Mitch's Blog 7.0

Mitch's Blog


Wednesday, August 01, 2007

2007 Vacation: Day 5 Summary

Day 5 Summary
Billings, Montana to Great Falls, Montana

Day 5 of my 2007 vacation involved covering some territory I’d never traveled in before, so there’ll be no need to link to something I wrote last year.

The day started off in Billings by first going to visitors' center to get some electricity, since I had forgotten to recharge the battery on my camera. Oops. After successfully getting the battery charged, it was off to downtown Billings and the Western Heritage Center.

The museum, housed in Billings’ former public library, houses several different exhibits relating to the history of Billings. As luck would have it, 2007 is the 125th anniversary of the founding of Billings, so there were all sorts of special artifacts on display. There was even a theater presentation from KTVQ, Billings’ CBS affiliate, of video clips chronicling significant events in the city’s history.

After taking a look around the museum, I made it up to the rimrocks on the northern edge of Billings. The rimrocks are essentially steep cliffs that line the Yellowstone River Valley in which Billings is located. By taking one of two routes from downtown Billings, you can get on top of the rimrocks and look out on the entire city. It’s actually quite an amazing view.

After looking around at Billings for a bit, I got on Montana Highway 3 to head north. The landscape was definitely quite different than the one I had witnessed in the Yellowstone River Valley the previous day. Fertile, forested land alongside the river was replaced with a hilly, arid landscape dotted here and there with ranches or wheat farms.

The countryside was like that through the town of Broadview and for about 40 miles north of Billings. Then, in the town of Lavina and near the turn for U.S. Highway 12, the road entered another lush valley, this time the one of the Musselshell River.

As I traveled Highway 12 for the 45 miles between Lavina and Harlowton, the nearby river made it appear as if I was traveling through an entirely different state. The surroundings were very green, and there were trees everywhere.

I traveled through another abrupt change in scenery north of Harlowton, however, as I got off of Highway 12 to begin traveling north on U.S. Highway 191.

About 17 miles north of Harlowton, the road passes through Judith Gap, which is both a small town and geological feature. The town didn’t have much to see, but the geological feature was pretty neat. It’s just a big, flat gap, discovered during the Lewis & Clark Expedition, between the Little Belt Mountains to the west and the Big Snowy Mountains to the east. These mountains, rather mediocre by Rocky Mountain standards, would be the only ones I would get close to during my 2007 vacation.

Near the town of Moore, the road stops going straight, and motorists must turn either right or left. Turning right brings you back east to Glendive, while turning left brings you to Great Falls. Since my destination was the latter, turning left was the correct way to go.

The road west of Moore provides some more striking glimpses of the Little Belt Mountains as it winds its way through a flat, barren, treeless landscape near their northern slopes. The road also passes through some dying small towns – Hobson, Moccasin, Stanford, and Geyser – as it continues toward Great Falls.

For about 12 miles between the towns of Raynesford and Armington, the road dives into a deep, narrow valley. The road and paralleling railroad tracks both hug the valley’s walls in what ended up being one of the most scenic portions of the drive between Billings and Great Falls.

The road ascended the valley near Armington, and continued its journey through what’s referred to as the Judith Basin. It’s a barren, listless area starved for moisture by being so close to the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains.

In due course, Great Falls – the third largest city in Montana with a population of 56,690 – appeared out of nowhere. It was in this oasis of north-central Montana that I spent the night.


The first six pictures were taken from on top of the rimrocks in Billings. Unfortunately, I visited this site in the late morning, so the lighting wasn't ideal.

These two doves were walking back and forth, undoubtedly checking out the view below

It's amazing how dramatic the scenery contrasts here - while the city of Billings below is lush and green, cacti are able to grow on top of the rimrocks

The Little Belt Mountains can be seen of in the distance near Broadview

The roadway near Lavina

Downtown Harlowton

The Harlowton depot along with some railroad artifacts

About to pass through the Judith Gap

The Big Snowy Mountains near Judith Gap

Some plateaus that belong to the Little Belt Mountains

There were a number of steep cliffs like this near Raynesford

MDOT doesn't want you to climb the rocks

A southbound train is about to enter Raynesford

Some typical scenery between Raynesford and Armington


At the Rimrocks in Billings

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home

Previous Posts

2007 Vacation: Day 4 Summary
2007 Vacation: Day 3 Summary
2007 Vacation: Day 2 Summary
2007 Vacation: Day 1 Summary
Back from Vacation
Flood of '97 Series: Conclusion
Flood of '97 Series: Reopenings
April Pictures
Flood of '97 Series: "Mucking Out"
Flood of '97 Series: An Angel gives a Gift


March 2004
April 2004
May 2004
June 2004
July 2004
August 2004
September 2004
October 2004
November 2004
December 2004
January 2005
February 2005
March 2005
April 2005
May 2005
June 2005
July 2005
August 2005
September 2005
October 2005
November 2005
December 2005
January 2006
February 2006
March 2006
April 2006
May 2006
June 2006
July 2006
August 2006
September 2006
October 2006
November 2006
December 2006
January 2007
February 2007
March 2007
April 2007
May 2007
June 2007
July 2007
August 2007
November 2007
December 2007
February 2008
March 2008
March 2012

Current Weather

Click for Brainerd, Minnesota Forecast Click for Grand Forks, North Dakota Forecast

Weather Station


Google Search



Minnesota Counties

Minnesota Counties I've Visited

North Dakota Counties

North Dakota Counties I've Visited


Subscribe to Mitch's Blog 

Through RSS
Click here to subscribe to Mitch's Blog through RSS!
Add to My 

Add to Google

Free Image Hosting at

Mitch's Blog Copyright 2001-2012 Mitch Wahlsten -- All Rights Reserved
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of Mitch Wahlsten and the participants
Mitch's Blog began on December 23, 2001