Big Sky and the American Safari - Our Road Trip Across America
Although Cabin Creek Landing is a fly-in bed and breakfast inn, with its own small airstrip, we, of course, arrived by car. Our meandering 19,000 mile road trip across America had taken on a life of its own, calling us to remote fields and small highways and oddball attractions in state after state.
The two-story, lodge style inn we discovered at Cabin Creek set the tone for this portion of our journey – an American safari full of wildlife sightings, rugged terrain and classic wilderness digs.
Cabin Creek Landing is located on seven acres just outside Glacier National Park, with loads of nature-centric activities just outside the door. Inside, the rooms are huge and the breakfasts are worth waking up for. Shared spaces include a library, a huge stone fireplace and a small workout room.
From this near-perfect basecamp, our first stop was Glacier National Park, known as the Crown of the Continent. The park features over 700 miles of trails, pristine Alpine meadows, forests, mountains and lakes, as well as historic lodges and chalets.
The drivers are called “jammers,” because, when the cars still had manual transmissions, you could hear them jamming their gears going up steep inclines. The buses themselves are sometimes called the “rubies of the Rockies.”
From the park, we headed to the National Bison Range, a 100-year-old preserve now overseen by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribes of Native Americans, and situated within the 1,250,000-acre Flathead Indian Reservation. The range itself is almost 19,000 acres of wilderness.
In the 1870s, tribal members brought some of the few remaining wild bison over the Continental Divide and began initial conservation efforts.
Today, around 500 bison share the range with elk, white-tail and mule deer, pronghorn antelope, bighorn sheep, black bear, and coyote. And, in true “safari” style, you can drive a narrow dirt path through the range, stopping when you see wildlife.
Our next stop was Ewam, Idaho and the Garden of 1000 Buddhas. This 750-foot circular monument in a serene valley, is arranged in a pattern called the “wheel of dharma.”
The Confederated Tribes not only gave permission for this unique mandala to be built on tribal land, many of the tribespeople volunteered with casting and placing the 1,000 statues of Buddha.
The purpose of the Garden is to bring about positive transformation within those who visit, in response to the negativity that abounds in today’s world. Standing in the hot sun, surrounded by mountains and Tibetan prayer flags, I did feel a calming energy – and a sense of being transported to another world.
Of course, no Western road trip is complete without a stop in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The iconic arch of naturally-shed antlers perfectly represents the destination, and its proximity to nature.
In Jackson Hole, we stayed at The Wort, the iconic historic hotel downtown. It offers live music in the Silver Dollar Bar, luxuriously rustic decor and the bustle of Jackson Hole’s town square just outside the door. Plus, there’s a teddy bear on every bed!
Grand Teton National Park is a not-to-be-missed part of the Jackson Hole pilgrimage.
The stunning beauty and abundance of wildlife and plants has drawn humans to the area for centuries. In the early days, the nomadic tribes found plentiful berries, bulbs, fish and game during the summers. They generally followed their prey out of the valley in search of milder weather, once winter came.
The rugged beauty of the region is evident at every turn, from the preserved homes and barns of early European settlers (many of them Mormons), to the vibrant local flora.
Nearby is the Museum of Wildlife Art, featuring over 5,000 works of animal art, including a friendly cast-bronze moose. Pieces reflecting Modernism, Impressionism and Romanticism line the interior walls.
We often find ourselves inspired by the vistas and cultural attractions of our journeys, no matter where they take us.
Join us September 23rd and 30th for the final segments of our 19,000 mile road trip across America, and see how travel continues to keep us inspired.