One of the recurring issues we have is with how NOT well locals tend to have accurate knowledge of their towns and surroundings. We got ready to hit the road out of Glacier N.P. headed for Great Falls. We planned on heading down Hwy. 89 straight into Great Falls, but got dissuaded by some of the local folk who said the construction on Hwy. 89 was horrible, with excruciatingly long waits. So we altered our route, circling around about 60 miles out of our way further south before hooking up with Hwy. 200 into Great Falls. When we got set up at our destination we ran into a couple of fellow RVers who had also just left the W. Glacier KOA. They did take Hwy. 89 and it was clear as clear can be, smooth sailing all the way. Harumph! Harumph!
Our new homesite was Dick’s RV Park, Great Falls, MT. The park was not great, but had level gravel roads and sites with FHU’s, albeit a bit beat up. Many of the water spigots looked to have lost battles with RV’s, and ours leaked from it’s handle. But the price was half that of the local KOA, with not much else around to choose from.
There was a bicycle trail just outside the driveway for the RV park, which hooked up to the River’s Edge Trail. That trail is paved to Crooked Falls, then dirt/gravel to Ryan Dam. We gave it a go for about 20 miles, round trip, out to Crooked Falls and back. Black Eagle Dam/Black Eagle Falls, Rainbow Dam/Rainbow Falls, and Crooked Falls were scenic views, all kinda parts of the “Great Falls” system of falls on Big Muddy (the Missouri River).
We met up with our friends Zane & Theda Shaulis, whom we met at the Allegro Rally in Casa Grande, AZ, a few years ago. They are residents of Great Falls and showed us around during our stay. Their son-in-law Zack works at Jeremiah Johnson Brewery in town and we got a tour of his facilities. Jeremiah Johnson Brewery is a microbrewery for the area, not widely distributed (yet), and their flagship brew, Mountain Man Scotch Ale, is very tasty. They brew a vanilla porter that is also a must-try.
Great Falls holds a pretty large Farmer’s Market downtown on Saturdays, so we met up with Zane & Theda and strolled the market. It was a spread out affair, occupying several closed streets. They had all kinds of crafts booths besides a large contingent of produce booths, but the strange ones were a couple of booths selling “wands” and spell related things, I didn’t get the gist of them. I had no idea sorcery or witchcraft were popular themes in Montana of all places, I would have thought them more suitable for somewhere in Oregon or San Francisco…
Next stop on our Great Falls tour was a free car show at Giant Springs State Park. There were a couple of dollars on display there, here are a few pics.
Zane & Theda had charge of their young grandson, Hunter, so we stepped across the road from the car show to the Giant Springs and the fish hatchery they have there. Jeanne & Hunter fed the fish at the hatchery and we got to check out Giant Springs. The springs are the source for the Roe River, one of the world’s shortest rivers at 201’, emptying into Big Muddy. The springs water could not be any clearer, with a whole lotta green shrubbery growing under water.
We took Woody out for a walkabout along the Northshore trail near Ryan Dam & the Great Falls of the Missouri, namesake for the town. I can only imagine what all these falls we have seen here would have looked like before civilization put in all the hydroelectric dams. Even with the dams, they are quite scenic. At this dam there is an “island” area (Ryan Island) with nice viewing areas, picnic areas for families, and a sway bridge to access those areas. It was pretty cool.
Well, tomorrow is moving day. Still not sure where we will land, somewhere between here and Cody, WY. A very BIG thank you to Zane & Theda for all the good times and the steak dinner they hosted at their home. As usual, stay tuned until next post…