Thursday, June 3, 2010

National Bison Range

We set out to take a short ride into the hills around Missoula, but our ride turned into a day trip on back roads, ultimately taking us to the National Bison Range, north of Arlee. On the way, on Highway 93, we passed under this "Animal's Bridge". Last summer, as we drove through road construction, we wondered why they were installing a huge culvert on top of the road. I thought then that it might be one of those 'over the freeway' animal crossings. Sure enough, it is. There are 2 or 3 more animal crossings along here going under the road. I feel happy that Montana cares about its animal population and does what it can to prevent road kill. (Click to see the sign close-up. You can also see the written Flathead Indian language, since this is on the Flathead Reservation.)

The grass is always greener? Yes, in this case it was!

We couldn't resist this photo of a longhorn resting in the field with other, more common cattle, including a few newborns. Near the entrance to the Bison Range we also saw some very strange looking critters. I thought "Yaks" and proved myself correct when I looked them up on my handy, dandy iPad. I didn't get a picture, though.

The National Bison Range includes some very high hills above the very flat lands below. It features a narrow, winding, one-way dirt-gravel road taking us 19 miles around the reserve. From this vantage point we could look down on the route we'd just traversed, and see the beautiful Flathead River flowing through its valley. All of the places in this post are on the Flathead Reservation.

We've seen so many bison (or buffalo) in the Black Hills that we weren't too excited to see some here in Montana. But this trip turned out be the highlight of our time in Montana, because of the views and the billions of glorious wildflowers. Our "ooohhhs" and "aahhhhs" kept coming. What an awesome imagination God has! Here is my favorite picture. We took a 1/4 mile walk out onto a promontory and were rewarded with this wonderful scene, the flowers, and the steep descent to the valley below.

Here is Keith amongst the beauty. It was a chilly, windy, overcast day, but the flowers brought us sunshine!

A look down into the flatlands below — the white line is a gravel road going somewhere straight away to the north! This area is near St. Ignatius, where we visited an old, historical and beautiful mission church last summer. Farther north is Glacier Nat'l Park. This is also supposedly part of ancient Glacial Lake Missoula. The hill where we were standing boasts the highest level of the lake.

And, just to prove we were on bison land, here they are, one small part of the herd grazing amidst the wildflowers. We also saw 4 pronghorns, 2 deer, and a pheasant!


Forry and Char said...

Lovely pictures! It's neat to see the arrowleaf balsamroot in bloom there -- so much later than what we've seen in Oregon.

Randy and Pam Warner said...

Beautiful pictures!