Typically on days off we like to take rides around the Missoula area. Today we decided to explore the road up to the top of Blue Mountain in hopes of getting some great views of the valley below. This was our reward! Missoula stretches out in the distance, and we could barely see the white "M" and the "L" on the clearcut hills above the city. (Click to enlarge.)
And an even greater reward for our drive up the narrow gravel road was this lookout tower! We parked under it and looked up to see the ranger looking down on us. He invited us to come up for a chat, so we happily climbed the ladder-like steps to the top. What a fabulous view we had! The lookout tower was built in 1946 and though worn looking is still very sturdy.
It was a hazy day, but here you can see the road we traveled on, and in the distance, to the west, are the hills of Idaho.
The ranger was kind enough to allow me to take his picture, along with his little companion, an aged fox terrier. This man is 74 years old, a retired school teacher, and has been doing this summer job for 30 plus years! What beauty, what solitude! He does have a family back down in the valley, with whom he spends his days off. We had an informative conversation with him about the area and about more beautiful drives to take. From this viewpoint in the tower we could barely see the Mission Mountains, near Glacier Park.
Here is another view, slighty more to the northwest. Notice the little fox terrier again. In the below picture — deer are all over the hills and even in some neighborhoods around Missoula. At this time of year they are sleek and healthy looking and don't seem to mind the looky-loos.