After our stay in Banff we took a road trip down over the border and west to Portland. This took us five days to comply, although we did take the scenic route and we’re hindered by the weather at points. Along the way we spent the days driving and sightseeing then staying in smaller towns wherever we ended up.
On the day we left Banff a winter storm was starting to hit the area and snow was falling heavily. Luckily we were able to make our way slowly to our next booked activity, visiting the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary. We had left very early due to the conditions and ended up arriving with plenty of time to spare, so we took a walk around the sanctuary before our tour started.
To start our tour we were taken through into the enclosure where the higher content wolfdogs are kept. This part was very interesting as our guide talked a lot about the sanctuary and their goals. The wolfdogs they have are mainly either rescues or were bought in by their owners because they don’t make good pets (pretty obviously, since they are part wolf). We were given some treats which bought the wolfdogs over to us and we could see them close up. These high content wolfdogs are not as friendly as the other ones we visited later on so we could only feed them from a distance. Still, seeing them within a couple of metres was really cool.
Next up we went to the next enclosure over to meet a group of lower content wolfdogs. These ones are much closer to dogs so were much more eager to come right up to us. It was a fun experience to feed them and pat them, although the chilling cold had numbed my hands considerably by the time we were done.
After the tour through the wolfdog sanctuary the snow was starting to really fall heavily, and the roads were getting worse. We managed to make it back to a little town called Cochrane and decided to wait out the bad weather there.
The very next morning the sun came out to greet us and it turned into a beautiful day. Although even with the sun shining it was still the coldest morning we’d experienced so far, the -27°C temperature made getting the car de-iced and running properly a real mission. By the time we got going we were frozen solid and it took another hour or so to feel my toes and fingers properly again. Over the next couple of days we headed south down across the border into USA and then to the east side of Glacier National Park.
The next day we crossed over the park, there weren’t as many viewpoints as I had hoped but the drive through the mountains contained some great views nonetheless. That day was a long one as every place we stopped at to try and find coffee or food seemed to be closed for the winter. Eventually we made it through to Flathead County, and took a quick detour down to the lake.
From Kalispell we drove directly south to the National Bison Range, which is a wildlife refuge founded in 1908 to keep a herd of bison. Nowadays it contains roughly 300 bison and is home to many other species of wildlife including white tailed deer, bighorn sheep and coyote. We drove the winter trail through the park while keeping our eyes open for animals. While we didn’t get to see any bison up close there were plenty of deer right next to the roads and several coyotes off in the distance as well.
We left the Bison Range and after grabbing a huge lunch at a very stereotypical American dinner, joined Highway 90 (which runs 2,628km from Seattle to Boston) and started our journey west. Most of the towns we ended up stopping in during this road trip seemed shut for the winter, and given the fact that we definitely weren’t on the tourist trail our nights mainly consisted of watching ice hockey in the hotel (no complaints from either party about that).
Over the course of the next few days we travelled west towards Portland, stopping in several smaller towns for a night each. It was neat to see the landscape change from snowy mountains to flat plains as we were crossing Idaho and Washington. The biggest city we stopped in was Spokane, which also contains a huge river and waterfalls running very close to downtown.
The flat plains of Washington finally ended during our final day of driving, we followed the course of the Columbia River pretty much the entire day. There were a couple of stops to check out Washington’s Stonehenge and then later on to do a hike up Wind Mountain (at the top of which were some remarkable views over the river and the surrounding mountain ranges). As we were driving into Portland the sun was setting and gave us a pretty spectacular orange and red skies, unfortunately the setting sun also meant we ended up driving in at peak rush hour…. so that was fun.