In 1970, E.B. White published a fictional children’s novel called The Trumpet of the Swan, which is largely set in Red Rock Lakes, Montana. E.B. White is probably best known for penning Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little, both of which are literary classics. While The Trumpet of the Swan is not as well known as the other two books, it is also considered a classic children’s novel. Not long before our road trip, we read this book as a family.
My 10-year-old son, Jonathan, who likes geography—you will frequently find him looking at maps and drawing maps—said to me, “Look, I found Red Rock Lakes!” He pointed to a spot on the map that appeared to be very close to our campsite in Island Park, which is in Idaho but very close to Montana. It turns out that the Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, which is where the book is set, was only an hour drive away from our campsite. We made plans to visit this remote refuge while there.
The Red Rock Lakes area features lakes, rivers, marshlands, prairies, forested uplands, and mountain peaks. It’s highly diverse. Over 250 species of birds have been spotted in the refuge, including the illusive trumpeter swan, the main character of E.B. White’s novel. Moose, elk, deer, bears, wolves and many other animals call this place home.
The road to Red Rock Lakes is dirt. Rough at times, lightly flooded at times, and narrow at times, and quite rural the entirety, this was a fun drive in our four-wheel-drive truck. We did see some other cars and people, plus plenty of UTVs, but mostly we were alone. Not many people venture out to this lonely place. Red Rock Lakes might not be easy to get to, but it is highly rewarding and worth the journey.
Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge is incredibly beautiful! Breathtakingly beautiful at times, in fact. It’s a landscape photographer’s playground! I didn’t see much wildlife myself, but I image that wildlife photographers would love this place, too. Upper Red Rock Lake (which I have no idea why it’s named that as I didn’t see many red rocks) is surprisingly still and reflective. It reminded me a little of the Great Salt Lake, but smaller and freshwater. In some ways the refuge was like stepping into E.B. White’s book, and seeing it in person brought the words to life. I would love to spend several days there, not just a few hours. I hope to someday return.
These photographs were mostly captured with a Fujifilm X100V, and a couple were with a Fujifilm X-T30 and Fujinon 90mm f/2 lens. On the X100V I used my “The Rockwell” and Kodak Tri-X 400 film simulation recipes. On the X-T30 I used my Velvia and Tri-X 400 recipes. Both cameras are great, but the X100V is such a wonderful travel camera that it renders the other gear largely unnecessary.
Part 4 coming soon!