City Girls Glamping in a Tipi
It’s about 7:30 am on Friday, June 23. I’ve just spent my first night in a tipi! 🙂
Our 10-day adventure in Glacier, Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks has finally begun! A group of 9 of us are spending several days in Glacier first running the inaugural Glacier Half marathon, then Laura and I are continuing on to Yellowstone and Grand Teton.
We all made our way to Montana on different days and different flights. Olivia and I decided to take United to Great Falls, Montana, with a layover in Denver. Alison, Wendy and Crystal made their way on Alaska through Seattle the day before (Wed, 6/21). Laura, Linda and Denise were doing the same route on Thursday (6/22) while Olivia and I were making our way on United. Even though we were taking different airlines, the schedules were very similar so we traded selfies from our respective terminals along the way. Here’s one of Olivia and I in Denver, waiting to board our flight to Great Falls.
The rest of the gang going through Seattle had to take a prop plane from there to Great Falls. We were relieved to have a slightly bigger plane for our Denver-Great Falls leg, but it was still a bit of a turbulent arrival into Montana.
Once we landed in Great Falls, we were greeted at our gate by Laura, Denise and Linda, who had arrived from Seattle just 20 minutes before. They had written welcome messages for us on napkins! Laura had figured out how to write “Welcome, Nadeshda” in Cyrillic (middle), and Denise had already learned the local slang for “take it easy” (right).
Olivia and I got our luggage, and Laura started looking for hers. Since she’d arrived before us, she was surprised that her luggage was not at the carousel. At first we thought they’d just taken it off the belt since she hadn’t come to get it, but when we got to the lost luggage counter, we discovered that the only suitcase left there was not hers. It turns out a woman had picked up Laura’s suitcase by mistake and left hers at the airport. The guy who worked the counter was super helpful. He got hold of the woman on the phone, went and switched suitcases with her, then found us at our lunch spot to deliver Laura’s suitcase. She was so relieved!!!
Our drive from Great Falls to Browning was just over two hours, and it was so beautiful! Lush green landscape was all around us, and the mountains were starting to peek through the horizon.
We finally reached the town of Browning, MT: population just over 1000 people, elevation 4300 ft (1310 m), on the Blackfeet Indian reservation. The reservation is home to 17,231 Blackfeet, which is one of the 10 largest tribes in the United States. The reservation was established in 1855. The Blackfeet people have occupied the Rocky Mountain region for more than 10,000 years. They were nomadic, following the seasonal grazing and migration of the buffalo. Their reservation today is one of the largest, at 1.5 million acres, and is abundant in natural resources. More than 518 miles of streams and 180 bodies of water, including eight large lakes, can be found on the reservation
We are staying at the Logepole Tipi village here. The “village” includes small art gallery featuring traditional and contemporary Native American art. There is a community room with Wifi, where breakfast and dinner is served. A separate building houses the bathrooms and showers, and in the back there are 12 tipis that sleep about 60 people. Two of those tipis will be our home for the next few days.
Our tipi sleeps six and there is a fire pit in the middle. The top of the tipi remains open to let out the smoke from the fire pit. We were given a little tour of our tipi by Darrell, one of the proprietors.
There were a bunch of ground squirrels running around, including on our bedding, and Denise was freaked out by them! We were laughing so hard at her facial expression!
We took tons of photos around the tipi village. We really looked forward to enjoying the outdoor community room with the firepit in the middle – smores, anyone? For the time being though, we decided to grab some wine at the grocery store and chill on the patio by the gallery. We were trying to delay dinner because our 9th gal, May, was still on the way driving from Peyton, CO (a 15-hour drive!!!).
However, it was getting late, and restaurants around here close early (small town!), so we finally decided to go into the nearby town of East Glacier. On the way, we saw some buffalo!
We tried to go to a Mexican place called Serranos, but the line was very long, so we ended up next door at a little place called Alpenglow that had just opened for the season that day. Service was a little off but the food was good. We saw the remnants of the most amazing sunset as we were leaving – and it was way past 9 pm!
Once we were back at the tipi village, we sat in the outdoor community room chatting with other travelers staying here. It was still pretty light out – the stars didn’t start coming out until 11 pm!
When we finally settled into our tipi, it was almost midnight and the temperature had fallen to the low 40s (about 5C). We were all tucked into our sleeping bag cocoons wearing beanies. We thought, what the heck were we thinking staying here for four nights? We are all city girls (Crystal even brought her hair dryer)!!! Alas, the pull of a new, unique experience had won out over common sense. 🙂 Laura got the fire going in our tipi, but the ventilation isn’t so great and it was still a bit smokey, even though the tipi was open at the top.
At least we’ll have stories to tell with this experience. 😉