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I-15 to St Mary via 44 89 Starr & Duck Lake, MT
mini location map2014-07-18
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I-15 to St Mary via 44 89 Starr & Duck Lake, MT 
I-15 to St Mary via 44 89 Starr & Duck Lake, MT
Scenic Drive avatar Jul 18 2014
Scenic Drive155.00 Miles
Scenic Drive155.00 Miles
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Montana /Idaho Road trip - but not until I get my Glacier Park fix. As I flew in to Great Falls International you could hardly see the ground due to the heavy smoke from the west coast fires. Well what a disappointment that was and would be for the first couple days in the park :cry: .

Friday, July 18 - 1PM: 155 miles to St Mary, Glacier National Park My cousin left her car for me at the airport so I loaded my things and hit the road post haste. You can never get to the Park fast enough or soon enough in my mind. This time I was going to try a new route out of Browning... well almost.

The smoke was thick on the I-15 as I headed south. The fields were in various stages of ripeness. I headed west on the Valier Hwy 44 and usually you can see the Rocky Mountains for a good portion of that drive but not today; the smoke was that thick. I turned onto the Scenic Highway 89 I headed toward Browning and was still amazed by the smoke being so thick you could hardly see the big valleys that this highway dips in and out of a couple times.

At Browning instead of heading west on Highway 2, I headed north on Boundary Street to Starr School Road which I thot would take me to the north side of St Mary via Duck Lake Road. I turned west on Starr School Rd and kept expecting to hit Duck Lake Rd but to no avail (yep I need to look at the map better next time :-$ ). (Instead of turning left (west) on Star School Rd, continue straight as you will be on Duck Lake Rd). Still the drive was interesting on this side of Browning and was certainly easier than the 89 that you normally take off the Highway 2.

In all the years I've done the drive to the Park, it escapes me why we never took this much easier route. It's almost as scenic as you follow along the North Fork of Cut Bank Creek and you get to see the Rocky Mountains rise right out of the prairie before your eyes :) ... well in this case, rise thru the smoke. It's always an impressive sight. You pass thru a little community of Starr. And then much to my surprise, you come to the 89 on the SOUTH side of St Mary.

When I came in on the 89 those many times, I always wondered where that road went and now I know. The Starr School road is about 14 miles long. So I continue heading toward St Mary. I'm not far from the area I like to stop to shoot wildflowers. There was actually this one corner Ambika stopped at in 2010 to shoot wildflowers but it hasn't produced much since then. So now I stop at the top of where the burn area starts. There is a nice pullout.

I stopped here and a couple other places. It was WINDY so hard to get good wildflower shots. But it didn't matter. I was in Glacier National Park. :y: The Duck Lake Road route I would try on the way back and I was successful :DANCE: .

Monday, July 21 - 4:30 PM It is a great drive too and I finally got to see the infamous Duck Lake. Will be taking that route in the future.

Duck Lake Road (about the same mileage to Great Falls from Babb, MT) is just to the north side of St Mary or south of Babb, there is a sign that says Duck Lake, Highway 464. And hopefully I'll save enough time to check out this lake and view: Apparently there are some VERY big fish that are caught in this lake. Also, there are two lodges out that way including a place called The Stonehouse at Duck Lake Oh and I was just checking out some of the fish pictures :o .

Here is a video of the wildflowers and the bear I saw later on Going to the Sun Road (Preston, not beer, BEAR):
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Substantial
For me, sometimes it's just as much about the journey as the destination.
Oh, and once in awhile, don't forget to look back at the trail you've traveled.
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