Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Please, Mr. Custer

We are parked on the Bighorn River south of Hardin, Montana (map). We're so close to the river that Odyssey's nose is actually hanging over the bank -- how close I needed to get for the satellite to clear a nearby tree. This is actually a fishing access site, operated by the state, but camping is permitted for up to two nights, and, unlike many of the state fishing access sites, this one is free. It was in the 90s when we arrived, and we were happy to be able to park in the shade.

We are just upstream of the confluence of the Bighorn and Little Bighorn, about eight miles north of us. Just upstream (south) of us is Far West Island, presumably named after the sternwheeler Far West, which navigated the Yellowstone and Bighorn to the confluence with the Little Bighorn, and ultimately transported the wounded as well as the news from The Battle of the Little Bighorn. The battlefield where George Armstrong Custer and his command were annihilated is just a dozen miles to our southeast, and the town of Hardin hosts an annual reenactment -- we passed the reenactment area on our way into town.

These rivers -- the upper Missouri, the Yellowstone, and the Bighorn -- hardly seem navigable today, yet the massive sternwheeler, 190' long and 20' wide, made its way all the way here, a testament to the skill of her master, Grant Marsh. Suffice it to say that we will not be returning here in our own boat; the Far West drew less than two feet of water.

We are actually on the lands of the Crow (Apsáalooke) Nation. Upstream of here the Bighorn is impounded by the Yellowtail Dam, forming Bighorn Lake within the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area. The highway that brought us here from Hardin, 313, continues all the way to the recreation area and the town of Fort Smith within it. We're heading a different direction, though, so after crossing the Bighorn on the bridge adjacent to our campsite, we'll head east to Crow Agency on the Crow/St. Xavier Cutoff, and resume our eastward journey on US-212.

I wrote here yesterday that we'd be following our own tracks from Billings to Belle Fourche, but we opted instead to take Old US-87 (aka Hardin Road) out of Billings to Hardin. Thus we stayed off I-90 altogether, although US-87 runs parallel and only a few dozen yards away for a short stretch. We will, however, re-connect with our old path in Crow Agency and stay on it to Belle Fourche. At the moment, the only question is "when?" -- we can stay here one more night if we choose, and it's quite lovely here, with much more pleasant temperatures today. We'll probably decide right after lunch.


  1. Sean -

    I am totally fascinated by you and Louise's ability to find these "hidden in plain view" overnight stops. I suspect some planning goes into this task - altho sometimes these stops may just fall into your lap, so to speak. Have you ever written a blog post about how the two of you approach this process?

    In the meantime, a question/request: Is is possible to have your location (map) link open in another window/tab? I like to bounce back and forth between the blog and the map to follow your progress, a second window would make this easier, me thinks?


  2. RJ -

    Like you, I enjoy being able to read the entry - and look at the map at the same time. I browse with Firefox, which allows me to mouse over the "map" link and use the mouse's right-hand button pull down menu to choose either "Open Link in New Tab" or "Open Link in New Window". Recent versions of other web browsers allow this same useful capability.

    I'm also constantly amazed at how Sean and Louise find these interesting overnight stops. Though they mention some of the resources they use, I suspect a fair amount of time and effort goes into this research.

  3. We also are fascinated with the free, almost free and cheap locations you are finding. Are they all in the book you mentioned a couple of posts ago?

    Thank you for the interesting blog posts!


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