Kootenay Mountains

5 Cool Things You Can See Along the Road from Kalispell, Montana to Banff National Park

November 22, 2015

in canada, montana, road trip, roadside attractions, vacation

On the trip I took without my family, my girlfriend Nicole and I drove almost six hours from Kalispell, Montana, into which we flew, to Lake Louise in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada. A few days later, we drove six hours back down to Whitefish, Montana.

Now, Nicole and I went on a cross-country road trip before, so we are used to being in a car together for long periods. Montana was a dream we both had, and we were pretty stoked to just take in all the scenery. Here are five cool things we saw on the drive in either direction.

1. Coffee huts: Oh my goodness, aren’t these things darling! I first saw them when I was in Seattle in late 2013. They are a north and northwest U.S./Canada kind of thing. They are literally as they appear in the picture—small shacks with a single window through which a cashier sells lattes, cappuccinos, hot chocolate and maybe some snacks. The first one we stopped at near the Canadian border had all manner of flavor shots to include—I think I got marshmallow. Though I’d love for this type of thing to take off on the East Coast, I’m not sure they would stand up to the population/demand.

Coffee hut on side of road in Montana2. Mountain goats: All up in your grill. Literally. It took a couple honks to get him to move along right as we entered Kootenay National Park along Highway 93. Other animals common in this part of North America are bears, deer, elk, moose and bighorn sheep.

Mountain goat on side of road3. The mountain passes of Kootenay National Park: After passing through the haze of wildfire smoke, which completely disguised all the mountains in Montana on our drive into Canada, it was overwhelming to come face to face with the south-western region of the Canadian Rocky Mountains.

Kootenay Mountains4. The Continental Divide: Something I’d only heard about in school was accessible in this neck of North America. Though we didn’t technically “see” the Continental Divide, we did see this sign marking the hydrological division of the Americas. The Great Divide is considered the most notable because much of it is at a higher elevation than the Americas’ other hydrological divides.

Continental Divide sign5. The Home of a Thousand Faces: What is this dwelling that looks part-tree house, part-shack on the side of the road in the tourist town of Radium in British Columbia? You can’t miss it, as it sits at a fork in the road and right across from a gas station. Rolf Heer, a local artist and Swiss native known as the Radium Woodcarver, lives in the tree house with his pet goats. The house is actually an old motel that Heer, using his natural craftiness, renovated with recycled materials. A sign outside advertises that the house has appeared on the show Weird Homes. Apparently, for a fee you can actually go into the house, which includes Heer’s art shop and gallery of chainsaw sculptures.

Weird treehouse on side of road

I’d love to take this drive again some day with my family. Have you ever road-tripped in this area of North America?

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