Western Vacation: Red Lodge, Montana and the Beartooth

Whew!  I’m back and I bet you didn’t even know I was gone.  We were on a whirlwind tour of the United States these past two weeks.  We saw everything from black bears, bison, and geysers to bacon wrapped corn dogs, butter cows, and Midwest thunderstorms.  The next few entries will fill you in.  
I’ve been dreaming of the mountain air all summer. 
It took a few flights to get us to that mountain air – we were up at 3:30 AM to catch our 6 AM flight and begin our trip.
The Detroit airport is always lovely with its Northern Lights tunnel.  Next stop, Minneapolis.  
Greta enjoyed looking out airplane windows for the first time. 
We landed in Billings, Montana around noon.  These are the rim rocks, you drive down through them to get from the airport to the rest of the town.  We were in Billings a mere minutes this trip.  Previous trips allowed much more time, as my grandparents were residents at one point.  If you have time, swing through the Yellowstone County Museum, just outside of the airport.  This small museum hosts an impressive array of Western artifacts, a Northern Pacific engine, and a (stuffed) two-headed calf.  
We headed on to Red Lodge, Montana for the night.  Once there, we realized were going to be sharing this former mining, turned ski town with a classic car show.  The main drag of this town is something straight out of a Western classic film.  
We stayed at The Pollard.  This is a beautifully restored hotel with nice rooms, a great dining room, and nice seating around a fire place.  
We spent some quality time in the lobby of The Pollard.  The best part of The Pollard – the complimentary breakfast.  Might I suggest the Grand Marnier French Toast?  I had been perusing their menu weeks in advance of this trip and knew I was going to order that very item.  It did not disappoint.  
After breakfast, we packed up our things and headed out on a walk through the main drag, N Broadway.  There are lots of quaint shops, restaurants, bars, and art galleries to keep even the most serious shoppers interested.  Red Lodge Ales are brewed here, so if you are a craft beer enthusiast, add them to your beer bucket list.  
By the time we reached Rock Creek, we had already lost one member of the party.  Can you guess who?  Side note about places other than the South: I love being able to comfortably wear jeans and shoes in the summer!
After Rock Creek, we headed back to the pack into the car once again.  This time we had some climbing to do – we were heading over the Beartooth Pass via the Beartooth Highway and into Yellowstone National Park. 
Dina was ready for the ride!  The Beartooth Highway is a 67 mile stretch of Highway 212 that runs from Red Lodge, Montana to the east entrance of Yellowstone.  It is easily in my top 5 scenic drives, and one of the most beautiful mountain drives in the country.  Be sure and check out the Top of the World store near the top.  
Up and 
up we go.  
Obligatory Dina shot. 

We stopped at the first overlook with parking to catch the views and our breath.  
The path to our mountain overlook.
My family plus my sister and her husband. 
The road below us.
The second stop allowed us to walk out into a rocky alpine field. 
We hurried back to the car as a storm rolled in.  
We rolled into Yellowstone in early afternoon and had been driving in the park for no more than ten minutes and we saw our first bear!  This shot was taken from a car window, it is NEVER safe to approach bears.  
Driving on we came across this herd of bison in Lamar Valley.  
Bison should NEVER be approached, either.  The young bison were fun to watch – they ran, chased and head butted one another.  
This is the beautiful Lamar Valley.  We continued on to Mammoth.  Look for the next post on Mammoth Hot Springs. 

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