Wildfire closes Going-to-the-Sun
It’s wildfire season in Montana. And thanks to drought in many areas, it’s shaping up to be a bad one.
Most notably this week: A growing wildfire in Glacier National Park has closed most of Going-to-the-Sun Road.
That made a scary night for many visitors hoping to stay in the area. Mountain Pine Motel owner Terry Sherburne was booked up and wondering where all the misplaced travelers would stay.
“It’s pretty tough – there’s no place I know of in East Glacier that has rooms for tonight, and all those people at Rising Sun will need to go someplace.”
A friend of Sherburne’s who manages the Two Dog Flats Grill at Rising Sun “can’t get back to get her things,” he said, and will be spending the night on the only spare bed he has – a rollaway cot he’ll move into his living room.
“I’m sure if I had 30 more rooms I could rent them tonight,” Sherburne said.
Worse: Weather conditions for the rest of the week are worrisome.
You can find updates on the Reynolds Creek Fire at the Missoulian.com.
Until then, here’s more stories from our July/Aug issue.
Mountain Pine Motel and its lovely neighbors
The Mountain Pine Motel is a place where you can have huckleberry pie for breakfast and see the world’s largest purple spoon.
It’s a quintessential Montana spot, owned by the same family since it opened in 1947. Founding owner Doris Sherburne, 95, is still in charge. Writer Keila Szpaller and photographer Kurt Wilson introduced us to the motel in the our July/Aug issue.
Along with the story of Mountain Pine, Szpaller told us about the awesome neighbors the surround the motel, including the place that encourages patrons to have pie for breakfast and the see the world’s largest purple spoon.
The pie: AT LUNA’S RESTAURANT, ABOUT A BLOCK AWAY FROM THE HOTEL, THE MENU OFFERS HUCKLEBERRY PIE, AND IT’S LISTED AS A BREAKFAST STAPLE. IN CASE YOU WONDERED, A SLICE COSTS $5.50, AND IT’S “A PERFECTLY RESPECTABLE BREAKFAST!”
The spoon: ALSO JUST ACROSS THE STREET? THE WORLD’S LARGEST PURPLE SPOON. YOU WON’T WANT TO MISS IT. ACTUALLY, THE ENORMOUS UTENSIL WILL LEAD YOU TO THE SPIRAL SPOON, A SMALL SHOP WITH GREAT BEAUTY IN ITS HANDCRAFTED SPOONS.
Oh, and in case you’re still hungry, this: SURE, EAST GLACIER IS CLOSER TO CANADA THAN IT IS TO MEXICO, BUT FOR SOME DELICIOUS ENCHILADAS, BURRITOS, GUACAMOLE, AND OTHER MEXICAN FARE, HEAD TO SERRANO’S MEXICAN RESTAURANT, ACROSS THE RAILROAD TRACKS. BEVERAGE OF CHOICE? THE HOUSE MARGARITA, WITH SALT ON THE RIM.
Here’s hoping you can go explore East Glacier soon!
The Sherburne family creates home away from home for Glacier guests
By Keila Szpaller
Photos by Kurt Wilson
Since it opened in 1947, the Mountain Pine Motel has offered respite to royalty from Europe and a llama on a trek along the Continental Divide.
The llama remained outside, of course, but it’s probably one of the rarer creatures to stay overnight at the homey inn just down the road from the train depot in East Glacier Park.
“It’s kind of a place where you can tell somebody, I’ll see you in the morning, but I’ll leave the key in the door for you,” said Terry Sherburne, owner and operator.
Terry’s parents opened the motel – then with 10 units – tucked under several stands of tall pines at the edge of Glacier National Park.
Adventure fueled the decision by the couple, Doris and Fred Sherburne, to run the business that’s grown to 25 rooms, and an appreciation for the people who stayed at the motel kept their love for the work alive.
Mountain Pine Neighbors
Mountain Pine Hotel is no doubt surrounded by spectacular scenery, but its neighborhood also includes more than a handful of must-stop food and local shops that are full of Montana goodies.
Here’s a few of our favorites:
At Luna’s Restaurant, about a block away from the hotel, the menu offers huckleberry pie, and it’s listed as a breakfast staple. In case you wondered, a slice costs $5.50, and it’s “a perfectly respectable breakfast!”
Also just across the street? The world’s largest purple spoon. You won’t want to miss it. Actually, the enormous utensil will lead you to The Spiral Spoon, a small shop with great beauty in its handcrafted spoons.
Sure, East Glacier is closer to Canada than it is to Mexico, but for some delicious enchiladas, burritos, guacamole, and other Mexican fare, head to Serrano’s Mexican Restaurant, across the railroad tracks. Beverage of choice? The house margarita, with salt on the rim.
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Park-to-Park stop No. 4: A detour up Going-to-the-Sun
We’re interrupting our regularly scheduled program – AKA Stop No. 4 on our virtual Park-to-Park journey- for a special notice: Going-to-the-Sun Road has opened to vehicle traffic on the west side.
It’s a summer right of passage each year in Montana when the highway through Glacier opens. And this year it’s a touch earlier than most. Actually, it fits into our trip pretty nicely.
- Read our Park-to-Park story inside the May/June issue here
The announcement Wednesday means it’s the earliest opening in a decade, according to Missoulian reporter Vince Devlin.
It’s still a winter wonderland at Logan Pass, where (Park spokesperson Denise) Germann said visitors will encounter a snow-covered landscape, not to mention temperatures that are running 25 to 30 degrees cooler than ones found in Flathead Valley floors this week.
Any wind will make it feel even chillier.
While the entire 50 miles of Going-to-the-Sun is slated to open on June 19, drivers should still expect delays of up to 30 minutes on the east side of the park this summer as the road work continues. Sun Point, which is being used as a staging area for the road rehabilitation, will remain closed to all visitor uses this summer.
Just four years ago, Going-to-the-Sun had its latest opening since 1933, the year it was dedicated on July 15. In 2011, deep snows and bad weather delayed it until July 13.
So what are you waiting for? Get up to Glacier!
We’ll have more great Glacier stories in our upcoming July/August issue. Subscribe today and don’t miss a Montana moment.
More about our gorgeous May/June cover
It’s a stunner. And that’s why we chose it.
Our May/June 2015 issue cover comes to us from Glacier National Park and was made by Helena-based photographer Chris McGowan.
McGowan’s image is from an iconic vantage point, but with a very beautiful twist courtesy of the rising sun.
Sinopah Mountain lights up with the soft glow of an early sunrise over Two Medicine Lake inside Glacier National Park.
The cover introduces our Park-to-Park issue, which includes a host of content about Yellowstone and Glacier.
We’re lucky to have photographers like McGowan in Montana, who get outdoors and get these amazing shots we can share with you.
McGowan’s passion for photography stems from his deep love of nature and the outdoors. Primarily a wildlife and nature photographer, Chris travels far and near capturing Montana’s abundant population of wildlife and birds, as well as the state’s vast and ever changing landscapes. View more of his work at chrismcgowanphotography.com.
By the way, we took a journey from Park-to-Park inside the issue. Here’s the online version.
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Goat Haunt: Glacier’s unlikely passport portal
You may – or may not – need your passport to get into this slice of heaven inside Glacier National Park.
It depends on how you get there. As writer Becky Lomax explains, Goat Haunt inside Glacier National Park is both accessible front country, and hard-to-reach backcountry.
But, for full disclosure’s sake, we have to tell you, there aren’t any goats in Goat Haunt.
Despite its remoteness, Goat Haunt has a unique history. Its name comes from Goat Haunt Mountain, an 8,641-foot high summit to the east, perhaps named by the Blackfeet for a concentration of goats.
But mountain goats do not inhabit Goat Haunt. The elevation is too low and the heavy forest surrounding it is not their favored habitat. The only goat is a metal weather vane on top of the observation pavilion.
Read more here.
And if you’ve ever been to Goat Haunt, we’d love to hear your stories – send them our way to firstname.lastname@example.org.
And to get more on Glacier all year round, subscribe today.
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.
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.
- View a video of the plowing progress on Going-to-the-Sun
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.
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.
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.
– 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.
– 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.
– 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.
– 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.
– 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.
– 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.