categories of use and by month. Annual totals for each category of use:

  • Recreation visitors (3,049,839)
  • Non-recreation visitors (13,103)
  • Concession lodging (119,960)
  • Tent campers (118,181)
  • RV campers (126,099)
  • Concession camping (0)
  • Backcountry campers (34,759)
  • Misc. campers (926)
  • Total overnight stays (399,924)

Many visitors choose to stays in tents or RVs. This arrangement puts visitors close to nature. The National Park Service provides wonderful campgrounds to accommodate. Tents and RVs are  expected as regular lodging is limited inside the park. And the lodging, such as Many Glacier Hotel and Lake McDonald Lodge, may be too expensive for some family budgets.

Some Facts About Glacier (source: NPS)

  • number of glaciers: 26
  • number of lakes: 762
  • number of species of mammals: 71
  • number of species of birds: 276
  • number of mountains: 175
  • number of class A campgrounds: 8; 943 sites
  • number of class B campgrounds: 5; 61 sites
  • number of backcountry campgrounds: 65; 208 sites
  • number of trails: 151; total length, 745.6 miles

As for size of Glacier National Park, measured on Google Earth,  east-west distance is about 35 miles; from north to south, distance is about 60 miles.

Travel Tip:

https://www.MontanaTraveler.com
Copyright © 2020 John Sandy




Absaroka Northwest Region

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A VIEWPOINT ON TOURISM IN THE NORTHWEST

Region as a concept is commonly used in geography to describe different areas of the world, sometimes based on political divisions, commercial interest, or travel interests. Examples of regions are many: In the case of travel, in Europe, Provence in France is widely thought of and, for many, Wine Country may conjure images of Sonoma County in northern California. In whatever way defined, regions are a useful tool to promote and drive interest in special geographic areas.

The Northwest is commonly recognized as a region in the United States, different from that shown on the map below: The Northwest traditionally includes more area in the far west, the Cascades and west of the Cascades along the pacific Coast in Washington and Oregon. These areas near and along the Pacific Coast are not included in Absaroka, the distinctive travel region described in this Web page.

Absaroka
A proposed travel region in the mountains and plains of the Northwest.

Even so,  Absaroka emerges as a slightly larger Northwest. It includes the states of Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho, parts of northern Utah and Nevada, plus Washington and Oregon east of the Cascade Mountains.

Absaroka as a travel region envisioned here is a vast area of mountains and plains, extending from the lower Yellowstone Valley in the east to the foothills of the Cascade Mountains and the Sierra Nevada in the west and south beyond the great Salt Lake.

Some of America’s most spectacular landscapes are found in Absaroka. Outdoor recreation opportunities are limitless. Wildlife such as grizzly bears, mountain lions, and bison inhabit the wilds in a natural environment. As a bonus, an Absaroka travel region has a low population and is remote from heavily populated centers in other parts of the United States.  An Absaroka Region could be considered a refuge from a hectic and busy world. Truly a wonderland,

When on vacation, most people travel near home in the region which they live, say New England or the Midwest. By designating an area as a special travel region in the Northwest, tourists from close to home would have a convenient framework to understand what their destination would be like, as well a guide for planning activities they might partake and participate in. Those traveling from distant places would benefit too.

From a marketing viewpoint, traditional geographies do not work that well. Montana tourism has its own Website and tourism promotions, the same for Wyoming and Idaho. To illustrate, consider a traveler interesting in visiting world-class museums. In Wyoming, travel promoters are eager to talk about the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody. Well enough. But for a more successful and informative approach aimed at tourists with this interest in mind, why not mention in the same promotional literature the Montana Historical Society Museum in Helena, a premier museum of western history, as well.

As an aside, Montana tourism already openly markets Yellowstone National Park even while the entire park lies in Wyoming, except for narrow borderlands in Idaho and Montana. The door is open!

A travel region called Absaroka, more expansive than single states, increases possibilities in so many ways. If this kind of regional tourism takes hold, everyone benefits, particularly the tourists themselves who after all is what this story is about.

As for a broader approach to tourism promotion in the Northwest, the Website Go Northwest!: a Travel Guide has a head start. The region presented on this Web page achieves much more by branding an entire area in the Northwest, east of the Cascades, under a common name, Absaroka.

John Sandy

https://www.MontanaTraveler.com
Copyright © 2020 John Sandy




We want to hear from you about travel in Montana

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Montana Traveler wants to hear from you about the good stuff related to travel in Montana.

Categories are: (1) Why tourists will love my town in Montana; (2) The best cultural attraction in Montana don’t miss this place/event; (3) An outdoor activity/experience in Montana that visitors will remember for a lifetime; (4) A favorite Montana restaurant tourists will write home about; (5) For nature at its best see this area in Montana; (6) Lodging in Montana that is superior in every way; (7) Just to have a good time in Montana, tourists, children or adults, will really enjoy this.

Choose a category from above. If your “story” is interesting and convincing, Montana Traveler may publish it. Limit 500 words or less, subject to editing, if accepted, by Montana Traveler. Only one (1) submission per person, please. Published posts may be removed from the site at a later date.

Before you start writing, tell us about your idea for a “story.”  Submissions are only accepted after direct invitation by the Administrator of Red Lodge Post. No guarantee that your story will be published, however, as publication of submission(s) is entirely at the discretion of the publisher.  Submit your idea here.  Thank you

Here is an example of a published submission from Karisa in Lewistown.

https://www.MontanaTraveler.com
Copyright © 2020 John Sandy