7 WILD ADVENTURES IN BIG SKY COUNTRY
Courtesy Montana Press Room
Nicknamed “Big Sky Country” for its boundless horizons and unimpeded vistas, Montana offers the intrepid traveler a chance to discover the last of the Wild West. Whether it’s retracing history one paddle stroke at a time, taking family camping to new heights, or riding alongside cowboys on the storied Bad Pass Trail, the sky’s the limit in Montana.
Here are seven authentic ways to rediscover the Treasure State in 2016:
TREK “THE BOB” WITH DROPSTONE OUTFITTING
Home to over 100 lakes, 1,000 miles of trails and every mammal species native to the Northern Rockies (save the Plains Bison), The Bob Marshall is the crown jewel of America’s Wilderness areas. And at its center sits the Chinese Wall — 13 miles of imposing limestone escarpment. It’s a bucket-lister for many hikers, and easily accessible with the help of Dropstone Outfitting. Dropstone’s guides lend their knowledge and appreciation for the neighborhood flora and fauna, and give visitors the space to explore this remote landscape – savored by the relative few who venture into its wilds each year.
2. TRAILS & YOGA!
RUN WILD WITH NIKKI KIMBALL
Running isn’t for everyone. But for the trail-hungry traveler, running alongside Nikki Kimball — a decorated, ultra-marathon champion — up her favorite peaks in the surrounding Lee Metcalf Wilderness is a dream come true. Balance out a day on the trails with mountainside yoga and meditation back at Diamond J Ranch. Refuel with wholesome, home cooked meals, and cozy up cabin side for unrivaled stargazing below the imposing Madison Mountain Range.
For details, go to www.RunningOm.com.
3. SADDLE UP!
A WORKING RANCH VACATION AT DRYHEAD RANCH
Staying at a working ranch in Montana is more than just a horseback ride around the corral. Guests to the historic Dryhead Ranch roll up their sleeves and join cowboy-led cattle drives along the infamous Bad Pass Trail. They visit the last remaining American wild mustangs on the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Reserve, and they learn the area’s tall tales and local folklore around campfire cookouts each evening. These are the experiences and landscapes of the true Wild West.
LLAMA TREKKING IN THE SWAN MOUNTAINS
Forget crowded campgrounds and noisy RV Parks — opt for the wifi-free wilds in Montana’s northwest corner. Swan Mountain Outfitters and their team of sure-footed llamas (yes, real llamas) will take care of your family’s camping gear and picnic supplies, so you can take in the high-alpine scenery. Along a ridge top trail in the Flathead National Forest, travelers and their families revel in crystal-clear swimming holes, cozy peak-side campfires, and unparalleled views of three neighboring wilderness areas and Glacier National Park.
CANOE THE WILD AND SCENIC MISSOURI RIVER
Over 200 years ago, Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery explored the Upper Missouri River, passing beneath the immaculate White Cliffs and chronicling “scenes of visionary enchantment.” Today, modern-day explorers can follow in their predecessors’ paddle strokes on a multi-day float trip in Central Montana. While the views remain unchanged along these inspiring waters, Lewis and Clark Trail Adventures provides comforts unavailable to its namesake travelers — cozy accommodations, gourmet cuisine and riverside commentary by knowledgeable guides and guest history buffs.
LEARN TO COOK AT A BACKCOUNTRY CAMP
Imagine fishing a pristine, mountain stream in Montana, and then feasting on your catch with cornbread and baked beans cooked over the open fire. This is not your traditional cooking class. The Royal Tine Cook Camp, located in the foothills of the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness, teaches attendees how to master traditional outdoor cooking methods, sans electricity. It’s one-part cooking, one-part camping, with a dash of wilderness adventure.
7. SADDLE UP!
TRAVEL BACK IN HISTORY WITH THE US CAVALRY SCHOOL
Colloquially known as Custer’s Last Stand, one of the most famous battles in U.S. history took place on the banks of the Little Bighorn River in southeast Montana 140 years ago. Here, travelers and history buffs alike can experience military life on the Frontier during the U.S. Cavalry School’s eight-day intensive encampment course. Taught by the country’s best experts, attendees hone their skills and relive the historic event in front of thousands of spectators during Real Bird’s Little Bighorn Reenactment — an annual celebration commemorating the battle’s brave participants. History lessons, frontier meals and training are included. Bring your own period costume.
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Check out this video of a Reenactment of the Little Bighorn Battle:
Red Sunday: The Battle of the Little Bighorn
A brief, though excellent documentary on the Battle of the Little Bighorn. Originally produced by the Montana and North Dakota Historical Societies' Bicentennial Commissions. Narrated by John McIntire (1976).