Wow wow wow- so where to begin?? Montana is hands down absolutely one of the most beautiful states I’ve been to. We headed out there last week for a wedding, and decided to make a trip out of it (as we tend to do!). The short version? Lots of driving, animals, sights, nature, pretty spiritual out in the open wild… The long? Read on my friends…
My husband D and I have always valued traveling. Life can be so beautiful, complex, but always seems so damn busy- so we make it a priority to travel whenever we can. My belief has always been that in this life, you really can’t take it with you… but your experiences last with you forever.
So anyways, back to Montana! Last Wednesday we flew into Salt Lake City, Utah late and stayed there the night. We got a good start Thursday morning and started to make the drive up north, the idea being that we could stop at a bunch of places, sightsee, and take in the long beautiful drive the whole way. We rented an AWESOME Jeep Wrangler Sport- which we quickly nicknamed “Sasha,” (anyone watch scrubs??) and let me tell you, Sasha was amazing! She’s perhaps not the best highway drive TBH- but through the mountains, and just about everywhere else, she was fantastic 😉 We drove through Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming before getting to Montana. The views were so so incredible throughout, and Wyoming was especially magical. We stopped at Snake River, Jackson, and my favorite part of the trip- Teton National Park.
Snake River was absolutely breathtaking. It was one of the bluest/greenest rivers I have ever seen. Its on the base of an evergreen forest, and on the other side is unobstructed so that you get the most wonderful views.
After Snake River, we went onto Jackson, where Jackson Hole Ski Mountain is. There is just something about about being in Mountains, especially ski mountains in the summertime and fall! D even was like- ‘I’ve never been to so many mountains in a non-ski season since I met you’- which I know kills him a little bit because he loves skiing so much (HA). But honestly, it’s just one of those things, growing up in Colorado, where you visit the mountains all year round. So it’s not a novel idea to me, and perhaps I even love the mountains more in the summertime and fall. Open for hiking, killer views, and not being frozen in the cold is always a plus 😉 Anyways, the town of Jackson was super cute and totally up my alley. I would love to go back there to ski at some point. We stopped for Mexican food – surprise surprise, if you’ve ever met me, it’s a far favorite!
Just a short drive away from Jackson, clouds started looming overhead and it started raining, and then pouring. This was a significant moment for me… (check out my IG post a few days ago about this). And just as soon as it started, as we pulled into Teton National Park, the rain slowed down, and as we got out to hike, the clouds went away completely, and the sun came out. Let me back up for a sec by saying that Teton was high on our list for this trip, and the fact that we had just driven over 5 hours to get there and that it was storming, was a bit upsetting- but then when it stopped, it was really a magical moment. The Grand Tetons are one of nature’s specialties, truly. Carved by glaciers, it’s easy to distinguish them from the other mountains for their jagged peaks. Jenny Lake is a “small” lake at the base of Teton, and it was by far the most beautiful spot in my opinion. The water was so clean and clear, we hiked down to a small clearing, took our shoes off and sat on the rocks. *Magic, pure Magic* As we hiked back towards the car, we saw two reindeer aka Caribou, and they were a beautiful sight to see! So close to where we were standing and just doing their thing. Talk about nature at it’s finest!
After Teton & Jenny Lake, we continued the drive further north. North of Teton, you kind of just go straight through Yellowstone, which was an incredible drive. We passed Old Faithful- the geyser, and arrived just in time to see it go off! There was a huge crowd of people, and it was crazy to put together in a moment just how many people travel across the world to come to places like Yellowstone & Teton, and how grateful I was for this trip and this moment. We came across a bunch of other small geysers and sapphire pools right after, and stopped to walk through those. That was such a cool experience! The geysers threw off such heat, and you kind of walk through a steam all around them. There are mineral deposits everywhere, which created such beautiful colors.
After the geysers, we continued our drive through Yellowstone, where we came to an hour long stop to let a herd of buffalo go by… no big deal in the wilderness 😉 The downside is that by this time, it was starting to get dark, and we still had to get to Big Sky, Montana. We drove carefully through West Yellowstone as the sun was setting. It was such a crazy sight, there were evergreen forests and trees surrounding us on mountain after mountain, and right in the middle was a thick fog we were driving through. Like something out of a Twilight movie, but it was so so beautiful. I couldn’t stop to get good pictures here because we were just trying to make it to our lodge before it got pitch black out! Sasha was a rockstar, I told D we are getting her for our next car 😉 hehe
An hour later, through pitch black & fog, winding mountain roads, we finally got to Big Sky! All safe and sound.
The next morning, we started the day with a ski lift ride up to the top of Swift Current on the main Big Sky mountain. It was about a 25 minute lift ride, talk about going way way up- all the way up! The views from the top were absolutely incredible. You could see stretches of mountains, forest, and winding rivers and roads all around. We hiked on up around the top of the peak. The air was so much thinner, it was definitely a little hard to breathe. Then we started the trek down, which took about an hour and 20 minutes. It was breathtaking. Forest, trees, small streams, always on the lookout for bears (there are signs everywhere!). Down and down we went – such a great ab and quad workout! Lol, but seriously, I quickly remembered the feeling of soreness after a downhill when we started jogging the last half mile down when these bees came out of nowhere and started chasing us! Yes, chasing, like they were stuck to our clothes and let me tell you, that will get you running! Haha So down we went until we finally got to the main ski village. Ravenous after that morning, we headed out to the town center to explore a bit and then went on to Gallatin RiverHouse Grill for more great views and some of the most DELISH BBQ I have ever had! This place with give your BBQ brisket a serious run for your money. The bar is awesome too, and has tons of outdoor games. It’s a good spot to chill.
We went back to the lodge after, totally spent but ready to rally for later that night when the pre-wedding festivities began! We went to a western-themed party at the base of the mountain and had a great time. Bonfire, lasso, great dessert bar, and lots of wine, lots to love 😉
The next morning we decided to go whitewater rafting on the Gallatin river. We found a great spot not too far from where we were staying, and joined about 8 rafts that were going out. Strapped on water booties, rain jackets, and helmets, we went on a 2 hour rafting excursion. It was awesome! Sadly, I have no photos of this as we forgot our wet phone cases, but it was just so so scenic and beautiful. We definitely hit some rough rapids, and got soaked, but had a great time and got a good workout! I could go rafting for hours, it really is so nice and calming, but the scenery is just so breathtaking, time doesn’t seem to exist so much when you’re focused on good views. Fly fishermen all around, the mountains, the river, the clear water, it was amazing. Towards the end of the rafting trip down- we saw the most amazing thing, a bald eagle flew across the sky! It was just so special being so in nature. You would think after all this that it seems like we never get out of the city! But we do, and when we do, I am so so appreciative of it. After rafting, we went back to get ready for the wedding. As we were getting ready, I saw a beautifully colored fox outside our window just running around and sniffing around the trees… probably looking for dinner but it was so so beautiful to just watch, so up close.
The wedding- the main event of the weekend, was absolutely beautiful. It was so nice to have made this experience such a trip and seeing our friends have such a perfect wedding was the perfect culmination. It was atop a beautiful mountain lodge, with gorgeous views all around, especially at sunset and as the moon came out. The lodge and space was themed out so beautiful, rustic features all around and was just stunning.
The next morning we ended the trip with the long drive back to Salt Lake City to fly out back to Boston. As we were heading out of big sky, we passed a bighorn sheep. Man, the wild animals on this trip were really part of a one-of-a-kind experience! We drove a bunch through Yellowstone and then got back on the highway with Sasha 😉 I would have loved to stop somewhere else and hit some more parks on the way, but we were worried about getting back since you have to account for buffalo and elk herds and all… haha We ended up getting to Salt Lake in good time, so spent some time exploring the city, but didn’t realize how quiet it would be on a Sunday! Main key thing we got to do in Salt Lake was go to the Red Iguana for KILLER Mexican food & Margs!! That was perhaps the highlight of the day 😉 LOL It’s been featured on Diners, Drive Ins, & Dives we realized when we got there, and for good reason! Authentic Mexican food at its finest for sure. It was sad to end the trip, but we left with good feels all around as we bid farewell to Sasha and headed off for our red eye flight back to Boston.
Trip take aways:
– getting out into nature is ALWAYS a good idea, especially if you spend 95% of your time in cities… it’s good for your soul
– a long scenic drive is also good for the soul
– always rent a Jeep!!
– animal life is crazy beautiful – I saw more wildlife than I have ever seen in one weekend; bison, caribou, wild eagles, foxes, coyotes, bighorn sheep, (bears I’m sure lurking nearby) etc…
– nature = spiritual, so if you’re looking to connect with the earth and find your spirituality, I recommend trips like these 😉
Okkk, long post done! But so worth it, this trip was amazing. I look forward to coming back and exploring more. My motto: “Travel and experiences over things… always.”