We had planned to stay three nights at the Mountain Pine Motel in East Glacier Park; but, since we had seen and done more than we had planned on the day we arrived, we decided to leave a day early. As we were leaving Luna's Restaurant, where we had had breakfast that morning, we met a couple who lived in Great Falls, Montana. When they found out that we were planning to stay in Great Falls that night, they told us that we must go see Giant Springs State Park and the Great Falls of the Missouri.
I have a pretty strong interest in the Lewis and Clark expedition, so their recommendation appealed to me. First, though, we had one more place we wanted to visit in Glacier National Park before we took off for Great Falls.
So our first stop on September 18, was Running Eagle Falls (formerly known as "Trick Falls") in Glacier National Park.
Running Eagle Falls
It was formerly known as "Trick Falls" because, in wet seasons, the water flows over the top of the cliff, obscuring the waterfall that comes from inside the cliff.
After visiting Running Eagle Falls, we were on our way to Great Falls, Montana.
We were so glad that we had run into the couple who had recommended a visit to Giant Springs. I hadn't even remembered reading about it in the Lewis and Clark Journals. Giant Springs was discovered by Lewis and Clark during their exploration of the Louisiana Purchase in 1805. It is one of the largest freshwater springs in the world, with an average discharge of 156 million gallons per day.
Giant Springs empties into the Roe River, which runs a total of 201 feet (61 m) before spilling into the Missouri River. Thus, the shortest river in the world empties into the longest river in North America.
Pelican flying over Giant Springs
After visiting Giant Springs, we set out to find the Great Falls of the Missouri River. The Great Falls are actually a series of five waterfalls, located in a 10-mile (16 km) area of the river. Three of the original falls have been altered with the construction of dams. One, Colter Falls, has been submerged behind the Black Eagle Dam.
Rainbow Dam and Falls
Black Eagle Dam and Falls
Ryan Dam and the Great Falls
Crooked Falls is said to be the only one of the five falls still remaining in its natural state, but we didn't get to that one. The ones we did see, were suffering from the drought conditions of this past summer and so were not flowing as they most likely would have been during a wetter year. Still, it was a treat to see them and to imagine what they would have been like when originally discovered by Lewis and Clark.