Favorite Travel Quotes

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts."
-- Mark Twain
Innocents Abroad

"Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey." -- Fitzhugh Mullan

"A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving." -- Lao Tzu

Monida, A Dying Little Town

Monida a Dying Little Town

Monida, a Dying Little Town

©Bert Gildart: And so after a week of waiting for storms to abate, we’re off. But first, we alarmed the house, informed neighbors of our travels, got a periodic house sitter, loaded our Airstream, loaded the back end of the truck, boxed up camera gear–and are now back on the road and will be for the next four months. We’re excited about all the potential photography, for we have a number of assignments in some very beautiful settings.

Though we’re eager to see sunny skies, that doesn’t mean we got far yesterday, day one; no further, in fact, than Deerlodge, Montana, about four hours from home. Today, we didn’t get too far either, as we stopped at several places of interest. As well, the winter roads slowed us.

Monida Pass was the spot that most captured our interest. Located at the junction between Montana and Idaho (Mon & Ida=Monida) it is a lofty pass located on the Continental Divide at an elevation of 6,820 feet. The setting is gorgeous, but this is one of the first times we’ve passed through this part of southwestern Montana that we have not had to contend with brutal storms. One time we camped in this small, almost deserted settlement and awoke next morning to a foot of fresh snow and howling wind. The conditions caught the weather man by surprise–and, consequently, us too.


Years ago I wrote a story about the mailman who worked out of this tiny settlement. The man’s name escapes me but he claimed his route, which in winter was all covered on snowmobile, was the most remote route in the Lower 48. In the late 1800s stagecoaches ferried tourists from the railroad at Monida Pass to Yellowstone Park until Union Pacific built a branch line to the park. Little seems to have changed.

Today, when we detoured off Interstate 15 for a stop at this empty settlement, the weather was relatively pleasant. Though not warm or snow free, at least the wind wasn’t howling. But the houses all seemed deserted and if anyone was living in them, residents certainly didn’t broadcast their presence. Songwriter Jimmy Buffet wrote a song about one such Montana town, and rather than “Ringling, Ringling, it’s a dying little town…” he could also have written about Monida, for it, too, is pretty darn bleak.

Windswept barn Mondia Pass

Windswept barn, Monida Pass

An old barn, back dropped by the Pioneer Mountains, captivated my interest. Unused and unattended the barn has been shaped by wind and snow. (From previous posts, some will recall I enjoy photographing old structures.) We parked for a few minutes on the single road that passes thorough the settlement and, then, on to several of the ranch families that live in the area.

We spent about an hour here then moved on, for the weather man said another storm was brewing, and this time he could be right. In places the roads were packed with snow, so we didn’t make great time.

By day’s end we pulled into a snowy commercial campground in Ogden, Utah. Our truck thermometer indicate a high of 33. At eight it dropped to 19. I got a shower in the camper and Janie wanted one too, but in the 30 minutes required to reheat water in the hot-water heater, our outside hose froze. Sorry, Janie, no shower tonight. Remember, please, I said you could go first.

Tomorrow, if we’re lucky–and if we don’t get sidetracked–we’ll pull into to Zion National Park, destination number one. After Zion we have a number of assignments in different states and national parks in California, Oregon and Nevada. On this particular trip, which will be one of many this year, we’ll be on the road for almost four months.

We hope you’ll tag along.

4th ed. Autographed by the Authors

Hiking Shenandoah National Park

Hiking Shenandoah National Park is the 4th edition of a favorite guide book, created by Bert & Janie, a professional husband-wife journalism team. Lots of updates including more waterfall trails, updated descriptions of confusing trail junctions, and new color photographs. New text describes more of the park’s compelling natural history. Often the descriptions are personal as the Gildarts have hiked virtually every single park trail, sometimes repeatedly.

$18.95 + Autographed Copy

Big Sky Country is beautiful

Montana Icons: 50 Classic Symbols of the Treasure State

Montana Icons is a book for lovers of the western vista. Features photographs of fifty famous landmarks from what many call the “Last Best Place.” The book will make you feel homesick for Montana even if you already live here. Bert Gildart’s varied careers in Montana (Bus driver on an Indian reservation, a teacher, backcountry ranger, as well as a newspaper reporter, and photographer) have given him a special view of Montana, which he shares in this book. Share the view; click here.

$16.95 + Autographed Copy

What makes Glacier, Glacier?

Glacier Icons: 50 Classic Views of the Crown of the Continent

Glacier Icons: What makes Glacier Park so special? In this book you can discover the story behind fifty of this park’s most amazing features. With this entertaining collection of photos, anecdotes and little known facts, Bert Gildart will be your backcountry guide. A former Glacier backcountry ranger turned writer/photographer, his hundreds of stories and images have appeared in literally dozens of periodicals including Time/Life, Smithsonian, and Field & Stream. Take a look at Glacier Icons

$16.95 + Autographed Copy

2 Responses to “Monida, A Dying Little Town”

  1. Tim Van Buren Says:

    Nice pics of Monida. I love little Montana towns. I hope you have a good time in Zion. I spent a very pleasant spring break there one year, hiking and exploring. We were going to camp, but it snowed like crazy the second day we were there, and we were forced to take refuge in a nearby hotel. You guys brought your hotel with you, eh?

  2. Dave Says:

    Mailman in Monida was Lincoln Miller “Linc.” Over his years he delivered mail up through the Centennial valley via dogsled, horse, d2 Cat, snow plane, and snow mobile, and 4WD pickup. He was a good friend and gave me a ride in one of his snow planes once which was quite an experience.