By Robert Lucke
People are always looking for places to see beautiful fall foliage in this area. There are plenty and the trick is getting to them at the right time.
Typically in this part of Montana, the peak of the foliage season is around the first week of October. Sometimes it does last longer, almost to the end of October but most years it is all over by the fifteenth.
Anywhere there is to see foliage is anywhere there are trees that lose their leaves this time of year. Those places are obvious in our prairie mountain ranges, but there are prairie pockets that will surprise plenty of people.
The Milk River Valley is a place like that. The fall foliage season in the valley is usually much longer and later than in the adjoining mountain ranges. It can last into November and from Havre to Glasgow the scenery is spectacular. While there, don't miss some of the prairie pockets around the valley like Fort Peck, Lake Boudoin, Sleeping Buffalo and Nelson Reservoir. Places like that. Pockets of beauty like those are all the better because someone has planted most everything that is so beautiful these days.
For folks interested in incredible mountain beauty, there are three ranges close by not to miss. Of course the Bear Paws are very beautiful these days all decked out in their fall finery. Beaver Creek is as good as any of the valleys to view foliage and Sandy Creek along with upper Clear Creek and Hungry Hollow are spectacular, as well. Some of those areas are four-wheel drive places to use caution and ask for directions to see what your auto is capable of taking you to.
Don't miss the Little Rockies. It is easy to find beautiful fall foliage there if you can find Zortman and Landusky. The canyons surrounding those historic towns are a riot of color this time of year. Don't miss Mission Canyon out of Hays.
A mountain range lots of people don't think about for fall color is the Cypress Hills in Alberta and Saskatchewan. Head up through Wildhorse to see that part of the "Hills" or enter Canada through Willow Creek to see the east end of that special place. Trees and fall colors are lush there.
Any time you drive down to the Missouri River in the Virgelle or Loma areas, you are going to see lots of fall foliage that really is beautiful when contrasted with the color of that old river along the way. Another good place to observe this time of year is the CMR Game Preserve. Access to it can be found around Kipp Park at the Fred Robinson Bridge crossing the Missouri south of Malta.
Prairie towns this time of year are additional pockets of foliage that really shine.