Big Sky Back Country Byway

It’s Big Sky Country with no tall buildings and not many people either. Vast plains  go on for miles. And so does the famous Montana wide-open sky. The beauty of the place is astounding, yet the story of the Big Sky Back Country Byway is even more interesting. Before the United States and Canada had a defined border, explorers, fur traders, and settlers moved back and forth between what is now two countries. French Canadian fur traders from the Hudson Bay Company traveled to Montana and married into the Native American families who had migrated from Minnesota. Settlers had more interactions with Saskatchewan than they did with American cities further south. Today, the Big Sky Back Country Byway is part of a route from Saskatoon that served as the major trail between the two, and ultimately became part of a longer route that carried adventurous Canadians to Yellowstone National Park. Descendants of the French Canadians who married Native Americans, referred to as Metis, are still part of a unique culture that has thrived through the centuries and carries on their traditions in the region. In fact, a portion of the route further north is called the Louis Riel Trail, in honor of the Metis leader who was hanged for treason for trying to keep his people and their land intact. In some places, the landscape along this traditional trail which also links the Missouri and Yellowstone Rivers, is punctuated with badlands and buttes. Several interpretive kiosks along the way tell the story of the original road and the people who passed this way. The area is also home to age old dinosaur bones, buried by the same natural upheavals that occurred all throughout the West.

Under Wide Open Skies

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