USA: Montana – December 2016 (Part 2)

We had aimed to stay in Gardiner which is a very small town directly outside the North entrance to Yellowstone National Park. In general I am very good at finding lovely accommodation and this is something I pride myself on. This time I wasn’t so lucky! The place I had booked for us turned out to be significantly different to what we saw in the pictures. In addition, Gardiner is mostly closed in winter – there were only 2 restaurants open (even though it boasts Yellowstone’s ONLY year round entrance). We stayed one night in Gardiner, but we were so disappointed by the town and the place that I emailed the owner of our rental and he very nicely refunded our whole stay. We hightailed it out of there and found a stunning hotel in Bozeman called Element Bozeman. What a little gem! I usually  stay away from cities when on holiday, but Bozeman is without a doubt my favourite small city. If you find yourself in Montana, Bozeman is a must see!

The first area we explored was Big Sky which is a skiing mountain resort and just all-round beautiful area. We took a drive up the mountain and did a small hike on the Ousel Falls trail.

DSC_0014 - edit 1.jpgSoldiers Chapel in Big Sky

DSC_0016 - edit 1.jpg

DSC_0017 - edit 2.jpg

DSC_0023 - edit 1.jpg

DSC_0031 - edit 2.jpgBridge leading to Ousel Falls

DSC_0034 - edit 2.jpg

DSC_0035 - edit 2.jpg

DSC_0036 - edit 2.jpg

DSC_0042 - edit 2.jpg

DSC_0043 - edit 2.jpg

DSC_0050 - edit 2.jpg

DSC_0059 - edit 2.jpg

DSC_0064 - edit 2.jpgAfter our walk we decided to go for lunch at a local ranch called Lone Mountain Ranch. What a  beautiful and cosy property! We had drinks and lunch in the Saloon and then spent some time playing with their horses. The horses here look so happy and content and two of them kept following us around!

DSC_0093 - edit 2.jpg

DSC_0095 - edit 2.jpg

DSC_0070 - edit.jpgPearl – she was a flirt from the get-go! 

DSC_0103 - edit 2.jpgLook at this beauty! 

DSC_0113 - edit 2.jpg

DSC_0115 - edit 2.jpg

DSC_0117 - edit 2.jpgLook how happy these horses are! 

DSC_0120 - edit 2.jpg

DSC_0126 - edit 2.jpg

DSC_0130 - edit 2.jpg

DSC_0137 - edit 2.jpg

DSC_0121- edit 2.jpgPearl was very badly misbehaved when we had to leave. 

The following day was Christmas and we were so lucky to be blessed with snow! We had booked to go dog-sledding so set off for Chico which was about an hours drive from Bozeman. We booked through Absaroka Dogsled Treks and the pride and love they put into their dogs is abundantly clear. They have a total of 75 dogs in their kennel and Matt, the owner, told us that he and his wife look after them all alone! That’s a lot of work! I can barely look after 3 cats without getting stressed! There are three options to choose from: the Tenderfoot Trek which is a 6-mile round trek, The Yukon Trek which is a 10-mile round trip and the Denali Trek which is a full day trek. I booked back in September and the only option available was the Tenderfoot which goes to show how popular dog sledding is! At the end of the day I was glad we only did the short trek because it was another freezing cold day! While the trek is only 6 miles all round, it takes Matt 1.5 hours to set the dogs up and another 1.5 hours to pack them away, which means we were out in the open for around 4-5 hours. It’s not all glamour and racing – this is hard work for the owner, who did it with such patience and love!

The dogs are all Alaskan Huskies and are small – no more than 30 kg each. While most people think of Siberian Huskies and dog sledding, these huskies are usually very large and actually bring very little speed to their teams. Matt keeps his dogs in prime racing form and when they are brought out of the truck you can barely hear yourself think – all they do is bark and jump and go mad! I wish I could describe to you the quiet eeriness we heard when Matt gave them them the go signal. It went from utter chaos to pure stillness – all you hear are the dogs running and panting. Some people say dog sledding is cruel – but this is only true if the owner is cruel. These dogs live to race. We saw this with every step they took. If you find yourself in a snowy location I cannot recommend a dog sled trek enough. This was probably the highlight of my trip!

DSC_0178 - edit.jpg

DSC_0188 - edit.jpgEagerly waiting to go racing

DSC_0192 - edit.jpg

DSC_0202 - edit.jpg

DSC_0221 - edit.jpg

DSC_0243 - edit.jpgWe were only allowed to take pictures after the dogs had spent all their energy! 

DSC_0255 - edit.jpg

DSC_0259 - edit.jpg

DSC_0263 - edit.jpg

DSC_0268 - edit.jpg

DSC_0277 - edit.jpg

DSC_0281 - edit.jpgMatt with his dogs – who clearly adore him!

Below are some pictures of Chico and the surrounding areas we drove through to get to the dog sledding office.

DSC_0291 - edit.jpg

DSC_0294 - edit.jpg

DSC_0297 - edit.jpg

DSC_0301 - edit.jpg

DSC_0305 - edit.jpg

The following day we had another full on day in the snow as we were going snowmobiling through Yellowstone National Park. Like Glacier National Park, the park is closed to wheeled traffic, except to snowmobiles and snow coaches. The tour was a full day tour. We stated out at 7 am and we only got back to our hotel at 9 pm that night. It was a pretty intense and cold day and although I head the best time I was glad when the day was over!

DSC_0006 - edit.jpg

DSC_0012 - edit.jpg

DSC_0023 - edit 1.jpg

DSC_0024 - edit 1.jpg

DSC_0030 - edit.jpg

DSC_0040 - edit.jpg

DSC_0046 - edit 1.jpg

DSC_0048 - edit.jpg

DSC_0060 - edit.jpg

DSC_0066 - edit.jpgUpper Falls

DSC_0081 - edit.jpg

DSC_0094 - edit.jpgThe Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

DSC_0101 - edit.jpg

DSC_0107 - edit.jpg

DSC_0118 - edit.jpg

DSC_0119 - edit.jpg

DSC_0121 - edit.jpgLower Falls

DSC_0135 - edit.jpg

DSC_0147 - edit.jpg

DSC_0155 - edit 1.jpg

DSC_0158 - edit 1.jpg

DSC_0176 - edit.jpg

Please have a look at Part 1 of our Montana vacation 🙂

Coming up is the last part of our December travels which took us to Colorado.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s