• An excavator takes huge bites from the snowpack covering Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park on Monday morning as crews reached Oberlin Bend in the annual effort to get the popular tourist route open. Photo by Kurt Wilson

    Going-to-the-Sun Road: The ‘art’ of moving snow

    Snowplow crews are making headway in their work to clear Glacier’s epic roadway.

    Missoulian reporter Vince Devlin has the story:

    The annual opening of this iconic two-lane highway through the heart of Glacier National Park signals the full-bore start of tourist season in this part of Montana, and so the date Going-to-the-Sun is ready for traffic is an important one to lots of people.

    And we don’t know it.

    Not yet.

    What we do know is that when snowplow crews on the west side reach Oberlin Bend near Logan Pass, Glacier officials escort a gaggle of reporters up to watch them work.

    That happened Monday, as machinery labored its way through a winter’s worth of snow, even as more snow fell.

    A year ago – with significantly more snowfall for crews to deal with – the annual journalists’ trek to Oberlin Bend didn’t happen until June 5. The road went on to open on July 3.

    While crews up the road worked to clear snow, a lower crew was replacing the removable guardrails on the road. Miles of the guardrails are removed each winter to avoid damage from avalanches and rock falls. Photo by Kurt Wilson

    While crews up the road worked to clear snow, a lower crew was replacing the removable guardrails on the road. Miles of the guardrails are removed each winter to avoid damage from avalanches and rock falls. Photo by Kurt Wilson

    This year, they’ve reached Oberlin Bend almost four weeks earlier than last year, but, as is always the case, Mother Nature will have the biggest say in how work progresses from here.

    “We’ve had blizzards in June, and it’s not even mid-May yet,” explained Glacier spokeswoman Denise Germann.

    Read the rest of the story here.

    Need more Glacier in your life? Subscribe to Montana Magazine today and check out our Park-to-Park issue.

  • The Stage Road Inn near Dodson. Photo by Jack McNeel

    Behind the scenes: How to find a place like the Stage Road Inn

    It’s that time of year again: To to think about a summer vacation or quick getaway.

    If you really want to get away – and explore some Montana backroads while you’re at it, take a look at our feature on the Stage Road Inn near Dodson. It’s western style meets Montana comfort – with a dash of history.

    The Stage Road Inn is on the outskirts of Dodson just east of the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation. That’s one reason for the strong Native American décor owner Sandy Calk has used inside the converted farm house.

    But how do you find a place like Stage Road? When you need a place to sleep, it’s about necessity, explains writer Jack McNeel.

    The Stage Road Inn is a three bedroom bed and breakfast near Dodson. Photo by Jack McNeel

    The Stage Road Inn is a three bedroom bed and breakfast near Dodson. Photo by Jack McNeel

    Here’s our Behind the Scenes feature for May/June:


    “Initially it was simply a matter of need. I was on assignment to do several articles on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation and needed a place to stay nearby to reduce travel time back and forth. Chinook and Dodson are about equal distances from the community of Fort Belknap, but Dodson is almost on the reservation itself.”

    “A search of Google turned up the Stage Road Inn adjoining Dodson. I was very surprised, but pleasantly surprised, to find a bed and breakfast located there as it was just a shot in the dark. I was even more surprised to read the description as it sounded like a wonderful experience in a historical building, decorated in a Native American motif and located outside of town with a barn and open fields all around.”

    “I’ve always preferred the natural environment to the urban and have great interest in Native American history to the present time. What better combination could I have stumbled upon?”


  • Montana Book Review: Summertime stories

    By Doug Mitchell

    A novel with an unlikeable lead character whose journey makes for an ultra likeable read. A poignant story of two seemingly unconnected characters living under the same sky. And a book all about Flathead Lake that captures the true character of “Big Blue.”

    given-world-webThe Given World

    Marian Palaia

    Simon and Schuster, New York – 2015

    • Read an authoer Q&A with Marian Palaia here

    Over the past year or so, I have had the good fortune to read and review for these pages a number of first novels by writers affiliated in some way with Montana. The Given World is another book that meets that criteria and which will turn more than a few heads as the debut novel of Marian Palaia, a writer who spent time in Missoula writing with many of our well-known literary treasures.

    It’s a challenging book, and I think Palaia bends and/or broke more than a few rules in the writing of it. Her style is unapologetic, confident and brash. She introduces us to characters, makes us care about them and then they disappear, sometimes never to resurface again. She switches from first person to third, throws in a letter for good measure and provides no traditionally balanced roadmap of where we are headed.

    The main character, Riley, is almost wholly unlikable and if you’re looking for a happy ending, you’ll need to look somewhere else.

    In spite of all this – perhaps more accurately, because of all this – I enjoyed every minute of the journey that is The Given World.

    This debut novel is fresh, authentic, raw and clever. The writing is impeccable and contains more than a few moments of connection, reflection and wonder.

    In the first pages, you will reasonably believe this book is about a young woman’s (Riley) search for her long assumed dead MIA/POW brother in Vietnam. Wrong.

    You’ll then spend the next 200 pages trying to figure out exactly what the book is about. Perhaps that’s exactly what Palaia wanted. If so – it’s well done.

    We meet Riley in a bar in Vietnam, we then travel with her back to rural Montana and to the days of her youth, as the adoring younger sister to older brother Mick. Riley never gets over the loss of her brother and if you think you can picture the rest of this story, you haven’t met Primo, Lu, Slim, Darrell, Max, Eddie or Alice (a car by the way) yet.

    Palaia has a gift for crafting characters that jump off the page and in whom we become invested. Part of that gift, in my view, comes in the depth she creates in them. The stereotypical villain/victim/savior roles rolled out like a formula by lesser writers is below Palaia’s considerable skills. These characters say and do important things and in so doing weave an interesting tale indeed.

    In escaping Montana to find herself, Riley at one point says: “I practiced, on that road, keeping the people lost to me at bay.”

    What a simple, but at the same time, very complicated sentence.

    There’s nothing special about the language, but there is something special about the context and the interpretation and the message.

    In The Given World, Palaia and her characters give us many of these moments. Talking about her father, Riley comments matter-of-factly, “He’s like that. Pays attention to things he thinks need attention paid to.” Simple, elegant and thought-provoking.

    This is a book that I will think about for a long time. Some of that reflection will be wondering why I liked it so much. Perhaps, I’ll never know. But isn’t that the magic of great writing? To take us to places we don’t expect with characters that intrigue us, all done through words that stimulate the mind and the imagination?
    I think so, and if you agree, then The Given World is a gem that deserves a spot on your summer reading list.

    THE-SAME-SKY-coverwebthe same sky

    Amanda Eyre Ward

    Ballantine Books, New York – 2015

    • Read an author Q&A with Amanda Eyre Ward here

    Sometime in 2012, I had a crazy idea. I would seek out Montana authors and get them to sign first edition copies of their books to be auctioned off as a collection to benefit the private land conservation efforts of The Montana Land Reliance.

    That’s how I first came to know the work of Amanda Eyre Ward, a New York native who came to Montana, like so many of the best writers do, to study at the University of Montana with Kittredge, McNamer, Earling, et all.

    After earning her master’s of fine arts in 1997, Ward eventually settled in Austin, Texas, where she has written five novels, the most recent of which, the same sky, is a real gem not to be missed.

    Ward and 50 other authors agreed to indulge my crazy idea and she sent inscribed first edition copies of all four of her previous novels. The collection sold for $8,000 and the books were donated to Flathead Valley Community College as the basis of a permanent Montana reading room there, but not before I read two of Ward’s books, How to Be Lost and Close Your Eyes.

    Both are special books, and when I started writing for Montana Magazine, I made a note to myself to check every so often to see if Ward had written anything new.

    Sure enough, earlier this year I discovered Ward had just released the same sky and I immediately began stalking her publisher to get my hands on a copy.

    I’m glad I did.

    the same sky tells the stories of two women living very different lives, under the same sky.

    Carla is pre-teen living in abject poverty in Honduras trying her best to keep her younger brother safe and her grandmother alive after her mother leaves them behind to build a better life in America as an illegal immigrant.

    Alice lives in Texas with her husband, Jake, with whom she desperately wants to have a baby. We meet Alice just after an open adoption gone badly – from which Alice finds solace on the couch watching the HGTV show “International House Hunters.”

    Alice and Jake own a barbecue restaurant about to be featured in Bon Appetite while Carla spends her days digging in the garbage dump for food and anything of value she can sell or trade to get food. When Carla’s grandmother dies, she decides to take her brother and make a run for “El Norte” … the same sky, but very different worlds.

    Some have called the book “timely” and while I agree, in terms of its appearance at the same time this country is having a robust discussion about immigration, the same sky is not in any way a political piece. It is a beautifully written piece of fiction that tells, in the first person voices of both Carla and Alice, two stories that deal with very different existences, but very similar emotions. It is a book about love and loss and family and fear and pain and hope.

    Ward is a masterful storyteller with a gift for developing rich characters in a way that connects us to them even when we have nothing in common. While the same sky is a serious book, in Ward’s expert hands it is anything but dark.

    In my view, Ward is pulling herself up a chair to the table of the UM fiction writing notables and it is well deserved.

    Flathead_Lake-PLC-v5-HQ-FrontwebFlathead Lake on My Mind

    By Steve Smith

    Pediment Publishing, Washington – 2015

    If you hang around the Flathead Lake area very long, you just start referring to certain places in shorthand. In Bigfork alone (or Big Fork according to author Steve Smith), there’s “The Garden” and “The Playhouse” and “The Lodge” and, of course “The Lake.” Everyone knows what you mean.

    In Flathead Lake on My Mind, author Steve Smith and publisher Wayne Schile may have put together “The Book” about Flathead Lake that makes a perfect companion for a summertime visitor to this truly special place.

    I’ll be frank; I’m not usually a fan of books like this. They seem to come in two varieties. They are either boring, but useful tomes chock full of facts and dates and statistics, or they are commercial enterprises wholly dedicated to directing consumer spending to certain favored establishments.

    Thankfully, Flathead Lake on My Mind is neither. Instead, Smith and Schile, with the help of a few of their writer friends and some previously published work, have put together a book that is more of a personal memoir than a travelogue. And in so doing, they have created a significantly more rich connection to their subject.

    This connection creates a dimension to the writing that differentiates Flathead Lake on My Mind from other books that might fall in the “travel” category.

    Smith is our main guide in the book and the author of more than half its chapters. His connection to what he calls “Big Blue” is deeply personal and very accessible. He tells old familiar tales, shares quirky personal ones and adds context to the traveler experience of spending time on the shores of one of America’s great treasures.

    The later chapters are populated by stories from other contributing writers and include a wide variety of lenses through which we can experience “The Lake.”

    I was particularly taken by the following phrase from Professor David Alt’s chapter about the geological origins of Flathead Lake. He writes “every lake must have its reasons.”

    What a thought-provoking statement. Alt explains the scientific reasons for Flathead’s existence, but for many (me included), Flathead Lake seems to have a more mystical “reason.” And that’s what makes Flathead Lake on My Mind so much more than a story about a place. It’s actually a place where we all can find our own story; our own “reason.”

    The book ends, wisely in my view, with a “Guest Book” of sorts. Schile and Smith invite locals and visitors to share with us the reason Flathead Lake is special in their lives.

    From old-timers to newcomers, the brief snippets are the perfect capstone to the book. Locals will find much of that rings true in these words, and visitors will understand the special feeling they are developing for “The Lake” is shared and treasured by many.

    I think Flathead Lake on My Mind is the perfect read for a weekend on “The Lake” this summer.

    Doug Mitchell is the Montana Magazine book reviewer. He writes from Helena.

  • Author Q&A: ‘the same sky’s’ Amanda Eyre Ward

    Courtesy image

    Courtesy image

    By Doug Mitchell

    Montana Magazine:  I have to tell you, I could hardly put this book down.  I was immediately taken that you chose to tell this story, or these stories if you will, in the first person voices of Alice and Carla in alternating chapters … how did you come to the decision to present the book in that way?

    Amanda Ward:  I try to trust what voices I have access to, and in this case, both Carla and Alice – their first-person voices, their personalities, even their character arcs – came to me fully formed. I’ve never had this experience before, and it’s glorious! Writing the book was almost a matter of transcribing the two women’s stories.

    MM:  Your book is coming out just as we as a people are having a serious public policy debate about immigration.  What do you want people to take from the same sky to educate that debate? 

    AW:  It’s such a complex and nuanced issue – but that doesn’t mean we can turn away from it. The news tends to talk about “surges” or “waves” of unaccompanied minors, but the fact is that each child has a unique story. My hope is that readers will listen to one girl’s voice and be changed, however minutely. I think it’s impossible to turn away from these kids once you allow yourself to understand that they are frightened, brave children…children who have a great deal to teach us about faith.

    MM:  For me, Carla demonstrates such a deep faith in everything she does.  In your writing though, it’s more than that … it is faith combined with action.  She doesn’t just have faith things will change on their own, she takes decisive action to bring about change.  Is that part of the message of your book … that we have to both have faith and take action to change lives?

    AW:  To be honest, I’m not really sure what my message is. I let the characters evolve, let them say what they will, and in the very last drafts I try to hone in on what themes seem to have developed. I’m starting a new book now, for example, and I thought it was about one thing…but it seems to be moving away from that original theme. For me, it’s a strange and humbling process, figuring out what a novel is mea

    MM:  Can you give us a sneak preview of what’s next for Amanda Ward fans?

    AW:  Yes, I have sold my next book, tentatively-titled “The Last Lullaby.” I thought it was about two women: a heart surgeon who (with her husband) hires a young waitress to bear a child for them. As the book begins, the birth mother decides she cannot give up the infant and goes on the run. But now another little girl has started speaking to me – a lonely girl living in a New Orleans motel room with her drug-addicted mother. So who knows?

    This is absolutely my favorite part of the process: spending mornings in a fictional world, without having to organize or make sense of anything. Though I have an enormous, sunlit room overlooking the hills to write in, I moved into the dark closet next to the lovely space–I am happiest typing here in my pajamas, hidden.

    MM: Last question: Do you get back to Montana often?

    AW:  No, though I dream about it many nights…

  • Author Q&A: ‘The Given World’s’ Marian Palaia

    Photograph by Kelly Rae Daugherty

    Photograph by Kelly Rae Daugherty

    By Doug Mitchell

    Montana Magazine:  First of all, congratulations on a fantastic debut novel.  When did you first realize you had this story inside you waiting to come out?

    Marian Palaia:  Thank you very much, and I have to say, I don’t really know the answer to that question, but I’ll give it a shot. I guess there was no one moment or time of realization, but more of a slow dawning, as the chapters came, and Riley’s story started becoming clearer to me. I had one chapter – “Girl, Three Speeds, Pretty Good Brakes” – written long before I ever thought about a novel. It was a short story, and for years I thought that’s all it would ever be. Once I had two more chapters – the one set in Vietnam, and the one about Lu – I began to understand what was there, and to accept that it might someday become a coherent piece of fiction. The support and encouragement I got from everyone at Madison while I was doing my MFA were also invaluable, not to mention having deadlines. Deadlines are definitely my friend. Which has nothing to do with the original question, but there it is.

    MM:  Montana plays a foundational role in the book.  Tell us a little more about how your time in Montana influenced your writing?

    MP:  I came to Montana very young, like 23. Young and pretty dopey. I got married, but that didn’t last too long – only a few years – and when it was over I packed up my broken heart and left, and ended up in San Francisco, but I kept coming back to Montana. Most summers I came back and spent time on my ex-husband’s ranch, about 50 miles east of Missoula. I know that might sound strange to some, but our entire relationship seems to have been built on the understanding (unconscious, mostly) that (things) happens, and you move on, but you keep the parts that work for you, and our friendship works for us. At any rate, I started writing fiction when I lived on that ranch, and it became the place I wrote from for many years. Montana, as you know, is a place that gets inside you, and once that happens, it stays there.

    MM:  The Given World is about life and love and loss … what do you hope people get from your book?

    MP:  That war does damage in a million different ways. And that all of those people you see out there on the street, and who maybe, in your less-generous moments, you judge; they all have stories that are every bit as true and viable, and lives that are every bit as precious, as yours.

    MM:  I was quite taken both by the variety of secondary characters in the book and the way you develop them.  You get us to know and care about Darrell and Primo and Frank and Lu, and my guess is that many readers will find a favorite (mine was Primo).  Do you have a particular character with whom you feel a particular kinship?

    MP:  Lu and Cole are, more than any of the other characters, based on people I actually knew and loved, and both of them are dead now. “Lu” was my best friend, through all the craziness, and Cole was the nearest thing I’ll ever have to a son. I miss them both every day, but the whole time I was writing them, I felt so lucky, to get to bring them back to life for a time. That’s what it felt like, like they were actually right in front of me, so close I could almost touch them. A gift, and I’m not lying.

    MM:  Many of the characters draw.  Riley is clearly impacted by her brother’s drawing, and that theme continues to play itself out in the book.  Is your inclusion of drawing/illustrating in the book intentional?

    MP:  Nope. I actually never even thought about that until just now. But, since you mentioned it, it makes sense in a way, because when they first meet, Lu reminds Riley of Mick, and maybe it was an unconscious effort to give them some of the same characteristics. Or, more likely, it was just an accident. The real “Lu” was an artist, though. Self taught. I have a bunch of her work and I love it. It’s all just as unique, crazy and lovely as she was.

    MM:  Late in the book, on the train, Grace catches Riley by surprise by asking “Is this where you came from?”  Where does novelist Marian Palaia “come from.”

    MP:   That has always been an impossible question for me to answer succinctly. I was born in Riverside, California, but we left there when I was pretty young and moved to Washington, DC. I went to high school in Kensington, Maryland, moved from there to Boulder, Colorado for a few years, then to Olympia, Washington for college, to Montana to be married and to learn that “creative writing” was actually a discipline, to San Francisco for sixteen years and then back to Montana for nine years. In between I’ve lived in Hong Kong, Saigon and a very small village in Nepal that you won’t find on any map. Ironically, or maybe it’s not ironic at all, I was the family navigator when I was a kid. I love maps. I love to go places, though having a dog has put a bit of the kibosh on long trips without him. He has a lot of road miles on him, though. In the tens of thousands, I reckon.

    MM:  Riley made her way back to Montana … do you ever get back to Big Sky Country?  Any chance you’ll be here to sign some books this summer?

    MP:  I actually own a pretty little house on Missoula’s northside, and try to spend my summers there, as I am the worst cold-weather wimp ever, probably because I am, originally, a California girl, and not ashamed of that. (How’s that for a long sentence?) Maybe if the sun came out more often in Missoula in the winter; I don’t know. It would be really hard to leave San Francisco’s 60-degree winters, though I hear it’s been pretty warm in Montana this year. And I will definitely be signing some books in (at least) Missoula this summer, at Shakespeare and Company, sometime in mid-June. Not that I need an excuse to come, but if I did, that would be a very happy excuse. I’m already itching to get on the road.

    MM:  Last, what’s next for you as a writer?

    MP:  I’m working on a new book, slowly. I’ve been working on it for a little over two years now and have about 150 pages, but those pages have been edited just about to death. I am finding out that publishing a novel is a very busy business, but “next” is moving forward on the new book as soon as I can get back to it. It is also set in Montana, but is a far different book than The Given World. It’s called The Hello Kitty Justice League and I am dying to see how it ends.

  • The Terry Badlands includes 44,000 acres of sedimentary rock. Photo by Ed Wolff

    Treasure State Hidden Gem: The Terry Badlands

    By Ed Wolff

    Montana is blessed with huge areas of public land, and the Terry Badlands Wilderness Study Area, located 35 miles east of Miles City off Interstate 94, encompasses 44,000 acres of sedimentary rock stacked like layers of cake. Over uncountable eons of time, endless cycles of rain, wind, heat and cold have scared the rock, sculpting an alien-like landscape distorted into pillars of clay resembling mounds of ice cream.

    These standing pinnacles of stone, called “hoodoo,” are capped with slabs of tilted rocks, rock bridges, deep, sharp edged coulees, and a variety of nondescript mineral formations.

    Each structure within the Terry Badlands is unique, offering endless opportunities and places to play among a surreal landscape.


    Tip Sheet

    Where to go

    From Terry, travel west on U.S Route 10 for 1.8 miles, then turn north onto Milwaukee Road and continue on a gravel road, crossing the Yellowstone River on the old, single lane Milwaukee Railroad bridge. Then, proceed ¼ mile to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management information kiosk and to the beginning of the Calypso Trail, a 5.5 mile primitive road, piercing the heart of the badlands. The trail got its name from a long abandoned railroad stop on the Milwaukee Railroad, which was last active 100 years ago. During the early years, the road carried mule-driven freight wagons and cattle that gathered in obscure coulees only to be driven to the rail head by men on horseback.

    What to drive

    Driving the Calypso Trail, even in optimal dry conditions, requires a high clearance, four-wheel drive vehicle. Following even a brief rain, the road transforms into a nightmare of sticky, slick gumbo.

    Watch the weather

    When wetted by the water, the soils that make up the trail become unstable and have the adhesive properties of water-logged clay. Wheel wells fill with vicious, heavy mud. Gaining traction is nearly impossible and sliding off the road is a distinct possibility.

    When dry, the gumbo has concrete-like properties, making vehicle cleanup difficult. However, a few hours of sunshine and wind will often make the road manageable again.

    Upon my arrival to the Calypso during a trip last year, intermittent rain showers delayed me for half a day. But by mid-afternoon, the sun and wind had dried the trail, and I took a chance by continuing down the road.

    Two miles of driving on slick, water-filled gullies on the road forced me to stop and set up camp.

    Alternate transportation

    When I continued on mountain bike, again the wheels clogged with sticky gumbo. When I pressed on walking, it was a trial in endurance. Great globs of heavy gray goo crept over my boots, encased my feet and made progress difficult.

    Despite the hang-ups, I surveyed the country and immediately gained an appreciation for the exceptional environment.

    What to look for

    The landscape is convoluted into deep, timbered coulees, nestled stands of hoodoos, open vistas of sagebrush laced with streams, and cliffs that cut through with creases begging to be explored.

    A number of wildlife species call the habitat home, including mule deer, coyotes, prairie rattlesnakes, bobcats, black-tailed prairie dogs, the comical burrowing owl and the reclusive swift fox.

    Only the hardiest, drought resistant vegetation can survive in the harsh weather, including short blue grass gamma, wheat grass, prickly pear cactus, yucca and a few wildflower species.

    Scattered stands of pine survive on north facing slopes and coulee bottoms.

    Because of unique unspoiled topography, this island of badlands has been designated as one of the premier wilderness study areas in the northern plains.

    How to pass the days

    Hiking, camping, photography, bicycling, birding, stargazing, horseback riding, and boundless exploring are activities around the Terry Badlands and on the Calypso Trail that will satisfy the most adventuresome. Standing on a rise of land, hair ruffled by a breeze, surrounded by a swath of silent grandeur unmarred by man’s heavy hand is special.

    But beware: a four-wheel vehicle is necessary. As is a supply of water, a few basic tools (including a shovel); check the weather and bring adequate clothing for all the weather changes.

    More importantly, bring along a curious mind and a desire to see a patch of raw, unspoiled Montana.

    Ed Wolff is a longtime Montana Magazine contributor. He writes from Stevensville.

    To view the upcoming Treasure State Hidden Gems, subscribe today! 

  • Pies fill the tables at the Utica Women's Club pie sale. Photo by Lynn Donaldson

    The Last Best Plates explores pie in the Big Sky

    This is the third piece in a six-part The Last Best Plates series about food and eating in Montana featuring the photography of Lynn Donaldson and writing of Corinne Garcia. For more, visit thelastbestplates.com.

    By Corinne Garcia

    Photos by Lynn Donaldson

    Wisdom, Montana: population 80, and home to some of the best pie under the Big Sky…

    One of about three active businesses in town, the Crossing Bar, is where owner Diane Havig spends most of her days. Here, she greets those who walk through the door; it may be the locals (some of her most loyal pie connoisseurs), the fishermen fresh off the Big Hole River that runs through town, the bikers (both the motorized and the peddlers) who are taking the scenic Bitterroot loop, and those who travel the distance just for an authentic home cooked meal and a slice, or two, of Havig’s famous pie.

    • Scroll down to view a rhubarb pie recipe from Diane Havig

    Aside from chatting with the customers, Havig’s the self-proclaimed “do-it-all girl,” waiting tables, washing dishes, whipping up a chicken fried steak from scratch (grilled, not fried), making homemade bread and salad dressing, and putting the magic touches on her pie crusts and fillings.

    Depending on the day, Havig is whipping up buttermilk custard, a chocolate bottom peanut butter pie, a rhubarb cream pie, or her famous Fruit of the Forest with rhubarb, apple, strawberries, blackberries and cherries.

    Some pies call for flakey crust coverings, and others for lattice tops to release some moisture.

    Davig’s secret ingredient is orange juice, but that’s about all I can divulge.

    “We’re at 6,000 feet, and at higher altitudes you need more moisture in the crust, so you can roll it and flip it without it being too delicate,” Havig said. “I also like making a thin crust so you get more of the flavor of the fruit or filling.”

    Wisdom is located along the Big Hole Valley scenic drive, an unforgettable 82-mile loop with views of the Bitterroot and Pioneer mountains, the Big Hole River, and great stopping points like the Crossing Bar.

    Stop in, say “hi” to Havig, and don’t forget to leave room for pie.

    Other mouth-watering pies under the Big Sky:

    On the fly

    Utica Day Fair – Annual Utica Women’s Club Pie Sale: Held the Sunday after Labor Day weekend, in conjunction with “What the Hay” festival in the small town of Utica. Stop by the historic cabin that serves as the Utica Women’s Club, and score homemade pies to die for.

    Gateway Orchard Fruit Stand on Montana Highway 35 just north of Polson: Stop by for huckleberry pie and other seasonal filler flavors, along with canned Flathead cherries, jams and jellies.

    Anytime Pies

    Stop into these epic, small town cafes for delicious pie year round:

    Yesterday’s Calf-A, Dell

    Park Café, St. Mary

    Stray Bullet Café, Ovando

    Avon Family Café, Avon

    Corinne Garcia and Lynn Donaldson are frequent contributors to Montana Magazine. Garcia writes from Bozeman. Donaldson is based in Livingston.


    Rhubarb Cream Pie from the Crossing Bar and Grill at Fetty’s

    “This is a recipe that I’ve used for 18 years. It was in the recipe file from my previous restaurant, The Big Hole Crossing. I did make one adjustment four years ago when a customer suggested I use vanilla extract instead of nutmeg for the spice. The vanilla brings out the flavor of the rhubarb more.”

    –Courtesy of Diane Havig, The Crossing Bar, Wisdom


    1 1/2 cups flour

    1/4 teaspoon salt

    1/3 cup Crisco

    1/3 cup orange juice

    In a food processor, blend flour and salt. Add Crisco, pulsing until it’s fully blended. Place in a large, shallow bowl. Add orange juice, half at a time, gently tossing after each addition. Compress into two balls.


    4-5 cups chopped rhubarb, fresh or thaw frozen and partially drained

    3 eggs

    1 1/2 cups sugar

    1/4 cup flour

    1 teaspoon vanilla

    Mix filling ingredients together and place on top of the uncooked bottom crust in a 9-inch glass pie plate. Make the top crust into a lattice, allowing steam to escape for a better set. Put an egg wash on the top, and cover the edges with foil. Place pie in a 375-degree oven for approximately one hour. The pie will be brown on the top and bottom, and puff up slightly in the middle.


  • MM_Park2Park 500x500 teaser

    Glacier and Yellowstone: Come with us from Park-to-Park

    By Jenna Cederberg

    If you set out via vehicle to see both Yellowstone and Glacier national parks, you’ll find many routes on many roads that will take you from park to park.

    Google the question and you’re presented with one 370-mile driving route through Montana in about six hours and 36 minutes.

    For our Park-to-Park issue, we’re suggesting a broader loop around the state that runs close to 973 miles total.

    Whether you want to go from Yellowstone to Glacier, or vice-a-versa, take a look at these routes that’ll take you through a good chunk of the Big Sky State. Whether you make the entire drive or not, don’t worry: Head east or head west, north or south, there are more than a few things to see along the way.

    East Route: Roughly 530 miles

    Start: Old Faithful, Yellowstone National Park

    Finish: St. Mary/East entrance, Glacier National Park

    Leave Old Faithful, head north on U.S. Highway 89 about 18 miles until the Madison Campground – where you’ll veer east and continue on Highway 89 on a portion of the Grand Loop Road – open only in the summer season – for about 164 miles, hopping off the Loop at Mammoth and driving along the Yellowstone River until you reach Livingston. Then, you’ll drive for 170 miles from Livingston to Great Falls. Next, you’ll take Interstate 15 north to Vaughn, connect with Highway 89 again, this time heading west past Freezout Lake, Choteau and north to Browning. Drive 175 miles from Great Falls through Browning and you’ll arrive at the St. Mary entrance to Glacier National Park. Then, you’re ready to head up Going-to-the-Sun Road.

    Suggested stops

    Roosevelt Arch in Gardiner. Photo by Barbara Shesky

    Roosevelt Arch in Gardiner. Photo by Barbara Shesky

    Gardiner – A “full service” town, according to the Gardiner Chamber of Commerce, this is a must stop to get gas and supplies before continuing through some long stretches of road without gas stations. You might also run into some bison, which are known to walk the town’s streets on occasion near the famous Roosevelt Arch.

    Gil's Goods in Livingston. Photo from @MontanaMagazine on Instagram

    Gil’s Goods in Livingston. Photo from @MontanaMagazine on Instagram

    Livingston – By the time you reach this artsy town, you’ll most likely be ready for a bite to eat. Gil’s Goods on the main drag – Park Street – has menu items like sweet homemade sodas and sourdough French toast.

    White Sulphur Springs – Now home to one of the Montana’s most popular summer music festivals – the Red Ants Pants Music Festival – this town lives up to its name in the Spa Hot Springs Motel and Clinic, where there are gorgeous pools filled with natural hot mineral water. Each pool is drained every day, and no chemicals are ever used.

    Great Falls – Perhaps the most famous cowboy painter of all time made this city his home, and the museum named for Charlie Russell is a must-stop on this park-to-park route. The C.M. Russell Museum is home to more than 12,000 permanent collection objects – from Russell originals to his log home and studio.

    Snow geese at Freezout Lake. Photo by Nicole Swoboda

    Snow geese at Freezout Lake. Photo by Nicole Swoboda

    Freezout Lake – A wildlife management area on the Rocky Mountain Front, Freezout Lake is a prime stop along the route for anyone looking to spot birds. According to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, beyond the well-known spring migration that brings thousands of geese and swans to the area, the grasses and marshes of the area attract more than 227 species of birds each year.

    West Route: Roughly 443 miles

    Start: West Entrance, Glacier National Park

    Finish: West Yellowstone

    Head south on U.S. Route 2, leaving Glacier National Park on your way toward Flathead Lake. You’ll drive for 35 miles on Route 2, turning south again on Montana Highway 93 at Kalispell and down the west side of Flathead. You’ll approach Missoula after approximately 120 miles, merging onto Interstate 90 heading east at The Wye just west of Missoula. Head east on Interstate 90 for about 168 miles, until you’re just east of Whitehall, when you’ll turn south on Montana Highway 287. You’ll drive for about 120 miles on Highway 287, past Hebgen Lake, before heading south on Montana Highway 191 until you find West Yellowstone.

    Suggested stops

    Hungry Horse. Photo from @MontanaMagazine on Instgram

    Hungry Horse. Photo from @MontanaMagazine on Instgram

    Hungry Horse – Sometimes known as “Huck Town, USA,” Hungry Horse is just outside Glacier’s boundaries and is a must-stop for anyone who loves huckleberries. The Huckleberry Patch on Route 2 in the middle of town offers just about everything huckleberry – including one of the best huckleberry shakes in the area, complete with whole hucks at the bottom of each glass.

    Pablo – The People’s Center in Pablo, on the Flathead Indian Reservation, is the place to get to know the heritage of the Salish, Pend d’Orielle and Kootenai tribes. The museum includes 1,200 square feet of exhibits and a gift shop that sells local Native American artwork.

    The Mission Mountains. Photo by Kurt Wilson

    The Mission Mountains. Photo by Kurt Wilson

    Ninepipe National Wildlife Refuge – If at all possible, plan to stop at the Ninepipe National Wildlife Refuge just as the sun is setting. Not only is it home to a spectacular spread of wetlands, to the east is an unbeatable view of the Mission Mountains.

    Missoula – Next to the Clark Fork River and host of outdoor events throughout the year, Caras Park in downtown Missoula is a perfect stopover spot on your way from park to park. There’s Out to Lunch each Wednesday in the summers, and Downtown ToNight each Thursday. Both feature live music and food from local food trucks.

    An art sculpture in Ennis. Photo by Kurt Wilson

    An art sculpture in Ennis. Photo by Kurt Wilson

    Ennis – Officially listed on the “Backroad to Yellowstone” tour that runs through the Madison Valley, this town might be best known for its fly fishing features. But there are a lot of other sites to see, including an outdoor art walk featuring the largest hand-tied fly ever made.

    Safe travels!

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