We knew we wanted to spend a bunch of time in Montana but our schedule has still been pretty hectic. We’ve hit up a ton of the western part of Montana and we’ll be here through at least the first week of August. Below is a map of where we’ve been so far.
West Yellowstone, MT: June 5th – 15th
We stayed at the Madison Arm Resort. We had full hookups for the first (and probably last) time but it sure was expensive. We paid more for the ten days in this campground than we’ve paid for every site combined since. Oh well, at least it was pretty and relatively near the Yellowstone Park entrance.
Gardiner MT: June 15th – 24th
The day after Allison’s last half marathon, we drove through Yellowstone to the North Entrance and the town of Gardiner. There was a National Forest campground (the Eagle Creek Campground) about 2 miles outside of town and the park entrance which only cost $7/night. We loved it here. There were tons of running and biking trails accessible from the campground, it was very close to town and the park so we could get in and out quickly and easily, I got to kayak the Yellowstone River through town, the bars had some decent beer, we had Elk wandering through our site most nights, it was all around pretty great. Best site overall so far I think.
Bozeman, MT: June 24th – July 3rd
We met up with an old friend of mine from my water polo days at CMU. Scott and Ruth (and Koda) showed us all around the city and having friends made for some very enjoyable time. (They also accepted packages for us 🙂 ).We stayed at the Gallatin County Fairgrounds which was close and cheaper than an RV resort, but we were parked in a gravel parking lot for a week. Bozeman was really nice though. Allison wrote up a post about Bozeman.
Canyon Ferry, MT (outside Helena): July 3rd – July 9th
We had to get a little creative with this site. We knew we wanted to try the forests around Helena and we knew the lake was supposed to have some great camping but getting all the pieces to fit together was tough. We still aren’t sure if we were on private property or in the National Forest where free dispersed camping is allowed, but no one hassled us all week so we’ll just keep the location to ourselves. We did some fun hiking through the Refrigerator Canyon and around the campsite. We also did some boating and had our first campfire of the whole trip!
Twin Creeks, MT (just east of Missoula): July 9th – July 10th
We knew there was some good free camping just off the road at this site but we couldn’t get any cell signal no matter how hard we tried. It was already getting dark by the time we started looking so we decided to just sleep in a road pull-out and figure it out in the morning. In the morning we had a great breakfast in Missoula and then went in search of free camping sites near town (there aren’t any) before deciding to just cut our losses and go to a National Forest Campground.
Fish Creek, MT (45 miles west of Missoula): July 10th – July 17th (ish)
Fortunately this National Forest Campground (Big Pine Fishing Access in the Lolo National Forest) is completely free! The sites are large yet still surrounded by trees so you can’t see any of the neighbors. It’s kinda far from anything but that isn’t a bad thing. The one thing it is near is the Alberton Canyon, a Class III big water surf fest just down the road. It also happens to be home to the tallest Ponderosa Pine in the state of Montana (pictured above) at 200 feet tall and 350 years old. It’s over 6 feet in diameter at the base and contains enough wood to build two complete houses.
Coming up, here are our future plans while we’re here:
This weekend, we’re going to the Lolo Hot Springs near the border of Montana and Idaho. Apparently Lewis and Clark stopped there on their way back from the Pacific. Sunday, we’re thinking about renting a canoe and doing a fun trip on the Blackfoot River, maybe even seeing if we can convince Cheat to get in a boat.
Missoula, MT (hotel): July 18th – 20th
We decided we needed a change of scenery (not to mention an unlimited shower) so we’re going to stay in a hotel for a couple days. I have some points left over from when we did all of the credit card rewards points stuff that should probably cover almost all of it. We’ll be right downtown near the play wave, and yes, we’ll have an awesome shower!
Inland Truck Parts and Service of Missoula: July 20th – ???
We need to get some work done on the RV. Nothing is mission critical, we’ve been going fine for two months now, but we’d like to get them settled before we head up into Canada. We’re replacing all of the shocks, hopefully fixing the loose steering, and the drivers-side front wheel has been making a noise that is either the brakes scraping or the axle bearings need to be repacked. Hopefully it will only take a couple days but we’ve given ourselves a week an a half before we need to be anywhere. And, they’ve offered to let us live in the RV in their shop while they’re working on her.
Missoula Driveway Surfing: ??? to July 30th
Whenever the work gets done we’ve got an invite to live in the driveway of a friend of a friend right in downtown Missoula for about a week. We’ll be living the “urban” lifestyle a bit more.
Glacier National Park: July 30th – August 6th
My parents and grandparents are flying into Missoula to visit us and see Glacier National Park. They got a vacation rental home for the week that has some free forest service camping right up the road for us. I’m taking the week off of work and we’re really looking forward to seeing family (our first since setting off on the trip), seeing the park, and, um, using the shower in their rental 😉