We arrived back in the lower 48 after being north of the border for 3 months and 18 days. The crossing went without incident and we added a new state to our “Traveled to” map as we had yet to spend any time in Montana since hitting the road fulltime. Since this is the last few weeks of our “Camper Adventure” we are getting ready to list it. I have included some details in the last paragraph for anyone who is interested.
We stopped in Columbia Falls, did laundry, washed the truck and made our way towards Glacier. Since it was later in the afternoon we decided to see if we could find a remote quiet campground outside the park before heading into Glacier. We saw that there were several National Forest Service Campgrounds just south of Hungry Horse on the Hungry Horse Reservoir.
|This one has it's tongue out!|
|Our site at Lost Johnny|
|View from shore|
One thing I will say about Glacier was that it was not nearly as busy as Jasper or Banff. The roadside pullouts were not packed to capacity and the Visitor’s Center was not nearly as crowded. The other thing we noticed is that most of the tourists were English speaking visitors whereas in Canada it seems like they were in the minority. Up there we noticed a lot of European, Asian and Middle Eastern visitors as well as French speaking Canadians. After thinking about it we figured it had something to do with the current status of the Canadian dollar. A lot of tourists from foreign countries are traveling to Canada this year since their dollar is so strong comparatively and the Canadians are not traveling out of country for the same reason.
After striking out at Avalanche we went to Plan B which was to stay at a remote campground on the northwest edge of the park. #1 we like remote and #2 we figured there were be availability there. To get to Bowman Lake Campground you actually have to leave the park on the western edge, drive north about 25 miles and then east again back into the park. The first half of the trip is on paved roads while the last ½ is all gravel. You reenter the park just outside of Pole Bridge and then you take a narrow switchback road 6 miles to the park. Some of the switchbacks were really tight and the road is so narrow we had to pull over if we ran into another vehicle. I personally would not take anything bigger than a very small travel trailer down this road.
|Narrow windy road all the up|
The 6 mile drive took us about 25 minutes and we arrived at the campground to find it only about ½ full and after getting set up and walking the park we were glad that Plan A did not work out. This place was awesome! Bowman Lake is nestled between mountains on all sides, the water is crystal clear and the area had some great hikes.
|More deer right in the campground|
Over the next two days we kayaked, hiked and relaxed getting out in the kayak a few times.
|Does it get any better than this?|
|Daisy did not fall in once!|
|One of the many swtichbacks on the way up|
|Lots of different berry plants along the way|
|View from the top|
|Headed back down|
We made our way south as Barb searched our route for free campgrounds along the way. It is amazing the number of free campgrounds in some areas. Montana seems to have more than many states we have been in. Most are State Recreation Areas with campgrounds in them. Most free campgrounds don’t offer a lot of the amenities you get in your fee based parks but it seems like the ones we have run into in Montana do. Picnic tables, fire pits and vault restrooms. Sometimes you have to put up with a cow of two wandering through your campsite but it all adds to the adventure! Our personal criteria for a free site is that is has to be within 5 miles, 10 at the most, of the road we are traveling anyway. After all, it does not make a lot of sense to drive 20 miles (40 round trip) off of your route to save $15-20. With the fuel you burn getting there that just does not add up.
Over the course of the next several days we worked our way south towards Yellowstone staying at free sites along the way. Inez Lake only ¼ mile off highway 83 was a great site where we spent the afternoon swimming and relaxing.
Of course there is always the Walmart which is
what we did in Helena where we stayed for a day while Barb took advantage of
the strong WiFi and did some work. Then
it was on to Toston Dam site right on the Missouri River where they have 5 free
sites right next to the dam. The water did not look swimmable but we did get
out and do some hiking in the surrounding hills.
|Another site with a view|
|More Open Range country|
|It is amazing what trees will grow out of|
|This little guy was peeking out at me from a stump|
|A cave I explored on the way up|
|View from the top, our camper is the little white dot just right of dead center|
|There's Barbie and Daisy down by the truck!|
|I climbed to the highest peak on the right side|
Tomorrow we head into the park for 5 days, cannot wait!
We will be listing our camper as soon as we get back to Salt Lake the 2nd week of September. It is a 1998 Lance Legend 945, 11’3” extended cab. Features include, AC, storage tote mounted on top, built in propane generator, microwave, side awning, 3 way fridge/freezer, stove/oven, thermostat controlled furnace, fantastic fan, bathroom/shower unit, power jacks, jack extensions for a dually and lots of storage. It is in great shape and has been stored inside by both previous owners. We have not had any problems with it whatsoever. We did have a minor drip during a hard rain around the skylight but I sealed everything tight and have not had an issue since. We are asking $6,900, anyone interested can send us a note in our comment section (I will not publish the comment) and we will get back to you.