“I’m going to keep coming back here for the rest of my life. It was the second day of my first trip down a 60-mile float on the incredibly scenic Smith River in Central Montana, and I was already planning on returning with my children and future grandchildren. We had already floated past an elk and a black bear meandering along the river, and now the cathedral-like beauty of the canyon had me in awe.”
Small western towns flank towering buttes and deep canyons. Sweeping prairies, mountain ranges and badlands set the stage for megafauna, historic battlefields and well-preserved remnants of America’s westward expansion. And some of the country’s most impressive rivers—like the Smith—carve out a stunning landscape as they cross paths used by explorers like Lewis and Clark. Montana gets better the farther you venture off the beaten path.
Near Bigfork, where we like to stay, the Swan River meanders and rushes in places to beautiful Swan Lake. Swan Lake spans about ten miles, then the river continues to the Bigfork Dam. Below the dam, whitewater creates the “wild mile” as locals call it. From there, it enter beautiful Flathead Lake near the town of Bigfork. And Bigfork is the neatest little town, even smaller than the town I grew up in California.
This is the fourth or fifth trip we have made here. It is a beautiful and peaceful part of the world. If the winters were not so harsh, we could actually live here! That sounds rather strange from a lifelong Californian. In fact, our dear friend, hostess, and wanderer/adventurer Megan, generously offered to have us stay with her after October 15. Of course, most of you realize that Oct. 15 around here is basically “winter” by California standards.