Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park, Montana

August 11th

The Lewis & Clark Caverns Visitor Center

A mountain lion keeping watch at the front door of the Visitor Center

Sissy took this pic of a doe and her fawn as we descended off the mountain on the bike

And, who said Sissy didn´t know how to cook pork chops over a fire?

The setting sun from our campsite. Looked like the mountain was on fire

A quick trip to the campground office for uploading the web site and checking email was first before heading out of Idaho and into Montana. We´d already showered, got dressed and packed up our things so there was nothing left to do after our internet work.

We stayed on I90 eastbound the entire way traveling through mountains and valleys. The mountain uphills went on for miles at about 5%-6% grades, but we went downhill about the same amount so it was a wash. Before we knew it we were in Montana because the panhandle of Idaho is small. Stopping for lunch in Montana at a rest area was a breeze. John cranked up the generator and Sissy heated the spaghetti in the microwave. Left over from the previous night´s dinner, the spaghetti (with Sissy´s special sauce) and the tossed salad was just as good.

John posing for a pic at one of the mountain viewpoints

We drove through the Idaho National Forest, the Lolo National Forest, past the Flathead Indian Reservation, through the Garnet Mountain Range, through Missoula, past a buffalo heard and finally through Butte at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. Fuel stops were few and far between, but we made it to Butte before having to refuel the truck. There was also a discount tobacco store there at the truck stop so we stocked up.

It was time to start searching for a campground in our books. There were many along our route, and most of them appeared to be no more than half full. Then, we saw a sign indicating Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park next right. We´d seen the park in the Atlas and were going to check it out anyway. Boy, are we glad we went there. Not only was it right on the way to Yellowstone National Park, but it was beautiful as well. There were no hookups, but it had a dump station and water. We parked the rig and immediately took the bike out for a ride up into the mountains and toward the caverns.

The sun was shining and the wind was kicking a little, but John elected to not bring his leather (what a mistake that was.) The cool breeze at over 5,000 feet up is actually a cold breeze even if the sun is shining. Well anyway, we took the 30 MPH curvy road to the top and took pics along the way. On the way down, Sissy spotted a foe with her fawn (mule deer) along the side of the road. We stopped for pics of them as well before they decided to hot foot it into the brush and behind a tree.

A cave on the side of a mountain as we drove to the Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park

Our late afternoon evening included starting a fire in the fire pit with our last 2 pieces of wood, cooking pork chops and potato salad, tipping a few around the fire (after Sissy scavenged some more wood from adjacent pits) and snapping pics of the red, hot sky as the sun fell behind the mountain tops. How red, hot was the sky? It was soooooo red, hot it appeared the mountain was on fire. Our camping neighbors Dorothy and Walt (from Pulaski, Virginia of all places) were doing pretty much the same as us except they went for an evening walk to burn off dinner. Tom (the campground host and local fireman) pulled up in his fire truck to greet us and give us some literature before continuing his rounds through the park.

We hit the sack after dark. Campfires dotted the landscape as other campers sat around chit-chatting until late in the evening. The peace and quiet were wonderful, and we both got a good night sleep. Good thing too, because John wanted to take another bike ride in the morning to snap some more pics of the rocky cliffs, river, railroad tracks, mountains and trees before heading on toward Yellowstone.

The 30 MPH speed limit on the road leading to Lewis & Clark Caverns was justified. The road had many curves and no guardrails

John was up at 0600 making coffee and checking out the weather. The sun was shining and the wind was calm. "Get up, Sissy" it´s time to go! Not before my morning coffee !!! Ok, it was a couple cups and then we were off ... this time with our leathers. Up to the front gate where Tom was parked we went on the bike. Then, 3 mule deer appeared in the field so Sissy climbed off the bike and got more pics of them as they meandered off up the road until another camper scared them away.

Down the highway we went along the riverbank the way we´d arrived. Steep cliffs, mountains, reflections off the flat smooth river and simply gorgeous scenery were ours for the capturing. Then after about an hour, it was time for heading back, showering and getting dressed for the ride to Yellowstone.

On our Monday morning ride, we snapped this one of the surrounding mountains, river, railroad tracks and reflection

John & Sissy EXCLUSIVE RATINGS: (1 bad - good 10)

  • Campground - 9
  • People - 10
  • Roads - 8
  • Scenery - 10
  • Traffic - 10
  • Things to Do - 8
  • Weather - 9

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