Getting Lost in Montana

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Bear Tooth Pass, Montana

I told the folks at Montana tourism how I love the photo of the bison on their site but wondered if that was realistic or something only National Geographic photographers get to see.

They laughed and told me when I picked up my car rental I should drive the long way around to Chico through Bear Tooth Pass.

It was only six – eight hours but very scenic and the best chance to see bison.

They even marked a map for me so I wouldn’t get lost.

I love road trips and eight hours doesn’t intimidate me.

I jumped in the car, cranked the music and unabashedly sang to Kelly Clarkson, poison and Fleetwood Mac without fear of judgement.

Life is a highway….right?

But I realized the rod looked familiar, was this the same road from the downhill biking tour?

Am I going the right way?

See the problem is I never pay attention. I have a terrible habit of smiling and nodding when people tell me things and I walk away cursing that I don’t have a clue what they said.  

I’ve never really had anything happen to me so I never feel the need to pay attention especially since I always have the google maps app on my iPhone.

I felt slightly uneasy but kept driving. I did not feel full-on panic until I saw the sign that I was leaving Montana!?!

I pulled over and reached for my phone but there was no service! I mentally backtracked and realized there had been no other turn offs.

I didn’t want to drive back downhill for 45 minutes but I saw no other alternative.

Then I had a brilliant idea.

map of montana

I would look at the map. The one that was open right beside me. With the route marked in a yellow highlighter.

Turns out I was going the right way, the lovely folks at Montana tourism had marked this because the route means going in and out of Montana through to Wyoming. It can be confusing but it is one of the most epic drives I have ever done with a landscape that compelled me to pull the car over every ten minutes to take photos.

bear tooth pass
montana wyoming border

That eight hour drive took me over ten hours. It reaffirmed my desire to see things close to home. Montana has always been so close and yet I never considered visiting because it did not seem as exotic as the gravity-defying Dead Sea or the ancient city of Machu Picchu.


welcome to montana

I was so excited when I finally saw I was back in Montana (sorry Wyoming I am sure you are great too).  And toward the end I was rewarded because I drove right past this guy…



Join the Conversation

  1. Sarah Somewhere says:

    Ha! I never listen to directions either! It’s like yeah, yeah, yeah… oh shit, I’m lost. Looks beautiful, must have been a peaceful drive (after you checked the map).

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      No radio up on Bear’s Tooth, it was actually really nice to be in silence.

  2. The Time-Crunched Traveler (Ellen) says:

    That scenery is spectacular. Makes me long for a weeks-long road trip out west. I’m with you … starting to really appreciate the value of exploring close to home, despite the fact that they’ve never seemed as exotic or impressive. I realize this may seem hypocritical since I just moved to the other side of the world, but perhaps that has made me long to explore home even more.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I never understood people who told me they wanted to know their own country first before going abroad but now I see we have so much diversity in North America.

      1. The Time-Crunched Traveler (Ellen) says:

        We really do — both geographically and culturally. My husband grew up overseas and when we first started dating, I was really turned off because he looked down on traveling in the U.S. He literally graduated from high school ON the Pyramids in Egypt, so he thought why would anyone want to go to the Grand Canyon or spend time in Washington, DC when they can go to the Pyramids?! I had to explain that first of all, not everyone can actually afford to just up and go to the Pyramids whenever they feel like it, but that also that it’s important to know your own country, culture, and history just as much as it’s important to experience different cultures around the world.

  3. Joni Betink says:

    Love it

  4. Stephanie - The Travel Chica says:

    Did you see bison? Is there supposed to be another photo?


    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Yes! check out more photos on Wednesday!

  5. Andi of My Beautiful Adventures says:

    Sometimes getting lost can be so much fun! What gorgeous scenery!!!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I am guilty of relying too much on my iPhone but there is a reason we still need the good ole old fashioned map.

  6. That one photo looks like Mars or Iceland. So desolate yet beautiful. And I would have FREAKED OUT seeing a real, live bison walking on the freakin’ road.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I was a bit hesitant, I had no idea if it would turn on me as I drove by but it seems that they are quite docile.

      1. Docile? NOT!! Check out youtube, you’ll see lots of bison that are definitely not docile. But, they are really a neat animal.

  7. Alana - Gen Y Wanderer says:

    That thing is HUGE!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Bigger than my car and I wasn’t sure if bison were aggressive so I drove by slowly to snap a photo.

  8. Les Petits Pas de Juls says:

    yeap! that’s exactly what happens in Montana! wildlife at every corner! we used to have deers coming up in our garden when I lived in Missoula. It’s just absolutely fabulous! And the landscapes are breath-taking! Good to read you enjoyed the road! Cheers!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I keep telling people they MUST go to Montana it seems that everyone who has been there raves about it and then everyone else has no clue it is so beautiful.

  9. Love it! And you belt out to Kelly Clarkson? Oh, the things I learn about you!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I know, I am an enigma wrapped in bacon…

  10. Ah, I love these Montana posts. My dad lives there and it reminds me how special a place it really is. I think my favorite part about the state is that you can really get lost and be miles from anywhere (in a good way). I’m glad to see you got a chance to enjoy the gorgeous scenery and the wildlife. Your pictures are lovely!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I was surprised how remote it could be, for most of the ride through Bear Tooth Pass I couldn’t pick up the radio. Well I could get Fox News Radio but after a while I had to turn that garbage off.

  11. Carmie Brogan says:

    The scenery is beautiful – it really looks like “cowboy” country but the road does not compare to the “Road to Hana” and beyond!

  12. I recognize the listening without listening part. Nice views!

  13. Wow the country side is breathtaking! What an awesome road trip. Are the bison aggressive? Is it easy to get tha close?

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      They didn’t seem to be aggressive, at least towards me!

  14. kimolsonphoto says:

    It’s funny how much a lot of us now rely on our phones for directions. But sometimes I just prefer a good old-fashioned map. And good thing you had it as a backup! 🙂

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      It is so silly that a map was my last resort when it is the easiest, most uncomplicated thing to use.

  15. Cathy Sweeney says:

    I love seeing the bison in Montana (and Wyoming). Great road trip country, with or without a map.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I really want to see more of Montana and Wyoming now.

  16. Emily in Chile says:

    Bison! He looks like he’s stuffed with that perfect pose for your photo. I would have been excited too.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I had no idea I would see one so soon!

  17. Cam @ Traveling Canucks says:

    Wow – he looks quite intimidating! He’s a big boy!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      That is such an understatement!

  18. Italian Notes says:

    Grand and lonely landscape – apart from the bearded moose.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Nice way to look at it!

  19. Holy wow, that thing is huuuuge! 😀 And what a beauty.

    North America is so stunning. The more I learn about it, the more I just want to stay here forever and explore it. <3 <3

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Have to agree, but then I’d extend that to the “Americas” so I can get back down to South America too.

  20. Raymond @ Man On The Lam says:

    Yowzers! That thing would scare the bejeezus out of me if I saw it on the road!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I was too stunned to be really scared.

  21. I want to see a buffalo one day!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Then head to Montana!

  22. Looking at the pics I know you must have enjoyed the drive.

  23. Wow, a real Bison! 🙂 Can’t believe you ran into one on the road!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I know I was shocked!

  24. I don’t know if I could do such a long drive by myself and without radio. I love a roadtrip but I need company!

    But wow… that bison picture at the end might make it all worth it!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      To be honest, one station did come in – Fox News Radio but after ten minutes I preferred the silence.

  25. I LOVE that you saw the bison and I love that you got lost and captured a great experience via photos. That’s what traveling is all about, right?

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      So so true!

  26. Seems like a pretty fun road trip! The scenery is stunning … I’d never really thought of Montana much as a destination before. But this convinces me!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      It seems to be there are two types of people 1) people who know nothing about Montana 2) people who have been there and rave about it.

  27. Amazing last photo!!! I got to see a baby bison in Arizona once, on a horse ride near the Grand Canyon. They are wild creatures.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      How big was the baby? I have to imagine still gigantic.

  28. Camels & Chocolate says:

    Oh, girl, you need to go to South Dakota. In our 13-state road trip of the West last year, I never saw more bison than I did in the national park there!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Now that I have been to Montana I am really interested in the Dakotas as well as Wyoming, there is to much to see that I didn’t expect.

  29. Tom @ Waegook Tom says:

    This sounds awesome! Although I’d have to force my boyfy to go with me as I can’t drive. Boo.

    Brilliant idea to look at the map 😉 I get what you mean though…I’ll hear instructions, nod, sit down at my desk and then try to figure out what I should be doing before going back for ‘clarification’ soon after.

    Also, that bison looks MASSIVE.

  30. Immigrant Patty says:

    it’s good

    they say that the Beartooth mountain was the largest true high elevation in United state. This is a hunting game for animal and for winter shelter from the harsh winds of the plain.The mountain was very beautiful.

  31. After reading your post and seeing your photos I can only say this: I want to get lost in Montana too 😉

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