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Old 08-06-2011, 11:43 AM   #1
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SW Montana, nearby Idaho

Having driven up I-25 many times, we have wondered what is west of it in southwest Montana and into Idaho north of potato territory.

We don't have a lot of time in early September and won't be taking one of our usual frenetic and long cross country expeditions. We want to be lazy and do some boondocking.

So here's the plan so far—get to either Idaho Falls, Idaho, or Dillon, Montana, at the end of Day 2. From Dillon turn northwest on Mont. 278 and 43 to Chief Joseph Pass. Then US 93 south and Idaho 75 through Ketchum (Sun Valley), Idaho and eventually to I-84. We have about 6 or 7 days for the Dillon to Ketchum part and are looking for boondocking campgrounds—Forest Service I suppose, and one full hookup CG in the middle of the period for dumping, watering and, most important, wifi. We could change this route if something good is there, and can make day trips from CG's. There's more stuff further north, but we are trying to stay within the area of this loop with the trailer.

What are good campgrounds? Things to see? We've been to Craters of the Moon NM and the amazing Idaho Potato Museum ("amazing" is a subjective term, but it was fun), so we don't have to go back to them. I've noticed many of the CG's in Beaverbrook-Deerlodge NF close on Labor Day, 9/5, so we have to get through there by then and may have to only stay one night there. More checking necessary for that.


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Old 08-06-2011, 02:05 PM   #2
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Take LoLo Pass(Missoula, MT & Bitteroot Valley) down to Salmon, Idaho along the Salmon River to Stanley, then on to Sun Valley. You could also take a short side trip to Stanley Lake and Redfish Lake for some super scenery and good fishing. North Idaho at Sandpoint and north to Priest Lake is very nice that time of year and beautiful. Lots to see if you have some time.


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Old 08-06-2011, 02:45 PM   #3
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I agree with Pappy. We just went through there in June. Lolo and Missoula and nice towns. There is a pleasant campground in Lolo associated with a Square Dance Center. The folks are very nice. Full hooks or electric only. Well kept.

U.S. 12 over the pass is twisty, but with your 25 should be no problem. Stop at the visitor's center at the top. They had only been open a few days when we got there. Super heavy snowfall this winter.

If you're headed anywhere on I-84 near Mountain Home, ID, stay at the RV park on American Legion Blvd. Really Nice.
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Old 08-06-2011, 05:02 PM   #4
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I passed through Sun Valley last year on my way from Oregon to Montana and found a forest service campgrond that i'd really like to go back to and explore the area. It's named Murdock Campground and it was a few (?) miles north of Ketchum. It was a beautiful area with a creek running by the campground. It was dry camping but there's a dump station on the road into the campground.

I may even be there too in late August / early September

Happy Trails,
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Old 08-10-2011, 05:00 PM   #5
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Thanks for your feedback Pap, Greg and Becky.

We've made reservations just south of Provo, Utah, and Dillon, Montana, for our first 3 nights after leaving Grand Mesa. We will do some exploring around Dillon as we are spending 2 nights there.

I found out we have several more days than I thought. It looks like staying around Sula after Dillon would work—one of the FS campgrounds would be best. Then we could go into Idaho along US 93 and try out wifi-enabled private campgrounds and FS campgrounds. I'll look up Murdock CG north of Ketchum, Becky.

We drove through Stanley and Ketchum several years ago and it was very pretty and will go through there again.

There's a lot more Idaho north of this area, but we are going to limit ourselves as we want to be close to home in case anything comes up with our efforts to sell our house.

Any more suggestions?

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Old 08-16-2011, 04:38 PM   #6
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Try Bannack also


If you are going to be near Dillon, take a side trip to Bannack, the territorial capital. Its usually quiet and you can explore most of the buildings. (Ghost Town) I do not know what the state has there anymore, its been a while. Ill try to remember what campgrounds are the best in that area that are AS friendly. I did not have my Anodized Palace when i camped there--i was either sleeping in a fire engine or in a tent.

The road past Polaris-a town with a bring-your-own-beer bar- was fairly rough but I have heard it has been improved is a gateway to some beautiful camping. And If you dont want to go as far north as I-90 and missoula, I would recommend driving to Divide, and following the Big Hole River up past Wise River (That was where Charles Kuralt kept his mistress-i think she is still there. lol) and to Wisdom. You can see the Big Hole Battlefield along the way. The Big Hole is a fisherman magnet and has some good places to fish if you can wade through the LL Bean Attired Piscatorial Picadores. You can to into Salmon Idaho through this route.

I will look at my little black book of secrets when I get home and post again tomorrow.
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Old 08-16-2011, 05:38 PM   #7
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Mmmmm--Idaho. I'm envious.

We had just a peek at it last year, spent one night in Couer d'Alene, and can't wait to go back.

Have a good trip.

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Old 08-16-2011, 06:38 PM   #8
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An area I know fairly well. Stop and at least look at the FS campground in Idaho, just south of Monida Pass on I 15. I think it is called Stafford, but not positive. Great campground however. Going north there is a fair, free campground at the north end of Clark Canyon Lake. Further north, but south of Dillon, there is a public (FS maybe) campground just off the Interstate on the east side. If you can go to Bannack and stay. They have a somewhat primitive campground, but quiet and remote and nice. The town also needs to be explored.

On 278 you will hit the Big Hole battlefield national mounument. Stop and visit, worth it. A few miles farther west is a decent FS campground. Ask for the name at the monument. If you decide to go north on 93 another FS campground just north of Sula but not as far as Conner. It is on the east side of the road. West side of the road going north. Couple of FS campgrounds north of Hamilton both on the west side going north. If you did go north to Lolo MT, then turn west over Lolo pass. Any number of FS campgrounds on highway 12, and a great scenic route. Powell FS campground even has electric hookups, which is rare. Wilderness Gateway at about mile 125 is also good, and has a dump station. If you come that way, you are also welcome to stay at my home on the Selway River, water and electric and 300' of river frontage. Dump 4 miles away.

Go to Staples and get an American Map of Montana, Idaho, Wyoming for about $5. Only the American Maps (a brand) have the best indication of where FS campgrounds are located (little black trees). If you have an iPad, download All Stays Camp and RV app for $5. Positively the best resource I have found for FS and other campgrounds. However a few are missing, such as the one at Powell I mentioned above.

Have a great trip, enjoy the AS and use it with no hookups, the way it works best in the great Northwest.
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Old 08-16-2011, 09:41 PM   #9
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Thanks guys.

We will stay in Springville, Utah, one night and Dillon, 2 nights. We made reservations at commercial campground since it is the Labor Day weekend. From Dillon will can drive to Bannock and maybe to the Big Hole battlefield, and then come back to Dillon. Then we have to go to somewhere around Sula because the FS campgrounds between there and Dillon close on Labor Day. From there we will go into Idaho and slowly travel south.

The FS campground is in the Stafford area, but we thought it best to go as far as Dillon—400 miles in one day, but all interstate.

When we return home I plan to print reviews on the all the area campgrounds from RV Park Reviews, compare with AAA and Woodalls, and print this thread to see what has been recommended. That'll keep me busy for a while. We are in Pueblo, Colo., for a funeral, second one is less than a month. This has been a hard summer for my wife's family and we'll be glad to get away for a while.

I don't think we will look up Kuralt's mistress, however.

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Old 08-18-2011, 07:22 AM   #10
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I hope you have a great time. Another easy day trip from Dillon is to Butte, about an hour north. There is the World Museum of Mining that is well worth the visit. Also is the Copper King Mansion (former home of Senator W.A. Clark), the Art Chateau (another Gilded Age mansion that has a new purpose) and the Mineral Museum and Seismograph Station at Montana Tech (aka the School of Mines)It also has some decent restaurants. I never recommend anybody stay there, as the views suck (open pit coppermine, piles of Slag and waste rock, but I am biased-I grew up there). Anaconda has other sites to the west. The Pioneer Mountain National Scenic Byway is the road i mentioned that goes through polaris and past Elkhorn Hotsprings. A very VERy scenic trip. Also if you want to just hike, go to Melrose and take FR 40 to the west. There are some very interesting Charcoal Kilns up Canyon Creek, and a hike up lion mountain and the four old towns there may be fun. Just be warned the forest will be crawling with people that weekend. People get crazy at the end of summer.

I regularly make the drive from the four coners to Butte in a day, but its hard going. I think your plans for a day in Utah will even out the trip. After you get past Idaho Falls the Interstate gets lonely and besides one filling station, there are no services whatsoever. Between Monida and Lima you will almost think there are no people.

Have a great trip!
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Old 08-18-2011, 08:10 AM   #11
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Gene, you will be in some grand Lewis and Clark country so be sure to take in those sites, including the Devoto Memorial along Hwy 12--Wonderful scenery all along this highway drive. When in Idaho, take Pappy's suggestions. We've been there, done that, and long to return. On the way from Challis (good hot spring) to Stanley, take a turn up Jordan Creek to old mining site-very interesting. Just beyond Stanley, ID, at Stanley Lake Campground 1, try to reserve Campsite #4-drop dead gorgeous, on the lake, just at the foot of snowtopped mountain, rosy golden alpenglow can be enjoyed from a canoe on the water below the peak. Don't miss Jimbo's Jumbo burger on the far side (ha!) of Stanley, play in the Salmon, fish, relax, stay a while Happy camping in one of favorite areas of the country. ~G

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