One of my joys when traveling is to go off the beaten path and explore places that expand one’s experiences in life. While Banff, Glacier, and Yellowstone national parks are certainly highlights of my recent guided tour, it was several side trips that added richness to the journey.

Photo © Michael Embry 2022
Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump

After three days in Banff, the bus headed south in Alberta, Canada, to Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site. The name of the place puzzled me, but learned that it was about the three Blackfoot tribes and their relationship with the buffalo for over 6,000 years. There is an impressive museum and interpretative center that explains how the tribes lured and sent a herd of buffalo over the towering cliffs and how they used the kill to provide food, clothing, and other necessities for life on the plains—in physical and spiritual meanings.

Photo © Michael Embry 2022
International Peace Park 

Our next stop, also in Alberta near the U.S. border at Montana, was Waterton Lakes National Park. The picturesque park was established in 1895 and named after conservationist Charles Waterton. The pristine surroundings include the historic Prince of Wales Hotel, which opened in 1927, and the International Peace Park.  

Photo © Michael Embry 2022
Museum of Plains Indian 

After crossing into the United States, we spent the night in Browning, Montana, the headquarters of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation.  A point of interest is the Museum of the Plains Indian, which, unfortunately, was closed when we arrived. I wish the museum had been part of the tour rather than Browning being an overnight stop on the way to Glacier National Park.  There was a busy casino, but I don’t gamble when it comes to money.

Photo © Michael Embry 2022
Beaverhead Courthouse
in Dillon 

On the way to Yellowstone National Park, we stopped for a delicious lunch at Papa T’s in Dillon, a town of 3,880 residents established in 1857 and named after Sidney Dillon, president of Union Pacific Railroad. I had a few minutes to explore parts of downtown before boarding the bus to resume the trip. It’s an interesting city undergoing some renovation that will surely draw visitors.

Our next destination was Virginia City, Montana, not to be confused with Virginia City, Nevada, where Adam Cartwright and his sons spent time in the TV show “Bonanza.” But I bet this preserved western ghost town, a National Historic Landmark District, is just as interesting. A sign proudly proclaims that the town has “been resisting change since 1863.”

Photo © Michael Embry 2022
Old building in Virginia City

Virginia City was once a booming place with a population of around 10,000 during the gold rush in the mid-19th century, even serving as the capital for 10 years. The population in 2020 was 219, most of whom probably maintain the buildings and operate the businesses in this historic town for tourists. 

Photo © Michael Embry 2022
Snake River and Grand Tetons 

After Yellowstone National Park, we spent two days at Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The highlight was a raft ride on the Snake River, with the majestic Grand Tetons as a backdrop. We also had time to walk in the town, which is like many tourist towns in the U.S. with expensive restaurants and souvenir shops. 

I hope you’ve enjoyed the side trips. Follow me (right column) for more of my travels. 

Until the next time . . .

 

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