Montana Outdoors

January 1, 2013

Buffalo Bill Creek cliff icicles 2012 (1)

Filed under: ice art, Winter — Tags: — montucky @ 7:25 pm

There is a logging road that goes up through the canyon of a small stream called Buffalo Bill Creek. The first two miles are open to traffic and because there are homes in the area it is maintained year-long. Two miles past the maintained road the sides of the canyon are composed of steep cliffs about 500 feet high and on those to the west side a variety of icicles form every winter.

The hike up to the cliff area begins along a large meadow on a piece of private land after which it enters land owned by a timber company which allows hiking and hunting access.

Buffalo Bill Creek road

Nearly two miles up the road after a climb of around 900 feet the road levels out and enters the cliff area.

Buffalo Bill Creek road

I have never been able to get a good photo of the whole of the cliffs themselves because of the thick, heavy brush along the stream. The following two photos show a little of it.

Buffalo Bill Creek cliffs

Buffalo Bill Creek cliffs

Following are pictures of some of the icicle formations. I wish there were some way to show size perspective, but there isn’t. The longest ones I would guess are over 20 feet in length. I will do a second post with more photos of the icicle formations.

Buffalo Bill Creek icicles

Buffalo Bill Creek icicles

Buffalo Bill Creek icicles

Buffalo Bill Creek icicles

Buffalo Bill Creek icicles


  1. Wow!!!

    Comment by Roberta — January 1, 2013 @ 8:04 pm

    • That’s what I thought too when I first came upon this place several years ago.

      Comment by montucky — January 1, 2013 @ 9:27 pm

  2. Absolutely totally stunning shots! Wow, is right!

    Comment by allbymyself09 — January 1, 2013 @ 8:17 pm

    • I fell in love with the variety displayed there and the fact that they are different every year.

      Comment by montucky — January 1, 2013 @ 9:28 pm

  3. What a place! There’s something about icicles that just grabs you and draws you in.

    Comment by jomegat — January 1, 2013 @ 8:45 pm

    • There is a sort of magic about them. This is the largest variety in one display that I’ve seen. They fascinate me.

      Comment by montucky — January 1, 2013 @ 9:31 pm

  4. wow! really pretty. I never imagined a 20 ft icicle!

    Comment by skouba — January 1, 2013 @ 8:52 pm

    • There is one in a ravine on one edge of this area that is closer to 50 feet in length. I need a length of climbing rope to get into a position to photograph it though, and a day with more light than this day had.

      Comment by montucky — January 1, 2013 @ 9:33 pm

  5. Montana has so many beautiful rock formations in the area along the Clarke Fork and along the mountains until you get to Helena or thereabouts. I wanted to stop so many times when we traveled through, but we were towing a trailer and it isn’t easy to pull over quickly (or even slowly, for that matter) for taking photos. These shots of the bluffs and icicles are great. I know it’s hard to get the whole thing into the frame when you’re up so close to it, but how lucky for you to get up so close. I’m sure it was very quiet up there except for the crunching of your boots on the snow and the clicking of your camera.

    Comment by wordsfromanneli — January 1, 2013 @ 10:20 pm

    • I know what you mean about it being difficult to find a convenient pull-out in this area to stop for a photo. The roads are narrow and sometimes the shoulders are very this and the ground soft. I wish there were more pull-outs. About a dozen miles west of here there was an area where the Bighorn Sheep would come down from the cliffs and graze on a meadow next to the road. It caused quite a traffic hazard. The Montana State Highway Patrol trooper assigned to this took that as a challenge and convinced a local rancher to donate a little of his property to accommodate a nice turn-out and one was built so a dozen cars could stop and watch the sheep. Others donated time and money to fence the area and the state erected some signage for it.

      Yes, I like it being quiet up there with no one else’s tracks around, especially when there is a good amount of snow on the ground. The back country is wonderful when experienced in its natural state!

      Comment by montucky — January 1, 2013 @ 11:31 pm

  6. What a great place. I love the icicles-and the lichens. I’d guess, because of all the lichens, that water seeps out of those rocks year round. I’d like to spend about a week exploring that spot!

    Comment by New Hampshire Gardener — January 2, 2013 @ 5:36 am

    • You would have a field day here! I hope that some day perhaps a few miles of that canyon could be made into a bird sanctuary.

      Comment by montucky — January 2, 2013 @ 9:30 pm

  7. There is something about frozen water on bedrock that is mystical! Such wonderful photos, just beautiful~

    Comment by WildBill — January 2, 2013 @ 1:52 pm

    • I know. Cold and solid and harsh, but raw beauty.

      Comment by montucky — January 2, 2013 @ 9:31 pm

  8. These photos are just beautiful, but these scenes make me cold! And I live in Minnesota.

    Comment by Sue — January 2, 2013 @ 4:00 pm

    • Big icicles do project that image, don’t they! It stays cold there because it is in shade so much of the winter.

      Comment by montucky — January 2, 2013 @ 9:33 pm

  9. Whew! Those are really something!

    Comment by Mama's Empty Nest — January 2, 2013 @ 4:23 pm

    • I enjoy visiting there every winter for the diversity. The icicles displays are different each year.

      Comment by montucky — January 2, 2013 @ 9:34 pm

  10. Amazing images Terry hope you had a wonderful Holiday Season !!

    Comment by Bernie Kasper — January 2, 2013 @ 8:13 pm

  11. What a stunning place…. It’s like a fairyland. :)

    Comment by FeyGirl — January 3, 2013 @ 7:58 am

    • Winter has its own kind of beauty, but it can be inconvenient at times.

      Comment by montucky — January 3, 2013 @ 9:13 pm

  12. Amazing! It looks like some secret playground for winter fairies. I love the pics of the forest in snow.

    Comment by Jo Woolf — January 3, 2013 @ 8:09 am

    • I’ve thought of that cliff as a display place for nature’s ice art.

      Comment by montucky — January 3, 2013 @ 9:14 pm

  13. The story of the State Trooper who made the turnout his personal project is heart-warming. There are people all around the country doing such things – I wish such goodwill, wisdom and creativity were part of our national political process. It can happen on a local level, but it’s much harder on the national. The photos are fantastic. They bring to mind my childhood trip to Mammoth Cave. As the melting begins, does the process of melting and refreezing build icicles “up” as well as “down”?

    Comment by shoreacres — January 3, 2013 @ 10:16 am

    • That is a good story, one of concern and common sense. That spirit ought to go national!
      I don’t think they build “up”, but I’ve seen where they keep growing down and hit the top of another and form one big icicle.

      Comment by montucky — January 3, 2013 @ 9:17 pm

  14. Terry, What a magical place! The icicles are amazing. (Any time of year a creek is a fun place to explore). -Maureen

    Comment by twoscamps — January 3, 2013 @ 1:12 pm

    • Yes, there is always something interesting going on along a creek, winter or summer. This one has a very nice variety of wildflowers starting in mid April. I have a photo from 2008 that was taken while I was looking at flowers. Snow started to come down and I looked way up on the cliffs and saw a ram through the snow.

      Comment by montucky — January 3, 2013 @ 9:21 pm

  15. Great shots Terry. A hike up to there would be a really great way to burn off the Christmas calories!

    Comment by Finn Holding — January 3, 2013 @ 1:23 pm

    • Yes, it’s a good start, especially with about 6 inches of snow. I’m starting to hike a lot now to get ready for a strenuous series of summer hikes.

      Comment by montucky — January 3, 2013 @ 9:23 pm

  16. You have there great places with with nature wonders to be studied. I am happy that You present them in Your blog and thus we can admire nature wonders of Montana.

    Comment by Sartenada — January 4, 2013 @ 12:34 am

    • I’m glad that you enjoy seeing them, Matti. There is much beauty in nature.

      Comment by montucky — January 4, 2013 @ 4:01 pm

  17. Crazy beautiful, Terry…and great colors on those cliff stones, too….

    Comment by seekraz — January 6, 2013 @ 10:01 pm

    • Thanks Scott. The rock colors seem to come out better in winter than in summer.

      Comment by montucky — January 7, 2013 @ 8:53 pm

      • You’re very welcome…strange how that happens…maybe it’s the contrast of the lighter snow and ice….

        Comment by seekraz — January 7, 2013 @ 9:06 pm

  18. from the first shot I heard whispers of great journey

    Comment by brulionman — January 10, 2013 @ 10:36 am

    • Yes, every trip into the back country is a journey.

      Thank you for visiting, brulionman!

      Comment by montucky — January 10, 2013 @ 9:44 pm

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