By Alkali Springs Correspondent
We have not recommended any drives for a long time now and there is no time like early spring to really enjoy one, particularly through the beautiful Bear Paws.
We are really in love with the western area of the Bear Paws because over there the peaks seem higher, the creeks fuller and trees more thick. So this time of year, we like to pack a lunch and take off for Big Sandy. Just this side of Big Sandy there is a road that says Coal Mine Coulee or Coal Mine Road. Take that road on a dry day and head up that coulee, past the old coal mine and after some really pretty scenery you will be on Sandy Creek. This area of Sandy Creek, west of the Rocky Boy Reservation, is just glorious this time of year with things just coming out and if you are lucky enough to take the road when the June berries are in blossom, well, you will think you have never ever seen such greens and white combinations anywhere.
Keep going up the road and before long you will be in a forest on the Rocky Boy Reservation and the road will split. Go north or left and you will end up at the agency. We recommend that you go right, on up Sandy Creek, through its thick forest, campgrounds, mines and old buildings. Some say that autumn is the best time of all to visit this part of the Bear Paws. We think that spring with its lacy and delicate colorings is just as impressive.
Before long you will be on the divide between Sandy Creek and Beaver Creek. Head down Beaver Creek through another heavily forested canyon and you will come out on the pavement at the Ski Bowl. From there it is an easy and beautiful trip to a Beaver Creek Park campground.
And, yes, we even have one of them to recommend for this trip. Just south of Dillon's Bottom (the Lions group picnic area), cross the Beaver Creek bridge and just across it and to the east is one of the best of all campgrounds. Folks have been camping and picnicking there since Fort Assinniboine days. It even has a name. Old timers refer to it as Cozy Campground, and cozy is what you will be while eating your hot dogs and beans. Bring along the camp chairs and spend some time just listening to the murmurings of Beaver Creek pass you by.
Later that afternoon, go and climb Mount Otis for some exercise. That is a good way to spend a day.
A tad of FYI. Access Mount Otis on the Mooney's Coulee road. And tripping from Coal Mine Coulee, through Sandy Creek, over the divide and down to Cozy Campground should be an easy trip for a long morning unless you are like us and want to stop along the way at the drop of a hat.
By the way, for those hiking and recreationing in the beautiful Bear Paws, be aware that the snakes have put in their 2001 appearance and this must be the mother of all tick seasons.