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Old 06-01-2006, 09:19 AM   #1
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Montana Boondocking??

Hey folks, I am looking for good boondocking spots in Montana if you care to share them. Thanks!
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Old 06-01-2006, 09:45 AM   #2
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Wisdom

Have you ever been to Wisdom?? A beautiful area.....take some side roads
and you can find some great spots. Watch out for the Moose. There is a
great restaurant with homemade pies and wonderful shop....Love, Love
this area and we also have a love affair with Montana. Also give Chico Hot
Springs a try and the Paradise Valley is so beautiful. Gourmet food at Chico,
folks come from far @ wide. You can get a room in the Hotel with a brass
bed and bath or a bath down the hall....The Hot Springs pool worth a stop.
Happy Trails, Betty
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Old 06-01-2006, 11:49 AM   #3
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Up the Boulder Valley beyond Big Timber--check out the campsite(s) up the East Boulder Shh. . .I'm giving away our favorites! Way on up the Boulder Valley, the road is too narrow and rough for pulling a trailer, I think, but before that, you'll find several camp sites near or on rushing mountain water. Some trout fishing along the way. Enjoy!
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Old 06-01-2006, 12:05 PM   #4
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My list is small for now:
Missoula: Saw a campground with a sign that said FREE Camping. It was on I-90 east of Missoula, at about the 127MM. On the southwest of the interchange.

Columbus : roughly 40 miles west of Billings on I-90, has a city campground on the bank of the YellowstoneRiver located in a large grove of Cottonwood trees. Most sites have picnic tables and fire rings and there are restrooms. The shade and proximity to the river is what makes this free campground special. Many of the campsites can accommodate large RVs. Stay is limited to 14 days (as of summer, 1997). In the summer of 1997, the city was not able to open the campground until early July because the Yellowstone flooded the site during very high spring run-off. Columbus is the epitome of a very small, charming western town –
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Old 06-01-2006, 12:36 PM   #5
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Well, Rodney you didn't say how remote a spot you were looking for, so here's a place that first came to my mind :
http://cgi.ebay.com/Montana-wilderne...QQcmdZViewItem


Chico Hot Springs sure is nice, but it ain't exactly for boondocking. If you're in that area, however, which is about 30 miles or so north of Yellowstone, I can recommend going there for the Sunday brunch, and spending the $20 you saved on your night's camping fees for enough food to stoke your stomach for the next several days. Rolaids are optional.

There are a number of nice boondocking areas reasonably close to there (and to Yellowstone Park) such as up Mill Creek, Tom Miner Creek, Pine Creek, and a few others, where there are waterfalls to enjoy, gold to be prospected, hot springs to soak in, wildlife galore, rivers, mountains, etc, etc.

The Boulder River valley (already mentioned) is really nice, as are a number of the other river valleys, especially in their upper reaches.

I think if you get a good map you should be able to see many of these campgrounds.

My wife isn't a boondocker, so we spend most of our camping time in MT in the full service places, but I get to many places there while I am hiking and fishing, so if you can be more specific in your interests, I may be able to suggest other places for you. (We spend about 3 months a year in MT, or other places in that general geographic region)

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Old 06-01-2006, 12:54 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flyfisher
..........if you can be more specific in your interests, I may be able to suggest other places for you...........
John
Well John, at this point I am just thinking I would like to spend some time in the Rockies of Montana (maybe Idaho also) but it needs to be on the cheap (hence boondocking). I expect I will want to stay in a few established forest service camp grounds here and there. My main interest are hiking, photography, history, and cool geology stuff. I always love hot springs. I am hoping for say 3 weeks in July if the creeks dont rise and gas isnt entirely outragous.
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Old 06-01-2006, 01:05 PM   #7
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Cheap or Free in Montana

MONTANA: The Montana Recreation Guide lists free camping.
ANACONDA: its FREE and it great...SportsmansPark...located 27 miles S of Anaconda (W of Butte). CG is ¼ mile long, along the ClearRiver, free firewood, has a host, picnic tables, fire stoves..( the stoves are heavy metal so you can cook on them and not get smoke on your pots), restrooms. From Anaconda go S 25 miles on route 273 then 2 miles W on route 43. The water system is a spring located on the opposite side of the river and piped over to the CG. They accept donations and $5 automatically makes you a member of the sportsmans club. Buy gas before you leave Anaconda.
Anaconda: Lost Creek SP, located about 3 miles E of town,, it is FREE and has close sites with lots of trees.
BAKER: Free CG on US-12 & 4th St W. Nice park w/shade trees & dump. Also Sandstone Fishing Access approx 9 mi S of Baker or S of Plevna.
BIG SANDY: O/n stops at CityPark on U.S. 87
BOULDER: SW region. TownPark located off I-15 between Helena & Butte, 27 mi from Helena, at Rt-69 exit. Park is 1.5 mi on left. Picnic tables, frost free water faucet, dump, donation box. Free
BUTTE: Flying J station at I-15 & 90, exit 122.
CARDWELL: I-90 exit 256 (near Rt-69), new 36-site cg at Conoco station, mountain view, large pull-thrus, LPG, dump, water. Gas avail.
CHARLO: SR-212. Sign on E side of main drag says "free RV camping". Friendly people, nice grocery store across street. Shade trees & picnic tables.
CASCADE: Free CG sponsored by Am Legion and Lions Club. Adjacent to I-15, Exit 256. Lighted sign shows from I-15 at night. Water, elec, dump station, and pool. Free. 1 night only.
CLINTON: (near Missoula)Red Creek Lodge has free parking. Take exit 126 off I-90 and you are there. All kinds of facilities. Owner Rod Lincoln welcomes all.
Also: Rock Creek Tavern offers free camping in an un-mowed grassy field. A lot of RVers stop. Clinton is 20 miles E of Missoula along I-90.
COLUMBUS: City park off I-90. 1.5 mi to Itch-Keppe fishing access site. Follow I-90 S thru Columbus. Park is on left.
Culbertson: The City park in Culbertson on US Hwy 2 just E of the North Dakota line has parking for about 4 rigs at no charge. It's several blocks from the highway in a residential area and is quiet.
DEER LODGE: Rest area on US-12 7.5 mi E of Jct w/I-90. Rest rooms w/flush toilets, water, tables, shade. Along Little BlackfootRiver.
DEER LODGE: Indian Creek CG. 745 Maverick. 800-294-0726. From jct I-90 & Bus I-90 (exit 184), W 0.2 mi on Bus I-90 to access rd, S 0.2 mi. Good gravel interior rds. Daily rates $10.50-$16.
DIVIDE: Divide Recreation Area and fishing access(BLM) on HWY-43 at DivideBridge, along river. Free w/ 14-day limit. Pit toilets, water.
FORT BENTON: National Historic Site, Office of Nat'l Scenic and Wild Rivers, 2 museums, historic Front St., beginning of Mullan Rd. to Walla Walla and Whoop Up Trail to Canada. Dry camp on bank of Missouri River across from OldFortBentonPark.
HELENA: 8 mi N of Helena at exit 200 on I-15. Grub Steak Casino. O/N parking. Restaurant.
Haugan: 14 miles E of Idaho border on I-90, the $10,000 Silver Dollar Saloon (plus store & cafe) offers free O/N camping. Some sites in the back row have elec. Cafe has good food!
KALISPELL/LIBBY: Between Libby & Kalispell on US-2 in western Montana is a St Regis Paper Co cg at E end of Middle Thompson Lake 100 yds W of milepost 78. S side of Hwy. Entry not marked. Pit toilets, tables. No length or time limit. Water & boat launch at Logan State Rec area 1 mi W.
Lewiston: Kiwanas Club park on top of the hill heading west. If you use the truck route, come back towards town about a mile. There are no hookups, but nice level spaces and a donation box for payment.
LIBBY: VolunteerFireDeptMemorial Park, W part of town on Hwy-2 next toChamber of Commerce. Free camping w/water, dump, firewood. 3-day limit. $5 donation appreciated.
Lincoln: Free overnight RV parking is allowed in the big, flat gravel parking lot of the Hi-Country Trading Post, which is on the very west end of town along state highway 200.
LINCOLN: Between Missoula & Lincoln, State operated fish & wildlife CG that is right on the stream, and it is free, It is on the N side of road, you can see it from the Hwy 200.It is about ½ between the 2 towns and is beautiful and will accommodate a larger rv.
MISSOULA: AngevinePark is located about 7.4 mi E of Bonner on HWY-200 on the BlackfootRiver. A pretty little parking area, paved, quiet, level, w/tall pines, room for 4-6 rigs. 2 entrances off HWY-200.There are some NF CG's on route 12 from Missoula to Lewiston. a very nice one by a stream is 1/4 mile from the rest stop, which is 45 miles west of lolo pass
PARKCITY: 18 mi W of Billings on I-90. Cenex Truck Stop at exit 426, S side. New facilities, rest rooms, showers($), clear, level, well-maintained parking. Separate area for RVs w/ shady picnic area.
PORT OF ROOSVILLE: RT-93 at the Canadian border. First Chance Last Chance Bar. Buy food or drinks at the bar, park O/N w/free elec. Access to water.
Roundup: The Cowbelles CG, 1 mile E of town by the fairgrounds, has a donation box by entrance.
ROUNDUP: On Hwy-87 N of Billings. Fish & GamePark on MusselshellRiver. Go N on Main St to 2nd Ave, turn R for 1 mi. Shade, level, toilets, water but not potable.
WISDOM: free CG owned by Amer Legion in Wisdom. Picnic tables, rest rooms, fire rings and a manual operated water pump, screened pavilion. On route 73 and where it meets with 43.
WOLFCREEK: On I-15 N, at exit 219 to Spring Creek Recreation Rd. 8 mi S of Wolf Creek at Little Prickly Pear BLM Rec Area. Nice, secluded pull-thrus along a creek. No hookups. Heading S, take exit 226 and go S on Recreation Rd. Free.
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Old 06-01-2006, 01:48 PM   #8
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Bob, you have provided a wealth of information for all of us on the forum with your state by state boondocking descriptions. Maybe others wonder what I am asking: how did you compile all of this? We think we pay attention as we travel, but we have put together nothing like these reports. We are so impressed, and so appreciative, and we cannot wait until we head west in late August to try out some of your recommendations! Just one of your fans, ~G
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Old 06-01-2006, 02:09 PM   #9
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Most of my lists I've been working on for years. I started with a small list and every time I ran across a new posting or boondocking location I would add it to the list. I might add, I have NEVER O/N'd at a Wal-Mart or Flying J, but I have enjoyed parking at Casino's, Rest Areas and many many of the places I have listed. On a typical month long travel/adventure/trip I will usually spend less than $120 on camping fees. I enjoy the spaciousness of Boondocking as opposed to the packed like sardines of KOA. Over the past 8 years I have joined a number of online Boondocking groups and have been able to grow my lists substantially from these groups as well as add my own discovered and developed boondocking sites. Some of the online sites I rely on most are:

http://www.telusplanet.net/public/waters/deanslist.htm


http://rv-camping.org/


http://www.angelfire.com/oh/Boondocking/


http://members.aol.com/stephndud3/BdMAPEDIT1.txt

Enjoy!
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Old 06-01-2006, 02:25 PM   #10
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hi bob and others

i've enjoyed your boondocking lists also...

but sometimes wondered
if these were ALL
places you had stayed
or complied from other resources.....

as i recall montana is the hq state for koa,
and they have worked some to limit
boondocking in retail parking lots
like wal mart and others...

while most rural states are relaxed on this issue...

rodney....i've boondocked near flathead lake and at the ski resort north of there. it's been a few years so i'm not sure this is possible anymore..

cheers
2air'
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Old 06-01-2006, 04:28 PM   #11
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Bob,
Thanks for all the information. We'll keep it handy for consideration on our trip to Montana.
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Old 06-01-2006, 08:29 PM   #12
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HI, (Good news from RV Business mag)
Even with KOA Hq in Billings, you still can stay at the Billings Wal Mart for a 10 hour rest period. City Council voted on this a couple of months ago. Yea!
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Old 06-01-2006, 09:34 PM   #13
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East side of Glacier Park

Rodney, You'll find me on the East Side of Glacier National Park for most the month of July. Go to www.nps.gov/glac/whatsnew.htm for more information. I stay at Many Glacier and Two Medicine campgrounds for $ 15 a night no hookups. Cut Bank campground is only $7 but no drinkable water. I'd be the Glacier guy if you need more information. Don
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Old 06-04-2006, 07:57 PM   #14
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Rodney –

Here are a couple suggestions, based on your interests.

If you go west from Billings on I-90 you might stay at the Columbus town park that Bob Thompson mentions, or you can also overnight at one or more of the established rest stops along the interstate if you wish.

Farther west, the Boulder River valley extends south from the town of Big Timber, south on Hwy 298. There is a fascinating natural bridge, not far after the paved road ends a few miles outside town, where the river goes underground and then returns a short distance below. There are a number of established Forest Service campgrounds farther up the valley, but the road is a bit rough.

Continuing west on I-90, you could take Hwy 89 south of Livingston heading toward Gardner. If you take Hwy 540 several miles outside Livingston, you’ll come across a small paved road that goes into the mountains to the Pine Creek forest service campground. The road into the campground is paved, but narrow and rather steep in places, but there is a trailhead at the campground where you can hike to some beautiful waterfalls in a pristine wooded, mountainous setting.

Hwy 540 goes along the east side of the Yellowstone River; Hwy 89 is on the west side of the river. Within the first 10-20 miles south of Livingston, there are a couple established campgrounds right on the river off Hwy 540 which may be free, or if not, they probably are relatively inexpensive, shaded and scenic. In the same stretch of river, along Hwy 89, there is free camping at the Mallard’s Rest MT Fish and Game Boat river access that is also not bad, but can be dusty from people launching boats.

The Mill Creek valley is about 20 miles south of Livingston, and if you don’t mind 10-15 miles of dirt road that’s not too bad, there are a number of free campsites along the river in its upper reaches. Like Pine Creek, this area is wooded and scenic. There are also a number of trails where you can hike to see some beautiful waterfalls, secluded lakes, and there are also some old gold mines if you know where to find them.

Proceeding farther south toward Gardner, there is an established forest service campground at the end of the dirt road the extends west off Hwy 89 up the Tom Miner basin, which is on the opposite side of the river near the town of Corwin Springs. There may also be a couple of free campsites in the basin there, but I’m not positive. There’s a trailhead that takes you a relatively short distance to the top of the mountain to one of the more fascinating petrified forests that I’ve seen. You can even collect samples of the wood, and although I’ve yet to find some myself, there are (or were) opals imbedded in the rocks there. Expect to see wildlife, including deer, and perhaps bear and elk in the woods and along the mountainside meadows.

Near Corwin Springs, there’s an undeveloped natural hot spring along the Yellowstone River beside the highway, where you can take a dip if you wish. There is also a road and trail near this point where you hike in a short distance to see the remains of Montana’s first dude ranch, now owned by the state and being restored by volunteers. Some of the old log buildings contain their original furnishings, apparently untouched over the years.

The old Yellowstone Trail is on the west side of the river in this stretch. It was the way persons originally entered Yellowstone Park. You can drive it, if you wish, all the way the Roosevelt Arch at the north entrance to Yellowstone Park in Gardner. This is definitely not the way most tourists go to Yellowstone Park today, but if you’re interested in history, and don’t mind driving a long distance on a dirt road, you won’t find a more interesting, and scenic way into Yellowstone. There are a couple free campsites in the Yankee Jim Canyon on the banks of the Yellowstone River along this trail, some hiking opportunities, some of the biggest fish in the river, and more than a few rattlesnakes during July, I’m told.

If you wish to go farther west on I-90, and up to Helena, the several campsites along Prickly Pear Creek, just south of Wolf Creek that Bob Thompson mentions are quite nice, have toilets, and are free. Nearby, the boat trip through Gates of the Mountain on the Missouri River, named by Lewis and Clark when they first entered this region, is more than worth its cost of $10, or so. If you wish, the boat will drop you off in the canyon, where you can explore on your own, and will pick you up later during the day (try not to miss the last boat home or you’ll spend a cold night with the mountain goats). This area has some unique flora and fauna, not to mention the wonderful canyon itself, and adjoins the least visited wilderness area in the state. You’ll also see, and can explore, Mann Gulch here, where in 1949 where a crew of 15 US Forest Service smokejumpers stepped into the sky to fight a forest fire, and within an hour of their jump only 3 survived. A person can also spend a full day in Helena, taking the train ride to see the old part of town where gold mining was once done, the mansions that were built by the gold-era millionaires, the beautiful state capital building and a western museum next door.

John
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