I’m starting to wonder if ‘MT’ standing for both Montana and Mountain was intentional. On the way into Montana on our summer trip, we took Interstate 90 east, until heading north on Interstate 95 through the Kaniksu National Forest. I say this as an understatement, since even from the road, we saw chipmunks, a bald eagle(!), millions of pine trees, and wide, rocky streams passing through more mountains than I’ve ever seen in my lifetime.
We finally got across the state, and into the dense Kootenai forest, we unpacked for one night, hoping we may still be able to acquire one of the non-reservable, first-come-first-serve campgrounds within Glacier National Park.
Having seen a large portion of the state at this point, I would have guessed there would be lots of hydro power and dams to utilize the rivers running rampant throughout the state – and, I would have been right! Check out the Chart below showing the Energy Generation of Montana per month, as of June 2021:
While they aren’t producing quite as much Hydro electricity as Washington (see comparable chart, here: https://www.eia.gov/state/?sid=WA#tabs-4), it’s certainly impressive that this beautiful state is leveraging it’s streams and rivers for even more than fly-fishing. Another impressive state from their profile on EIA.gov, was that “In 2019, Montana ranked among the top 10 states with the largest share of electricity generated from renewables, about 45%. Montana is also the sixth-largest producer of hydroelectric power in the nation, and 6 of the state’s 10 largest generating plants produce hydropower” (https://www.eia.gov/state/?sid=MT#tabs-1).
I almost laughed out loud upon reading this ‘Quick Fact’ about Montana’s energy consumption: “Montana’s temperature extremes and its small population contribute to the state’s residential sector having the second-highest per capita energy consumption of any state, behind only North Dakota” (https://www.eia.gov/state/?sid=MT#tabs-1) – because it couldn’t be truer than if I’d visited the Sahara desert (see what I mean, here: https://www.livescience.com/why-do-deserts-get-cold-at-night.html).
On our first day in Montana, the high temp was roughly 90 degrees Fahrenheit, however the very next day the temperatures had dropped drastically – to a high in the mid-sixties Fahrenheit, and lows in the mid-thirties Fahrenheit at night (in August no less!) – and that was before we even arrived in the mountains of Glacier National Park! Perhaps had I studied this information prior to visiting Montana, I would have known better and brought a few more long-johns and layers. Still, we survived snuggling through the nights with our two dogs, and spent the next few days walking the foothills of the Apgar campground within Glacier National Park – an undeniably gorgeous site – and well worth the temperature changes.
I fully understood why residents of this state were so keen on protecting it – via clean energy and hydroelectricity production, or through private and federal land protections, like those we were camping in (not to mention several throughout the state: https://www.visitmt.com/).
It’s a beautiful destination and as long as you have a small, butane stove for camping, or a well-ventilated fire place inside of your home, you should be set to stay warm in the cooler months, which apparently includes late August. In the cooler winter months, it’s likely you will need natural gas to power many appliances and heat your home. When it comes to finding a hot shower while camping in Montana however, you’re on your own! Good luck, and stay warm.