North America Travel

For Purple Mountains Majesty

Montana’s Big Sky

Location: Montana

It’s a vast state, but one of my favorites. I’d like to spend more time here, and every time I visit I want to see more.

Montana. Often called the Big Sky Country or the Treasure State both nicknames reflect the vastness and beauty of the United States’ 41st state. Montana joined a wide group of new states in 1889, including my home state of Washington which became the 42nd state three days after Montana.

Glacier National Parki
Lake McDonald Lodge

I’ve mentioned in my blogs before that I wish visitors to the USA would come to places like Montana, instead of Las Vegas or Orlando because in my opinion this is America. America the beautiful. Amber waves of grain. Purple mountains majesty. I love it here. And admittedly there are things about the USA I am not proud of, but the rugged beauty of places like Montana remind me how grateful I am to be an American.

Glacier National Park
Deadwood Falls

Our recent trip was a short one, but an inspiring one. We drove from Spokane Washington on Interstate 90 to Bigfork. The drive takes about four hours from Spokane. You leave Interstate 90 at Saint Regis and head north on 93 to Bigfork. The drive is spectacular and the only way to visit Montana properly is with a car. The last hour of the drive takes you north with Flathead lake on your right. Beautiful views of this enormous lake and the mountains and forests beyond.

We have friends we were visiting in Bigfork and we wanted to spend a day in Glacier National Park, one of our favorites of the National Parks in the USA. The last time we visited Glacier we stayed three days in October. The park was quiet and we enjoyed having it nearly to ourselves. In July however it was very crowded with tourists from all of the USA and many from around the world.

The crowds kept us from finding parking at the first two places we wanted to hike, so we continued on to two other hikes, which we enjoyed. The park is big, but there is really only one road “The Going to the Sun Road” so at peak season it can be busy. There is talk of making Going to the Sun a shuttle road (like they do in Zion). During peak season you would leave your vehicle and take a shuttle.

Flathead Lake Montana
Historic Ice House, Somers

There are shuttles available as well as the historic Red Bus Tours. We have not done this but it looks really fun and you get a guide who narrates history, geography and wildlife topics. Worth the money.

We really enjoyed our full day at Glacier with visits to Lake McDonald Lodge, Logan Pass, Deadwood Falls and Two Medicine.

Glacier National Park Montana
Young grizzly, Glacier National Park

We spent another day in Bigfork, which has grown a lot and offers a variety of restaurants, shops and galleries in what used to be a sleepy cowboy town. Very walkable and beautiful. We took a hike along the Swan River Nature Trail just up the hill from the old town and enjoyed the views from there.

We also drove to Lakeside on Flathead Lake, where families were swimming and sunning themselves in a lovely public park. The resort town offers many hotels and restaurants. We made a stop in Somers and visited the historic train station and ice house and learned some history of the region.

Bigfork Montana
The American, Bigfork Montana

I’d like to go back next summer and head south and stop in Missoula, Butte and Bozeman…maybe go as far as Yellowstone. It’s a large state, worth the time it takes to see it, worth it whether you are from Montana or Morocco, Washington or Wales.

Montana Wildlife
Big Horn Ram, Glacier National Park

Big Sky Country. Purple Mountains Majesty. Montana.

Glacier National Park

Where to stay?

We recommend The American right in downtown Bigfork. Eight miles south try Sterling Ranch Airbnb.

Where to eat?

We recommend Rileys Pub and Flathead Lake Brewery. Outside of Bigfork in Esex we enjoyed dinner at The Isaac Walton Inn.

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  • Reply Lizzie

    Such beautiful photos! Montana is one of the states I’ve yet to visit and this post just made me even more eager to get there!

    August 16, 2019 at 11:01 am
    • Reply Laureen

      You will love it Lizzie.

      August 16, 2019 at 5:53 pm
  • Reply Gabby

    I made it to Yellowstone one year and was “this close” to beautiful Montana but didn’t get to see it (may have driven across the corner)! High on my list for when I get back 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing 🙂

    August 16, 2019 at 6:48 pm
    • Reply Laureen

      I love Yellowstone too! Wyoming is gorgeous. Hope you can make it to Montana some day!

      August 16, 2019 at 6:52 pm
  • Reply Margaret Wilsher

    We tried to get to Glacier two years ago. Fires defeated us and one of the lodges we had reserved. Still on the bucket list. Your photos are fantastic.

    August 17, 2019 at 1:01 am
  • Reply Cherene Saradar

    Montana looks pristine and gorgeous and I promise I will get there one of these days!!!!

    August 17, 2019 at 1:42 pm
    • Reply Laureen

      You will love it.

      August 17, 2019 at 2:45 pm
  • Reply Nancy Hann

    Glacier National Park is on my bucket list. We lived in the Southwest and now on the East Coast, so its just never been “on the way” to anywhere. I’m guessing it will have to wait until we’re retired and have more travel time. Thanks for sharing about it.

    August 17, 2019 at 1:59 pm
    • Reply Laureen

      Not close to
      Much that’s for sure. Hope you make it there someday.

      August 17, 2019 at 2:46 pm
  • Reply Anita

    What a great post! I am coming to the TBEX in Montana very soon, so I will some of Montana then. Thanks for sharing!

    August 24, 2019 at 11:27 am
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