21 to 25 July 2021
From Bannack we started north to Butte. Situated on the side of a mountain, Butte was a nice place to take a break from the road. We did not stay long. The town has plenty of old west charm based around their copper mining history. Butte is recovering from years of environmental damage due to that mining.
Helena, a small town of only 34,000 people, is the state’s capital. We make it a point to visit state capitals and we are fans of the Paramount TV series Yellowstone, so we had to visit. The Capitol Building is impressive. Completed in 1902, it was designed by Charles Bell, who also designed the similar South Dakota State Capitol. Helena also served as a good base camp for our day at Gates of the Mountains.
Gates of the Mountains Wilderness is an access point to a remote section of the Missouri River about 25 miles north of the capital. We took the Canyon Voyager boat tour up the river retracing the route Lewis and Clark took. Bear were not visible during the heat of the day but several bald eagles and osprey were active in the valley.
Gates of the Mountains Wilderness
Missoula, between Helena and Kalispell, was another stop along the way. We walked around the University of Montana and along the river at Caras Park in downtown. It was a nice stop in what appeared to be the state’s liberal outpost.