I have a long and rich personal history with the Taylor Fork Basin. It is the first place I saw a grizzly bear in the wild, and one of my earliest backcountry destinations in south-west Montana. It was also the first place I took my newborn daughter, and toddler son camping. Nestled between Big Sky and West Yellowstone, where the high mountain country meets sage brush hill country, hikers and campers not only have a chance of seeing bear at any time, but also a number of animals, including moose, deer, elk, and more.
This special place has been a best-kept secret of hunters for many years. It is a wildlife paradise fenced in by steep mountains, and left in a near complete pristine state, with the states full list of original wildlife species. It has also long been proposed as a bison reintroduction area, to supply space for the over-growing population, just south in the Yellowstone border.
As my small family and I have found, not only just hunters can enjoy the game rich area. With many miles of gravel forest service roads, with nearly innumerable roadside campsites- both secluded and in open country- and an assortment of hiking trails all around, the Taylor Fork is a recreational paradise.
A few summers ago, my wife and I and our 4 year old son spent nearly every other weekend camping and hiking there. We would set up our secluded, road side campsite- complete with a big tarp over a makeshift kitchen and tent, and two hammocks in the trees around- and then set off for any one of the hiking trails close by.
One evening, we watched the hillside near us start to crawl with elk and mule deer, as they emerged seemingly out of thin air to feed. Wolf tracks and grizzly tracks could be seen in the muddy game paths close by. Along the gravel road, we looked toward Cache creek and caught sight of 3 river otters diving and splashing about like playful children. Back in camp we curled up next to a fire as the cold air blew into the valley from the high country above, completing our already perfect day.
For those wanting to experience authentic Montana camping and hiking, with chances of seeing almost any one of the states iconic wildlife, look no further than the Taylor Fork; Its like Yellowstone, except without the crowds and park entrance fees.
( #montana , #photography , #hiking )