Stuff in between National Parks

California Gulls at Canyon Ferry Lake.

August 1 – 6, 2020.

Often times after big events like visiting major National Parks we need to do something a bit more relaxing like kayaking and looking for birds. Actually, we are always looking for birds and other wildlife but it is nice to take time out to dedicate to just doing that. So after 9 days in and around Yellowstone National Park, we left our friends from Scamper Squad and headed to Canyon Ferry Lake.

Canyon Ferry is a reservoir created by the Canyon Ferry Dam on the Missouri River near Helena, Montana. It is a popular recreation area with camping opportunities, many with picturesque views, circling the water. We found a nice little campground with no other campers and no view. But it was free and right next to a boat ramp with access to what we thought would be a great part of the lake to explore.

We kayaked for three days. And then when we were rested up, we started making our way to our next big event, Glacier National Park. But first, we found a campground in the Lolo National Forest where we could spend a couple of nights and do some hiking to see a couple of waterfalls (and hopefully spy more wildlife). We didn’t find much wildlife as we trod through the woods but we did get some good exercise and found the cascading water of Morrell Falls and Holland Falls.

* All pics are click to enlarge.

** We use iNaturalist for all of our wildlife ids. Sometimes we make mistakes. To see all of our iNaturalist observations, click here.

White Pelicans. Our launch spot was on the southern edge of the lake where the Missouri River resumed. We paddled upriver as long as we could until the current got too strong.

White Pelicans.

Northern Rough-winged Swallow.

American Robin along the river.

I don’t think we have ever seen a mammal swimming in the water while we have been kayaking so we were very excited to see this American Beaver. As we followed him he would periodically dive and smack his tail on the water causing a large splash.

When the current got too bad we turned around and entered the lake and saw this Franklin’s Gull.

Franklin’s and California Gulls.

Mountains flanked the lake on both sides.

Mallards.

Ring-billed Gull with a Killdeer photo-bombing.

Ring-billed Gull.

Our first Eared Grebe!

Kayaking back up the Missouri River to our campsite.

Back at the boat ramp we saw this Northern Leopard Frog.

On our second day, we put in at a duck pond adjacent to the lake.

There were lots of what looked like man-made islands in the duck pond.

Eastern Kingbird

Mallard.

Great Blue Heron.

The third day we put in at a boat ramp up the road from where we were camped so we could see what we could find in these cliffs.

We found a Great Horned Owl!

And spotted a California Gull or two.

We turned around when the weather started to look iffy.

Small lake on the trail to Morrell Falls.

Lorquin’s Admiral.

Morrell Falls.

Holland Lake.

Holland Falls. These falls were really hidden and we had to climb over many big rocks to get this view.

A view of Holland Lake from the falls.


Today I’m sharing this blog on the Wild Bird Wednesday blog hop. Click the link for blogs featuring birds from around the world.

4 thoughts on “Stuff in between National Parks

  1. Great pictures. I especially love the beaver picture. They used to be so common but I think were hunted far too aggressively. Sigh.

    • Duwan said:

      We were very excited to see the beaver. We have never seen one in person although we have seen evidence of them. Hopefully they can make a comeback.

  2. Wonderful places, photos, and activities! How I wish we could relax for days like that, with only our surroundings to think about. One day? Maybe. But not until next year, the soonest. I still find it weird to see pelicans away from salt water! And, that beaver shot is priceless. I’ve never seen one of those in close-up. It must have been cool to see him splash his tail. You guys find the best spots to boondock and explore. 🙂

    • Duwan said:

      We have seen so many pelicans this year, I no longer find it odd. We saw sandhill cranes in the Utah desert the other day and that seemed odd. We used to see them all the time in Florida at Greg’s parent’s house.

      The beaver was awesome!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.