Saturday, May 28, 2011

Montana: One Long Day - Bannack State Park

“What am I thinking” crossed my mind as my alarm buzzed at 2:45 am. “Is this trip really going to be worth it?” was my second thought as I laid there thinking about the upcoming five and half hour drive up to Bannack, Montana and the surrounding area. As I pulled myself from bed I told myself “Yes, it's going to be worth it.” After packing a few things for the trip I was out the door a little before 4am to start the drive.

The weeks up to this I had been thinking were to go for Memorial Day wanting to get away for a day or two. I had thought about heading back to Dinosaur National Monument to do some hikes or head to Great Basin National Park or back the 4-Corner region for another visit. For one reason or another none of those places felt right even though those areas offer many areas to explore and get away from it all.

After a recent trip to Great Falls, Montana to deliver some construction supplies to a job site I learned of a Ghost Town located just off I-15 SW of Dillon, Montana. Bannack State Park. Since none of my other choices seem to work for me I made the decision to head north into parts unknown. With all the weird weather that we had as of late I kept careful watch to make sure all would be good for the trip. Always keeping plan B in the back of my head. With the 40-50% percent chance of rain/snow I made the decision to chance it and head on out.

At 4am you don't see many people on roads besides some truckers and those crazy souls like myself out and about. The trip up was pretty uneventful. Once out of Idaho Falls vehicle traffic died off quite a bit with the occasion car zipping on by. Once reaching the Montanan border traffic died off even more with stretches of road with you being the only soul driving on.

As I neared my turn off dark clouds loomed in the background for where my afternoon adventure would take me but for now the skies where still clear with the occasional cloud. The route back to Bannack was via a paved road for the majority of the way with just a short stretch of dirt as you entered the park.

Fortunately, it was myself and two other couples there when I arrived. By the time I left about a dozen more families had entered the park.

Bannack State Park

View from the cemetery

2nd Floor

Looking out


Old Wagon

Old International pickup

Yes, the gas tank is under the front seat


Back in town

Ye' old church


Old jail house

For one reason or another these stairs kind of creep me out

School and Masonic Temple

2nd Floor

Before heading out of Bannack I checked with the park staff too see if they knew if the route back to Lion City was open since I was able to find little information before leaving that morning. To my dismay the route back was still closed due to amount of snow that they have received this year.

After a quick lunch I was back on the road headed to my next destination the old town-site of Farley, Montana. As I traveled down the road my mind was racing what was the weather/roads going to be like as I entered the dark clouds looming over the interstate. Too my surprise the dirt road back to Farley was dry until you reached the mouth of the canyon as a snow storm was blowing raging. Soon enough though I reached the town-site to do a little exploring. I figured the snow would just add to it all.

Montana: One Long Day - Headin for Home

Not wanting to head back quite yet I decided to explore up the road a little bit from Glendale to see what laid beyond and there is a lot that lays beyond.

Once more quick stop was made in Melrose at one of the local parks by Beaver-Head river to grab a little bit of grub and to relax a bit before starting the now six and half hour drive back to Bountiful, Utah.

On the way back I made two other quick stops one at an old structure that lays just off I-15 and another a bridge that for one reason or another caught my eye.

Came across this old grave that was marked by a BLM/Forest Service Marker


There was a part of me hoping to see an old steam locomotive come across the bend bellowing smoke as it climbed.

Just outside of Malad, Idaho I ran into foul weather that would last for the remainder of the trip. Once home and unpacked it was back to bed being up for almost 22hrs. Looking back at the trip I wished I would've stayed along the way to take it all in but at the same time I wouldn't change a thing.

Thanks for sticking though my ramblings. I believe this is one of my longest write-ups in along time.

I will return to Montana another day.