The stretch of Interstate 15 between Butte and Great Falls is known as Mike and Maureen Mansfield Heritage Highway. Mike Mansfield was a long serving statesman from the State of Montana. When John F. Kennedy traveled to Great Falls in 1963 he had dinner at Mansfield’s childhood home. It was a modest house in an old part of town. The president coming to dinner at the Mansfield’s caused quite a stir in town. The president’s speech at Memorial stadium was an experience a five year old would never forget, though I could not tell you any content.
These pictures are all taken from the Scenic Overlook between exit 244 and 247, accessible from the southbound lane only. Both exits are easy off-on if you are traveling north but would like to stop here. There is a casual staircase to climb to the platform with the best view, but the steel Hardy bridge on the recreation road can be seen from the parking area.
Heading north on I-15 take the Spring Creek Exit to the recreation road. The sign at the exit says no return to I-15 north. Silly sign, the on ramp is at Wolf Creek a few miles up the road. These pictures are of Prickly Pear Creek, less than a mile up the road. In the photo that looks like two streams, the left one is a beaver pond. I spied the local construction team with this years young a few times while I was here.
The long grass shot is about 50 yards upstream from the pond.
We cruised the north side of Canyon Ferry lake to the Norwegian Wood Golf Course. The setting is part golf course, part retro railroad depot, part ranch. They raise Highlander beef cattle on site. I was told there will soon be pork on the menu, much to the chagrin of the pink skinned critter I saw wandering around the corral.
Be very hungry if you order the Avalanche burger with potato salad and chili. The chili on this burger made me feel guilty. It is simply too good to be ordered as a topping on an entree.
The red solo cups you see in the photo are not standard fare. They have a significant wine and specialty brew selection. As we were all cruising cars that cost more than our first house, on a very sunny day, water and lemonade hit the spot thank you very much.
Reservations requested for four or more in your party.
I have often wondered about my passion for traveling. I have often lived 50 or more miles from work or school. Driven, walked, bicycled and ridden buses great distances daily. In June I traveled by train and Greyhound bus from Montana to South Carolina, stayed over night, and drove my sisters car back to Montana. I have enjoyed every moment. Where does this come from? Is it an affliction? Is it hereditary? Above is the day my eldest son returned from Afghanistan. now he lives in Hawaii. Second are my nieces sons. They traveled from Arizona to take a boat ride at The Gates of The Mountains about 20 miles north of Helena.
My cousin Matt may have answered the question of this passion for travel today. The State of Utah is celebrating Pioneer Day today. A relative was one of the pioneers with Brigham Young as he crossed America looking for the promised land. Actually my ancestor was not with the group the entire trip. It appears he had my penchant for excess travel as you will read in this excerpt of the message I received today.
Mid-morning on the south side of the Missouri. The Dearborn River runs from the Bob Marshal wilderness to spill into the Mighty Mo just past the railroad bridge on the right side of the first picture. There is a Yurt in the Y formed by the rivers. A semi-permanent tent on steroids type structure. They are gaining popularity due to ease of assembly and durability.
Department of Transportation was inspecting the bridge. The orange inspection vehicle hanging precariously high above the water.
There were a lot of Mackenzie boats and float tubes with fly fisherman on the water. One of the chase vehicles was this Suburban with light weight trailer made for hauling a boat the fisherman can carry to and from the water.
I stopped to watch an elk herd grazing on the Kantorowicz Ranch. The ranch has been absorbed by a big ranch in the neighborhood since old man Kantorowicz can’t operate it, but in my mind it will always belong to that cantankerous old man.
These pictures are from the recreation road. The elk like to graze just as it gets dark and are in the shadow of the trees opposite the hayfield from me.
The first two pictures are as the sun was setting and a storm rolling in. Being a gearhead, I had to get the Honda in one of them.
The last photo is proof that I had dawdled too long. It is after dark in a rainstorm. It may not look dark you say. I say the photos look different during a lightning strike. Yes, I was huddled under the Interstate bridge shooting away.
Highway 12 bypassed this bridge long ago. Take the Toston turn off to get a look. This is the on Missouri River.The first look is upstream. The family floating the river got out at the fishing access site where the sign below is.
The beauty of Big Sky Country is easy to experience. Travel from Wolf Creek to Hardy, Montana. I traversed this section of Montana daily for several years. Take it in at your own pace. In a hurry, take Interstate 15. Got a little time, take the recreation road. Got all day, float the Missouri in a raft, canoe, or McKenzie River boat. If you are a photographer take the gravel road from I-15 Exit 228 to Craig for vistas of the river most people never see. Over the years I have seen, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, deer, black bear, elk, bald eagles, pelicans, hawks, osprey, even a mountain lion from the seat of the car. As I drive the recreation road and see people fishing I think “Man I love to drive.”