Only three US states cover a larger geographical area. While I’ve visited two of them, I’ve never driven across an expanse quite like the state of Montana.
We picked up US route 212 in South Dakota yesterday morning, then cut across a twenty-mile corner of Wyoming. From there, it was almost 600 miles of the Treasure State before calling it a day in Missoula last night. I also understand why the moniker “Big Sky” is associated with this land.
We looked at the US 212 route for cutting about sixty miles off the trip between Rapid City and Missoula. We were glad we went that way. Some of the drive was through the Custer National Forest, and even though the evidence of fire was frequent, the shape of Montana’s land was impressive. Iowa is definitely a greener state, but there’s a beautiful alternative in the vast eastern Montana countryside. It’s not the Badlands, but there are breathtaking moments, all under a sky that does indeed seem bigger than what one sees back east.
Once past Billings, our afternoon drive found us at higher altitudes and surrounded by the state’s various mountain ranges. The young miss and the cats may have been affected somewhat by altitude sickness. As we approached our destination, it got rather quiet in the back seat.
I mentioned to the family that it feels like we are now in the real West, and we’ve taken the first step to becoming real American westerners.