|We were a little slow moving this morning so we cheated and went to McDonalds for breakfast at about 10:00, then headed out of town on US 191 to US 287 where we hung a west toward Quake Lake and a tour of SW Montana.
Just after we started west we came across something we didn’t expect – National Park Service and Montana Fish & Game rangers were herding bison down the road to get them back onto National Forest land and closer to YNP. It was pretty cool and certainly unexpected. There were at least 3 baby bison in the herd and they were really fresh ones – probably less than a month old. After about a 10 minute wait for them to get past us, we zipped west to Quake Lake.
On August 17th, 1959, a 7.5 magnitude earthquake struck the area and caused a gigantic rockslide that blocked the Madison River and quickly formed Quake Lake to a depth of 120’. 28 people died in the rockslide and subsequent flood, mostly in a campground near the slide. They have a Visitor Center that fully explains the whole event, but like a lot of things we have found around here, it doesn’t open until late May. Oh well, we took a couple pics and moved on up US 287 toward the town of Ennis. Ennis was a kind of unusual place. It’s a town of 840 people, generally in the middle of nowhere, and there were a lot of really nice houses in the area, gas was $3.65 (compared to $3.93 in West Yellowstone) and they had 2 employees cleaning the gas pumps. At a Mobil station. In the middle of nowhere, they were cleaning the gas pumps with a scrub brush. Very strange. But in a good way.
At Ennis we headed west on MT 287 to the old gold mining town of Virginia City MT. Back in 1865 it was the capital of the Montana Territory and had a population of 10,000 people – now it only has 150 residents but it is a neat, well-preserved old town – it even still has wooden sidewalks. But, like the Quake Lake Visitor Center, most of it was closed until late May, so again; we took a few pics and then headed back east to Ennis and then north through the gorgeous Madison Valley to the town of Norris, then east on MT 84 to Bozeman MT.
We picked up some dog food at Petsmart and had a late, mediocre lunch at Perkins. Bozeman is a beautiful medium-sized college town with beautiful mountain views almost all the way around. It has almost all the things you would need – Lowe’s, Home Depot, Kohl’s, a mall, chain restaurants and really nice houses. We really like Bozeman, but for some reason I just don’t see us moving there. Something about the weather would not please my traveling partner – but it is really nice.
From Bozeman we got back on US 191 southbound for the 90 minute trip back through the Gallatin Mountains to West Yellowstone. All in all it was a good day – we saw tons of beautiful scenery, a bison round-up, a good old fashioned gas pump scrubbing, an old gold mining town and the hidden gem of Bozeman. And chili for dinner. It’s a very good day.