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Montana Spring Road Trip: Life on the Plains

Thick storm clouds rolled over Fort Peck Reservoir as my friend, Nathan Satran, and I discussed life in the wee hours of the morning, coffee in hand. As we stood where Lewis and Clark once did and surveyed the vast landscape, we realized just how remote we truly were. This sort of solitude isn’t abnormal for me, but it’s usually found deep in the backcountry campsites and mountain summits.. not 100 yards from a parking lot off the main highway (where we saw maybe two cars drive by all morning).

Storm clouds on the drive to Fort Peck

It all started the night before as I left Billings bound for the literal middle of nowhere, Glasgow, in Montana’s Missouri River Country. Glasgow was recently found to be the statistical middle of nowhere, a name that they wear with honor. And I could see why: life moved a little slower in Glasgow, and the people were a little friendlier. The way of life hasn’t changed much over the years in Glasgow, and I don’t think it will be changing anytime soon. As much as I’d like to say my mind was set on adventure upon arriving here, I just can’t. It was set on one thing… pizza. But not just any pizza, but the two-time defending champion best pizza in Montana, Eugene’s! I had to try for myself, and I can confirm that this is some of the best pizza in Montana, without a doubt.


After filling my belly with the best pizza Montana has to offer I went to sleep ready to roll on one of the biggest adventures of my photography career. The next morning was to be the start of a three week, and more than 2,000-mile journey across my home state of Montana. Sleeping on the shores of the expansive Fort Peck Reservoir led to an easy morning commute as I rolled out of bed to photograph the lush green hillsides around the lake.


Fort Peck Interpretive Center

Hearty breakfast followed, the rain began to pick up, and fellow photographer, Nathan Satran, and I set our sights on some indoor entertainment. We traveled down the road the Fort Peck Interpretive Center, an impressive and free museum right next to the power plant for the Fort Peck Dam. The museum is complete with a T-Rex and an aquarium to see great examples of the unique fish in the reservoir. Filled with new knowledge, we set our sights back on Glasgow to enjoy small town life once again. We grabbed some jam-packed sandwiches from Soma-Dis deli and posted up at the Loaded Toad Coffee House to get some editing done. Returning to Fort Peck we were treated to an incredible sunset as the storm clouds from the day clashed with a break in the clouds and a burst of sun. The resulting sunset had everyone stopping for a while to stare as they exited the famous Fort Peck Theatre on opening night.

Sunset behind Fort Peck Theatre

The next morning, we set our sights on Sidney on the far east side of Montana to see what this small town had to offer. As we strolled the streets it quickly dawned on me that Meadowlark Brewery called Sidney home, and this is a beer I’ve consumed around numerous campfires in my life but had no idea it was a small-town favorite. Upon going in we were treated to a brewery that looks like it belongs in Portland and rivals any brewery in the state of Montana, and trust me, I’ve been in most of them. As an IPA snob I tried all three they had to offer before deciding on the “Teddy Roosevelt American Badass”, an imperial wheat IPA, a beer that proved the brewmasters here know exactly what they’re doing. After a couple IPAs and an order of the best fried cheesy pickle spears you can imagine, we headed off to wander around town some more. The MonDak Heritage Center was high on our list to learn about Sidney and the changes it has gone through over the last hundred plus years.

Beers at Meadowlark Brewing in Sidney, MT


Camping along the Yellowstone River outside of Sidney, Montana

With bellies and minds full, we embarked to find a camping spot, a little blip on my map called Seven Sisters Wildlife Management area. Not knowing what to expect we pulled up to the most beautiful campsite along the banks of the Yellowstone River. Camp was set up and we watched all the clouds roll away, just what we had wanted to finally get a good view of the stars that Eastern Montana is famous for. The views did not disappoint, and it was the perfect cap to the first few days of a three-week trip.


Next on the radar is Southeast Montana, so stay tuned for more tales from the road.


Happy adventuring,


Andy Austin.

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