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Thread: Rides and Points of Interest Around Great Falls

  1. #1
    SURVIVOR akbeemer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Big Sky Country

    Rides and Points of Interest Around Great Falls

    I asked a friend who was born in Fort Benton and raised in the Great Falls area to list some points of interest he thinks rally goers will enjoy seeing:

    C. M. Russell Museum
    The C.M. Russell Museum Complex is located at 400 13th Street North. The museum displays the artwork of Great Falls' famed cowboy artist, Charles Marion Russell, and other western artists.

    Farmers' Market
    On Saturdays the City of Great Falls hosts a farmers' market at 2 Park Drive near the Civic Center at the west end of Central Avenue. Fresh produce, baked goods, and arts and crafts from local vendors are available.

    First Peoples' Buffalo Jump State Park
    This park is also known as the Ulm Pishkun. This state park is an archaeological site believed
    to be the largest buffalo cliff jump in North America. It is located at 342 Ulm – Vaughan Road, 20 miles south of Great Falls off of Interstate 15.

    Fort Benton
    The oldest settlement in Montana, Fort Benton is recognized as a National Historic Landmark. Fort Benton, with a current population of 1500 inhabitants, was the head of navigation on the Missouri River for steamboat traffic during the opening of the northwest and western Canada. Four museums, Museum of the Northern Great Plains, Museum of the Upper Missouri, Old Fort Benton, and the Missouri Breaks Interpretive Center along with a beautiful River Walk make “The Birthplace of Montana” one of Montana's favorite places to visit. Fort Benton is 40 miles north of Great Falls on Highway 89.

    Giant Springs State Park
    On the Missouri River at 4803 Giant Springs Road, Giant Springs was discovered by the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1805. These springs are among the largest fresh water springs in the country. Viewable within the park are some of the waterfalls of the Great Falls of the Missouri as well as Giant Springs State Fish Hatchery. which has a show pond with monster trout.

    Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center
    The Interpretive Center chronicles the journey of Lewis and Clark and their interactions with Plains and Northwest Indians. The Center features ranger led programs in the theater in addition to exhibits and dioramas which detail the progress of the expedition. Built into a scenic bluff overlooking the Missouri River, the Center is located at 4201 Giant Springs Road.

    Paris Gibson Square Museum of Art
    Originally constructed in1896 as Great Falls High School, PGSMA is one of six museums in the city. The museum focuses on contemporary art by artists from the region and functional artwork such as jewelry. In addition to the galleries the museum also hosts an outdoor sculpture garden. PGSMA is found at 1400 First Avenue North.

    Ryan Dam
    Ryan Dam located on the Missouri River at the site of the largest falls of the Great Falls of the Missouri is 14 miles north and east of Great Falls off of Highway 87. A large park, picnic grounds, and viewing stands populate the site.

    Sip 'n Dip Lounge
    This tiki bar has been a unique stop in Montana since 1962. The lounge can be found in the O'Haire Motor Inn at 17 7th Street South. GQ Magazine ranked the lounge as one of the top 10 bars in the world, calling the Sip 'n Dip the “#1 bar ... worth flying for.” A one-of-a-kind bar in a state full of bars.
    Kevin Huddy
    Silver City, Montana
    MOA# 24,790 Ambassador

  2. #2
    SURVIVOR akbeemer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Big Sky Country
    I posted this on another thread, but it fits here. One of our favorite rides.

    A great ride.....

    US 89 S out of GF towards White Sulphur Springs. This stretch takes you thru the Little Belt Mountains. In June you could encounter temps in the 30s or 70s on the same day. After around 93 miles at the T intersection with US 12, head east (option 1: 325 miles) or west into White Sulphur Springs (option2: 265 miles)

    Option 1 (325 Miles): East on highway 12 for about 27 miles and turn right on MT 294, then 2 miles to a T intersection and turn left, you are in Martinsdale, go two blocks and take a right on Main Street and look for the Crazy Mountain Inn. Good food. Go back to the T intersection and go straight thru it and stay on MT 294 W for 27 miles, at the intersection turn right on US 89 N, go 8 miles and turn left on US 12 W then 33 miles thru Deep Creek Canyon (twisty) to Townsend. Stay on Hwy 12 W (turn right at the flashing light) for 30 miles to Helena and the intersection with I-15. It is 90 miles to Great Falls on I-15. The ride on I-15 is one of the best you will find on an interstate. It goes thru Wolf Creek Canyon and the Big belt Mountains at Hardy. You can ride much of the way on frontage roads as well. Some of them follow the Missouri as it cuts thru the Big belts and it is a very nice ride. You can get on the frontage (or recreation road) at exit 219, thru Wolf Creek, past the Craig turn off, under I-15, and then it meanders along I-15 and the Missouri. At times you will be a few miles from I-15 but I don't think you will have trouble finding your way, or getting back to the interstate if your fun meter is pegged. You need to get on the interstate at Ulm. Or just stay on the interstate all the way from Helena... it is a good ride much of the way. (If you take option one you may want to go into White Sulpur Springs for fuel before heading to Martinsdale. There will be no fuel until you get to Townsend which is over 100 miles via Martinsdale)

    Option 2 (265 Miles): Skip Martinsdale. At the T intersection of US 89 and US 12 go right thru White sulphur Springs to Townsend. Saves 60 miles.

    Second ride: GF to Belt, Fort Benton, GF. (150 miles). US 89 S 30 miles to Belt, at Belt take MT 331 (turns into HWY 228 somewhere along the way) thru Highwood and Big Sag about 40 miles to Fort Benton. Return to GF on US 87 S around 42 miles. Look up Fort Benton on Wikipedia. some interesting history to see, including Shep the dog.

    Good book that gives insights into the early days of Montana; trapping, guiding, Indian fighting, sheriff and newspaper editor; this guy did it all.

    Life and Death on the Upper Missouri: The Frontier Sketches of Johnny Healy
    Kevin Huddy
    Silver City, Montana
    MOA# 24,790 Ambassador

  3. #3
    SURVIVOR akbeemer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Big Sky Country
    Also a transplant from another thread. Some thoughts on riding the Going To The Sun Road and Lolo Pass road into Idaho:

    Traveling east to west on the Going to the Sun Road generally means less traffic, and being early in the day helps too. Most people start on the west, Columbia Falls side, and many turn around at the Logan Pass visitors center. Coming from the east that means less traffic getting to Logan Pass but heavy traffic going down the west side, and that is where much of the great scenery is located. The list below shows opening dates for a 17 year period and as you can see the road may not be open. When it does open it may not mean the entire road is open (they sometimes open it on the west side to Logan Pass while the east side is still being plowed), and when it does first open it will probably be swamped with people. Bring patience.

    Riding HWY 12 west of Lolo from Great Falls will be a long day ride from Great Falls; 220 miles to Lochsa Lodge at Powell and that is only 45 miles west of Lolo, MT. Once you cross into Idaho the speed limit is 50 MPH and they are pretty tough on speeding. Avoid the road on the weekend as it may be packed with large groups of cruisers and road racer wannabes. There is fuel at Lolo and at Lochsa Lodge (only 2 pumps at Lochsa so there may be a line). You may see on your GPS that there is fuel at Lowell (65 miles west of Lochsa Lodge) but the station has been closed the last three times we were there. The first fuel west of Lochsa Lodge will be near Kooskia which is 87 miles from Lochsa Lodge and 310 miles from Great Falls. Good food at Lochsa Lodge and at the the Wilderness Cafe in Lowell.

    I assume you mean Clearwater National Forest rather than National Park. The Clearwater National Forest surrounds Lowell. Lowell, ID, also known as Three Forks, is where the Lochsa and Selway Rivers join to form the Middle Fork of the Clearwater River. Highway 12 runs along the Lochsa River for much of the way from Lochsa Lodge to Lowell. There is a great deal of recreation on the rivers, especially around Lowell. There is not much to Lowell; cafe, small motel, campground and an IDOT facility. There is a former Japanese internment camp located somewhere near Lowell but I have not seen it.

    Logan Pass Opening Dates
    2000 May 27
    2001 June 7
    2002 June 28
    2003 May 30
    2004 May 30
    2005 May 22
    2006 June 23
    2007 July 1
    2008 July 2
    2009 June 26
    2010 June 24
    2011 July 13
    2012 June 19
    2013 June 21
    2014 July 2
    2015 June 19
    2016 June 16
    Kevin Huddy
    Silver City, Montana
    MOA# 24,790 Ambassador

  4. #4
    Booger Man boogerman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2018
    defiance, mo
    Thanks AKBeemer for all the info

  5. #5
    Hangered... but aimed out flyhi2cfar's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    The Cincinnati Ohio riverfront (Ky side) & the Cape/Space Coast of Flordia.... when not out -- "travel'n"

    Thumbs up

    Fantastic example of why arriving at the Rally site even on Monday & maybe via one of these routes... is sometimes not soon enough!

    Thanks AKBeemer.

    "travel'n" john

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