America, Countries

Bandana Montana

And a new year always brings a rush of energy and ideas and as our old friends from The Great American West touch base I’m thinking of floating a travelogue for a TV station… Bandana Montana.

All of which is, or certainly should be, the headgear of choice in America’s fourth largest state where they’re certainly frontiersmen.

With just one million residents and more wildlife than people.

Miley’s better: But not that Montana

And seeing I’ve been known to don a bandana, cowboy hat or Davy Crockett hat then I’d fit right in in any of Montana’s 56 state parks.

The Great American West point us in the direction of the Rocky Mountains, authentic Wild West towns, immense glaciers, pristine alpine lakes, rich Native American culture and ranches.

Of course, if your idea of heaven is a good hike and my walking boots are panting, waiting to be taken out, then the Glacier National Park will be right up your street.

But this one: Your favourite Bandanaman

Hike right up to glaciers, explore over 700 miles of hiking trails, or enjoy river rafting and horseback riding adventures, both of which I took too like a duck to a mountain on my trip to Colorado.

Of course we all know of Yellowstone, the world’s first national park.

And while most of it lies in neighbouring Wyoming, Montana does have three of the five entrances in the park.

Heightened State

Jump to it: In Montana

But that’s even before you get to the state parks.

The Makoshika State Park is Montana’s largest state park and is in the east of the state.

Rocky high: Makoshika

It features eroded sandstone formations that include the fossil remains of T-Rex, Triceratops and other prehistoric life.

All part of the Dinosaur Trail which includes 14 museums across the state.

Pure Gold

Water view: Montana

You always dreamt of getting on the Gold Trail… well, hit the Bannack State Park.

Bannack is the site of Montana’s first major gold discovery in 1862.

Stroll along wooden boardwalks lining the deserted street and peek into any of the 50 buildings that remain.

Wheel deal: The Gold Trail

Summertime living history demos include panning for gold and free daily tours make this a lively destination.

One of the other great staples of the Wild West is of course, the Native Americans.

Bison on the cake

A. Scots bison on the plains: That’ll be me

And their great go-to is the famed buffalo.

The First People’s Buffalo Jump State Park certainly fits the bill (see what we did there).

Believed to be the largest bison cliff jump in North America the state park tells the story of the people, animals and landscape of the buffalo culture.

This historic mile-long sandstone cliff was used for hundreds of years by Native Americans to aid in hunting.

Plain truth: The Buffalo fall

They stamped herds of bison over the cliff and used them for food, clothing, shelter and provisions.

The jump provides spectacular views of the Rocky Mountain Front… and you can channel your Buffalo Bill here, looking out onto the Great Plains.

While you can get your keepsakes down at the visitors centre where there are buffalo culture exhibits aplenty and several hiking trails.

All fertile hunting ground for your favourite Bandanaman, Bandana Montana.



America, Countries, Sustainable Tourism

150 years of Yellowstone

Some take it for granted but as we mark 150 years of Yellowstone it is worth reprising the words of a Ranger who was asked what he would do if he had just one day in the US National Park.

‘Cry’ was his rather laconic but revealing message.

‘Twas Ulysses S. Grant, hero of the North, who opened Yellowstone National Park, the first of its kind anywhere in the world, on March 1, 1872.

Although we prefer to mention the work our very own Scottish explorer John Muir did there and elsewhere in the States which earned him the mantle ‘Father of the National Parks.’

But it is important to acknowledge that the Native Americans (Red Indians in 19th Century parlance) had been there for 11,000 years.

Thanks a million

Is that a bear coming? Yellowstone

No wonder our Ranger of course would weep if he was only offered one day in Yellowstone.

Because there are 2 million acres of the park.

And while we’ve all heard of Old Faithful, you’ll also want to take in Lower Falls and Yellowstone Lake.

One million of us visit Yellowstone every year (in a Covid-free year) and with that amount of space you’ll never feel congested.

And here are some useful tips for our visit.

Yellowstone tips

The Big Country: The Great American West

The entrance fee for each of Wyoming’s national parks (Yellowstone and Grand Teton) is $35 per vehicle to visit for one to seven days. Entrance fees for other National Park Service sites, such as Devils Tower National Monument, vary.

Reservations are required to camp anywhere within Grand Teton National Park and open six months prior to the date you wish to camp. Book early to reserve a spot.

Reservations are required within certain campgrounds in Yellowstone National Park. Plan ahead and reserve campsites early.

Backcountry permits are required to backpack within national park boundaries.

Pets are only allowed where vehicles are allowed in national parks and must be kept on a 6-foot leash. Pets are prohibited on trails, pathways, and swimming in any park waters.

The wildlife is wild. Do not approach, chase or feed animals, and stay in your vehicle if you’re stuck in a wildlife jam.

Grizzly bears reside in both Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. Stay safe by carrying bear spray, being alert, making noise and traveling in groups of three or more.

Masks are required on all federal lands when social distancing isn’t possible.

How to get there

Sweep of nature: In Wyoming

There are smaller airports around Yellowstone but we’d advise the old Road Trip around the Great American West.

And we’d suggest the eight-hour 532-mile drive from our favourite Denver in Colorado.

Bandanaman and the Bandanettes In Denver

In an RV mind, and not the rodeo which we’ll tell you more about soon.

And a shout-out too for bespoke Travel providers G Adventures who are offering eight days Jackson to Yellowstone National Park from £2399. Valid on Jun 19 2022

So get your 150 Years of Yellowstone up and running. You’ll cry with joy.