• Glacier National Park After Dark: Sunset to Sunrise in a Beloved Montana Wilderness is available directly from author John Ashley through his website, johnashleyfineart.com

    New book tells the nighttime story of Glacier

    Here’s a beautiful story about a photography who captures the best of Glacier National Park – at night:

    Glacier Park’s nighttime stories come alive in new photo book

    By Rob Chaney

    To see Glacier National Park like John Ashley does, you don’t have to be a mountaineer or a tour bus driver.

    You just have to stay awake. All night long.

    Landscape photographers lecture one another about the “golden hours” around sunrise and sunset, when the sun skims the horizon and alpenglow gleams on the mountain peaks.

    Ashley’s biological clock ticks to very different rhythms, like moon cycles and magnetic storm pulses. Any Glacier visitor treasures snapping a photo of a grizzly bear. Ashley holds out for comets.

    Comet Lovejoy (C/2013 R1) rises over Mount Brown on a minus 11-degree December night in 2013, just three months after its discovery. Photo by John Ashley

    Comet Lovejoy (C/2013 R1) rises over Mount Brown on a minus 11-degree December night in 2013, just three months after its discovery. Photo by John Ashley

    “The image on the cover is one of Comet Lovejoy,” Ashley said from his home in Kila, where he’s launching the publication of “Glacier National Park After Dark – Sunset to Sunrise in a Beloved Montana Wilderness.” “That comet was only visible during the month of December 2013, and there were only three nights that were something less than 100 percent cloud cover. Those three nights, the temperature was 10 below, 11 below and 21 below zero. I was out all three nights, and I never saw another photographer on any of those nights.”

    That could be because a photographer had to linger four hours on the subzero shore of Lake McDonald hoping that a night fog would clear. But then, Comet Lovejoy only passes by once ever 14,011 years.

    Numbers and calculations hold considerable sway over Ashley’s art.

    He schedules his photo forays by the appearance of meteor showers, the seasonal aspect of constellations, and when those features might line up with park landmarks such as lookout towers, lake valleys or significant mountains.

    Read the rest of the story here

    Where to get ‘After Dark’

    Glacier National Park After Dark: Sunset to Sunrise in a Beloved Montana Wilderness is available directly from author John Ashley through his website,johnashleyfineart.com and wherever Montana natural history books are sold.

  • paraglider

    Paraglider sets Montana record with 192-mile flight

    In a flight that took him further than the distance from Bozeman to Billings, Bozeman paraglider Andy Mcrae – who some say is one of the top paragliders in the world, broke a Montana record.

    Mcrae flew 309 kilometers – 192 miles – in his glider. That meant he was up in the air for more than six hours.

    Billings Gazette reporter Brett French explains the flight

    Mcrae’s new record was 309 kilometers – 192 miles – set as he climbed and descended many times en route from the west side of the Bridger Mountains near Maudlow to southeast of Hardin. The flight, in a craft that resembles a large parachute fitted with a harness that allows the pilot to sit suspended beneath the canopy, lasted more than 6 hours. At that rate his average speed was more than 30 mph.

    “Any time you’re above 300 kilometers, that’s a tremendous flight,” said Huntley Brockie, a former student of Mcrae’s who lives in Big Sky. “Up until about five years ago that distance was unheard of. There’s maybe a dozen guys in the U.S. that could do what Andy did.”

    When Mcrae hit an altitude of 14,500 he was able to cross the Crazy Mountains south of 11,214-foot Crazy Peak and continue east paralleling the Yellowstone River drainage.

    “I got into a line of cumulous clouds called a cloud street where there’s rising air,” Mcrae explained. “I followed that up to about 17,000 to 17,500 feet – nice and high. I could glide to Billings from there.”

    Landing south of Billings would have broken his old record. But as Mcrae descended past ZooMontana and came to the Yellowstone River, he caught another uplift.

    “He had no intention of coming down,” Brockie said.

    Twice more Mcrae climbed to more than 12,000 feet as he flew southeast out of Billings toward Pryor and the Crow Reservation and then soared to 14,400 feet just before reaching the Bighorn River near St. Xavier. From there his flight steadily descended, crossing Interstate 90 before finally landing just south of the Custer Battlefield National Monument. He had launched at 1:25 p.m. and extended his flight until about 7:30 p.m.

    Read the rest of the story here.

  • MT-Mag_cover-fan

    Editor top picks: Features worth reading twice

    We’re getting ready to send our fifth issue of 2015 to the printer. That means we’re 5/6 of the way through 2015.

    How time flies.

    In light of that, I took a moment to look back at all our features for 2015 so far and find a few I hope you haven’t missed – or are worth a second (third, fourth…) read.

    Sean Kochel. Photo by Kurt Wilson

    Sean Kochel. Photo by Kurt Wilson

    To me, the below list represents exactly what we try to accomplish in each issue by telling the authentic story of Montana through the eyes of the people who love it.


    • Over the Hill Gang, from the May/June 2015 issue: Meet the members of the longest-running hiking crew in Glacier National park.
    • A World Wildlife Experience, from the November/December 2014 issue: Glasgow native Skip Erickson donates wild gift to children’s museum
    • Homegrown Guitars, from the March/April 2015 issue: Sean Kochel’s guitars are made from Montana
    • Best Pie in the Big Sky, from the May/June 2015 issue: A very sweet installment of our The Last Best Plates series (including a pie slideshow!)
    • Woodpecker Men, from the January/February 2015 issue: Ryegate men keep unique tradition alive
    Ed Osse works in his shop in Ryegate. Photo by Kelsey Dayton

    Ed Osse works in his shop in Ryegate. Photo by Kelsey Dayton

    Happy reading! 

    – Jenna

  • The Thompson Creek Fire burns in Glacier National Park. Photo by Nicholas Parker

    More fires spark in Glacier – much of park still open

    As crews continue to contain the wildfire that shut down Going-to-the-Sun Road in late July, another set of fires sparked early this week.

    Most notably, the Thompson Fire near Nyack and Cold Creek “exploded” to more than 11,000 acres on Tuesday. As you can see from the photos courtesy of Nicholas Parker, it’s a big one.

    But, as park officials keep noting, much of the park is open and ready to explore.

    Mountain goats lick salt from the rails near Hidden Lake at Logan Pass. Photo by Nicholas Parker

    Mountain goats lick salt from the rails near Hidden Lake at Logan Pass. Photo by Nicholas Parker

    Here are a few suggestions:


  • lastbus

    ‘Last Bus to Wisdom': Montana events planned for release of final Doig novel

    We’ve always got a suggestion on which Montana books are worth a read thanks to our book reviewer Doug Mitchell.

    Doug reads a lot of books and then picks the ones he thinks you need to know about to feature in his reviews each issue. All his reviews are online here

    Ivan Doig

    Ivan Doig

    Earlier this summer, Doug featured Ivan Doig’s “Sweet Thunder” – including an author Q&A with the man who captured Montana so beautifully throughout his storied literary career.

    We’re reviving this post and review in anticipation of the release of Doig’s final novel “Last Bus to Wisdom,” which will be available a week from today.

    It was a shock to the state and his fans worldwide when Doig died in April after an eight year battle with cancer.

    Just weeks before his death, Doig chatted via phone with Doug, telling him at one point “I’m a full-blown Montanan all the way back to the times of the Anaconda Company domination, and I’m from the ‘other’ Montana; the ranching Montana, the rural Montana, the outback Montana.” 

    If you haven’t read the entire Q&A, it’s worth a read. 

    Doig’s words certainly live on in a meaningful way. You can (and should) read his memoriam page.

    And if you are around Montana, Washington or California next week, perhaps you can make a reading or celebration event being held for “Last Bus.” Below are the Montana events:


    Off-site at the Lewis & Clark Library
    120 South Last Change Gulch Street, Helena, MT 59601
    Free & Open to the Public


    28 W Main Street, Bozeman, MT 59715
    Free & Open to the Public


    Off-site at Ten Spoon Winery
    4175 Rattlesnake Drive, Missoula, MT 59802
    Free & Open to the Public


  • Roping time. Photo by Mark Edward LaRowe

    Top reader photos: Summertime scenes

    We’ve got quite an eclectic mix of pics for you this week, courtesy of our fabulous readers.

    From the Milky Way above a lookout tower to a set of cowboys doing what they do best, we present the top reader photos of the weeks, summertime scenes style.

    You can always see more reader photos here.

    Sunset near Big Sky. Photo by Chad Tague

    Sunset near Big Sky. Photo by Chad Tague


    Starry skies above a lookout tower. Photo by Jake Stufflebeam

    Starry skies above a lookout tower. Photo by Luke Stufflebeam


    Rainbows over McGregor Lake. Photo by Yvonne Moe Resch

    Rainbows over McGregor Lake. Photo by Yvonne Moe Resch


    Sandhill cranes at sunset. Photo by Whispering Peaks photography

    Sandhill cranes at sunset. Photo by Whispering Peaks photography


    Do you have photos of Montana you’d like to share? Email editor@montanamagazine.com with the jpg image, a short description and full photographer information.


  • Newton Old Crow. Photo by Erika Haight

    ‘Apsaalooke Beauty’ photo project on display

    If you’re in the Billings area today, we highly recommend stopping by the Western Heritage Center to check out the “Apsaalooke Beauty” exhibit of photos from the Crow Nation by photographer Erika Haight. Full information is below.

    Haight allowed us to show off her photos in the July/Aug 2015 photo Portfolio, which we called “Beautiful Connection.”

    • See more photos from Haight here 
    Photo by Erika Haight

    Photo by Erika Haight

    The Montana native and Roundup resident has long photographed Western life around Montana, taking her stay-at-home mom hobby to the professional level when her work began being published in publications like Cowboys and Indians Magazine.

    “Being a stay-at-home mom kind of gave me the liberty to go out and do other things. I got stuck on photography and bloomed from there,” she said.

    Haight’s set of black and white photographs from the Crow Nation, currently on display at the Western Heritage Center, was created after Haight forged a special bond with the Real Bird family of the Crow Nation.

    Haight’s “Apsaalooke Beauty” exhibit will be on display at the Western Heritage Center through Sept. 12.

    It’s an intimate compilation of work gathered from years spent getting to know Crow people and traditions.

    “I would hope that my exhibit would give the viewer an intimate glimpse of my experiences and time spent on the Crow Reservation,” Haight said. “(These are) images that depict the love and respect that I have for their people, and all of the rich cultural traditions that still flourish today.”




    Want to see the whole “Beautiful Connection” spread? Subscribe today!


  • Shiloh, a three-week-old North American beaver born at ZooMontana, greets vistors Tuesday. Photo by Casey Page

    Video: Zoo Montana debuts baby beaver born after surprise pregnancy

    This little one came into the world in pretty dramatic fashion.

    Now the newest member of the Zoo Montana family is thriving and nothing but cute.

    Billings Gazette reporter Mike Ferguson explains:

    BILLINGS – Nearly three weeks into a life that almost wasn’t, Shiloh the beaver, made a splash during its first media appearance at ZooMontana on Tuesday.

    Zookeepers aren’t quite sure about Shiloh’s gender, since beavers do not have external sex organs.

    The two-pound semi-aquatic rodent swam around a back room at the zoo Tuesday morning in a plastic tub. It also emitted some high-pitched cries and took to a bottle full of formula mixed with food. All this occurred under the watchful eyes of Jeff Ewelt, the zoo’s director, and Debra Harris, the zoo’s assistant curator and Shiloh’s main keeper.

    The offspring of zoo beavers Huckleberry and Finn, Shiloh was named to honor the veterinarians who first treated the kit at Shiloh Veterinary Hospital. Shiloh’s sibling was stillborn. Shiloh was born via Caesarian section. Shiloh was “essentially dead” at birth, but was revived by veterinary staff, Ewelt said.

    “We didn’t have high hopes, because Shiloh’s sibling didn’t make it,” Ewelt said. “We thought we’d err on the side of caution. But she’s received unbelievable care” from both veterinary staff and zookeepers, he said.

    Harris’ fingers have the bite marks to prove that Shiloh has already begun using its tiny but sharp teeth. A small tree cutting also sports baby gnaw marks.

    “We are so excited, because she’s so resilient,” Harris said, assigning the newborn a gender that’s not quite yet apparent. “We have never raised a baby beaver born at the zoo.”

    Born weighing 320 grams with its eyes wide open, Shiloh, a North American beaver, has since tripled its weight, to more than 900 grams — about two pounds.

    Eventually, she’ll weigh in excess of 50 pounds, Ewelt said. Huckleberry weighs 54 pounds while Finn is two pounds lighter.

    The young beaver is allowed to communicate with its parents daily from the safety of an animal carrier, but not to hang out with them quite yet. Keepers fear that the older beavers might become territorial with their kit.

    “We hope that she stays connected to us,” Harris said, “but we also hope that mother and father take to her well.”

    Zookeepers thought that Finn had been neutered until Huckleberry began showing signs of pregnancy. Because Finn keeps his organ close to the vest, so to speak, his sterilization surgery proved to be something else.

    “We got his scent glands instead of his stuff,” Harris said with a laugh.

    Ewelt said he hopes Shiloh will be ready for the public this fall, when students once again begin making field trips to ZooMontana.

    “Spring field trips are getting more and more popular,” he said. “We are trying to get schools to talk about making fall trips.”

    After all, Shiloh won’t remain this adorable forever.

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