Road Trip: Columbia Falls to Missoula, MT

A busy itinerary demands some time on the road today. Reluctant to leave Glacier National Park. It’s not goodbye; I’ll be back. This is just a teaser whirlwind trip from Spokane through Idaho and Montana.

A view of the dazzling Flathead River as I leave Columbia Falls.

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A highlight was the sparkling town of Big Fork, an affluent community where the Swan River flows into Flathead Lake, the largest natural freshwater lake West of the Mississippi with more than 180 miles of shoreline. (See featured top image.)

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The Swam River flows into Flathead Lake, Bigfork, MT

 

The scenery along the 35 East includes horse ranches, cherry orchards, spectacular Flathead Lake, and so much more.

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Then it was on to the awe dropping mountain ranges.

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Local color, the Hungry Horse Reservoir & a scary attic

After working up an appetite on the Avalanche Trail in Glacier National Park, we stopped in for some sustenance at a local watering hole…It was very “colorful” as they say…Friendly barmaid and a handful of Montana mountain men.

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On the way back to Columbia Falls, we swung by the scenic  Hungry Horse Dam, the 11th highest concrete dam in the  US at 544 ft tall, 2115 ft wide, 39 ft thick at the top, and 330 ft at the base. There’s a 15 mile loop you can drive or bike, but it started pouring rain and visibility was poor so we opted out.

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Stopped for a cocktail at the Blue Moon Bar and Casino.

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Have I mentioned that it’s all about hunting in these parts? Taxidermy shops and small bars / casinos are as common as nail salons back in LA. When I walked into the Blue Moon, it was like walking into a natural history museum (and I’m not talking about just the patrons either).

 

Later, the granddaughter of the owner took me on a private tour of the attic that was jam packed with the owner’s “trophies” of big game from Canada, Alaska, Montana, etc…It was like something out of a horror movie, a bit creepy, and way over the top for this animal lover.