Following our time hiking and seeing more of the Grand Teton’s area, we were ready for our return trip to Red Lodge, MT. Red Lodge has become an annual destination where we grab our backpacking gear, spend time on needed rig repairs, help friends, socialize and even feed chickens. Then, of course we get to enjoy lovely fresh eggs. This year’s visit turned into a different experience. So different, that Steve who grew up in Red Lodge, has never seen happen. But first, let’s back up to what happened before we arrived and how we eventually made the drive.

Our major event

If you missed the post or the youtube video, here’s a link. In short, we got the rig stuck. It was badly stuck. Even with all our recovery gear and persistence, we were unable to extract the 13K pound truck without a wrecker+winch+$$$. That same day we got word of flooding in Yellowstone National Park and Red Lodge, MT. Red Lodge was our next destination after the Grand Teton’s area and the driving route is through Yellowstone National Park.

Once we got unstuck we did enjoy a nice time near Grand Teton’s National Park.

Yellowstone wait and drive

With the flood damaging roads in the northern end of Yellowstone, the park closed down all incoming visitors. That meant we’d need to drive an extra 200 miles around the park to get into Red Lodge. Red Lodge itself was hurting with never seen before flooding in town, bridges were out, and only one way into town from the north was even viable. So we continued our Grand Teton’s site seeing and hiking all the while monitored both the park re-opening status and road conditions.

After a couple days, the southern bridge into Red Lodge was re-opened and the park published a plan to re-open the West, East and South entrances…we needed both East and South entrances. Although we hoped for a Monday re-open, the park simply stated “as early as next week.” So, we waited. Being flexible paid off. We were able to stay put a couple extra days which saved us 200 miles of driving, fuel and time. Other than a very long line of travelers entering Yellowstone on its first reopened day, we enjoyed an easy and beautiful drive. We traveled safely north into Yellowstone, east into Cody, WY, and then north into Red Lodge.

Red Lodge, MT

We stopped in Cody, WY for lunch and grocery stock up. By now, we desperately needed groceries. Plus, the groceries in Red Lodge are very expensive relative to most places we travel. Makes sense to overstock just to save some money. We suck it up and pay 2x food priced as needed by try to avoid needing to shop there.

Arriving in Red Lodge before dinner, we got situated at our moochdocking spot and enjoyed moose burgers that night. That was the first time I tasted moose meat, and it was quite delicious especially covered in a mushrooms and onions.

Downtown Red Lodge Cafe (2021)

Red Lodge is the small town that has turned into a summer resort stop for travelers to/from Yellowstone National Park to the Easte. Steve grew up here and I’ve enjoying meeting people from his past. He loved backpacking in the Absarokee-Beartooth Wilderness as a kid and now he shares his backpacking areas with me.

This quaint town is now badly flood damaged. Due to never seen before flooding (June 2022), the town experienced a lot of water damage to homes, a couple lost bridges, a few totaled buildings including a house being carried away.

Rock Creek runs through the town. We arrived a week after the flood and spent some time driving and walking around to see first hand the creek’s devastation and the incredible progress made to key infrastructure in this town. Creek sides have been shored up, a couple bridges stabilized, a couple others had to be removed completely. The town pulled together and helped households with flooded basements, empty out basements, clean out mud, etc.

Then, they pulled off the annual July 4th Grand Champion Rodeo and fun parades daily from 7/2-7/4 celebrating the July 4th holiday weekend.

Support Red Lodge’s local community disaster efforts by volunteering or donating

Carbon County Disaster Fund

NEW Jeep winch project

After our miserable getting stuck afternoon, Steve set out to purchase and install a 12K pound winch on the jeep. This is a project he could accomplish now while we’re on the road versus waiting until he was back at the shop.

The truck, Maximus, has a 16K pound Warn winch back at the shop. Knowing we had a winch that wasn’t with us when we got severally stuck was definitely a sore point.

Backpacking plans

The forest area and roads surrounding the Roscoe, East Rosebud, and Red Lodge were closed. While we were there, the forest service was still assessing road, trails, and bridges. Until that was complete and necessary repairs could be made, this part of the forest would remain closed. For us, that also meant our backpacking plans for this area are completely off the table this summer. Visit our previous backpacking posts below:

Meeteetse Road Trail

In lieu of a backpacking, we thought of doing a day hike. Unfortunately, all the interesting hikes were still in the closed areas. So we opted instead to go explore a trail called the Meeteetse Road. The road travels on the east side of Mount Maurice.

Airing Down Jeep to 12psi

With even the local hiking areas being unaccessible, we discover a road that travels around Mt. Maurice with views of limestone spires overlooking the forest and valley area. 

Meeteetse trail began as an army supply trail in 1881 and then a wagon/stagecoach trail bringing the first mail, supplies and settlers from Meeteetse, WY to Red Lodge, MT and was originally called the 100 mile route.

Onx-Offroad Map Screen Shot

Now, views through sections of the trail are moonlike or almost other-worldly landscapes. A large fire (Robertson Draw fire) in June 2021 changed the landscape around Mount Maurice forever. In many areas, the ground cover has recovered and was showing off many flowering blossoms. We enjoyed the scenery and drive even post fire.

At the time we drove this trail (July 2022), the west access bridge has been demolished by the flooding. With an insider tip and connections, we secured access via private land and set out to connect to the trail for the afternoon. Without that access, it’s still a nice out and back drive from Belfry, MT.

vlog Update 9 – Flood? Fire? Travel Disruptions?

Our drive and walk post flood footage is best seen in the video. We have the jeep journey, our Yellowstone drive day and of course, an unexpected truck repair. Was anything interrupted, not really. We go with the flow. We stay flexible. We enjoy the journey.

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