North to Montana

In my 40-plus years of road trips, I have visited all but one of the Lower 48 States; that single exception is North Dakota, which I hope to visit this coming fall.  A close second is Montana, which I drove into for several miles during a family trip to Yellowstone National Park back in the early nineties.  Over the next few days, I will extend my exploration of Montana, circling through the southwestern part of that State.

Like most road trips, I know my intended route but have no idea whether plans will change based on a whole host of potential unforeseen circumstances.  Right now, I intend to head for Billings, then zigzag to Helena before looping back through Deer Lodge, Butte and Bozeman.  Rather than retracing my route from Billings to Casper (along I-25), I plan to drive south through the Bighorn Valley (west of the Bighorn Range) before angling east to Casper.

While I certainly hope to see a wide variety of wildlife on my journey, I will be most interested in the landscape and am especially looking forward to seeing the headwaters of the Missouri, northeast of Three Forks.  There, the Madison, Jefferson and Gallatin Rivers merge to form the Missouri, a river that I have come to know well and one that played a major role in the exploration of the West (see Up River with Lewis & Clark and following posts).