Tuesday, September 12, 2017

US12: Rural Even By Montana Standards

The 592 miles that US12 traverses through Montana's mountains and plains is the greatest distance it runs through any state along its entire length. That's not really a surprise when you know how big Montana is, but driving 343 of those miles today really put it in perspective. As my friend in Helena explained, "You're heading into rural territory, even by Montana standards!"

After a short stint as a divided four-lane highway coming out of Helena, the road heads east through mixed landscapes of mountains, valleys, plateaus and plains. Signs indicated we were running through the Helena National Forest, and it was quite pretty and fun to drive. The wildfire smoke is still very bad -- and annoying -- but the views continue to prevail.

After 100 miles or so, the landscape becomes quite barren, with only the occasional cow trying to scratch out a living. There are a few very small towns spaced every 20 miles or so, but you really have the feeling of being "out there." For the next 200 miles I rarely saw another vehicle, and the miles sped by at 70mph. If you love to drive empty roads very fast, this part of Montana is for you.

Happy and I have stopped in the town of Miles City for the night. A population of 8,500 makes this by far the biggest metropolis in the area. We are overdue for a day off, so we might stay here tomorrow if the smoke clears at least a bit. If not, we may continue to push east into clearer air... Stay tuned!

1 comment:

Shyla Reich said...

That's why Montana is the 4th largest state with just 1,000,000 people. and that's why we love it! Miles City is an interesting town.