After getting setup at the Spring Creek Campground Friday afternoon we decided to head on down the road to do a bit of exploring. It was a wonderful drive past the river, the grazing cattle & the beautiful scenery. We'd been told about a spot that we 'shouldn't miss' called Natural Bridge Falls. We didn't know what to expect and since we didn't know what the 20 mile drive held, we decided not to bring the rig. As it turned out, it would have been fine. But, it worked out well this way too. Easier to gawk when you don't have the 5'er attached, lol. We only passed about 3 other vehicles which was also nice!
We arrived at the parking area & found only one other car there. So, no big crowd to contend with! The trailhead starts at the parking lot where it splits almost right at the beginning. We inquired of the couple walking towards us (owners of the one other vehicle) & found out that the trail to the left stays on the north side of river & the trail to the right crosses the Boulder River via a sturdy built wooden footbridge.
We read the info boards & learned that the Boulder River, constrained by a deeply cut chasm during high water, flows over a 100-foot precipice, creating the spectacular Natural Bridge Falls. At low water, the river used to flow under a natural rock bridge, but in July 1988, the bridge that gave the area its name, collapsed.
For most of the year, when the Boulder River maintains flows below 1,000 cubic feet per second, the river does not pour over the brink of the falls. Instead, the water passes through solution channels in the limestone above the falls before reemerging below. It was this same process that formed the first natural bridge, and the one that will form other bridges in the future.
We decided to take the path to the left first & climbed the stairs to each viewing platform for some wonderful views of the river. I swiped a few pics from the web to show you what it would look like if it was spring & the river was pouring over the brink. Of course this time of year it was not.
However, the view from the bridge allowed us to see the river disappear into the solution channels in the limestone. It was pretty awesome watching it go underground with a vengeance. I would love to have seen it doing both, but we're never in this part of the country at the right time of year, so I'll have to settle for web photos. We did get a couple of short video clips & if you are a Facebook friend you probably saw one of them :)
After spending a good hour exploring the area we headed the 20+ miles back toward home. We hadn't gone far when we spotted a herd of Elk, across the river, feeding in the meadow. Oh, I wanted to get closer so badly. The bull was an impressive sight with a huge rack. There were over 20 in this herd & we watched through our binoculars for quite some time. A passerby stopped to see what we were looking at so we shared our binoculars with him for a bit too! A bit further down the road we spotted a couple of mule deer & then a second herd of elk, about 10 in this one. Once again, they were on the other side of the Boulder River & too far away to get good pics. Sigh, I hate that, lol!
We stopped to watch a couple of fly fishermen but didn't see any hits. Too bad, we understand the fishing in this river is amazing. Arriving back home we did see a couple of the other campers land a couple of nice rainbow & a brown out of 'our' pond. Nice...We saw on the board the this years records are a 22 inch trout & a 20 inch brown.
Saturday & Sunday saw gray, overcast skies with sporadic light rains. It didn't really 'rain', it was like a very heavy mist, but it did have everything dripping & very wet. And the temperature never got past 46 either day! Brrrrr...Not my favorite kind of weather for sure.
Today is Monday & we broke camp & traveled to Darby, Montana, which is where we are for the next few days. I'll post pics on that most interesting drive tomorrow. We're all set up & in for the night. It's cool & raining a bit here as well, although we had clear skies & sun 95% of today's drive which was very nice! The only time it rained was right as we arrived at Big Hole Battlefield so we decided to keep on moving. We plan to go back in the next couple of days as we understand it is well worth visiting. Well, it's midnight, time to hit the sack. Thanks for stopping by & have a great night :)