• 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

     

  • 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

  • Doris Sherburne, 95, and her husband, Fred, opened Mountain Pine Motel in 1947. Photo by Kurt Wilson

    Mountain Pine Motel and its lovely neighbors

    The Mountain Pine Motel is a place where you can have huckleberry pie for breakfast and see the world’s largest purple spoon.

    It’s a quintessential Montana spot, owned by the same family since it opened in 1947. Founding owner Doris Sherburne, 95, is still in charge. Writer Keila Szpaller and photographer Kurt Wilson introduced us to the motel in the our July/Aug issue.

    Terry Sherburne, owner/operator of Mountain Pine Motel near East Glacier, takes care of a potential guest. Photo by Kurt Wilson

    Terry Sherburne, owner/operator of Mountain Pine Motel near East Glacier, takes care of a potential guest. Photo by Kurt Wilson

    Along with the story of Mountain Pine, Szpaller told us about the awesome neighbors the surround the motel, including the place that encourages patrons to have pie for breakfast and the see the world’s largest purple spoon.

    The pie: AT LUNA’S RESTAURANT, ABOUT A BLOCK AWAY FROM THE HOTEL, THE MENU OFFERS HUCKLEBERRY PIE, AND IT’S LISTED AS A BREAKFAST STAPLE. IN CASE YOU WONDERED, A SLICE COSTS $5.50, AND IT’S “A PERFECTLY RESPECTABLE BREAKFAST!”

    The spoon: ALSO JUST ACROSS THE STREET? THE WORLD’S LARGEST PURPLE SPOON. YOU WON’T WANT TO MISS IT. ACTUALLY, THE ENORMOUS UTENSIL WILL LEAD YOU TO THE SPIRAL SPOON, A SMALL SHOP WITH GREAT BEAUTY IN ITS HANDCRAFTED SPOONS.

    Oh, and in case you’re still hungry, this: SURE, EAST GLACIER IS CLOSER TO CANADA THAN IT IS TO MEXICO, BUT FOR SOME DELICIOUS ENCHILADAS, BURRITOS, GUACAMOLE, AND OTHER MEXICAN FARE, HEAD TO SERRANO’S MEXICAN RESTAURANT, ACROSS THE RAILROAD TRACKS. BEVERAGE OF CHOICE? THE HOUSE MARGARITA, WITH SALT ON THE RIM.

    Here’s hoping you can go explore East Glacier soon!

    Jenna

  • #TBT: Readers share their Pictured in History photos

    It’s always fun to take a look back into Montana’s history through photos from the past.

    Throwback Thursday gives us a good excuse to highlight a section inside each issue of Montana Magazine called Pictured in History, where photos from our readers’ archives are featured.

    Below is the set we’ve run so far in 2015.

    • Do you have historical photos you can share? Email the images, with a brief description and full information about anyone pictured, to editor@montanamagazine.com 

    Jan/Feb: “A Montana Man’s Catch” 

    Maria and John Groenning, Karl and Karin Oman - 1915

    Maria and John Groenning, Karl and Karin Oman  on a summer fishing outing circa 1915. Submitted by Laurren Nirider

    March/April: “Celebration Preparation” 

    A set of friends living near Huntley Project circa 1920 prepare to cook a feast to celebrate a community occasion. It was a German custom to have local neighbors help prepare feasts for events like weddings. Submitted by Doris Redinger

    A set of friends living near Huntley Project circa 1920 prepare to cook a feast to celebrate a community occasion. It was a German custom to have local neighbors help prepare feasts for events like weddings. Submitted by Doris Redinger

    May/June 2015: “Smokejumping Roofers”

    U.S. Forest Service smokejumpers works to replace the roof on the Monture Ranger Station cabin near Ovando circa 1954. Submitted by Henry "Hank" Broderson

    U.S. Forest Service smokejumpers works to replace the roof on the Monture Ranger Station cabin near Ovando circa 1954. Submitted by Henry “Hank” Broderson

    July/August 2015: “The Good Ol Days”

    Students stand outside the Jackson school circa 1930. The school included a stables in back to house the students' horses. Submitted by Ruth Ann Nelson Little

    Students stand outside the Jackson school circa 1930. The school included a stables in back to house the students’ horses. Submitted by Ruth Ann Nelson Little

  • The Red Ants Pants Music Festival will run July 23-26 in White Sulphur Springs. Photo by Erik Petersen

    Who said it? The best-of MT quotes

    It’s not hard to wax poetic about the Big Sky State. Our contributors prove that each time they head out and talk to people across Montana for the stories that fill our magazine.

    We’ve compiled some of the best quotes – so far – from our 2015 issues. Trust me, the story attached are just as good as the quote. Read through our Who Said Its and find out, well, who said it.

    A Yurtski yurt in the Swan Mountains. Courtesy of Yurtski

    A Yurtski yurt in the Swan Mountains. Courtesy of Yurtski

    Here’s our top four quotes: 

    • “At the end of the day, I’d rather spend 14 hours struggling again Mother Nature than eight hours at a desk job.” Who said it? 
    • “From tearing it down to ripping the stinky elk hide off the bone.” Who said it?
    • “Here, Montanans will travel quite a ways. I’ve never been to a state where everyone is so proud to be from here. It’s contagious.” Who said it?
    • “It was  by far the coolest music festival I’ve been to. That one just has a really special vibe to it, and it’s the most amazing setting I’ve ever seen.” Who said it?

    Jenna

  • The towers of the Judith Gap Wind Farm, six miles south of Judith Gap, stand motionless during a windless sunrise. Photo by Kurt Wilson

    J is for: The Gap, which is a lot more than wind turbines

    J – as names-of-Montana-cities goes – is for “The Gap.” Or, should we say, Judith Gap.

    Many know the small town for its huge wind turbine farm that captures the prairie winds that blow often. But as Missoulian reporter Vince Devlin and photographer Kurt Wilson found, there’s a lot more to The Gap (as local call it) then first meets the eye.

    Including the fact that it’s school has the smallest enrollment in Montana:

    judtih gap 3

    Taekwondo instructor Gary Hart walks from his home across the street to the school’s gymnasium where he holds free classes during the summer. The school is open several evenings a week for community activities. Photo by Kurt Wilson

    When the Class of 2015 at Judith Gap High School selected its commencement speaker, the vote was unanimous.

    Which is to say, Dakota Jolliff asked an uncle to deliver her graduation address.

    She was the only senior. Some years, there haven’t been any.

    The tiniest high school in all Montana is here in Judith Gap, a town located midway between the Little Belt and Big Snowy mountain ranges. The enrollment in grades 9-12 hovers around six, and as you’ll see, they go out of their way – way out of their way – to keep it that high.

    Those two mountain ranges funnel some of the state’s harshest winter weather out of the north and down upon Judith Gap’s citizenry. Six miles south of town, huge windmill blades stretch 40 stories into the sky above the Montana prairie to catch the wind and put it to good use.

    • See a gallery of images from Judith gap here
    A visiting tourist looks over the windmill blade attraction at "Blade Park" in Judith Gap. Photo by Kurt Wilson

    A visiting tourist looks over the windmill blade attraction at “Blade Park” in Judith Gap. Photo by Kurt Wilson

    Judith Gap Wind Farm, the largest wind farm in the state, converts the air currents into electricity capable of powering all 80-some homes in Judith Gap – and approximately 359,920 more – through 90 wind towers.

    “We’re almost a mile high, and the winters are pretty rough,” Mayor Dave Foster says. “It gets to be brutal when you get a storm.”

    And did you know, that the jail is unlocked in Judith Gap? 

    The story is part of an on-going series about Montana towns by the Missoulian. Here’s a link to the rest of the stories.

    Enjoy!

    Jenna 

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