June 25, 2021 National Bison Range

Some of our Traveling Companions
Canola Fields
More Canola Fields
Bison Range
View from Bison Range

Today would have been my mother’s 81st birthday.

This morning we were treated to a delicious homemade deep-dish quiche of ham, broccoli, artichoke hearts and more. There was also a homemade coffeecake with huckleberries, picked locally.

Mid-morning, we headed out to the National Bison Range, a nature reserve on the Flathead Indian Reservation established for the conservation of the American bison. It is believed that at one time 30 million bison roamed the plains of North America. Commercial hunting and incentivized slaughter dropped the wild population to fewer than 100 by the end of the 19th-Century.

The National Bison Range was established by President Teddy Roosevelt in 1908. This was the first time Congress appropriated tax dollars specifically for the conservation of wildlife. The American Bison Society purchased the original herd of 40 bison and released them into the refuge in 1909. Today the size of the herd is believed to be between 350 and 500 bison. The wildlife refuge was established in 1908 and consists of over 18,000 acres of land. In addition to the bison, the refuge is home to coyote, black bear, elk, mule deer, bighorn sheep, white-tailed deer, pronghorn, mountain cottontail, Columbian ground squirrel, muskrat, yellow-pine chipmunk, badger and cougar. More than 200 species of birds have also been spotted here.

We split up into three cars for our ride to the Bison Range and it took about 90 minutes. The drive to the Bison Range is very picturesque along lakes and bright yellow fields of Canola. The other crop that we saw growing all over is a type of wheat or grain. When we arrived at the visitor center we learned that there was a two-hour loop that you could drive through the range. We decided to stop at the picnic area for a light lunch of sandwiches (made by Ric and Kevin), chips and fruit before starting out on the drive through the park.

The drive through the Bison Range was absolutely gorgeous. The vistas from every vantage point were absolutely beautiful. The majestic clean hillsides are covered with a vast variety of flora with a wide range of colors and textures. From grasses to wildflowers and shrubs to the pine trees, they were all complimented by a beautiful blue sky scattered with white puffy clouds. As we continued along the drive we came across many bison grazing on the grass or napping in a field. It is so wonderful to be able to see them roaming the countryside at leisure. We also spotted one elk crossing the river.

Dinner this evening was prepared by Kevin, Ric, Gregg and Mike. They prepared a bruschetta appetizer, Cesare salad, meatballs with spaghetti squash, and pineapple upside-down cake.