While Sedona is still one of my favorite places ever, Montana is hands down my absolute favorite state in the whole country. I had seen photos of this gorgeous state for years, only being able to picture it in my head. So, being able to finally visit it, and by car (the best way to experience any state, in my opinion), was such a blessing and privilege. I truly love the mountains and Montana gave me everything I ever wanted and expected. It’s an opportunity I would jump at the chance to take again any day.
I was on a 2-day road trip with my friend, which began in Phoenix, Arizona, with our destination being the panhandle of Idaho. Our route took us the entire length of Utah from south to north, then through the eastern half of Idaho for 2 hours, before entering into Montana. We then drove through the entire western half of the state for approximately 6 hours. We eventually crossed into the very tip-top, skinny little section of Idaho known as the panhandle, traveling for another hour or so. I also got to visit the amazing giant cedars and epic Kootenai Falls (more on that at the end).
While the drive was done mainly on the major travel thoroughfare Highway 15, it was nothing like that highway in most states. We had driven on The 15 for 75% of the drive through Utah, straight up the middle of it, and it was awful. Completely mundane and boring, just a highway packed with cars and residential areas scattered everywhere (IMO most of the cool stuff in Utah is in the western and southern sections). However, travel in Montana is light, and it is sooo extremely peaceful 🥰. We went past small town after small town, as well as through the “big” cities of Butte and Missoula.
One completely unexpected and wild thing that happened while in Montana was the freak snowstorm which we found ourselves in. As we approached the Idaho/Montana border, that’s when it decided to hit. In mid-June. This wasn’t the first time my friend and I experienced something like this. However, unlike our previous trip together to the Grand Canyon that we were forced to abandon due to snow, we did not have that luxury this time. We had no choice but to push on, as turning back wasn’t an option and stopping on the side of a snow-covered highway with zooming big rigs was also certainly not an option. As we tracked the storm on the weather app’s radar, we pushed through, sitting in silence as we drove 45 miles per hour on the highway.
We briefly stopped in the snow-drenched town of Deer Lodge for gas (known as the home of the historic Montana State Prison – so extremely bummed we didn’t get to visit), then continued to carry on, eventually outrunning the storm. Soon the snow just… stopped. It was like popping into a different dimension.
Once we were firmly away from the storm, it was like a different world. It was so bright, sunny, warm, and welcoming, a far cry from the “winter wonderland” we had just escaped from. This is the Montana I had always pictured in my thoughts and dreams, an exact replica almost. There were mountains, deep bluish green rivers and streams, and huge, open royal blue skies with beautiful fluffy white clouds. I finally understood why Montana markets itself as “Big Sky Country”. That is exactly what it is.
The only place I’ve ever been that can rival the beauty of Montana is the country of Norway.
All in all, this blog is more of a shout-out to Montana and a prelude to my two upcoming Montana blogs, which I will post next: Ross Creek Cedars Scenic Area and Kootenai Falls and Suspension Bridge. Please stay tuned! 👐🏼
P.s. After I left Kootenai Falls, I stopped along the way numerous times to take pictures. There was one photo opportunity that I had mentally bookmarked on my way to the falls. I was able to find it again and snapped one of the best scenic pictures I’ve ever taken (please see above). As I was framing and snapping these pics, a truck drove by, and then stopped about 50 feet away, slowly turned around, and came back towards me. I thought “Great. I’m about to be featured on an ID channel show or some true crime podcasters weekly podcast”. However, luckily for me and my life, it was just an elderly couple wanting to make sure my car hadn’t broken down or that I needed help. I constantly met super nice and helpful people like this up in Montana and Idaho. ❤️