Billings to Bozeman
Well, if you are ever in Billings, MT we recommend the Northern Hotel in downtown for location and just pure niceness. After a good dinner, a good night’s sleep and a HUGE breakfast at Bernie’s Diner, we left about 7:30 or so (slightly later than usual!) to tackle the Beartooth Highway before the summer crowds came out. We hit some road construction before getting to Red Lodge (see nice old town photos below) and then worked our way up to the twists and turns that go on for miles and miles. Rob says it is way more difficult to drive than the Tail of the Dragon (many more turns and higher consequences for failure) and that is saying something! As you will see from the shots of the GPS and temp screens, it was very twisty and very cold, with snow on the ground as we hit the highest elevations. People who were being cautious generally got out of our way as the Corvettes blasted by – although some took a little longer to convince than others.
After we got to Cooke City, we decided to do the Grand Loop through Yellowstone instead of the short version, so spent a couple more hours going 35-45 mph with the crowds so we could see the buffalo (one charged the Corvettes, but we were too quick for him) , the bears (a mother and two cubs) , etc. It is still summer, so there were fly fishermen in the water and cars stopping dead in the middle of the rod to take photos of wildlife, etc. We finally came out at the North Gate and headed into Bozeman, where we settled at the Best Western and settled down for a couple of hours before a dinner in the hotel grill – spicy ribs, with jalapeno cheddar mashed potatoes – maybe not the mildest choice possible.
In the morning we head for Helena and then the lodge at East Glacier, so we can do the Going to the Sun Highway on Monday. We are hoping to find another local breakfast joint on the way.
Bozeman to Glacier
It was another early morning start from Bozeman, finding us almost alone on the freeway on a Sunday morning, zipping along somewhere in the vicinity of the 80mph speed limit. We decided to get gas and breakfast at Three Forks, which we thought was aptly named, but could not find a local color breakfast place on the route we had selected, so we got the gas and then drove onward to Townsend where we found Penny’s Breakfast Station. It was not quite on the same level as Zoomski’s with the home-made bread and jam, but the servings were both large and tasty. It was definitely a local hang-out and we believe that we were served by Penny herself. Once we were full, we headed on up 287, a secondary road with only a 70mph speed limit, but still light traffic. We got to Helena about 9:30am and visited the State Capitol so Doug could check one more off his list.
At breakfast, we had decided that our early starts sometimes put us at our destination before rooms are ready for us, as in Bozeman, so we decided to add part of the Lincoln Loop to our drive. This is a great loop out of Helena and back through small towns and hilly terrain. We did the outward half and then circled back to 287 north. On the route 200 connector from the Lincoln Loop to the 287, the roads made you want to drive in Montana for days – high speed limits and great roads that allowed us to pass everything in sight. We drove on to Glacier National Park and the Glacier Lodge, one of the old style national park lodges, with huge spaces and all the rustic charm you could ask for. Doug and Marilyn got their room right away and after an hour’s wait, Rob and Daryl received their keys as well. We plan to eat in the Dining Room while we are here.
Perhaps we will delay our departure time a little tomorrow as it is not a long day for mileage, although the time might be low due to other traffic on the Going to the Sun road. Maybe we will get to Kalispell in time to go to the laundromat again.
PHOTOS FROM MARILYN & DOUG
PHOTOS FROM DARYL & ROB
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