As I headed back south, I wanted to go through the Bitterroot area of western Montana. After a brief stop in Kalispell, for gas and groceries, I traveled down MT-83 and US-93.

Lake with pines and mountains

Summit Lake

(Swan Lake MT)
The Flathead NF-Swan Lake Campground turned out to be full. So, I found a boondock spot overlooking the lake nearby. It was another of those paved pullouts, but it was fine for an overnight stay. And, as you can see in the photo, it was raining.

Lake, mountains, cloudy sky

Swan Lake

(Seeley Lake MT)
Stopped in Seeley Lake to do laundry, update the blog, and have lunch. Afterward, I went to see Holland Lake Campground only to find it was full. Down the road further, there was a hike to a waterfall. But, it was already too late in the day. Waterfalls were plentiful in the past few days anyhow.

Creek running over rocks

Beaver Creek

Instead, I went in search of a boondock camp for the night. No success on several forest roads; and, I was about to settle for another pullout by Summit Lake. However, one more attempt just down the highway, and a mile and a half into Lolo NF, I found a spot next to Beaver Creek.

(nr Sula MT)
Driving along the Bitterroot Valley, from Lolo to Darby, I searched for a camp with little luck. Campgrounds were mostly full and not that great, and boondocks were not very inviting. Probably needed more time, and to go further up into the mountains. But, it was raining and the forecast called for another day or two more.

Motorhome in forest by stream

Tardis at Camp Creek

Finally, just before leaving the area, I found a suitable overnight boondock spot. It was only a mile and half off the highway on a forest road. The campsite had a sitting area under some trees right next to a little creek which made it pleasant.

(nr Big Sky MT)
From the Bitterroot Range and over Lost Trail Pass, I took MT-43 along the Big Hole River, and then jumped over to US-191 to continue southward. I was looking to camp somewhere in the Gallatin NF.


View from camp at Gallatin River

A little ways past Big Sky, I found a nice boondock spot with a small clearing amongst some trees and right next to the Gallatin River. Right across the river was a terrific cliff. The murmuring river lulled me to sleep.

Camps: Boondocks – Flathead NF, Lolo NF, Bitterroot NF, Gallatin NF
Scene: Lakes, creeks river, mountains, cliffs

10 Responses to Bitterroot

  1. Dizzy-Dick August 21, 2014 at 6:40 pm #

    Is it allowed to just camp anywhere in national forests. Other than state or national forests, all else is privately owned and some owners are not available to ask permission. I have always stayed in RV parks and usually when I stop for lunch, I call ahead and reserve a spot. Your way would be a lot more fun.

    • Pleinguy August 21, 2014 at 7:13 pm #

      There are usually signs telling when you are on NF land. And, if no dispersed camping is allowed, then it would be posted. If you find a rock fire ring, then it is an established campsite. With your big rig it would be harder to locate a suitable spot. But, stop at the ranger station and they can tell you where you would likely fit.

  2. Barney (The Old Fat Man) August 21, 2014 at 6:52 pm #

    Nice country Davis. It brings back great memories of my life from 2002 to 2007.

    • Pleinguy August 21, 2014 at 7:16 pm #

      Glad it brought back the good times. It rained a lot on this leg of the journey, but I still enjoyed it.

  3. S Wade August 21, 2014 at 9:35 pm #

    One of my all time favorite areas – love the pics!

    • Pleinguy August 21, 2014 at 10:38 pm #

      I hope to return sometime and find some better camping spots.

  4. J. RICHARD SECOR August 21, 2014 at 10:26 pm #

    Great photos – my hat is off to you for your “no fear” boondocking – during our time of the road we were never so brave.

    • Pleinguy August 21, 2014 at 10:40 pm #

      I don’t care much for RV parks, and much prefer being off on my own. Mostly I boondock or use forest, BLM, COE, and state or national parks.

  5. Gypsy August 21, 2014 at 10:44 pm #

    I think this must be the most heavily visited time of year for that area. June is great but there is still a lot of snow, and September could bring snow, so most folks go for July & August. I can imagine what the campgrounds are like!

    • Pleinguy August 21, 2014 at 10:49 pm #

      You are correct about the timing of a visit to one of the National Parks. Next time it will be during the shoulder season. Campgrounds tend to be full, but I prefer boondocking anyways.

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