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Our trip to Montana, Part 1

Near Billings, MT

So we are freshly back from our one week whirlwind trip to Montana to celebrate our first anniversary. Can you believe it’s already been a year since we got married? Our trip to Montana was a whirlwind because even though we had 5 nights in Big Sky Country, it takes just over 24 hours to get there from Missouri. Not wanting to lose precious vacation time to two days driving each way, we decided to drive straight through.

No really, it wasn’t as bad as it sounds, although I firmly believe Iowa and South Dakota were conspiring against us. Miles upon miles of unfinished construction, not to mention I covered most of South Dakota in the middle of the night and my night vision is poor, and when I say poor I mean I swear I see things that aren’t there. I kept psyching myself out thinking there was all sorts of hoopla happening on the side of the road. Like when I swerved because I thought there was a dead horse on the road. You get the picture. Needless to say we didn’t bother taking photos of any of that, so lets just skip to the good part shall we?


Behold Montana!

Jessie's in Montana!

We were so goofy at this point because after a crazy night of hallucinating animals in the road and eating cold Shakespeare’s Pizza, we were positively giddy to not only see daylight but sunrise in Montana!

No bathroom for MILES

We also really had to pee. Yup I peed in nature too. In front of the sign no less. We like to keep it classy.

Jeep Jeep made it!

It’s impossible to really capture how huge everything is!

Now you might be thinking, we’ll you’re in Montana, let’s get to the backpacking – well, we’re still 12 hours from the park at this point. We still have to drive across Montana to get to Glacier. Here’s a map, our route is in red:

Montana map

Needless to say, it was a long, but beautiful drive. Tons of rising mountains, lush valleys, and crystal blue lakes. Montana is remote, there really isn’t a whole lot as far as civilization goes. Here are a couple shots from the drive. They were all taken from the moving jeep so, forgive the quality.

It's almost movie-esque

Near Billings, MT


Near Billings, MT

Near Billings, MT

First sight of mountains

You can see in that last one, the mountains are just starting to appear. Serene right? We were screaming in excitement in the car. Talk about oasis.

Almost to the Reservation

National Forest

Once we entered the east side of the park, it was still another 50 miles or so across the National Forest before we entered the west side of Glacier National Park.

Waves of Evergreen

And finally…

Campground Status

We made it! It was so exciting to pull up to registration. We had reservations, so we didn’t have to worry about finding a spot, which was a good thing, because by the time we got there, the only areas with open spots were primitive camping. So in we went…

Propane Touring Car

Awesome touring cars in the park, they run on propane!


We stopped in Apgar Village first, to get day hike information and buy firewood. We’d always heard that Glacier was all-around more primitive than Rocky Mountain National Park, but this was a village within the park! And there were tourists everywhere, people who were definitely not hiking or camping. I was shocked.

Lake McDonald

Lake McDonald sits off Apgar Village and it is breathtaking. Cleanest, clearest water you’ll see in your lifetime.

From Apgar Village we made our way to Fish Creek campground. Fish Creek sits on the SW corner of Lake McDonald, only a couple miles from Apgar. It’s carved carefully into the woods, and each site is thickly framed with a variety of firs and birch. The canopy is so incredibly thick it feels like a roof. The days were longer there, and it sometimes didn’t get dark till nearly ten o’clock. We set up our tent (see all our camping equipment here), and cuddled up to our first fire with some local brews and Neil’s Asian Spicy Chex Mix. Even though we’d been on the road for nearly 28 hours, were immediately in vacation mode and ready to hike!

Day 1 good eats

To make Neil’s Asian twist on Chex Mix, make the famous recipe and add 1 tablespoon of ginger, 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, and a 1 tablespoon of sriracha sauce. You can increase any of these for a more intense flavor of your preference.

Stay tuned for Part 2 coming tomorrow!