We’re back from out 1,400+ mile trip from Idaho to Montana. We left on the 22nd and came back on the 29th. It was an incredible trip.
1,472 Miles, 34 Hours
- Day One: Red River Hot Springs
We arrived at Red River Hot Springs around 6 pm. By then, I was ready to get out of the car. We rented a rustic cabin with an outhouse. (It was a really nice outhouse though. The toilet actually flushed!) We went to the Hot Spring pool after we checked in so Jay and Casey can swim for a bit. I sit on the edge of the pool and wish I was able to get into the water. But it was quite refreshing just to dip my feet in the water. He has showers for his guest to use. It was definitely nice to get a shower in before we hit the road the next day.
The cabin has two beds and a futon, one bed in the loft. The cabin has a table, a recliner, and a small wood fireplace with stove. There is no electricity in the cabins but what’s the fun in that. The only thing I wished for was air circulation. The windows cannot open and during the day, the cabin was just a hot box. I could of opened the door for fresh air, but I’m pretty sure that’s what the people previous to us did since we killed 4 black wasps. There is a picnic table outside along with a fire ring.
The owner has a kitchen and a menu you can order from if you choose to not bring food.
Magneto at Red River Hot Springs
- Day Two: Magruder Corridor – Observation Point Campground
We checked out of the cabin at 940 am and headed down to the Magruder Corridor. This was the part of the trip that concerned me the most. The Magruder Corridor is the only dirt road that goes through the Frank Church Wilderness. If anything happens, it will be miles to get to the nearest town for help or a hike to the Ranger Station Salmon Mountain. I was also afraid of what the drive was going to be. I was expecting a lot of rocks and fallen trees through out. But it was fairly manageable.
Magruder Corridor; Most of the area is burnt but you can still find lush coniferous trees in some area.
We decided to take a detour to off the Magruder Corridor to check out Burnt Knob Lookout. The road going up was jagged rocks and tiny. (It was an ATV road, not meant for a huge truck to get up and down.) Getting to the top was definitely a sight to see. You can see three lakes from the top and part of the Idaho Centennial Trail. The ride was a bit rough, but it was breathtaking.
Our first look at Burnt Knob Lookout
She made it!
We bumped into a gentleman standing on the side of the road on our way to Observation Point. He mentioned that he biked from Missolua, MT and is currently stranded now. The frame on his back tire is bent to where he couldn’t continue his mission. We were of no help to him since we didn’t have room for one more and we were spending the night. He was looking for someone who going to get to town in any direction.
When we finally got to Observation Point, we decided to make camp right away and enjoy the rest of the evening. Before dinner, Jay and Casey were off somewhere while I was reading. When I looked up from my book, I spotted a deer just meandering through our campsite. She acknowledged me and I, her. But she didn’t run off, she continued towards me, stopped to graze in front of the tent and wondered off when Jay and Casey noticed her from where they were. It’s the first time I’ve ever been this close to a deer.
- Day Three: West Fork Butte Lookout, Montana
The morning was beautiful. The deer from last night strolled through the campsite again. We ate breakfast, packed up camp and headed on the road again. Once you get to the Selway River, the road gets a bit better. Less rocks on the road. The campsites on the Selway River are amazing. If we are to do this again, I would want to camp on the River. Let me say I have never been so happy to drive on asphalt!
West Fork Butte Lookout was a previous Fire Lookout that has been renovated. Once you get up there, you can see mountains for miles. The views are spectacular. (I wish we could of stayed another night.) There were two fires flanking both sides of the lookout. They were far enough away that we were safe.
The Lookout has two bunk beds, a propane stove, a wood burning fireplace, and an outhouse. There’s no running water or electricity but we didn’t mind. We had a big lunch in the nearest town, so we didn’t even cook anything for dinner that night.
West Fork Butte Fire Lookout
Two individuals walked up to the lookout in search of some huckleberry and wanted to check out the area. They were looking to rent it in the near future. They also showed us which huckleberry bushes had the best tasting huckleberries to pick. I’ve never picked huckleberry before, so, it was interesting information. (Apparently huckleberry is very popular in these parts. Who knew.)
We read in the Guest journal in the lookout that someone went on a hike to another lookout not too far from this one. It’s unfinished, but it’s close by. We decided to go look for this other lookout. Down the path, we found a whole bunch of huckleberry bushes and we couldn’t stop picking them. Of course, we didn’t bring anything to put them in, so after a handful of huckleberries, we gave up on the search and strolled back to the lookout.
Even though there were two fires flanking the lookout, the stars shined brighter than any of the places we stayed at. It is the perfect place to go stargazing. I saw a shooting star when I woke Jay up to go use the outhouse with me. The smoke didn’t not prevent us from viewing the sky.
- Day Four: Glacier National Park (Going-to-the-Sun Road)
The smoke from the fire was extremely bad when we woke up. The wind was just blowing the smoke towards the lookout. We packed up once again. It was brutal having to pack up after one night. Especially since the past three nights, we set up camp only to pack up the next morning. I was glad that we were finally going to stay somewhere for more than one night.
We stopped in Missoula for an SD card that Casey wanted in case the one he has gets filled up. The area going from Missoula to the West Entrance is impressive. Jay and I kept saying to each other, “Wouldn’t it be nice to live here?” We love Idaho, but I think Montana has stolen our hearts.
If you are military, you can go to any Ranger Station and get a free admission pass for the year. We always take advantage of it. So, we didn’t have to pay the entrance fee to get into the park.
Jay decided that the easiest way to get to Many Glacier Campground was to take Going-to-the-Sun Road. So, we ended up doing it the first day we arrived at Glacier NP. The stunning views of the road just makes everything better. If you only get to spend a day at the park, it is a must! There’s so many vista pullovers for photo opportunities.
We got to Logan Pass so I can get my National Park book stamped. (I didn’t realize that I had missed the Apgar visitor’s center so, I didn’t get that stamp.) There is so much to do at Logan’s Pass but we didn’t get to do it. We were in such a rush to get to the campground before it got dark that we weren’t concerned with the Highline Trail.
Jackson Glacier Scenic View
We have this campsite booked six months in advance. But we haven’t seen any photos of the area. So, when we pulled up and realized that the campsite is located right where the bathroom was, we were a bit disappointed. But beggars can’t be choosers. We are just grateful to actually be sleeping in the park.
It was nice to have running water and a flushing toilet though. I am not going to complain on where the campsite is located. The closer to the bathroom the better for a 6 month pregnant women. I didn’t have to wake Jay up at all when we were there because it was just a few feet away from where I was sleeping.
- Day Five: Grinnell Glacier Hike
Jay and Casey woke up early in the morning to hike to Grinnell Glacier. I decided that it was not a good idea for me to go with them since it’s six miles to the glacier. I am not fit for 12 miles. Another reason I decided not to go was due to bears. I’m pregnant, I don’t want to risk it.
I woke up around 9 am and purchased my shower coins and took a nice warm shower. You don’t realize that the little things in life matter so much until you go days without them. The showers are timed. One coin is 8.5 minutes long. I usually take around 15 to 20 minutes so, I ended up using two coins. (One coin is $4.00, but worth it.)
Grinnell Glacier Hike
Grinnell Glacier Hike
After the guys got back to camp, they both showered and we headed to Many Glacier Hotel and Swiftcurrent Lake to take a few maternity photos. After a long and hot 15 minutes, we made our way back to the campsite and just hung out. I didn’t change out of my “Elven gown” because we were going to go to another lake to see if we can find some moose. We did find moose, two of them. But we were so amazed that we didn’t take much photos while we were there.
- Day Six: Redrock Lake/Falls Hike
Happy 12 year anniversary! This trip to Glacier NP was an anniversary trip that I wanted to go on. We invited Casey to come along just because we knew it was a once in a life time chance for him to go to Glacier. The Saturday that we left happens to be his birthday. So it ended up becoming a Birthday/Anniversary trip.
After their 12 mile hike to Grinnell the day before, Casey decided that he was not up for another long hike. So, Jay asked me what I wanted to do, and of course, the only thing to do is hike. With our minds made up, we ended up going on a hike to Red Rock Lake and Red Rock Falls. The hike was only 4.2 miles round trip and not much switch backs, so I said I could make it. If I couldn’t go any farther, we would just turn around and go back to the campsite.
Red Rock Lake
When you get to the lake, the breeze feels amazing. It was really hot and not very much shade on the trail. So, we sat down and had some snacks and enjoyed the scenic views and the breeze. You can see the waterfall from the lake which made me feel even better about myself. Since this is my first hike this season.
Red Rock Falls
It was refreshing sitting next to the waterfall. The splashes from the waterfall makes the unbearable heat easier to endure. Since it was a short hike, there were so many people. We didn’t stay for long since it was so crowded. We made our way back to Red Rock Lake, when Jay and Casey decided to make a detour and have a beer. I wondered around the lake as far as I can without losing sight of the guys.
After a few minutes of just hanging out and enjoying the quiet of nature, Jay and I heard a huge splash in the lake. We investigated and realized that there was a momma moose and her baby. We watched from afar, but noticed that baby wouldn’t stop staring at us and momma moose just kept getting closer to us. It was time to get out of there.
Momma and Babe
- Day Seven: Miller Cabin, Montana
We had another cabin rented but found out three weeks before our trip that the road to the cabin is washed out and the Ranger station was not going to be able to get it up and running before our trip. So, we rented Miller Cabin in Diamond City, an old mining town. When we were leaving the park, we called the Ranger Station again to verify that the roads were still washed out. It was so, we ended up making our way to Miller Cabin.
Miller Cabin in Diamond City, Montana.
Miller Cabin was recently renovated with four twin beds and a large living/dining room. Again, no electricity or running water, a fireplace, a propane stove and lamp were provided and an outhouse in the front. There is a fire ring in the shaded area off the side of the cabin. When we pulled up, the shutters on the cabin were shut, so we went around the property opening all the shutters that can open to bring light into the cabin.
The flies, oh the flies. I have never seen so many flies in one area before. It was to the point where we had to run out the door and shut it quickly so we won’t be disturbed by flies once night falls.
I didn’t really venture out of the cabin once night falls. When the flies dissipated, the moths appeared and after a week of insects, I was not in the mood. I spent my night reading a book that I have been trying to read for a year now. The guys though, were laughing and joking around the fire. It was their last night on the trip and knowing we didn’t have anywhere to be the next day, decided they weren’t going to bed until I went out there and made them come to bed.
On the way back home, we stopped at Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve. It was after hours, so the visitor center was already closed. We drove around the loop and decided it was worth it to come back another time. Especially to explore the caves.
Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve
This trip was long and at the end of it excruciating but we wish we had another week to explore all the areas that we were. There’s not enough time to do everything.