August Cover Artist: Rod Benson

Saturday Aug. 1st, 2020

Rod Benson was born and raised on the Montana Hi-Line. He taught high school science for 37 years, serving as an Earth Science teacher at Helena High from 1994-2019. After a brief retirement, Rod started teaching again at Hays-Lodge Pole High School, not far from his hometown (Harlem) in north-central Montana. Rod developed a passion for hiking and exploring hard-to-get-to places about 20 years ago. He claims, “I only hike when I’m with someone, or alone.” Several years later, Rod began blogging as a way to combine his passions for exploring, sharing photos taken from unique vantage points, and explaining interesting aspects of those places (history, geology, weather). “Show and tell” has always been his favorite subject. Although he does not consider himself a professional photographer, each of his blog posts feature an extensive photo tour, complete with maps and detailed captions – once a teacher, always a teacher!

During his tenure at Helena High, Rod was the lead advisor for the HHS Outdoors Club, organizing hiking, snowshoeing, and kayaking adventures for students. He still enjoys getting young people off the beaten path and watching them experience a sense of accomplishment and a greater appreciation for Montana’s public lands. Rod supports the Prickly Pear Land Trust, a non-profit in Helena whose guiding principle is to “connect land and people.” PPLT has coordinated with public and private landowners in Helena’s South Hills and beyond to create an incredible trail system that Rod takes advantage of almost every day.

The cover photo, showing mountain goats and skiers in “The Great One,” was taken from Naya Nuki in the Bridger Range. It is exactly the type of unique scene that Rod likes to capture – beautiful landscape, wildlife, people enjoying public lands, something that few will ever get to see, and it was taken from a high place. To read about the day Rod took this photo and see many more, go to