In July 2005 I took a three week trip to the northern Rocky Mountains, ranging from Waterton Lakes in Alberta to south of the Tetons in Wyoming. I had a terrific time birding, hiking, viewing, and photographing in and around the Rockies. I did a pretty good job of maintaining a balance between these activities, even though I didn't manage to do everything I wanted to do. Guess I'll have to go back! Perhaps a Rockies '08 trip would go well with the Rockies '02 and '05 trips.

These pages contain about 370 photos that illustrate the trip. Some are excellent, some are good, and others are ok for web illustration (but wouldn't normally be a keeper). You can click on the small photos to get a larger picture (usually about 100-150K jpeg). These are a practical compromise for web use — large enough to show a lot, but feasible to download and small enough to fit on the screen. Note that they are about 1/5 actual size (1/25 by area) and do not show the fine detail usually present in the originals. Sometimes (including many of the birds) I have cropped substantially to focus on some of these details.

Gates of the Mountains

Saturday, July 2, 2005: The day started very early as I left for the airport shortly after 3:30am. The domestic part of the line was short, so I arrived at the gate early. We left on time 5:30. The trip to Helena (via Atlanta and Salt Lake) was pretty uneventful, although it was a little rough at times. By 2pm I had the rental car (a Hyundai Santa Fe) and was headed up I-15.

My first stop was to take a boat ride through the “Gates of the Mountains” (named by Meriwether Lewis 200 years ago this month). The gates are limestone cliffs that tower 1200 feet above the Missouri. The boat ride took close to two hours. Besides the scenery there were birds and mammals. The birds included Bald Eagle, White Pelican, White-throated Swift, California Gull, and an assortment of swallows. We also had the pleasure of seeing 4 Bighorn Sheep (1 adult, 3 young) on top of one of the ridges. We also viewed some petroglyphs, rock formations (Canyon Monster, Stony Owl, Stone Rhinoceros) and the memorial for the Mann Gulch fire.

Bighorn Sheep Bighorn Sheep Canyon Monster
Bighorn Sheep Canyon Monster
Mann Gulch Rock Arch Rock Formation
Mann Gulch Rock Arch Rock Formation
Gates of the Mountains Gates of the Mountains: Left Side Missouri Canyon
Gates of the Mountains Missouri Canyon

I then headed up I-15 again, but not for long. At Wolf Creek I cut over to the old road for the drive through Missouri Canyon (a minority view is that Missouri Canyon is Lewis's Gates of the Mountains). New trip birds included Black-billed Magpie, Eastern Kingbird, and the missing Northern Rough-winged Swallows, as well as a Mule (Black-tail) Deer.

It was close to 7 when I checked in. My itinerary had the option of looking at some of the falls, but once I had stopped to buy and stock a cooler, and get something to eat, I figured I was just plain tired. So I went back to the motel and did only the things that had to be done to prepare for tomorrow.

I'm keeping triplists for both birds and mammals. Birds: 29. Mammals: 2.

Great Falls, MT