D+5: Miles City, MT, to West Yellowstone, MT

Yesterday, I thought the Badlands were amazing. I’m not changing my position, but when you emerge on the west side of Billings and see the actual mountains, it transcends the mere amazement at the badlands.

It was almost "pull over to the side of the road and catch your breath” amazing. CA took pictures while I drove. 

Seeing the mountains for the first time means the plains have ended. This is where the trip changes complexion dramatically.

We’re no longer going to be flying down long, straight roads at 80 MPH. (Yes, that’s the Montana speed limit.)

We’re going to be winding up and down through a series of passes and valleys until we get through the Targhee pass and back to the high plains in southern Idaho.

Here’s the view from Big Timber.

Yes. It’s a street with storefronts, cars, and no traffic lights facing the mountains. 

Great lunch at the Grand Hotel.

Glad we got gas in the AM before leaving Miles City and again at lunch time in Big Timber. 

We’ve finally started to figure out the signage.

  • No Services — don’t waste time getting off here: I-94 will get you to services sooner.
  • Ranch Access or Local Access — don’t get off here, there isn’t even a road. 

And yes, it was perhaps 12 hours of looking at signs before we pieced the rules together.

If you look back at “The Route,” we’re about a day ahead of the original plan. Some of that may be driving at 75 MPH instead of 60 MPH. 

We’ve covered a lot of ground, Each dot in this image is a noon or night “anchorage.” Places where we pushed the button on our Spot locator. 

There’s a noon spot missing in the DC to Lima, OH, leg where we hadn’t put the batteries into the locator, yet.

Dinner at the Slippery Otter. The place was packed. It’s Memorial Day weekend, and the town was jumping.

  © Steven Lott 2019