A day in Paradise (Valley)

If you have ever been to the Paradise Valley you will immediately understand how it got its name.

The stunning Absaroka Mountains sprawl from Livingston to the North Entrance of Yellowstone National Park.

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Highway 89, which will take you right to the park is traveled heavily by tourists in the Summer who have landed at the Bozeman Airport and are embarking on a trip to Yellowstone. But what they may not know is that journey on Highway 89

has so many unique and fun spots to spend the day and get a true taste of Montana.

I have written about Chico Hot Springs before, but seriously STOP THERE! The outdoor hot springs pool is the perfect way to relax, enjoy a beverage, and soak in the mountain air.

You can stay the night at Chico or just stop for a soak after a day of activities at the park. They have towels, locker rooms, and three places to eat. So, you could make a day out of it.

The dining at Chico is great, but if you are looking to get a real sense of small town Montana, drive the 2 miles from Chico to Emigrant where Follow Yer’ Nose BBQ and the Old Saloon bring the outdoor venue to a whole new level.

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Follow Yer’ Nose BBQ was just a smoker and a tent when they first opened. Now you can sit outside on a unique patio and listen to a local band while enjoying some of the best BBQ in the state.

Get the ‘Don’t Mine the Yellowstone’ sandwich for two reasons. One it’s dang good! And two because $1 from every sandwich sold goes to the Yellowstone Gateway Business Coalition***.

*** There is a group that wants to mine for gold near Emigrant just outside Yellowstone. The effects of the mine could completely alter the area including the stunning views. To learn more go to http://dontmineyellowstone.com/ ***

In the same parking lot as Follow Yer’ Nose is the Old Saloon. You can get breakfast, lunch, and dinner here! Go for the food, but stay for the live music.

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The Old Saloon has an old school outdoor stage and this summer have pulled some pretty good musical acts including Turnpike Troubadours (sorry, this concert is sold out)!

There’s plenty of room for dancing and enjoying a cold one. It’s the perfect place for tourists and locals to meet!

Paradise Valley truly is paradise, just ask John Mayer.

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So, on your way to Yellowstone, stop meet the locals and take in the beauty of paradise.

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#keepwandering

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Water to Whiskey

It has truly been a summer of firsts. This weekend I ran my first 5K, and I was pretty excited about it if you couldn’t tell from the photo below.

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The 5K was held in Ennis, MT. A great little fishing town located at the base of the breathtaking Madison Mountain range.

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The race started on a bridge over the Madison River (hence the water part). It ended at Willie’s Distillery (the whiskey).

The best part of this 5K is that the distillery, who was a main sponsor also put on a FREE pig roast after! In addition to the delicious pulled pork sandwiches, there was live music, and fun yard games.

For those 21 and up you could get a specialty drink from Willie’s tasting room. In true Montana fashion I tried the chokecherry moscow mule, which was delicious!

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For anyone that likes 5K’s or free food I highly recommend attending this event next year. However, it’s always a great time to visit Ennis, if you enjoy the outdoors!

We camped along the Madison River (also another first for me). This was great because you can walk into town. After Willie’s Distillery check out the Gravel Bar. They have live music every Saturday night, and a full menu if you’re hungry!

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Be sure to stop in a fly shop or two to learn about the world class fly fishing in the area. If you are a fisherman or fisherwoman or have any interest whatsoever, trying it out on the Madison River would be an awesome experience.

If hiking is more your speed than I would say the Sphinx is the most famous hike in that area. There is still quite a bit of snow on the mountains right now, but if you’re planning a trip between July and September that would be perfect (that may also be your best bet for fishing this year)!

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If you live in or are visiting Montana take some time to visit the small towns! They are truly the Treasure State’s hidden treasures ( I know that was super cheesy)!

#keepwandering

Big Sky shoulder season

shoul·der sea·son
noun
a travel period between peak and off-peak seasons.
Before moving to Montana I did not know what shoulder season was. So, I figured I would give you the definition.
Now, shoulder season is exactly what the area where I live is experiencing. The Bozeman/Big Sky area is a very popular summer tourist destination. Both places are located very close to Yellowstone National Park. I know that Bozeman sees about 5.2 million visitors in the summer months.
Things don’t really pick up until June. Sometimes not being surrounded by tourists is nice, and that is why I decided to do an overnight in Big Sky this weekend.
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Big Sky Resort closes basically for the month of May to prepare for the summer. So, a lot of the restaurants and shops in the Town Center and Meadow Village aren’t open.
Don’t let that discourage you! There is something spectacular about having Big Sky to yourself!
Since, the resort is closed during this time I just used Air Bnb to find a place to stay.
(Even in the off-season Bg Sky is still pricey, so just be aware.)
One of the restaurants that does stay open is Ousel & Spur. This is Italian cuisine. They have excellent pizza! We usually get a pizza and a salad and have never been disappointed!
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Another place that is open is Lotus Pad. If you like Thai food this place is a must! Here we usually get Green Curry and Drunken noodles. I have never heard anyone complain about their meal at Lotus Pad, so I would definitely check it out if you get the chance.
During peak season it is almost impossible to get into Lotus Pad, so another great reason to go now!
Be sure to stop in and get a brew at Beehive Basin. This brewery has more of a local feel to it, and I am a fan of the Green Bridge IPA.
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There is also plenty of hiking around Big Sky. You will need to be aware that there is still a lot of snow covering the trails this time of year, but just talk to the locals and they will point you in the right direction. I recommend Ousel Falls if your looking for an easy hike. The views are great, so perfect photo-op.
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Also in the area is Lava Lake which is very popular as well as Storm Castle Peak.
When the Gallatin River isn’t raging and blown out like it is now there is primo fishing in the area. With the crazy snow pack we had this year, fishing is unfortunately not an option.
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However, another great activity in the area is mountain biking. If you don’t have a bike don’t worry head to Grizzly Outfitters. They rent them out!
If being outdoors isn’t your thing some of the shops remain open now, including my favorite Montana Supply. Plus these stores have a lot of stuff marked down to 50% off. Who doesn’t love a good sale ?!
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I absolutely love Big Sky, and it is a place you can enjoy year round… even during shoulder season.
*Note shoulder season will end in Big Sky on June 8th

Weekend Getaway to Yellowstone

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I am lucky enough to only live an hour away from one of the country’s best national parks. There are days when I just drive down to Yellowstone for a day trip.
But, a weekend getaway can be necessary and there is no better place than our first National Park.

You can’t beat going to Yellowstone. You can check out the wildlife, plan a day hike, or walk around the hot springs. No matter what you do the park will not disappoint.

Now depending on the time of year you plan your trip the entire park may not be open, but don’t let that stop you!

In the winter months there are still plenty of fun activities you can do like, cross country skiing! Not to mention you essentially have the park to yourself!

The time of year also depends what entrance to the park is open to vehicles. The good thing to know is the North Entrance or the entrance in Gardiner is open year round.

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Which leads to the fabulous little hotel that is a great place to stay to ensure you have enough time in the park.

The Park Hotel Yellowstone, is little apartments that range from family sized rooms to your standard two Queen Beds. The rooms are decorated with rustic Yellowstone decor to make your stay feel special.

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The rooms are priced right! Our room was only $89 a night!

(Prices will go up in the summer during tourists season.)

Gardiner also has a great new restaurant called the Wonderland Cafe & Lodge. They have everything from coffee and pastries to packed lunches for your trip into the park and an awesome dinner menu!

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On the weekends the Wonderland has also started a brunch!
I highly recommend getting a bison burger while you’re there 😋

This can be a fairly inexpensive trip if you plan ahead. Pack lunches for days in the park and shop around for the best hotel deal! I like to remind my fellow Montanans that people pay thousands of dollars to visit our backyard! So, take advantage of it! ❤

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Pendleton Yellowstone National Park boots

 

#Keepwandering

 

{park fees, hotel prices, and local restaurant menus all linked in article}

Creating a cute, but comfy travel outfit

In Montana our airports aren’t very large, meaning we don’t have a lot of direct flights.

Any flight that I have taken (with the exceptions of Seattle and Las Vegas), I have had to leave at the crack of dawn. I am also usually traveling for 6 hours or more. So, being comfy, but not looking like I rolled out of bed is important to me.

First, THANK GOODNESS joggers came into style! They are like a sweat pant, but more stylish and acceptable to wear in public as pants. 

 

These are my go-to when flying! I own two gray pairs and a black pair and they can be styled super cute!

For my last trip I paired my joggers with pink sneakers. The sneakers are comfortable for walking they are stylish, and if you don’t have TSA Pre-Check they are easy to get on and off. 

I also love these sneakers because they can carry you from colder temperatures to warmer temperatures. I never like being the person that is wearing sandals when it’s snowing out even though you just got back from Florida! 

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My third item that I love to have with me is a jean jacket. It’s usually cold when I leave in the morning so having a jacket is necessary. But for my last trip to California, I didn’t need to bring a heavy coat. This was the perfect compromise. 

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The great thing about these three items is that you can wear them throughout your trip!

In San Diego, I wore the sneakers when we were walking around at the San Diego Zoo and in Old Town. 

I also wore the jean jacket down by the beach and at night when it cooled down a bit. 

I also wore the joggers to lounge around in the morning while I got my caffeine level up! 

Don’t let early flights and long travel days cramp your style!

#keepwandering

 

 

 

Snowshoeing in high heels

This post is exactly as it sounds. This weekend I did one of my favorite winter activities….snowshoeing! So, for those of you who don’t know what snowshoeing is, it’s basically strapping tennis rackets to your feet and going on a walk.

Well, when we decided to go snowshoeing this weekend I was very unprepared in that I did not have my snow boots. I only had these SUPER CUTE wedge booties by ESPRIT.

tj-maxx-Black-Lace-Up-Wedge-Boots $40 @ T.J. MAXX

Well, as I am sure you can imagine they are not waterproof and are meant to be stylish and not for outdoor snow activities. But, the group was determined to get outside and being the sassy person I am I strapped those snowshoes to the wedges and did 3 miles!

As, I was marching around Silver Crest Trail in my stylish snowshoes I thought wow if I can snowshoe in wedges, I can do anything. Which, maybe a little much, but this is a shout out to every woman and girl ( and guys too) who romp around in heels all day taking on whatever is thrown at them.

Take a second to pat yourself on the back and the next time you put on your wedges, pumps, or stilettos remember you are fierce and can do anything!

P.S. If you have not tried snowshoeing I highly recommend it! If you are in Montana the Forest Service will rent you snowshoes for free!

 

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#keepwandering