Northern Rockies: Campgrounds

Our favorite and not so favorite campgrounds of the trip. If a campground isn’t summarized in great detail here, don’t worry. It was a good campground that we liked and would go to again, it just didn’t have quite enough to make our trip highlight reel.

Favorites:

  1. View from our dispersed campsite area.
    View from our dispersed campsite area.

    Dispersed camping off of FSR 20 in the Bighorn National Forest, WY: Our first dispersed camping experience on our first night of our Northern Rockies adventure.  Okay, so this wasn’t technically a campground, but it was a great campsite. We found a spot just after a cattle gate (called Texas gates in Alberta) among some trees. There was a lot of cow pies around and we weren’t sure if we were going to wake up surrounded by cattle (didn’t happen). There was a meadow across from our chosen spot with some rock outcroppings that Alex enjoyed climbing on. Road desperately needed a grader to smooth out the washboard and fill in the pot holes, but worth the shaking and rattling. We plan on more dispersed camping in the future.

    Alex climbing on a rock formation that was used as a shelter in the past.
    Alex climbing on a rock formation that was used as a shelter in the past.
  2. 2016NR_2Medicine03
    Alex throwing rocks into Two Medicine Lake.

    Two Medicine Campground at Glacier National Park, MT: There were multiple things to really enjoy about this campground. There was a lake, which was excellent for throwing rocks in. There was Wolf Mountain, that towered over the campground. And then there was the view that was a short walk away from our campsite. There was a plethora of hiking trails that could be accessed from the campgrounds. A quick and relatively flat bike ride away was the general store, boat rentals, and a boat tour (for fast access to the other end of the lake). Really couldn’t ask for a better campground.

    View of Two Medicine Lake.
    View of Two Medicine Lake.

    The downside of this campground is the sites for bigger rigs are down by the lake. The view is beautiful, but the sites go fast and there is more traffic due the day use parking. The other sites are back in the trees, feel more secluded, but some are difficult to level a small rig like Abby in. All that considered, we will be back.

    Campsite: #47, side pitched

    Prime campsites: 95, 96, 94, 97, 93 – very close to the lake and relatively secluded. Looked rather level. Larger rigs check out sites 85 – 91. Sites 1 – 10 may also be able to accommodate larger RV or truck/trailer combinations.

    Wolf Mountain at Two Medicine Lake.
    Wolf Mountain at Two Medicine Lake.

Least Favorites:

  1. Calgary West Campground in  Calgary, Alberta, Canada: The much maligned commercial campground. Nothing truly wrong with this campground, but we prefer national forest, state parks, dispersed camping or national parks. This campground was clean with a decent laundry facility and a pool. Alex had fun on the campground and walking about. As typical of commercial campgrounds, sites were rather close. Roads were gravel and some places needed a grader to come through and level things out. The road into Loop B is a bit steep, and Abby’s front wheels slide on the gravel while backing into our site on the hill. When approaching this campground, the first thing you see is the storage area – don’t panic, the sites are small but not THAT small.
  2. Many Pines Campground in Lewis and Clark National Forest: This is likely on our least favorite list because we really wanted to disperse camp that night, but chose our forest roads poorly. Campground wasn’t bad – sites were well spaced and rather level. Each site had a parking area and then a separate area with picnic table and tent pad. Campground closes in September. Winter comes early in Montana.

One of the winter planning projects is to get maps from the forest service and determine if we can pick out dispersed camping sites. Also, we need to better familiarize ourselves with the rules of each forest regarding dispersed camping.

Biggest Pleasant Surprise:

  1. Lake View Campground in  Bighorn National Forest: Our intent was to disperse camp for our last night on the road, but we saw this as we were headed on US-16E and stopped. We overlooked Meadowlark Lake, not far from a ski lodge of similar name. Sites were well sized and level. Campground was well maintained and the pit toilets were clean and pleasant (!) smelling. The spur that contains sites 1 – 6 runs parallel to the road, but there was little traffic so it wasn’t too disturbing. We camped in site 6, which was the closest to the road; a steep embankment kept Alex away from the road. A trail led down to the lake not too far from the site. While not dispersed camping, we were very happy with this campground.

    2016NR_Lake01
    View of Meadowlark Lake facing away from Abby.

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