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Well rested

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rest stop

A highway map of Montana points to the location of the I-90 rest area in Bozeman on Wednesday, March 30, 2022.

 

On a warm, early spring day in March, Stephanie and Ed Diaz left their home in Kalispell on a trip to Wilmington, North Carolina. On their way, they exited Interstate 90 in Bozeman, and pulled into the Montana State Department of Transportation Rest Area on 19th Avenue. A handful of cars and another handful of semi-trucks were parked at the rest stop, their passengers making use of the sunny weather to stretch their legs, eat lunch or use the restroom.

When they opened the back door of their car, a 15-month old rottweiler named Tyber leaped out. “It’s his first road trip,” Stephanie said as Tyber pulled at the leash, anxious to immerse himself in the olfactory utopia of the rest stop.

Rest area

Stephanie Diaz, from Kalispell, tries to keep her 15-month-old rottweiler, Tyber, close while walking around the parking lot at the I-90 rest area in Bozeman on Thursday, March 24, 2022.

Rest area

The Hoover family, from Spokane, Wash., stops for a picnic at the I-90 rest area in Bozeman while moving to Chicago on Wednesday, March 23, 2022.

Rest area

Maurine Hinckley-Cole, from Powell, Wyo. sits in her driver's seat at the I-90 rest area in Bozeman while on a trip to Missoula to visit her children on Wednesday, March 23, 2022.

Rest area

Brochures promoting Bozeman are displayed inside the I-90 rest area in Bozeman on Wednesday, March 23, 2022.

Since its construction in the 1960s, Interstate 90 has provided an efficient route for people to cross Montana, or the entire United States. When the rest stop in Bozeman was completed in 2000, Doug Moeller, then of the Montana Department of Transportation, called it “probably the nicest rest area in the state” in a Chronicle article. Since then, MDT estimates that nearly half a million people visit the facility every year. Last year, a plan was hatched by a developer to build a new rest area in Three Forks in exchange for the land where the Bozeman facility is located, now exponentially more valuable than when it was built.

Rest stop

Dan Prisaznuk, from Michigan, puts diesel in his truck's tank while delivering boat trailers to the west coast at the I-90 rest area in Bozeman on Wednesday, March 23, 2022.

Rest stop

A cat named Milo is secured inside a soft kennel while its owner eat lunch at the I-90 rest area in Bozeman on Wednesday, March 23, 2022.

Rest stop

Irvin Wagoner and his dog, Kaimo, prepare for the return trip to Salt Lake City at the I-90 rest area in Bozeman on Wednesday, March 23, 2022.

Rest stop

Roy Batt walks back to his truck after taking a break at the the I-90 rest area in Bozeman on Thursday, March 24, 2022.

Although she’s stopped at the Bozeman rest area countless times, Stephanie Diaz doesn’t mind that it will be replaced by the end of the summer. In her well-traveled opinion, Montana has the best rest areas in the country.

“I think Montana actually recognizes the distances people have to travel to go across, and gives them an actual place to stop and rest and stay that’s clean and well maintained,” she said.

After convincing Tyber into the back seat, the Diazes left the rest area to continue their trip east as another carload of highway-weary passengers pulled in.

 
Rest area

Joe Erickson, a word-of-mouth auto mechanic in Bozeman, installs a new timing belt on a stranded car at the I-90 rest area in Bozeman on Thursday, March 24, 2022.

Rest area

Jean Emile, a Florida-based truck driver, leans on his truck at the I-90 rest area in Bozeman before heading to Billings to pick up a load headed to North Carolina on Thursday, March 24, 2022.

Rest area

Angela Taylor puts on her sunglasses as she prepares to drive away from the I-90 rest area in Bozeman, with her dog Chloe Bell in the back seat, on Thursday, March 24, 2022.

Rest stop

Larry Haller, from Clark Fork, Idaho, helps his wife, Jean, into their truck camper to get some water while taking a break on a trip to Oklahoma at the I-90 rest area in Bozeman on Wednesday, March 23, 2022.

Rest area

Dan Henson cleans a sink in a restroom at the I-90 rest area in Bozeman on Friday, March 25, 2022.

Rest stop

Linden McDowell naps in his car at the I-90 rest area in Bozeman on Friday, March 25, 2022.

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