I have the opportunity to take the drive between Great Falls and Helena quite often. Sometimes I’m scrambling, in a hurry to get there when I didn’t allow enough time. Other times I just have a lot on my mind and I’m a bit grumpy.
Well, it doesn’t take long to relax and improve my mood when I head south on I-15 from Great Falls. I drove this route a week ago and stopped several times to take photos.
When I left Great Falls I saw rims of mountains to the west (Rocky Mountains), the Little Belt Mountains southeast, and ahead of me on the Interstate I could see the Big Belt Mountains. Another jagged range of rock outcroppings is called the Adel Mountains.
The Adel Mountains are eroded remains of a pile of volcanic rock. They basically flank the Missouri River for forty miles as it winds through the canyon. The volcanic activity probably occurred 75 million years ago and continued for several million years.
In the 1930s a modern paved highway connected Great Falls to Helena. It passed through the volcanic outcrops of the canyon and crossed the river twice, near Hardy Creek and Wolf Creek.
Today, an exit for Hardy takes travelers to recreation homes, multiple river access sites for floating and unlimited fishing opportunities. Wolf Creek is a small town straddling the highway and it is a great entrance to amazing river recreation.
Present day Interstate 15 was constructed in 1960 and bypassed the original US 91 highway. I’m thankful the old highway is still in good shape. It’s an awesome motorcycyle ride, or just a relaxed ride in any automobile. And, you can experience a Great Depression-era road.
You’ll find some small local restaurants and taverns along the way – great places to stop and chat up the locals.
Time for a another drive on I-15? I think so!