Stump Gulch outside Columbus, MT: The Stump Gulch fire roared through here leaving behind these smoldering hillsides. I drove through here two evenings ago, at the height of the blaze, and watched columns of flame cast infernal light over miles of interstate. The highway worked as a fire-break, stopping the wildfire's progression south. Smoke still darkens the sky as the fire burns northward.
Road toward the Crazy Mountains, outside Big Timber, MT: I love this view of the Crazies jutting up out of the flat prairie as I drive toward Big Timber. The ruggedness of the range foreshadows the mountainous landscapes that are to come as I head west.
Big Timber, MT: At one time, wooden fences kept cattle from wandering from one range into another. This one, however, holds back a development of new mini-mansions. This creek will soon be drained trying to keep lawns of non-native grasses green in this arid environment.
Big Timber, MT: Wood fences have long-since been replaced on working ranches by barbed wire. Wildflowers line this working ranch in the shadow of the Absaroka-Beartooth mountain range.
Main Street, Big Timber, MT: Main Street in the working town of Big Timber is lined with muddy pickup trucks and hardware stores. The facade on the Timber Bar is covered with neon lights and has, no doubt, acted as a beacon to ranch hands for miles around. I am sad that I have to leave before nightfall.
Main Street, Big Timber, MT: The art in Big Timber doesn't seem like a kitschy glorification of the past to drive tourism but, rather, a celebration of a way of life the town still clings to. The influx of wealthy outsiders trying to carve out a slice of "Montana" for themselves is slower here (and many rural areas) due to its distance from developed features like Yellowstone Park.
Bozeman Pass, I-90, between Livingston and Bozeman, MT: Wildflowers grow thick along Montana's roadways adding color to the already stunning landscape. The flowers are so ubiquitous that I didn't even notice them until I moved back east and wondered what was missing: a blur of yellows, reds, blues and whites.
Main Street, Bozeman, MT: Montana Ale Works, built out of an old railroad depot sits across the tracks from an agriculture distribution center. Even with the short growing season at 5,000 feet, this valley supplies many of the fine grains that go into boutique breads and beers around the country.