Wednesday, July 10, 2019

The National Bison Range

I left early this morning with the intention of visiting the Windmill Village Bakery for a doughnut.  I read an article claiming it was the best doughnut in all of Montana, so of course I had to find out for myself. A 20 minute drive to the north and I had my hands on one.

The verdict... pretty good. Reminded me much more of very thick fry bread than a doughnut but served warm, soft, and very tasty.  The place is only open 3 days a week and they had a steady line going while I was there.  Single doughnuts were handed out right away but larger orders were being made on demand while you wait.  The owners seemed very nice and the line moved along quickly.

After scarfing my doughnut down in the drivers seat of the truck because it was too cold and windy to stand outside, I did a quick Yelp search looking for something else to do in the area. The National Bison Range turned out to be only 15 minutes away, so I went to check it out without really knowing what it was other than another stamp in my National Parks passport and another chance to use my annual pass. Great!

The National Bison Range is an approximately 18,500 acre sanctuary for bison established by Theodore Roosevelt in 1908.  There are two main scenic drives you can take in the park. 

1. Prairie Drive – a 14-mile round-trip out and back with little elevation gain.

2. Red Sleep Mountain – a 19-mile one-way loop that goes over the mountain.

Both drives are on dirt roads with a max speed of 25 MPG. Posted signs tell you to stay inside your car and there are only a few marked walking trails along the way.

The dogs and I chose the Prairie Drive and were rewarded right away with a small herd of bison lumbering along near the road within the first mile.  Frankie was especially interested in them and all the snorting and grunting noises that they were making. 

We also spotted elk, pronghorn antelope, and some of the cutest little chipmunks I have ever seen.  The whole drive with stopping to view wildlife took us nearly two hours.

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