• Snow fell today on Lone Peak in Big Sky. Photo courtesy of the Big Sky Resort Tram cam

    Montana mountains see snow in July

    We’ve had a bit of a cold snap in Montana to start the week. That means temps in the low 60s (versus the low 90s) in most places.

    But not at Big Sky Resort. The ski hill’s web cam showed a pretty healthy dose of snow falling on Lone Peak, as captured by the interactive Tram cam.

    We shouldn’t be too surprised, right? You never know what the weather might bring in Big Sky Country. 

     Photo courtesy of the Big Sky Resort Tram cam

    Photo courtesy of the Big Sky Resort Tram cam

    But not to worry: Forecasts in most areas of the state say we’ll be back to regular temperatures by the end of the week.

    Send us your weather pictures from across Montana. Send images to editor@montanamagazine.com.

    Here’s a link to some our recent top reader photos

    Enjoy!

    Jenna

  • Mary Gunstone at a Helena Brewers game. Photo courtesy of Marlene Hughes

    Helena loses its most passionate baseball fan

    We were very saddened to hear of the passing of Mary Gunstone last week. Mary was featured in our May/June 2015 issue in a feature that introduced us to her passion for the Helena Brewers baseball team.

    In the three decades since, Gunstone has only missed two games: the first for her father’s funeral and the second for her 50th class reunion.

    Her commitment, especially at this low level of minor league baseball, has not gone unnoticed.

    “It seems like every ballpark has some fan or special story about a fan who frequents those games,” said Paul Fetz, Brewers general manager. “But I’ve never in my 25 years in the game encountered a fan who does what she does, the effort she puts forward for these players.”

    Mary Gunstone has attended all but two Helena Brewers games in the past three decades. Photo courtesy of the Helena Independent Record

    Mary Gunstone has attended all but two Helena Brewers games in the past three decades. Photo courtesy of the Helena Independent Record

    We’ve posted the full story about Mary this weekend. Take a look at what made her the best baseball fan in Montana.

    You can read Mary’s obituary here.

    Jenna

  • Smoky sunset in the Flathead. Photo by Whispering Peaks Photography

    Top reader photos: Night skies of Montana

    We’ve got a pretty great edition of our Top Reader Photos for you this week, as we celebrating the sights of Montana skies.

    Take a look at these gorgeous nighttime shots from our readers. Talk about the Big Sky State, right?

    Milk Way from the Fromberg Sky. Photo by Regina Rigby

    Milk Way from the Fromberg Sky. Photo by Regina Rigby

     

    Moon over Montana. Photo by Robin K, Ha'o

    Moon over Montana. Photo by Robin K, Ha’o

     

    Barrel racing at the East Helena Rodeo. Photo by Mark Edward LaRowe

    Barrel racing at the East Helena Rodeo. Photo by Mark Edward LaRowe

     

    Sun River Canyon Sunset. Photo by Mark Curtis

    Sun River Canyon Sunset. Photo by Mark Curtis

    Lightning lights up the sky near Shepherd. Photo by Jullie Powell

    Lightning lights up the sky near Shepherd. Photo by Jullie Powell

    Do you have Montana photos to share? Send them to editor@montanamagazine.com.

    Jenna

     

  • Sheldon Serrano checks the mail during the trail-riding competition at the Musselshell-Golden Valley 4-H and Youth Fair in Roundup Wednesday. Photo by Bob Zellar

    4-H kids: ‘They want to step in and lead’

    Gotta love 4-H!

    Here’s a sweet story about some Eastern Montana kids who are showing off their 4-H projects at the Mussellshell County Fair:

    By Mike Ferguson

    ROUNDUP — Sheldon Serrano, who lives outside Roundup, is a big fan of the Palomino pony named Sandy who was readying herself to take the 9-year-old Signe Cougars 4-H member around a trail course Wednesday as part of the Musselshell-Golden Valley 4-H and Youth Fair.

    The weeklong fair concludes Saturday at the Musselshell County Fairgrounds.

    Sheldon Serrano checks the mail during the trail-riding competition at the Musselshell-Golden Valley 4-H and Youth Fair in Roundup Wednesday. Photo by Bob Zellar

    Sheldon Serrano checks the mail during the trail-riding competition at the Musselshell-Golden Valley 4-H and Youth Fair in Roundup Wednesday. Photo by Bob Zellar

    “She’s not too fast and not too slow,” Sheldon said while waiting for his turn at an event that includes the rider opening and shutting a gate, taking the horse through a pair of cones, over a wooden bridge, across to check the contents of a mailbox, through some logs and, finally, over to a waiting judge.

    “She’s a seasoned professional,” laughed Sheldon’s mother, Brenda, who was also there to cheer on her daughter, Mackenzie, aboard a horse named Carl, a horse shared by mother and daughter.

    “I love 4-H, because I get to spend a week with my friends,” said Mackenzie, 11. “Plus it’s fun to work with animals and share what I’ve learned.”

    That’s part of the fun at the fair, which opened Monday and runs through Saturday afternoon. More than 160 4-H youth and other children have the opportunity to learn, share their knowledge — and have fun, said Robert Goffena, a Musselshell County commissioner and 4-H leader.

    “This helps us raise a whole generation of kids who know where their food comes from,” he said.

    Mandie Reed, Extension agent in Wheatland County, came over to judge chickens and pocket pets, among others. This week wasn’t the first time.

    “It is great to see these kids year after year,” she said. “I love these small fairs because they jump right into it. They just keep getting better and better.”

    Abby Pascall, of Roundup, who’s 16 and belongs to the Golden Creek 4-H Club, brought four of her 10 Australorp chickens to show. All 10 are named Ellen. Australorps, she noted, are prodigious egg-layers, and hers are no different; she collects an average of eight eggs each day from her 10 Ellens, all of them free-range chickens.

    The most difficult part in the lead-up to the fair, said her mother, Rachel Myrstol, might be record-keeping. Youth have to list everything from what they fed their animals to the activities youth undertook in the lead-up to the fair.

    “4-H has helped bring her out of her shell,” Myrstol said with a smile. “Being able to speak to someone with everyone watching you — it’s made a big difference.”

    Read the full story here.

  • The Reynolds Creek Fire in Glacier National Park closed Going-to-the-Sun Road. Photo courtesy Erika Pierce

    Wildfire closes Going-to-the-Sun

    It’s wildfire season in Montana. And thanks to drought in many areas, it’s shaping up to be a bad one.

    Most notably this week: A growing wildfire in Glacier National Park has closed most of Going-to-the-Sun Road.

    That made a scary night for many visitors hoping to stay in the area. Mountain Pine Motel owner Terry Sherburne was booked up and wondering where all the misplaced travelers would stay.

    A wildfire can be seen burning in Glacier National Park in this image from the St. Mary Visitor Center webcam. Courtesy of Glacier National Park

    A wildfire can be seen burning in Glacier National Park in this image from the St. Mary Visitor Center webcam. Courtesy of Glacier National Park

    “It’s pretty tough – there’s no place I know of in East Glacier that has rooms for tonight, and all those people at Rising Sun will need to go someplace.”

    A friend of Sherburne’s who manages the Two Dog Flats Grill at Rising Sun “can’t get back to get her things,” he said, and will be spending the night on the only spare bed he has – a rollaway cot he’ll move into his living room.

    “I’m sure if I had 30 more rooms I could rent them tonight,” Sherburne said.

    Worse: Weather conditions for the rest of the week are worrisome.

    You can find updates on the Reynolds Creek Fire at the Missoulian.com.

    Until then, here’s more stories from our July/Aug issue.

    Jenna 

  • Red Ants Pants Music Festival takes over White Sulphur Springs in late July. Photo by Erik Petersen

    Red Ants Pants Music Festival: By the numbers

    They’re gearing up for a  population spike White Sulphur Springs this weekend as Red Ants Pants Music Festival sets up camp there.

    As we told you in our fabulous July/Aug 2015 feature about the festival, Red Ants Pants is quickly becoming one of the most popular summertime events under the Big Sky (last year Brandi Carlile headlined, this year it’s the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band during the festival that runs July 23-26).

    Rising from the prairie near the base of the Castle Mountains, just past the small town of White Sulphur Springs, stacked bales of hay and livestock equipment fill much of the space along one of Montana’s trademark stretches of highway – until a miniature tent city appears each July.

    But what does it take to put on a festival that welcomes close to 11,000 people to a town with 900 residents?

    red-ants-pantsweb

    As you can see above from a few numbers the folks at Red Ants Pants dug up for us, there’s more than a little work that goes into it.

    Huge shout out to those footballers who filled those gopher holes!

    Jenna 

     

  • Huckleberries are ripe and it's time to pick. Photo by Aaron Theisen

    Huckleberry picking tips: How to find Montana’s purple gold

    We’ve been seeing a lot of evidence from our friends on all different kinds of social media sites that that sweet, special, berry-ific time of year is finally here: It’s huckleberry time.

    Pictures and posting of the berries from successful pickers are all over the Internet. I found some along the side of the road while mountain biking near Little Whitefish Lake.

    • What should you use the huckleberries for? Try these recipes

    But where are the best places to find huckleberries? We’ve got a great guide courtesy of writer and photographer Aaron Theisen.

    huckleberryAaron visited the huckleberry capitol of the state and told readers about it in our July/August issue. He also let us in on some huckleberry picking tips:

    If there were a physical manifestation of summer in Montana, the huckleberry just might be it. And now is prime gathering time for the mystical fruit that seems to transfix Montana every August.

    Botanists have identified at least seven species of huckleberry, a member of the blueberry family, in and around Western Montana, although most pickers prize the western huckleberry (Vaccinum membranaceum) above all others for its sweet, slightly tart flavor and large size.

    Huckleberry pickers tend not to divulge their secret huckleberry picking locations, but knowing a few key criteria for huckleberry habitat will give even the most novice huckleberry scout a good chance at finding berries.

    The shrubs are most often found in mid- to high-elevation coniferous forests with semi-open to open canopies; berries seem to be particularly prolific on shrubs in old burn areas in subalpine forests.

    Areas near road cuts tend to get picked over quickly; a willingness to put in some trail miles can go a long way toward filling a bucket or water bottle.

    And remember: humans are not the only huckleberry devotees. Huckleberries form a staple of the bear diet, and although most bears will avoid human contact when possible, a canister of bear spray makes a worthwhile addition to the picker’s backpack.

    To read the entire story about huckleberry hunting, subscribe today!

    Happy hunting!

    Jenna

  • Tejay van Garderen rides in France. Photo by Tim De Waele

    Montana native in second place at Tour de France

    Awesome news out of France this week: Bozeman native Tejay van Garderen – long been a top international cyclist – is riding high in second place at this year’s Tour de France.

    We caught up with Tejay a couple years ago for this feature.

    Tejay even shared with us his favorite Montana road ride

    Here’s some more facts about Tejay:

    Did you know?

    Rare feat: Van Garderen claimed the white Best Young Rider’s jersey in the 2012 Tour de France, joining Greg Lemond (1984) and Andy Hampsten (1986) as the only Americans to accomplish that feat. The Best Young Rider’s jersey is awarded to the top finisher age 25 or younger. Van Garderen was 23 when he wore white.

    Watch the video here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=ElAH8LEoEAs

    Only one: In the 2011 Tour de France, van Garderen became the first American to don the polka dot King of the Mountains jersey when he finished the eighth stage with enough points to take the lead in that category. He was 22 at the time.

    Jenna

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