Time for a road trip! Follow along with me and several friends who wanted to experience Montana’s Russell Country.
We began by taking a raft trip on the Missouri River in Wolf Creek Canyon, about 35 minutes southwest of Great Falls. The day started out cloudy, but as we launched, the sun brightened our beautiful “Big Sky” and stayed that way the entire trip. The rocky canyon walls are impressive when you drive by them on I-15 but even more so as you gaze on them from the river.
Our next stop was First Peoples Buffalo Jump State Park near the town of Ulm, MT. The visitor center at the base of the cliff has impressive educational displays focusing on a time when firearms were not yet introduced to our Native American tribes. Many tribes used this mile-long cliff that seems perfectly formed to be a buffalo jump. Buffalo were stampeded over the cliff, hence the name buffalo jump. Gazing out on the open expanse of land today, it’s easy to imagine herds of buffalo roaming here. Several hiking trails have been developed with interpretation along the way, and you can also hike up the cliff face.
We drove to Great Falls and our next stop was Giant Springs State Park located on the east edge of the city, still on the Missouri River. A couple of facts – Giant Springs is one of the largest freshwater springs in North America and right next to it is the Roe River (named after the fish hatchery also located here). The Roe is found in the Guinness Book of World Records as the shortest river in the world. As we traveled River Road we stopped at the overlook for Black Eagle Falls, then the overlook for Rainbow Falls.
The Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center is a nice walk from Giant Springs State Park along a paved trail that borders the Missouri River. Rivers Edge Trail has nearly 15 miles of paved trail for nonmotorized activity, then it turns to gravel for single track bike riding or hiking. Now, back to Lewis & Clark. If you really want to see what the expedition experienced in our area, this is the place. One interactive exhibit lets you attempt to pull a replica boat upstream, others challenge you to determine which fork in the river to take. It’s a fun way to learn history for both kids and adults. Stay tuned, more adventures tomorrow!