Monday, August 04, 2014

Visiting the National Bison Range in Montana

I gotta say that visiting the National Bison Range in Montana is a cool experience. The range is in western Montana about 80 miles from Kalispell. For those who like to know, the National Bison Range is under the auspices of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

We stopped in at the visitor center for the National Bison Range. The ranger told us that the Red Sleep Mountain Drive offered the best chance of seeing bison and antelope. It was a 19 mile travel experience that lives up to its promise. The photos that you see were taken near the terminus of the road.

Don't kid yourself about the length of the drive. I was told that it would take about an 1 1/2  to maybe two hours. Not! Allow at least three hours if you want to watch for wildlife. Don't rush.

Stop at the park visitor center to pay the fee and see exhibits. Staff will be glad to turn on the video if you ask. It's also the place to get your National Parks Passport stamped.

Red Sleep Mountain Drive had curves and steep grades but no restrooms. Be sure to stop at the visitor center.

Driving slowly isn't optional. The 10+ plus grade required our Chevy Express Van to use the lowest gear, tap our brakes and utilize pull-offs. Adding to the excitement is that there are no guard rails.

Fees are collected at the Visitor Center at the National Bison Range. National park passes are accepted. At the time of this writing the fees began at $5.00 for a private vehicle. Prices could change at any time. Check the website link above before traveling for current fees.

St. Ignatius is the closest town for lodging and restaurants. Take food or eat before you go. We tried the little store outside of the entrance gate but only snacks were available. I think there may have been a sandwich shop but it was closed. The restroom was a portable unit.

Travel hint:
The town of St. Ignatius takes it's name from the 1890's St. Ignatius Mission. It's right on Highway 93. Stop in if you can. The murals are incredible.

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