Montana is a state that stretches 630 miles. The length of I-90 in Montana is 554 miles! It is so big to go through in one day for us. So we took it easy and left Billing at 8 heading to Missoula, Montana. We thought the drive would be boring but the changing scenery unfolded along the highway was scenic.
Unlike the barren landscape in Wyoming, Montana has pine covered mountains, clear rivers, and fertile farm lands by water. The Great Plains was filled with farmlands with corn, hay and other crops. Center pivot irrigation systems were watering the crops. Five donkeys were playing by the road. The beautiful Yellowstone River meandered along the highway. Russian olive trees thrive in this region. It was a summer morning that was lively and lovely. A big house sitting on top of the hill had an awesome view of the river, ranches, and farmlands in the valley.
Yellowstone National Park was on the south of I-90W. We crossed the Yellowstone River before approaching Reed Point. A railway accompanied the highway. The drive towards Big Timber was even more scenic. Mountains with snow caps blended in the sky in the horizon. The Crazy Mountains (the Crazies) with a magnificent snow covered triangle Crazy peak appeared straight ahead of the road. The Crazies are part of northern Rocky Mountains. The owner of the big house at exit 354 has a million-dollar view of the Yellowstone River and the Crazies.
After we passed the Crazies, Absaroka Mountain Range kept us company on the left. A butte, a flat top hill, stood abruptly on the right. We crossed the Yellowstone River again at Livingston. From the small rapids in the river and the App Map, we could tell the Yellowstone River flowed eastward here. We learned from Wikipedia that Yellowstone River was a tributary of Missouri River. The water of this section of the Yellowstone River came from the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone Park. The exit to West Yellowstone made us reminiscent our happy vacation in the Yellowstone National Park a dozen years ago.
After a short break at Bozeman, we kept on driving. Sublime mountain ranges painted in the southwestern sky. We drove into a mountainous area where sagebrush dominated the fields and low growing trees dotted the hills. Bright yellow wild flowers blanketed part of the slopes. We passed the continental divide at the elevation of 6393 feet. The continental divide of the Americas is the watershed where the water flows into the Pacific Ocean on one side and runs into the Atlantic Ocean on the other side. Down the steep winding road, we were in the valley again.
Butte was the town in the valley and it claimed to have “the richest hill on earth.” It referred to the giant copper mine that we could see from afar. We drove in town for lunch. To our surprise, we saw a Tesla charging station on the parking lot by Perkins! But we didn’t see any Tesla vehicles. Missoula was still about 130 miles away.
Back on the road. A nice little creek flowed by and formed areas of ponds. Huge clouds covered the sky above the hazy mountains in the distance. Temperature kept climbing up, from 88 degrees in the mountains to 95 in the valley! There were quite a few ranches with herds of cattle along the road. We saw brown and black Hereford cattle with white face. Exuberant lodge pole pines covered the mountains. Clark Fork River unveiled in the mountains and flowed peacefully along the highway and accompanied us into Missoula. We stayed on the fourth floor of Holiday Inn Express with the view of the snow mountain. What a lovely day!
P.S. I was woken up three times last night because of the shaking bed. It turned out to a 5.8 magnitude earthquake near Lincoln, Montana.