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John E Davies

Need info Boondocking places in NE MT, Missouri Breaks region, Helena, Browning

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We are headed out in a week and hope to get some input from anybody who know this area. The plan is to zoom out from Spokane on the Interstate, and then poke around there and work our way back slowly to Helena, Browning, Glacier and Kalispel via secondary roads and highways. Then home by US2. We have about two weeks.

 

We want to visit the Charles M Russell WLA, Fort Peck Lake, look at migratory birds and elk, and just enjoy the remote solitude and dark skies. We are not interested in touristy stuff, except for Helena and ghost towns. And no RV parks, except perhaps for quiet small town or county ones (not located next to race tracks or active railroads...)

 

If it is dry we might drive this 4wd route WITHOUT the Ollie.... https://www.bigskyfishing.com/scenic-drives/missouri-breaks.php

 

Or this easier one up near Canada. It is OK for trailers but the land is mostly private ranches so I don’t think we could camp along it.

 

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.... https://www.bigskyfishing.com/scenic-drives/sweetgrass-hills.php

 

For either of those trips we would need a good base camp to leave the trailer. Can anyone recommend especially good free or low cost boondocking sites in this area and also around Helena and the east side of Glacier? We stayed at a horrible run down Helena  RV park once in mid-summer - yikes.

 

I know the western part of the state pretty well but not the other half.

 

Thanks for any input.

 

John Davies

 

Spokane WA

 

 

 

 

 

 


"Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II NARV (Not An RV) Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/john-e-davies-how-to-threads-and-tech-articles-links/

 

Tow Vehicle: 2013 Land Cruiser 200, 33" LT tires, airbags.

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John I have lived in this state for over 40 years but am not very familiar with most of the areas you are interested in other than the east side of Glacier. If staying in Glacier NP, Two Medicine Campground is really nice as well as further north in the park at Swiftcurrent/Many Glacier area. I would encourage you to look into the American Prairie Reserve online as well because much of what you're interested in falls smack dab in the middle. The headquarters for the Reserve is located here in Bozeman so if you stop in there they can provide you with lots of info and maps.

 

There is a small very primitive campground at Judith Landing right on the Missouri River. Further down the river is the Fred Robinson Bridge and believer there is a large campground there too, where the Fort Peck Reservoir is. Browning used to have a reputation for being a very rough place, but understand it has mellowed in recent years from their period of high crime.

 

This time of year you shouldn't have much trouble finding camp sites along Canyon Ferry Lake near Helena if that interest you. Marysville is somewhat of a ghost town just north of Helena. I would also encourage you to look into the Front Range areas. Access from near Choteau and Augusta would be great places to explore. This is really raw wilderness at its best for the lower 48. Check out Wood Lake Campground west of Augusta, and there is a nice USFS campground west of Choteau near Cave Mountain ski area. Understand this is the thick of Grizzly Bear country, be safe and careful.

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Thanks for the comments. I knew little about the APR, but now I know more and it left a bad taste in my mouth. I prefer to not support them in any way.

 

We are more interested in open camping under big skies. NFS campgrounds are fine tho, I appreciate your advice.

 

I am prepared for bears, mentally and have the right tools. My wife, not so much, but hard sided camping has made her at least accepting of them.... she would sleep better if we had a 50,000 volt wire mesh all around us.

 

How is it that in 40 years you haven’t made it to that part of the state?

 

John Davies

 

Spokane WA

 

 


"Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II NARV (Not An RV) Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/john-e-davies-how-to-threads-and-tech-articles-links/

 

Tow Vehicle: 2013 Land Cruiser 200, 33" LT tires, airbags.

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John,

 

I have been all over the state, there has been very little of it I have not seen at one time or the other, just not much camping out in the open plains and the parts you are interested in. I much prefer the mountains.

 

Freeze-out Lake is another area that might be of interest you as well. Not sure how much bird population is there this time of the year and I don't know if there is a campground there or not. Its west of Great Falls and east of Choteau and Augusta. Its a big draw for birders though.

 

Regarding the APR, not sure what the objection to this is, and we certainly don't need to get into an argument over it. I'm not involved in any way with this organization but it has been my understanding their intentions are meant to be beneficial to the area in many ways, both economical and preservational. Certainly some but not all of the locals within these counties have had some objections.

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The Breaks is a love it or hate it kinda place.  I personally love it and have spent a total of several years up there.  We spend most of our time on the other side though.  If you were in Winifred and went down to the ferry (stops running soon I think), cross the river and roam your way towards Chinnook or Big Sandy through the Bear Paws.  BTW, there is a surprisingly mean burger in Winifred at the bar.  I can't tell you much info for camping on the route you're headed on but if its like the rest of the breaks, you can probably just pull over anywhere and nobody will bother you.  You can also most likely pull your trailer if you don't mind giving it a workout like I do.  The thing you really need to watch this time of year though is rain.  Maybe you're familiar with Gumbo?  It doesn't take much moisture to turn it into a sloppy mess out there that only an ATV with chains can get through.  As we get closer to winter if you get stuck you can just wait until morning to get out when the ground is frozen.  Its dumping rain where I am just east of Missoula right now, not sure what its doing up on the hi-line.

 

NOTE: If you have dogs, there is a mean case of blue green algae going around this year even in flowing water.  My sister in laws pup died within 2 hours of swimming in the creek a couple weeks ago.  Also, much like eastern washington, it can be littered with rattle snakes out there.

 

As for elk, if you know where to look they are everywhere out there.  Not sure if you want to see them in the wild or if you're just heading to Slippery Anne, though even at Slippery Anne they're gonna start heading for the hills fairly soon.

 

Browning can be fun if you like to booze it up with some rowdy natives, but for the most part you're gonna wanna keep moving.  In fact all of the reservations in the areas your going can be rough.  Rocky Boy, Hays, Browning.

 

Have fun exploring.  The sunsets/rises and stars in the breaks are hard to beat.  You're covering a ton of ground in only two weeks.  If you find yourself heading through Clinton on your way to Helena and want a place to park for a night, send me a note.  I live up Rock Creek.

 

 

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Last time I was there, it was on the mountain bike.  If you do dare to go into Canadia, the Banff national park is pretty sublime, but might limit your anti-bear tools.  No great ideas for camping - I was sleeping under an emergency blanket on the side of the trail.  Saw some interesting animals (big cats and bears), but none of them wanted to eat me.  Maybe that will calm the wife down?

 

 

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2019 LE2 #529 expected Sep/Oct 2019


 

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Thanks for the comments, we are in Helena and have decided to bail on theMissouri Breaks this trip, due to the heavy rains. I do not want gumbo, no thanks. It is supposed to clear Wednesday evening so we are going to shoot up Thursday morning to Glacier and hopefully see some really big mountains. The only other time we have driven Going to the Sun Road, FORTY years ago, they were completely socked in with dense clouds....

 

Last night we stayed ay Georgetown Lake between Philipsburg and Anaconda. This is Piney Campground, NFS and $7.50 with the Geezer Pass. It is a huge campground but there were only three other trailers there. Plus black and cinnamon bears. It was 34 degrees by morning. What a beautiful spot, but it is very hard to take good pics when the clouds are thick.

 

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John Davies

 

Spokane WA

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"Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II NARV (Not An RV) Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/john-e-davies-how-to-threads-and-tech-articles-links/

 

Tow Vehicle: 2013 Land Cruiser 200, 33" LT tires, airbags.

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Good move.  I was wondering if you went up there.  My wife was going to go watch my niece's soccer game in Chinook but it got rained out yesterday.  Figured you'd be stuck for a couple of days!  For future reference, even if it rains hard, its usually good to go again after a couple of days on the main roads anyway.

 

If you like to fish and you ever end up in Georgetown again, give it a go, there are monster trout in there.

 

Have fun

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We just left Glacier. Stayed at Two Medicine campground, views are breathtaking even with the clouds and rain. Crowds weren’t too bad, depending on where you’re at. Overnighting in Bozeman on our way to Yellowstone and Grand Teton.

 

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Mike and Carol | Fair Oaks Ranch, TX | 2016 Elite II #135 | 2016 Ram 1500 Crew Cab 4X4 5.7L Hemi

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Make sure you get gas well before getting anywhere near either Park.  If you're going toward West Yellowstone, even Big Sky is too late to escape the 30 to 50 cents per gallon higher price.

 

Bill

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2017 Ford F150 Lariat 3.5EB FX4 Max Towing 2016 Oliver Elite II - Hull #117 "Twist"

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