Touristy vs Tourist Towns


We’ve said before, numerous time, that we aren’t touristy people. And that holds true. Apparently, however, we can be tourists.

The distinction? We are prepared to leave Red Lodge, Montana, where we have spent the last 3 and a half weeks (that’s not only the longest we’ve been in any one area since hitting the road, but the longest we’ve been in a single state!) We have thoroughly enjoyed the town and the mountains surrounding it. With no phone signal outside of town, in any of the three places we’ve been calling home we have had to come into town regularly.

Red Lodge feels like a small mountain town that caters to tourists. Without tourists there might not be much here, but there would be something. It does not exist for tourists, though it does thrive because of them. We have yet to notice a chain store here, except the True Value Hardware, Beartooth Grocers IGA, and Conoco Gas station. The book store, coffee shops, restaurants, and everything else seems to be local versions that only exist here – often with the owner working behind the cash register and personally greeting the regulars who come in every day.

As a tourist town, it seems to have been made for us – two coffee shops, a book store/tea shop, two camping gear stores, a custom motorcycle shop – all set at the foot of mountains with some beautiful motorcycle rides and plenty of hiking trails.

We have loved our time here, but it feels past time to be on the road. No, we haven’t tried every restaurant or gone into every store, but we visited the art show in the park, checked out the farmers’ market, and are comfortable on the back roads. Now, if only the USPS will deliver the package that its tracking website says has arrived, we will be on our way. Autumn seems to have arrived, with cold nights and very brisk mornings. We are ready for new scenery and warmer temperatures.

Tourists? Yes, I suppose we are. Webster defines a tourist as “one who tours, especially for pleasure.” We are not interested in touristy destinations, however, and will continue our quest to explore natural locations about the US.

Red Lodge, stay yourself – welcoming, friendly (even at the gas station and post office!), and unique. We will return – there are still trails to hike, lakes to visit, and bison burgers to eat. Until that time, don’t fall for the touristy trap. Cater to visitors, take good care of them, but don’t succumb to them. While it’s time for us to head on our way, we have enjoyed our time here and are sad to leave.

(And if you happen to visit, the coffee and sandwiches at Honey’s are superb, the views from the Beartooth National Highway are magnificent, and we might even know a thing or two about some great free campsites and a couple of the hiking trails. 🙂