A Western Weekend: Outdoor Adventures, Art and Brews

So, there’s this girl and she might be the one. Not only is she even more outdoorsy than you, but she’s smart, too. A history buff. And to top it all off, her knowledge of microbrews puts you to shame. You want to plan a special weekend adventure for just the two of you to get out of the city for a few days. Where can you go that will satiate her need to explore the wilderness and her appetite for the finer things in life? A friend from work suggests Great Falls, Montana, so you do a little online research, check with your date about scheduling, book your flights and that’s that.

You leave on a Thursday evening, having taken Friday off for a long weekend. You make it into Great Falls International Airport around 7pm after an easy flight, you pick up your rental car and drive into town. It might be too late for any outdoor exploration, but lucky for you, the breweries are still open. There are four breweries in Great Falls, Montana: Bowser Brewing Co., Mighty Mo Brewing Co., The Front Brewing Company, and Black Eagle Brewery. You both settle on Bowser because their beer looks tantalizing and the offer of video games is too much to pass up. After she puts you to shame after a few games, you both decide to call it a night so you can get up early and get outside.

Friday morning you’re up bright and early. Jazzed to miss the weekend crowds, you sneak out and let your weekend partner get her beauty sleep while you get supplies and plan your route. You return to find your date up and ready, and delighted at the coffee and breakfast sandwich you’ve brought back for her. She says she wants to go somewhere completely serene and away from the crowds. As if you’d read her mind, you explain your day’s plans.

At the coffee shop, an older local guy had clued you in on the most “authentically Montana” hike there was in the Bob Marshall Wilderness. Just west of Great Falls, Montana, you can hike “The Bob” with more than 1.5 million acres of unspoiled backcountry country complete with waterfalls, lakes, and an abundance of wildlife. The man at the coffee shop gave you detailed directions to a “locals only” lake that passed two waterfalls along the trail. Sounded like the perfect day excursion for you and your lady and she agreed.

That night you’re both too exhausted to do anything other than pick up some pizza from the famed Mackenzie River Pizza Co., grab a 6-pack from the store and head back to the hotel.

Saturday is packed with fellow tourists, so instead of heading to the backcountry, you decide to stay in and explore Great Falls’ museums. You mosey through the local History Museum, and take in the exhibits at the Paris Gibson Square Museum of Art. The third museum you attend however, is the one that catches both of your attention. The C.M. Russell Museum is a snapshot into the life and art of Charles Marion Russell (1864-1926).  You both get the chance to walk in his shoes as you explore the gallery and his preserved home and studio. Your tour guide explains that Russell is considered by many to be the foremost artist of the American West, and his sketches, sculptures, and million-dollar paintings of cowboys, Indians, and landscapes suddenly bring the land to life around you.

You finish Saturday with a tour of the remaining breweries, sampling the local IPAs and Stouts for you, and the Pilsners and Lagers for her, and all the delicious dishes you can handle along the way. You’re both at capacity when you return to your hotel room.

Sunday comes, and you decide to take it easy. Check out of the hotel. Brunch at the historic Celtic Cowboy, and a walk along the River’s Edge Trail. You take the scenic route back to the airport, where you return your rental car and wait for your flight. As you sit in content silence with your date, you realize what a success the trip was. Just at that moment your dream girl turns to you, and says with a smile, “when can we do this again?”

This article was provided to KING 5 by Great Falls Airport Authority

© 2017 KING-TV


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