Northern Montana and the Canadian Rockies, August 2015

tekno000

New member
I love your photography. I definitely need a better camera. That ghost town is seriously cool. I'm amazed by how much stuff there is. You'd think looters would make off with it all.
 

TeamWild

Observer
Very good report. The photography was great. Looks like you had a great time. I need to explore more up by Glacier. We always end up around Yellowstone because its close.
 

calicamper

Expedition Leader
Ok so your photos are awesome! And it just kills me that I need to wait a year or more longer so my kids are old enough to remember making a trip like this. My wife and I have tried to get up there multiple times.. Time to put a star next to that trip on the list and work on making sure we do it.. Thanks for sharing!!!! Those views are just awesome
 

brushogger

Explorer
If you make it to Great Falls, be sure to hit the Sip and Dip lounge. It's like going back to the early '60's. A donut piano bar with people singing Neil Diamond songs and mermaids swimming behind the bar! The mermaids also play rock, paper, scissors with the customers and I never saw them lose. It's really a fun evening, but a little too civilized to be considered overlanding. It was too great a time to miss.
 

wreckdiver1321

Overlander
I love your photography. I definitely need a better camera. That ghost town is seriously cool. I'm amazed by how much stuff there is. You'd think looters would make off with it all.
Haha thanks man. If you want any recommendations, just let me know. I know camera stuff pretty well.

Yeah the ghost town is pretty killer. It's extraordinarily well taken care of. It's worth spending several hours walking around and reading about everything.

I keep thinking about when to get out to Idaho/WA so we can go do some exploring together. I want to do the Lolo Motorway and the Magruder Corridor.

Very good report. The photography was great. Looks like you had a great time. I need to explore more up by Glacier. We always end up around Yellowstone because its close.
Thanks TeamWild! It was a great trip.

Seriously, spend some time up in Glacier. In terms of scenery, it absolutely blows Yellowstone right out of the water.

Ok so your photos are awesome! And it just kills me that I need to wait a year or more longer so my kids are old enough to remember making a trip like this. My wife and I have tried to get up there multiple times.. Time to put a star next to that trip on the list and work on making sure we do it.. Thanks for sharing!!!! Those views are just awesome
Thanks calicamper! I'm really happy with a lot of the shots I got during this trip. To be honest though, with scenery like that, I could have been blindfolded and gotten great shots.

Yeah the Canadian Rockies are just amazing. There's endless stuff to do and see. If you do go, be prepared to go again at a later date. You'll fall in love.

If you make it to Great Falls, be sure to hit the Sip and Dip lounge. It's like going back to the early '60's. A donut piano bar with people singing Neil Diamond songs and mermaids swimming behind the bar! The mermaids also play rock, paper, scissors with the customers and I never saw them lose. It's really a fun evening, but a little too civilized to be considered overlanding. It was too great a time to miss.
Great tip! I don't usually make it over to Great Falls. At least not for a long time. I'll have to check that out sometime!
 

upndown

Adventurer
I agree, Glacier is one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen! And I was born in Austria. Last time we were there I treated my ladyfriend and myself to a mind blowing Helicopter ride. Great fishing around Kalispell as well.
 
Great trip report. I have been wanting to make it up that way for several years and the opportunity has slipped through my fingers each time. I will have to find time to do this next Summer. I can take my F250 as it will haul the family and all of our gear. I am still not sure if I want to take the trailer or leave it home. Please message me any pointers that you have as I don't want to miss out on anything (as if that is possible!).
 

wreckdiver1321

Overlander
I agree, Glacier is one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen! And I was born in Austria. Last time we were there I treated my ladyfriend and myself to a mind blowing Helicopter ride. Great fishing around Kalispell as well.
Most certainly! I'd kill for a helicopter ride over Glacier. It's such a great part of an already stunning state.

Austria, eh? I've been through there before as well. Beautiful country, especially the Alps. Traveled through Austria, Switzerland, Bavaria, and Liechtenstein. Beautiful sights and very hospitable people. Can't wait to go back some day.

Great trip report. I have been wanting to make it up that way for several years and the opportunity has slipped through my fingers each time. I will have to find time to do this next Summer. I can take my F250 as it will haul the family and all of our gear. I am still not sure if I want to take the trailer or leave it home. Please message me any pointers that you have as I don't want to miss out on anything (as if that is possible!).
Thank you! Seriously, do it, you won't regret it one bit.

I'll think of some stuff and send you a PM!
 

wreckdiver1321

Overlander
From the general store, we made our way around the rest of the town.



The old hotel was one of the coolest buildings I've had the chance to explore. Everything is as original as possible, no restorations, just the original patina. Old furniture, personal effects, as if no one bothered to pick anything up before they left. It was haunting. Simply entering the building, you could almost feel the history coursing through the place. I closed my eyes and could almost hear the rowdy miners kicking back after a hard day of work.









Amazingly, the stairs were still in great shape and we could ascend to the upper levels of the old hotel. This floor is where the real stories unfolded. The miners that were a bit more well-to-do were able to afford private rooms with nice beds and plenty of space. Some personal artifacts were strewn about, making for a haunting scene.



I believe this one belonged to the woman who owned and operated the hotel.



I found the old shoes especially fascinating. If they could talk...





After getting our fill of the awesome Garnet ghost town, we decided to move on to an equally historic city in the area, the larger mining hub of Philipsburg. The way there was a great rough overland route that sprawled it's way through the Garnet Mountains. It was a change of pace from the high alpine terrain we had been seeing earlier in the trip to the hotter and drier climate close to the prairie lands. Along the way, we scared this poor little guy, who was slowly trotting along the road. When we came around the corner, we scared the life out of him and he broke to the trees before watching us drive by.



After that cool encounter, we made our way to Philipsburg.
 

wreckdiver1321

Overlander
Ahhh, Philipsburg. I did not expect this town to capture me as much as it did. This historic city was one of the main hubs for mining activity in Montana. Surrounded by no less than 24 mining and timber sites, Philipsburg was once one of the state's industrial capitals. Now, it's a hotspot for people looking to get a slice of old world Montana charm. Luckily, Philipsburg has yet to be spoiled by the ravages of tourism like those endless towns in the Black Hills or the plains of South Dakota. For that reason, it's a bit of a treasure.



We took our time and wandered our way down the main drag of this cool old city. We stopped in at a couple of cool little shops, and eventually stopped in at one of the best barbecue places I've had the pleasure of eating at. The UpNSmokin barbecue has been featured in a few barbecue events throughout the country, and it has always done well: http://missoulian.com/lifestyles/hometowns/philipsburg-barbecue-finishes-in-the-top-at-prestigious-las-vegas/article_46274ea4-65dc-11e3-84d0-0019bb2963f4.html

After eating a delicious, but certainly not healthy lunch, we decided to stop by a place my parents had told me I just could not miss. The Philipsburg candy store is built into a beautiful historic building, houses a huge collection of candies from over 50 countries, and is owned and operated by some lovely and friendly locals who kindly offered some free samples as we browsed. I love Montana hospitality. This candy shop is a seriously cool place, so if you're ever driving through Philipsburg, stop in and give it a try.









We browsed for a while and bought some of the chocolatey and sweet delights (of course!!) we left the store to check out more of the town. As we continued down the street, we found something we didn't expect in this small town. From the walls of a gorgeous old bank sprouted a sign proclaiming it was the home of the Philipsburg Brewing Company! Now, us being beer people, we could not resist the temptation to go in and try a pint of the local brew. What we found inside was one of the coolest breweries we have been to yet.









We stayed a while, sampled the beers, and chatted with the very friendly bartender. He told us a lot about Philipsburg and the history of the area, and it was a great delight to get to know him a little. As we sipped our beers, Beret and I talked about our adventure over the last two weeks. We were proud of our recent travels, and we were dismayed at the fact that our trip was coming to a close. But not before one little side adventure.
 

wreckdiver1321

Overlander
Our last off the beaten track drive for this trip was to hit one more ghost town in the Garnet Mountains. Thanks to a Montana 4x4 guide I had found in Whitefish, we discovered that above Philipsburg sat the remains of the old mining town of Granite. We followed the directions of our guide out of town and started climbing. Before long, we found a cool historical site to check out while I aired down.







We followed our excellent turn-by-turn directions up into the hills and to the remains of the town. There wasn't much left, but what little there was was pretty interesting. This building once belonged to the owner of the mine and, by extension, the owner of Granite itself. It was adorned with a plaque that gave some great information. If you want to know what it says, you'll have to go see it for yourself. :)







From there, we followed the road out towards the lower flat that once held the town. This road crossed over an enormous pile of mine tailings below the actual abandoned Granite mine.





Unlike Garnet, this town was littered with junk, piles of wood, mining equipment, and various other detritus. Time is slowly working over the town of Granite, making it disappear piece by piece. Soon, not much of this bit of history will remain standing.

When we had finished poking around Granite, we decided to follow a 4x4 trail down to an old miner's cabin near a lake, where we could then loop back to the main road and get back to Philipsburg.



The trail narrowed and got rougher and rougher. We followed the trail for the better part of an hour, but unfortunately we ran too low on time and wanted to make it back to Seeley Lake before dinner time. So we reluctantly turned around and pulled back off the trail.



On the way out, we noticed the remains of these two old cars, which were pretty cool to see. Thy had obviously been sitting there for quite a while. One of them was sporting the skeleton of some kind of animal, presumably a deer, across the roof. Spooky.





After lingering on these decaying car bodies, we rolled out of the mountains and back into Philipsburg. We aired back up there and hit the highway, bound for Seeley Lake.

We stayed that night, talking with my parents and enjoying the mountain life. The next day, we lingered as long as we could before packing up and making the drive back home. Our overland excursion to the north had been a success. We had been awed by the grandeur of the landscape in our own back yard, explored the best of Canada's national parks, soaked in a natural hot spring, visited some of the most fascinating little towns, overlanded the foothills of the Canadian Rockies, four-wheeled deep in Alberta's backcountry, drove the most scenic roads of our lives, been denied entry into our own country, had our plans changed by fires, and ultimately found our release along the backroads of some of the most beautiful and richly cultured places in North America. We learned so much about the world, about each other, and about Lola.

The places we went were made even more special by the people we encountered. Everywhere we went, people were friendly and helpful, wishing us good fortune on our journey to explore. It was a humbling experience, and it taught us just how big this world really is. Most of all, we discovered it added fuel to the flames of our wanderlust. I have been on many trips to many places throughout the world, and what I have found is that I never want to stop exploring. Even after ten days of braving smoke, oppressive heat, bitter cold, constant rain, money problems, communication issues, and various other forms of calamity, we weren't anywhere near ready to stop. We wanted to keep pushing onwards and experience even more.

During this trip, we feel that we earned the right to call ourselves overlanders, which is something we take pride in. And it is something that we will continue to earn for the rest of our years.
 

wreckdiver1321

Overlander
Overall, the trip was a resounding success, and Lola performed excellently. We had traveled about 4,000 miles, done about 500 miles of dirt, used less than expected in gas, and seen a lot of great things.

The only casualties on the trip were my front brakes, which were completely shot by the time we made it home, and my serpentine belt. Both of those are wear items that were probably on their way out anyway, so I can pretty much say it was a failure-free trip.
 

jg09

New member
Absolutely amazing photos and great write up! I just read through the whole report while sitting in a waiting room at a local car dealership service shop. I'm glad I had the time to read it all! After every post came to an end, I looked around, hoping the service advisor hadn't pulled my work van into the shop so I could have time to read one more! lol
 
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