Sept 12, 2021We were up a little early and drove to Belgrade, MT to attend church. It happened to be stake conference so the church meeting was broadcast to the building we were at from Bozeman. The visiting general authority was former BYU quarterback Gifford Nielson. He gave a nice talk.
After church we continued east on I-90 and made our way to the Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park. We were lucky to find an open campground and we just relaxed around the campground the rest of the day. We spent most of the afternoon studying our Spanish lessions.
Sept 13, 2021
Last night was a pretty warm night, considering we were in the Montana mountains. After breakfast we drove up the mountain to the parking area for the Lewis and Clark Caverns tour. This was only 3 miles from the campground and was a pretty nice road. We signed up for the longer 2 mile/2 hour tour that started at 10:30 am.
We had a small tour group of only ten, plus Jon, the tour guide. The history of the cave was interesting and there were many beautiful natural formations. We learned that Lewis and Clark never visited the caves, but had followed the Jefferson River in the valley below. The caves were discovered by deer hunters in the early 1900s and the area and cave was improved by the CCC in the 1940s. The tour consisted of about 0.75 mile hike up the mountain, a 0.75 mile walk through the cave and then after exiting the cave further down the mountain, it was a 0.5 mile walk back to the parking area.
After exploring the cave we drove back to I-90 and continued west to Butte. Our next stop was to visit “Our Lady of the Rockies” which is a 90 ft statue of the Virgin Mary situated above Butte. The statue is on top of the mountains along the Continental Divide. We were able to see the statue from the highway, but the tours had ended for the summer because all the bus drivers had gone back to work as school bus drivers, and they couldn’t find anyone else to drive the tour buses. We were able to stop at their visitor center in town and watch a short movie about the construction of the statue.
We continued west to Anaconda and then we drove north on a scenic highway towards Philipsburg. We had planned to visit Philipsburg today, but we were later than we planned so we found a campsite in the mountains outside of Philipsburg. It was a very nice spot on Fred Burr Creek, with a small swimming hole near the camp. We enjoyed the evening sitting near the water. A couple of local ladies came by and we talked for a while, but the rest of the evening was quiet.