Big Sky Country

Author: Ruthie Pollard


“The Last Best Place” this is how author William Kittredge described Montana. And I could see why after experiencing it’s natural beauty and wide open sky. 

My college crew Justine, Jess, and Cheryl or “The Four” as a we call ourselves decided to have our annual reunion in Helena, Montana. It was an adventure of a lifetime! My friend Justine and her husband Josh had recently moved to Montana, welcoming a baby boy last year. We were excited to meet the newest little member of the family. 

Living in Montana, Justine knew all the best places to eat, explore and hike. Jess and I started off the adventure by fulfilling the dream of horse back riding through the mountains! We had a delightful time at Summer Star Ranch.


We had originally intended to go to Glacier National Park for the weekend. However, wildfires that started a few weeks prior were threatening the trip and thick smoke blanketed much of Montana. I noticed on the map that we were just as close to Yellowstone National Park if we went south. So we switched gears and headed to Wyoming! 

On our way to Yellowstone we stopped at Helena’s finest boutique, Poppyseed to get some cute apparel. Naturally, we got matching bison shirts. 


Some must see spots in Yellowstone: 

The Midway Geyser Basin: This stop is home to stunning pools such as the colorful Grand Prismatic Spring and mesmerizing Excelsior Geyser. 


Old Faithful Geyser:  You can’t go to Yellowstone without seeing this natural wonder go off.


Hayden Valley: This is where the wild buffalo roam the open plain but beware, may get caught in an ammusing wildlife traffic jam. 


Grand Canyon of Yellowstone: The view over this canyon is so magnificent it doesn’t even look real. There are also hiking spots off the main view (just watch out for the bears).  

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We had a short visit to Yellowstone but it’s easy to get around the park so we got to see everything we wanted to! 

Back in Montana Justine’s Dad took us out on a boat ride through the Gates of the Mountain. They call it the Gates of the Mountain because when Lewis and Clark set off on their expedition down the Missouri River they thought the river had come to an end. But as they got closer to the mountain it appeared to be opening like a gate. This illusion is quite a sight to behold. 

I can honestly say that as I sat in the front of that speed boat, I have never felt so at peace. Feeling the sun, and taking in the view with my closest friends made my heart so full.


For our last night out we channeled our inner Ron Swanson and had a delicious steak dinner at the Silver Star.


We ended our trip with a hike up Mount Helena, a moderate 5,000 footer with sweeping views of the city. We were especially proud of Cheryl who climbed one of her first mountains! After the hike we went off to the airport, and said goodbye until next time… taking with us the priceless memories of a lifelong friendship.

Next time I look forward to exploring Glacier National Park and the Grand Tetons! What are your favorite spots in the Northwest?