Exploring Montana- Bozeman & Whitefish

After leaving Yellowstone National Park, we made the two hour drive North to Bozeman, Montana. We were completely exhausted from spending so many days in the car and it was really only the beginning of the trip! We had a friend in Bozeman, that was letting us stay at their place for the night which would give us one night of sleep outside the 4runner/tent. When we got into town they recommended checking out their favorite spot for beers & dinner. Nothing sounds better than beer and stuffing my face after a long day exploring & driving. So, we headed over to Bridger Brewing for some grub and drinks. We planned to go out and rally that night in Bozeman but when we went back to freshen up and shower, we ended up passing out on the couch. I didn’t wake up until the middle of the night when I was pretty chilly with my hair still wet and the window wide open. By then it was after 1AM, so I just went back to bed. How we managed to squeeze two of us on the tiny couch, I have no idea. When you’re tired… you can sleep anywhere in any position!

The next day we decided to go check out the Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park outside of Bozeman. It was about an hour drive from Bozeman, but not too far off our route up to Glacier National Park. I have not explored any caverns in the US, so I don’t have anything to compare these caverns to, but this was an awesome tour! These caverns are said to be the most decorated limestone caverns in the Northwest. The tours are two hours long starting out with a 1/2 mile hike to the cavern entrance. The cavern entrance is at 5,300 ft, but during the tour you will descend 600 steps, slide through and down some narrow passages, and make your way through some different chambers. It covers about two miles, and you go down about 200 ft. One misconception of the caverns is that it was discovered by Lewis and Clark, but that is not the case. The cave is named after the explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark since the cavern overlooks over 50 miles of the trail from the Lewis and Clark Expedition along the Jefferson River, but Lewis and Clark never saw the cavern.

If you have the time to take the tour, I highly recommend it. The tour guide is really funny and very informative. No matter how hot it is outside, bring a sweater because the caverns are quite chilly! The Lewis and Clark State park also has camping, hiking trails, and mountain biking trails, and they even had an area that you could drop your dog off while you went on the tour that way you didn’t have to leave them in a hot vehicle!

After we wrapped up the tour, we jumped on the road and headed to Whitefish, Montana, which was a 5 hour drive North. It is one of the closest cities to the Glacier National Park entrance so we thought we’d hang out in town and camp that night that way we could get into the park in the early morning and start exploring. After a long day of exploring and driving we were looking for a place to try some more Montana beers. We found Great Northern Brewing Company in the heart of Whitefish via Yelp and headed on in to do some tasting. My favorites:

Good Medicine: Style – Strong Red Ale
ABV – 7.5%    IBUs – 55
Malts – Pale, Caramel, Honey, Caramel & Dark Munich

Going to the Sun IPA: Style – American IPA
ABV – 5.5%    IBUs – 54
Malts – Pale & Caramel

Northern Brewing

We arrived near their closing time, but we lucked out on $10 pitchers on Sundays, so we put back a few of those before heading out to find another spot that stayed open later. Central Avenue is a good place to park and walk around because there are a number of different bars and restaurants in the area. Once they closed we were looking for the next best spot to check out and the bartenders recommended Craggy Bar & Grill, because they are open later and quite often have a live band, which was an easy sell for us! We walked in with the band playing some folky, bluegrass, country style music. I instantly love them and we headed towards the bar closest to the stage. Live music always makes the atmosphere in a bar so much better! But, this band called Band of Drifters is totally worth checking out!

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We ended up hanging and dancing at the bar until close and headed towards camp. There’s quite a bit of camping available around Whitefish Lake and along the road towards the entrance of Glacier National Park. It’s only a half an hour drive to the entrance of Glacier National Park. If you don’t feel like road tripping your way up to Glacier you can fly into Glacier Park International Airport located 15 minutes outside of Whitefish & 30 miles from the west entrance of the park. Next stop… Glacier National Park!

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