After our two week trip in the Canadian Rockies, we opted to take the scenic route back to Colorado. This was a much better choice then 24+ hours of driving! We explored Montana’s Bitterroot Valley, Idaho’s Sawtooths, and our beloved Crested Butte in Colorado. After this trip, we would return to our Colorado home and pack for our impending bittersweet move to Montana.
After a quick errands day in Kalispell, we made the trip down to the Bitterroot Valley. The valley is nearly 95 miles long and extends from the Idaho border northward towards Missoula. We settled into a campsite near Darby along the West Fork of the Bitterroot. Much to our delight, this campground was nearly empty – giving us the feeling of dispersed camping – a welcome change from the crowded campgrounds in Canada.
The following day, we had intentions of hiking Trapper Peak, which is the highest peak in the Bitterroots at 10,157 feet. However, with thunderstorms forecasted, we opted for a safer lower hike to a series of lakes instead. The hike to Baker, Middle, and Gem lakes was fantastic with a ridiculous showing of Beargrass wildflowers. The following day, we continued our journey and made a scenic drive to Idaho’s Sawtooths.
Having visited these iconic mountains in 2015, we had been anxiously awaiting our return. We found a great campsite overlooking Lake Stanley and the majestic Sawtooth Peaks. That afternoon, we found cell service to finalize paperwork for the sale of our house (it felt very HGTV like). Unfortunately, the legendary Idaho Nachos were no longer served at the only restaurant in Stanley. Instead, a cool beer and sweet views took its place!
After an epic winter’s snowfall, the snowpack was melting at a very high rate, causing impassable trail flooding. We opted for a short hike near Redfish Lake, which became even shorter with bears frequenting the area. Our tired legs rejoicing, we enjoyed a lazy afternoon at the Redfish Lake Lodge lakeside bar. After our quick stopover in the Sawtooths, we made the grueling drive towards Colorado and spent the night at the Black Canyon of the Gunnison.
We arrived to Crested Butte and the crowds of the annual wildflower festival. Indeed, wildflowers bloom for nearly the entire summer, however, the festival brings with it crowds of people. Regardless of the hordes of people, I was delighted to find my favorite dispersed camping spot vacant. A few of our friends joined us for the weekend, which will turn out to be our last as Colorado “locals.” We explored the multiple valleys around Crested Butte in search of wildflowers. After a few great days, we drove back to our house in Evergreen with heavy hearts.
We capped off our ~ 3 week road trip with some scenic stopovers, including some at our favorite stomping grounds of the Sawtooths and Crested Butte. The inaugural trip with our new camping teardrop trailer turned out to be fantastic and makes the whole experience that much better!
Pros: the Rockies are awesome. Great exploring both old and new places
Tips: for wildflower viewing in Crested Butte, I would recommend not going during the popular wildflower festival. The widflowers are indeed blooming before and after the festival – and it will be significantly less crowded!