Downing Mountain Lodge

The five days that we spent at the Downing Mountain Lodge, we kept finding ourselves staring at the view… shaking our heads and commenting on how damn beautiful it is.Sunrise at Downing Mountain Lodge.jpgThe lodge is located 2,000 feet above the Bitterroot Valley. If it weren’t for the twinkling lights of Hamilton, MT  from the valley below, you would think you are in the middle of nowhere; not 20 minutes from town.

The Landcruiser crawled up the 15 switchbacks to the unique 16 sided log chalet. We took Lola down the driveway leading to the Lodge’s covered entrance to unload. However, they do have a large parking lot above, perfect for a crowd to park their off road rigs after a day of hitting the trails.

Walking into the lodge, the central rock fireplace commands to be noticed. From it’s size to log details, it gives the panoramic views a run for their money. We found the fireplace became the gravitating point for our time at the lodge.

Something about the crackle of a wood fire and the radiating warmth…

The lodge can sleep 14 adult guests, has three bedrooms, two newly remodeled bathrooms and a full commercial kitchen. In a previous life, the lodge was a unique steak house in the Bitterroot Valley and the new owner has kept the amenity of being able to serve a large group in the commercial kitchen. Imagine your party coming back from off roading the Bitterroot to enjoy a meal at the large dining table (think Thanksgiving family large) and soaking up the views.

The master bedroom faces east and catches the sunrise. One morning, we rose early and hopped into the front lawn hot tub (yes, there is two hot tubs- a wood stove sauna!) where we caught the sunrise over the Sapphire Mountains.

The front lawn has a large deck that overlooks the valley and has a wood fire barbeque if your group wants to really show off their culinary skills. We, however, choose to kick back and Andy grabbed the house guitar. Not a bad way to watch the sun set over the valley.

After watching Hamilton’s lights twinkle up from the valley floor for a bit, we grabbed our drinks and hit the foosball table. Andy won the match and he was sure to use the lodges WIFI to let folks know about it (insert rolling of eyes here).

There is a TV in the lodge, but we didn’t feel the need to use it. I do wish that one of us knew how to play the piano though, as that is one thing I did feel the need to use… not well may I add…

In the summer the lodge boosts amazing wildflowers, late summer brings huckleberries  and like we mentioned above, the winter brings backcountry skiing for the area. Downing Mountain’s owner offers guided skiing trips during the winter and lake/river excursions in the summer.

Downing Mountain Lodge is the perfect place for a crew to gather after a day of hitting the trails. In fact, we are planning  a trip to the Magruder Corridor next summer and I can’t think of a better place to start off the trip with our friends.

 

Ready to book your group for an amazing location? Contact John at 406-531-1486 or downingmountain@gmail.com

 

Video of our time at Downing Mountain Lodge will be up on Thursday, be sure to subscribe to our YouTube Channel so you never miss one!

 

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Meadow Peak Lookout

I laughed when we woke up the morning of this trip.

Just two days before I had posted on our instagram about how everyone else was talking about winter, but we here at North End was holding onto autumn…

There was snow in them dar hills

We travelled east of Kalispell on Hwy 2 towards Libby, MT. Just as we crossed into Lincoln county we turned right onto a logging road.

Autumn was in full force and the larches were beautiful… but the further we peered up Meadow Peak, the more snow we saw.

About half way up we stopped at a switch back that was fully covered in snow and had delicious breakfast hash… We can’t take credit for it however, our friend Jody dished it up.

The rest of the trail was covered in snow and the gate was locked. This meant we had to hike the 1/4 of a mile to the top of Meadow Peak and it’s look out tower.

The winter jaunt, didn’t disappoint

1977 Toyota Landcruiser travel to Meadow Peak Lookout in Montana
Panoramic from Meadow Peak Lookout overlooking Thompson chain of Lakes in Montana

Someone is currently rehabilitating the look out. The inside was boarded up, but the cat walk was still open. We busted out the drone and got our first real footage that will be included in our YouTube video of this trip.

We look forward to revisiting this trail again, preferably when the snow has gone and with clear skies.

Meadow Peak Montana in a 1977 Toyota Landcruiser

Landcruiser Makes Guest Appearance

This past weekend Lola was invited to a special event.

She agreed to give the off roading a break and instead make a guest appearance at our families annual hayride.

We know this isn’t a travel piece that you’ve come to expect from us (be sure to keep scrolling to see our other Landcruiser Adventures) but we thought that we would take this post to introduce more about who we are.

The hayride started 7 years ago, it was low key and we all fit on one trailer. It has since grown to a classic country band, two trailers with lots of seating and a lot more of Mom’s famous chili.

Lola led the convoy of our friends and family to the dead end of our road, it should be noted here that it’s our farm’s location that gave name to this whole blog. We are located on the North End of Flathead Lake (the largest fresh water lake west of the Mississippi).

When we are not out exploring in Lola, we are in our boat soaking up the all too short summers here in Montana. Our family farm is on the back waters of the Flathead River that feeds the lake, and we can actually take the boat all the way to our road… Now if we could just convince the other farmers to put in a neighborhood dock!

We will be back at the adventures next week, but wanted to share a video of Lola from this weekend.

 

 

 

Sylvia Lake

This is a post about one of the best kind of trips…

Unplanned adventures

This summer we woke up on a Sunday and decided to load up the Landcruiser, pull out a Forest Service map from the glove box and just… go…

Studying the map we noticed a lake along the map’s border- Sylvia Lake

Be sure to check out our video of this unplanned adventure

on our

YouTube channel,

 while you are there, check out our video from last week’s post,

Glacier National Park.

 

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Glacier, why you so ugly?

Glacier National Park

We’ve visited this park many times… but never before in the fall.

We feel soo stupid now…

Going to the sun road fall Glacier National Park

It was decided as we drove, and had to pick our jaws off the floor of Lola, that fall is the ONLY time to visit this National Park.

  • Less crowds (they have 2.2 million visitors a year)
  • Going-to-the-sun-road is open to Logan Pass (it typically closes the third Monday in October and it takes the brave snow removal team until the start of July to have it open)
  • Most importantly- the fall colors!

The views are amazing…. but Glacier isn’t a one trick pony!

Going-to-the-sun-road is approximately 50 miles and traverses an epic climb to 6,646 feet at Logan Pass. As you climb in elevation the views get more spectacular.

Most people start at the west entrance, drive to the visitor center located at Logan Pass and then travel back down the same way.

It’s a shame…

Although the East side of the park doesn’t have the butt puckering drop offs like it’s sister to the west, it does offer…

  • More elbow space (AKA less visitors)
  • Typically more wildlife (we saw 5 bears and 1 moose this trip)
  • Breath taking change from the Rocky Mountains to the plains

And no… We didn’t manage to get any good photo’s of the bears…

toyota landcruiser st.mary lake glacier national parkAs you keep heading East, St. Mary’s Lake appears to your right. It offers a boat launch where  you can hop aboard a scenic boat tour. It’s unneeded if you are short on time to fully enjoy this breath taking place.

You leave the Park in St. Mary, Montana and we choose to head south towards Two Medicine Lake and the town of East Glacier as we heard that there was an amazing Mexican restaurant calling our names.

We came across some cattle that gave us our first traffic jam of the day before we came to the turn off for Two Medicine Lake. It was this area where we marked bears off of wildlife bingo.

Two Medicine Lake feels different from the visitor packed west side of the park. The camp store was boarded up and closed for the season, but that isn’t what we came for anyways…

upper two medicine lake glacier national park

We back tracked to the main road and continued south where we hit some road construction that escorted us to Hwy 49 or as the locals call it, Looking Glass Hill. We pulled over and let others go around us as they seemed to be in a hurry after waiting for the pilot car.

When we hit the highway again, we noticed a dirt road…

Correction… more like two ruts on their way up a hill

We decided that Lola had been forced to drive the nice paved road long enough and we let her do what she was born to do. We had no idea where this road (using that term loosely) was going to take us, but when we got there it was a beautiful place to capture where the mountains meet the plains.

looking glass hill toyota landcruiser montana

As we entered East Glacier we passed the Glacier Park Lodge. Neither of us had seen it before and it was an impressive building. We drove under the tunnel and found the Mexican joint… and the long line of other folks who had heard about it…

Our stomachs weren’t going to wait quietly– so we decided to back track to the Glacier Park Lodge and enjoy dinner there.

The lodge was started in 1913 by rail road workers, and the train is still active and many people travel to the lodge this way. The lodge is even more impressive on the inside. The large timbers that construct the lodge were a main topic of conversation as we ate and drank the local spirits.

The food was delicious, but the ambiance could be kicked up a notch or two. Either way, we both agreed that we should come back and stay for a night… and perhaps visit that amazing Mexican restaurant.

Have you visited Glacier National Park?

If so, leave a comment below and be sure to check out our Instagram!

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