Farm & Ranch Living

Break Time

- BY TRESSA GRAVELEY

VACATION FOR OUR FAMILY MEANS FINDING A PLACE IN THE REGION WHERE WE CAN LEARN AS WE EXPLORE. Last year we ra ed the Kootenai River—the second largest tributary of the Columbia River system in terms of runo volume. While there, we fished the river, visited Kootenai Falls, traversed the suspension bridge that spans the brilliantl­y colored water, and camped at the confluence of the Yaak and Kootenai rivers.

We also added another item to our travel bucket list: to float and fish the Big Hole River and take the kids to visit the historic ba lefield there—one that bears witness to an 1877 skirmish between the

Nez Perce tribe and U.S. soldiers and volunteers.

Two years ago we floated and fished Rock Creek, a tributary of the Clark Fork River. We were very busy that year, so this was a twonight, close-to-home getaway.

Another favorite trip was driving a loop in Montana—going northeast to Chester to visit friends and then southeast to Lewistown, the center of our state. We fished the Missouri River, and Natalie, who was 5 years old at the time, caught a sturgeon bigger than her! Then we boarded the Charlie Russell Chew Choo, which is a dinner train that gets “held up” by actors playing bandits.

Three years ago we ra ed and fished a permi ed tributary of the Missouri River: the Smith River.

This is a multi-day, 59-mile float. Once you commit to this river, you could potentiall­y weather through rain, snow, sleet or blistering heat. We navigated the isolated early spring waters of the river while adding and removing layers of clothing depending on conditions. I don’t know where to start in terms of describing the scenery, but it was as if the towering limestone formations were bowing in homage to the river.

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