Summer RV Trip to our National Parks: Utah to Montana

While you are thinking about where to go and cool off this summer, don’t forget our amazing states in the Northwest, particularly Utah, Idaho and Montana. These scenic jewels are often overlooked when planning summer RV camping excursions. Begin your journey around Salt Lake City where you can rent an RV from El Monte RV Rentals. You would travel from Salt Lake City, perhaps stopping at Arches National Park and taking in Zion National Park before heading north to Idaho and then reaching Montana and the magnificent Glacier National Park.

If it is a leisurely trip, you can take the scenic highways (note US 89), and maybe pick out some other spots to stay in Idaho along the way. Idaho offers several amazing forests, including the Salmon Challis, Sawtooth, Payette, Beaverhead-Deerlodge, and Nez Pence-Clearwater National Forests. After visiting these scenic beauties, remember to keep your compass aimed northeast to Montana, to make this summer’s adventure truly spectacular.

Arches National Park

Double Arch in Arches National Park

Double Arch in Arches National Park

Most visits to Arches involve traveling by vehicle along the scenic drive, which provides access to many viewpoints and trailheads.  Arches National Park has the highest concentration of natural arches in the world. Over 2,500 of these unusual rock formations can be found here. Towering spires, fins and balanced rocks complement the arches, creating a remarkable assortment of landforms in a relatively small area. The park is within an arid, high desert environment with hot summers and cold winters. Parking is limited at all destinations. Popular trailheads like Delicate Arch and Devils Garden often fill for hours at a time, especially on weekends and holidays. Many parking spots can’t fit recreational vehicles (RVs) or vehicles with trailers. If you’re towing a car, considering driving it instead and leaving the big rig outside the park. For more suggestions on traveling in the park and how to avoid the crowds, visit the NPS’ Traffic & Travel Tips page.

Zion National Park

Zion was Utah’s first national park and is still quite popular. Here you can follow the paths where ancient native people and pioneers walked. You’ll be able to gaze up at massive sandstone cliffs of cream, pink, and red that soar into a brilliant blue sky. You can experience true wilderness in a narrow slot canyon. Zion’s unique array of plants and animals will enchant you as you absorb the rich history of the past and enjoy the excitement of present day adventures.

Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park is truly the gem in the crown of national parks. As the Crown of the Continent, Glacier is the headwaters for streams that flow to the Pacific Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, and to Hudson’s Bay. What happens here affects waters in a huge section of North America. Due to a detection of invasive mussel populations in central Montana, Glacier has closed all park waters to motorized and trailered watercraft until further notice. There has been an invasion of non-native mussels in many of the waters of the Great Lakes and Glacier is controlling boating very strictly to avoid contamination of their lakes. You can read more about the invasive species of mussels and what the Park Service is doing to protect the Glacier lakes here.

However, don’t let this watercraft restriction deter you from visiting Glacier National Park. It is truly one of the most beautiful locations on earth.

Camping Spots

You can discover some of America’s best outdoor experiences in the West.

Here are just a few choices:

Camp in the National Parks – with reservations required for many spots, you may have to book early to get one. But, many sites are first-come, first-served. Our national park system is so technologically sophisticated that you can get full details including which sites filled yesterday and by what time at their websites.

  • For Arches National Park, you can camp at one of 51 campsites among slickrock outcroppings at Devils Garden Campground, 18 miles from the park entrance. You can reserve standard campsites up to 6 months in advance for stays March 1-October 31. All sites are usually reserved months in advance. Between November 1 and February 28, sites are first-come, first-served. Facilities include drinking water, picnic tables, grills, and both pit-style and flush toilets. Click here for Arches National Park reservations.
  • For Zion National Park, there are three on-site campgrounds plus at least five off-site if the ones in the park are full. You should make reservations to get in Zion as it fills up quickly especially in the summer. Click here for Zion National Park reservations.
  • For Glacier National Park, there are 13 different campgrounds with more than 1,000 sites to choose from. Several of their campgrounds are suitable for RV camping. For reservations and more information on available campsites, click here.

To make the most of your National Park RV camping trip, you can easily rent an RV at El Monte RV Rentals in Salt Lake City.

Posted in Montana RV Camping Vacation, National Parks, Utah RV Camping Vacation | 2 Comments

Five Northwest Lake Destinations to Discover

Out of RV Travel Ideas?

If you camp by RV often, you may find the same old campgrounds losing their luster. We’ve got five enticing lake destinations in America’s rugged Northwest to help restart your RV camping hearts. Pick one from our list below and get back on the road to camping fun.

  1.   Washington – Lake Chelan

Located in the mountainous forests of Central Washington, Lake Chelan is a developed lake ringed by resort properties, quaint villages and abundant RV camping options.

Sunset at Lake Chelan, WA

Sunset at Lake Chelan, WA

Winding its way through Lake Chelan National Recreation AreaLakeshore RV Resort, operated by the city of Chelan, features full-service amenities paired with a swimming beach and easy access to services in town.the lake is custom-made for outdoor recreation. Boating, fishing, swimming, hiking and camping are popular ways to enjoy the bright blue waters of Lake Chelan and the surrounding Cascades. Campers are also within an easy drive of wineries, galleries, restaurants and shops in two lakeside villages – Chelan and Manson. A must-do day trip idea—hike or take the passenger ferry to the rustic village of Stehekin to enjoy unspoiled beauty.    

  1.   Oregon – Lake of the Woods

If you’ve been RV camping in Oregon, you’ve probably camped at magnificent Crater Lake. We’d like to offer Oregon travelers another possibility—RV camping at Lake of the Woods, a smaller, more intimate setting with plenty of woodsy charm.

Lake of the Woods, in Oregon’s Southern Cascades, is a high mountain lake kept full year-round by snow runoff and natural springs. Kokanee salmon, German Brown and Rainbow Trout thrive in the cold, clear waters at five-thousand-feet elevation.

Lake of the Woods Resort operates the camping concession within Fremont-Winema National Forest. Their small, nicely wooded campground features full hook-up and electric & water sites and is close to the marina.

Plan to spend many hours outdoors at this lush mountain paradise, where trails wind through old-growth forests, around the lake and beyond to nearby mountains. Views of Mt. McLoughlin frame your journey as you paddle a canoe or kayak along the lake’s shoreline.

  1.   Idaho – Lake Coeur d’Alene

Lake Coeur d’Alene in Northern Idaho is famous for its bright blue waters and first-class outdoor recreation. Camp in one of several RV campgrounds and resorts near the city of Coeur d’Alene and enjoy tour boat cruises, guided fishing excursions for chinook and bass, and golf on one of ten courses that ring this stunningly scenic lake.

Trails in and around the city (be sure to try Tubbs Hill), as well as a section of the seventy-mile Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes, cater to hikers, trail runners and mountain biking enthusiasts. Adjacent Coeur d’Alene National Forest is also home to hundreds of miles of trails.

  1.   Montana – Flathead Lake

Been promising your camping companions a fishing charter experience? There’s no better place in Montana to fish than Flathead Lake, the largest natural lake west of the Mississippi.

Situated in the valley adjacent to Glacier National Park, Flathead Lake is fed by two cold, clear rivers. Local outfitters can guide you to where the forty-plus-pound Lake Trout (Mackinaws) feed.

If you’re not into fishing, never fear. The lake is surrounded by hiking trails, two scenic highways that skirt the lake’s thirty-mile length and plenty of places to enjoy wildlife watching, swimming, water sports and comfortable Montana RV camping.

Speaking of camping, Finley Point State Park Campground and a half-dozen private RV parks ring the lake, offering a variety of amenities. Most are on the water or in the lakeside towns of Polson, Bigfork and Rollins.

  1.   Wyoming – Jackson Lake

One of the star attractions of Grand Teton National Park is the collection of alpine lakes within the park’s boundaries. Several of these mountain lakes are remote, accessible to hikers and tent campers. There are, however, RV camping options near the chilly, pristine waters of Jackson Lake.

Colter Bay RV Park, five minutes from Jackson Lake, is a full-service campground with full-hookups and easy access to services in Colter Bay Village. Colter Bay Campground is a large, wooded campground suitable for dry camping in an RV. Showers, laundry facilities and a dump station are close by.

Why camp at Jackson Lake while visiting Grand Teton National Park? It’s centrally located for access to all the park has to offer. The lake itself is famous for cutthroat, brown trout and lake trout fishing, and is also perfect for launching your sailboat or kayak. Boat tours are offered throughout the summer to give campers an up-close view of Mt. Moran and other jagged peaks that border the lake.

Pick a lake that appeals to your heart and plan to go RV camping soon in America’s glorious Northwest. Be sure to let us know which lakeside camping adventure you’ll be repeating!

Posted in Idaho RV Camping Vacation, Montana RV Camping Vacation, Oregon RV Camping Vacation, RV Campgrounds, State Parks, Washington RV Camping Vacation, Wyoming RV Camping Vacation | Leave a comment

Five Memorable Mountain RV Campgrounds

Follow a winding road to find a mountain campground way back in the forest. Hike wooded trails to the secret places where wildlife abounds. Hike back to share your stories with new friends at the campground. America’s state and national parks in mountain locales provide memorable settings for your RV camping adventures. Pick one from our suggestions, and be sure to let us know what you discover!

Rocky Mountain National Park – Moraine Park Campground – Colorado

You’ll find this mountain RV camping paradise off Hwy 36 near the Beaver Creek entrance of Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park. Elk and deer will greet you as you wake to the splendor of immense Moraine Park and the surrounding Rockies.  

Moraine Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

Moraine Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

This Colorado mountain campground puts you close to hundreds of miles of hiking trails, plus scenic Trail Ridge Road, mountain lakes and waterfalls and the mountain village of Estes Park.

Details: Paved roads into the campground. No hook-ups at campsites, but toilets and drinking water are available. Bring your solar shower bag to use in the designated shower enclosure to save RV water/power. RMNP shuttle takes campers to nearby trailheads. Campground is close to Estes Park and Moraine Park Discovery Center.

Black Rock Mountain State Park – Hickory Cove Campground – Georgia

The Blue Ridge Mountains within Georgia’s Chattahoochee National Forest are home to wonderfully scenic Black Rock Mountain State Park. Waterfalls, a mountain-top visitor center and scenic vistas surround RV campers who make the trip up this park’s winding roads. Black Rock Lake Trail is popular with hikers of all ages, while two more-strenuous mountain trails lead hikers to unforgettable views.

Details: Winding two-mile drive up to campground. Standard water/electric sites, some 50-amp available, showers, toilets, dump station available in campground. Shaded, gravel camping pads. Close to trails, some ranger-led activities available.

Coolidge State Park Campground – Vermont

Located in Coolidge State Forest, we rate this as a mountain campground thanks to the Green Mountain views that surround it. A small, rustic campground nestled in the forest, it’s close to hiking trails well worth discovering. Throughout the state park you’ll find original stone structures built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps, adding to the park’s vintage feel. Bonus—park fees also provide access to nearby Camp Plymouth State Park for boating and swimming.

Details: No hookups, dump station is available. Flush toilets and coin operated hot showers. Nature center should be a stop for all visitors. Easy access to hiking trails.

Painted Rocks State Park Campground-Montana

Where Montana’s Bitterroot Range wraps itself around Painted Rocks Reservoir, you’ll find a valley campground that speaks to the heart of those who love wildlife, remote pine forests and mountain fishing. Two hours south of Missoula, Montana, this small lakeshore campground is the perfect spot for a fishing and camping vacation. Moose, black bear, peregrine falcons and great blue herons call the Bitterroot Valley home, so bring your binoculars and your favorite fishing gear to catch cutthroat trout and whitefish.

Details: No hookups, vault toilets, first come, first served campsites. Motorized fishing boats, kayaks and canoes allowed on reservoir, boat ramp available.

Mount Hood National Forest—Spring Drive RV Campground—Oregon

You’ll find this photogenic spot two hours east of Portland on US-26. Located on the southeast edge of Mount Hood National Forest, Spring Drive Campground combines woodland beauty with RV convenience by offering full hookups for self-contained RVs. Rock climbing, mountaineering, hiking and fishing venues surround the campground, with spectacular views of Mount Hood and other area peaks. Reserve your site before you go, as this is a small, secluded campground popular with hikers and nature photographers.  

Details: Full hookups, no dump station, separate drinking water or toilets available. RVs must be self-contained. Large, private back-in sites in a forest setting.

Why not make it a goal to go RV camping in one of America’s mountain ranges? State and national park campgrounds throughout the country offer scenic campsites, easy access to outdoor recreation and a deeper appreciation for the people who saved these special places for future generations.

Let us help with an RV rental reservation close to home or in a city near your alpine destination. The mountains are calling—isn’t it time you answered?

Posted in Colorado RV Camping Vacation, Georgia RV Camping Vacation, Montana RV Camping Vacation, Oregon RV Camping Vacation, Vermont RV Camping Vacation | Leave a comment

AAA Members-Look Skyward! 2017 Eclipse RV Travel Savings

You may have noticed our earlier discussion about the singular celestial event that’s coming to America in 2017. To refresh your memories, we’ll be enjoying a total solar eclipse over America on August 21, 2017. A special reason we’re highlighting this opportunity for RV travel again is that AAA members can save big when renting an RV to view the solar eclipse.

AAA members always enjoy RV rental discounts through El Monte RV Rental & Sales as part of their active membership. For this year’s total solar eclipse experience, the nationwide auto club is encouraging members to hit the road in an RV to find the optimal eclipse viewing sites.

This article on the 2017 eclipse in AAA’s April member newsletter offers information on where, when and how to view the eclipse. If you aren’t currently a AAA member, this link offers you the opportunity to join so you can take advantage of the RV rental discounts.  

Solar eclipse

Solar eclipse

Haven’t started making plans to see the moon’s shadow completely block the sun from Earthly viewers? Here are the details you’ll need to plan your 2017 total solar eclipse RV vacation:

When Will the Eclipse Occur?

The shadow of the moon will align to blot out the sun from our view for approximately two minutes at 10:15 a.m. PDT on the Pacific Coast near Newport, Oregon. That will be the North American debut of the 2017 solar eclipse. The moon’s shadow will then block the sun from sight in an arc across the US, moving back over the Atlantic off the South Carolina coast at 2:48 pm EDT.

Where Will the Total Eclipse be Visible?

This excellent map of the eclipse trajectory shows the fourteen states (from Oregon to South Carolina) crossed by the “path of totality”. On that path, there’s a sixty-mile band of optimum viewing of the entire eclipse event. Outside that band, you won’t be able to see the total eclipse and will have to settle for partial eclipse memories.

To help you plan your eclipse-viewing RV vacation, here are some of the cities within the path of totality:

Oregon: Newport, Corvallis, Madras, Salem

Idaho: Stanley, McKay, Idaho Falls

Montana: No cities within optimum viewing band, eight miles of remote mountain terrain only

Wyoming: Grand Teton National Park, Casper, Thermopolis

Nebraska: Scott’s Bluff, Hastings, Grand Island

Kansas: Troy, Atchison, Leavenworth

Missouri: St. Joseph, Columbia

Illinois: Carbondale, Chester

Kentucky: Bowling Green, Hopkinsville

Tennessee: Nashville, Gallatin, Clarksville

Georgia: Blairsville, Clayton

North Carolina: Andrews, Clingmans Dome area of Great Smoky Mountain NP

South Carolina: Anderson, Orangeburg, Columbia

Why Rent an RV to View the Eclipse?

As any experienced RV traveler can tell you, weather changes occur when you least expect them. Viewing the eclipse in all its glory will require staying ahead of cloud cover or storms. Two planning steps can help you win the race:

  •         Watch local forecasts for the area where you plan to view the eclipse. If heavy cloud cover or storms are predicted, have a Plan B viewing location in mind.
  •         Traveling by RV allows you to change plans quickly. The flexibility to move to a better location as the event approaches may make the difference between awesome eclipse viewing memories and traveling home disappointed.

AAA and El Monte RV Rental & Sales can help you plan the perfect eclipse viewing RV vacation, but you’ll need to act fast. Campgrounds are filling rapidly, so don’t delay any longer making your plans.

Where will you be when the sun goes dark on August 21, 2017?

Posted in Georgia RV Camping Vacation, Idaho RV Camping Vacation, Illinois RV Camping Vacation, Kansas RV Camping Vacation, Kentucky RV Camping Vacation, Missouri RV Camping Vacation, Montana RV Camping Vacation, Nebraska RV Camping Vacation, North Carolina RV Camping Vacation, Oregon RV Camping Vacation, South Dakota RV Camping Vacation, Tennessee RV Camping Vacation, Wyoming RV Camping Vacation | Leave a comment

Three Ways to Enjoy RV Camping at Flathead National Forest

The northern Rocky Mountains of Montana play host to a two-million-acre wonderland, where wildlife, outdoor recreation and immense areas untouched by development are waiting for RV travelers to enjoy. Flathead National Forest, just south of the Canadian border and adjacent to Glacier National Park, invites visitors to discover how the West once looked to America’s early inhabitants.

Flathead National Forest

Flathead National Forest

Whether it’s taking the kids on a hike to a scenic overlook, quietly sketching the mountains surrounding a pristine lake or taking to the water on remote lakes or rivers, you’ll find a special place to do it while you’re there. Use our guide to three ways to enjoy Flathead National Forest to seed your own dreams of a Montana RV vacation. 

RV Camping and Hiking Flathead National Forest

Once you’ve chosen one of the many campgrounds in Flathead National Forest as your home base, take to the trails to see why this wilderness is treasured by hikers. More than twenty-two-hundred miles of trails crisscross the national forest, so there’s no shortage of ways to explore on foot.

Here are just a few suggestions for hikes to take while you’re there:

  • Holland Lake & Falls Trail is a little over three miles long roundtrip and leads along a bright, blue mountain lake surrounded by dense forest. The waterfall on this trail makes for great vacation photos and the terrain is gentle enough to take young hikers.
  • Numerous small lakes sparkle throughout the Jewel Basin Area of the national forest near Kalispell. Follow one or several of the marked trails, including one of moderate difficulty that climbs to the summit of Mt Aeneas, for breathtaking views and primo picnicking spots.
  • Hike (or mountain bike!) at least a section of the Whitefish Divide-Smokey Range National Recreation Trail for wilderness at its best. You’ll find the trail north of Whitefish, MT in a rugged, unspoiled region filled with wildlife and views that go on for miles.

The Forest Service website offers maps and tips for discovering trails of varying difficulty throughout the Flathead region. Your bonus—with campgrounds scattered throughout the national forest, you’ll come off a long day of hiking to RV luxury. 

RV Camping and Boating Flathead National Forest

Another popular way to enjoy outdoor recreation while RV camping at Flathead National Forest is to explore its lakes and rivers. Boaters, in particular, will want to camp at Hungry Horse Reservoir Recreation Area. Lakeside campgrounds ring this thirty-five mile lake below Hungry Horse Dam on the South Fork Flathead River, making it easy to camp and boat from several vantage points.

If you prefer to explore wilderness waterways by kayak, raft or canoe, the North, Middle and South Forks of the Wild and Scenic Flathead River offer nearly unlimited adventure. Bring your own watercraft or take a guided tour with an area outfitter, either way you’ll have a water expedition worth remembering on these unspoiled waterways.

RV Camping with Scenic Drives Through Flathead National Forest

The ability to set out on nearly any national forest road or the highways that connect Flathead National Forest to Glacier National Park and be assured of wondrous views is a third reason RV travelers come to western Montana.

A particular favorite is the Seeley-Swan scenic drive (Hwy 83) from Seeley Lake to Swan Lake along the western edge of the Bob Marshall Wilderness section of the national forest. Jagged peaks, mountain lakes, wildlife and easy access to hiking trails make this drive something you simply must experience for yourself while RV camping in Montana.

If you’re ready for an RV journey to a place where nature reigns supreme, your next camping trip should be to Montana’s Flathead National Forest. Rent an RV or pack up the one in your driveway and get going! It’s high time to visit this Rocky Mountain wilderness and see what all the excitement is about.

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Travel where the Buffalo Roam on an RV Vacation

Bison in the National Bison Range

Bison in the National Bison Range

Take an RV and travel through Montana and Idaho, enjoying the landscapes, the wildlife and the simple pleasures of travel. This trip is a long one, through buffalo territory, into the wilds of national forests and stopping in small towns filled with history. You begin this journey in Missoula, Montana where you can stay a while to experience festive occasions the year round. Jim and Mary’s RV Park is a great place to stay with lovely shaded sites.

From Missoula you will follow I-90 to where MT 200 and Highway 93 turn north. Follow MT 200 to Highway 95 and south again on I-90 back to Missoula. This route will take you to untold beauty, scenes from picture books and views of where the buffalo roam. In Glacier Country, you can experience the Northwest as you always imagined it would be. Stop to hike, fish, paddle on the lakes or just watch the wildlife wander the forests. Glimpse grizzly bears, deer, elk, moose and wolves.

When you reach the National Bison Range where herds of bison still roam, get on Red Sleep Mountain Drive which takes you into the refuge along an incredibly scenic drive. No trailers are allowed on the road and you should ensure your RV can make the trip. There are plenty of steep inclines and sharp curves. But if you have a motorcycle or other vehicle, you definitely won’t want to miss this opportunity for stunning views and a wide array of wildlife viewing as well.

Part of your trip will be within Kootenai National Forest and you will reach Thompson Falls and the beautiful Thompson Falls Dam along the Clark Fork River. Have a picnic with the family before moving on to Cabinet Gorge Reservoir. This is the ideal place to break out the fishing gear and possibly catch some largemouth bass, or rainbow, brook or cutthroat trout. Be sure to ask locals for the best place to go. Finally you enter the Idaho panhandle and have Coeur d’Alene National Forest surrounding you. This is a wilderness area of lush forests, mountains and lakes.

One of the most beautiful lakes in Idaho lies in your path – Lake Pend Oreille. With 111 miles of shoreline it offers lots of fishing opportunities. It is also one of the deepest inland lakes in all of North America at an approximate 1,170 feet. Take to the water on a Jet Ski, paddleboard or sailboat. The fun is never-ending!

Of course, Sandpoint, Idaho is right on the lake and surrounded by mountains that provide endless chances for all sorts of outdoor recreation. Some state parks in the area are highly recommended for a visit such as Round Lake State Park, where you can rent a canoe and paddle until dusk. Fish for perch or trout! Then head for the other state parks in the region like Farragut and Priest Lake State Parks.

When you get your fill, you head south on 95 to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho and more activities to keep your days full. From here, simply follow Interstate 90 back to Missoula, not forgetting to stop at Old Mission State Park on the way. What a perfect RV trip! What fun! Come back again!

The picture of the bison is by Paul Frederickson and is from the Wikimedia Commons. It is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic license.

Posted in Idaho RV Camping Vacation, Montana RV Camping Vacation, State Parks | Tagged | Leave a comment

Take an RV Trip over Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park

St. Mary Lake in Glacier National Park

St. Mary Lake in Glacier National Park

A trip to Glacier National Park offers the awe-inspiring beauty you have always dreamed of in a refreshing and unique vacation. Traveling in an RV to this wonderland of peaks and meadows is the perfect getaway for the whole family this summer. Wildlife is abundant, wooded slopes invite you into their depths for a nature hike and the fresh air stimulates and excites as nothing else can.

It is the Going-to-the-Sun Road that is the true adventure in a Glacier National Park trip. You get 50 miles of absolute gorgeous vistas and diverse landscapes. Lakes, glaciers, mountains’ majesty – the sights never stop. Glimpsing the mountain goats and bighorn sheep is a real thrill. You can’t forget your camera on this trip or you’ll end up buying another so you won’t miss a shot.

St. Mary Lake graces St. Mary Valley and you will want to stop and view Virginia Falls while here. The region around this lake has been the home of Native Americans for centuries. Stop at the St. Mary Visitor Center and get more education about the tribes who lived here and those that still exist. Many award-winning and amazingly varied performances happen at the visitor center throughout the summer.

You will find one of the Glacier National Park campgrounds will be just the place for you to make your base of operations while visiting the park. Different campgrounds take different lengths of RV motorhomes, so you can choose depending on the length of yours. The campground that takes the longest RVs is Apgar, accommodating those up to 40 feet long.

Of course, the park is named for the numerous glaciers here, and these glaciers are what formed the park as you see it now. They carved the bowls and created the moraines of today. The very heart of the park is at Many Glacier where you can get up close and see these magnificent wonders of nature.

If you want to get out and hike, Chief Mountain is the place to do it! Some of the trails are pretty strenuous, but you will find some are not so tough. To get to the mountain, you will have to cross Blackfeet land. There are tribal regulations in place, so be sure to find out what they are before you embark.

One breathtaking view after another is available at Logan Pass. This is the highest point in the park and you will most certainly want to make it to the top. The meadows are blooming with lovely wildflowers and you may even glimpse a grizzly bear. Two great trails are in the area that you can hike – the Hidden Lake and the Highline trails.

The largest lake in Glacier National Park is Lake McDonald. You will find plenty of outdoor fun at this lake, particularly hiking. The best trails here are the Trail of the Cedars and the Avalanche Lake Trail. Once you enjoy the spectacular views you can move on along Going-to-the-Sun Road to the end, but your trip will never end because you’ll carry memories of it with you forever.

Picture credits: The picture of St. Mary Lake in Glacier National Park is from the Wikimedia Commons. It is in the public domain.

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A Scenic RV Drive on the Beartooth Highway

Beartooth Highway Near the Beartooth Pass

Beartooth Highway Near the Beartooth Pass

For one of the most scenic RV vacations ever, take the Beartooth Highway through Montana and Wyoming. This byway rates high on the list of top scenic drives in America. Breathtaking views, gorgeous valleys, waterfalls and glacial lakes await you. You will travel sixty-seven miles from Yellowstone to Red Lodge, Montana, through a number of National Forests and National Wilderness lands.

Make your home base in Cooke City and stay at Colter Campground, a spot high in elevation with RV sites available. You will be close to Yellowstone National Park, which is where you will start your adventure. If you haven’t visited Yellowstone before, now is the time! You can’t miss Old Faithful, and there are numerous geysers, mud pots, hot springs and other amazing sights. Wildlife is abundant as well as plenty of places to hike or bike.

As you move northeast out of Yellowstone and begin your drive in your RV on the Beartooth Highway, stop in Cooke City, Montana and visit the F.J. Williams Gallery. This is the oldest house in town, built more than 140 years ago. You will see fascinating antiques and primitive art and learn some interesting history. You should also stop at the historic mining community of Silver Gate. This is filled with history of the Old West.

Side trips are always fun, and at the junction of US Highway 212 and WY 296, you can take the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway for more spectacular scenery. You will head south to Cody, Wyoming and enjoy miles of breathtaking beauty. Head back then to the Beartooth Highway to continue on your journey.

Just a bit further west when you get back on the Beartooth scenic route, you will find Crazy Creek Falls. It is worth a stop to see this incredible waterfall and learn some of the history connected. This unique waterfall comes from Crazy Creek, named because of its wild, erratic pattern of flowing. Take the walking trail and reach the viewing area for some lovely vistas.

The Beartooth-Absaroka Wilderness in Central Montana offers great wildlife watching with wildlife such as elk, mountain goats, black and grizzly bear and moose on the prowl. You can even ski here in June and July. Granite Peak stands high over the plateau, and is the king of all the rugged peaks in the Absarokas. Dare you try to climb this mountain? Many do. It is usually best as an overnight endeavor.

As you drive over the Beartooth Plateau, you will marvel at the inspiring views of alpine tundra, glaciers, mountain peaks and of course, the wildlife spotted at a distance. This plateau is at an elevation of 10,970 feet. You are really up there in the atmosphere! You will finally come to Red Lodge, Montana, a quaint town with a lot of history.

You have completed your RV journey and it is time to head home. You have the satisfaction of knowing you have visited a beautiful corner of the world, the Old West coming alive in all directions. It is something that you will never forget.

Posted in Montana RV Camping Vacation, National Parks | Tagged , | Leave a comment

An RV Trip of Mountain Dreams in Glacier National Park

Avalanche Lake in Glacier National Park

Avalanche Lake in Glacier National Park

If you love the panoramic landscapes that mountain vistas offer, then Glacier National Park is the place to go. You can take an RV for the best vacation ever, traveling the byways of Montana in style. You will view alpine meadows and rugged mountain scenery. Pristine forests are filled with wildlife and lots of adventures for the whole family.

Begin your wilderness journey in West Glacier, MT, the western entrance to Glacier National Park. Explore the town and its historic past. It is the perfect beginning of a special Montana getaway. Stock up supplies for your trip across the Continental Divide and glorious views. West Glacier KOA is a perfect place to use as a home base for your RV vacation to Glacier.

You will take beautiful Going-to-the-Sun Road through the park, with access to all the best sights. This road is 50 miles of incredible scenery. The road is open from June (or snowmelt) to around September or October. If you would rather not brave the high roads and twisting curves in an RV, you can park in West Glacier or St. Mary and take the shuttle system that Glacier National Park provides visitors. This is a comfortable way to view the park and all its wonders without worrying about driving or parking.

There are abundant activities for all ages in and around the park. Wildlife viewing is a favorite, with plenty of bighorn sheep, moose, mountain goats and even bears. There are over 700 miles of trails in Glacier National Park, so you simply must take advantage of the opportunity for a high-altitude hike. Once you get accustomed to the elevation, it will be easy to trek along the beautiful trails. The Trail of the Cedars and Avalanche Lake Trail take you to a lovely mountain lake. Be aware that the trails are high and you must take care and not get too close to the edge. You will finally come to the lake and enjoy the marvelous waterfalls falling from the cliffs.

Hidden Lake in Glacier National Park

Hidden Lake in Glacier National Park

If you love to fish, you will have plenty of places to throw in a line. You will find Avalanche Lake has some great fishing as well as wildlife wandering its shores. Hiking to the lake is half the fun. Hidden Lake is another lake requiring a hike to reach, taking a trail from the Logan Pass Visitor Center. Find some really big trout here, up to twenty inches long.

The most common fish caught in Glacier Lakes include brook, bull and lake trout as well as Kokanee salmon. Try your luck at Bullhead Lake, at the foot of the Continental Divide. Get to Lake Josephine by hiking or boating across Swiftcurrent Lake. This backcountry lake is easy to reach, and will provide a great fishing experience. Mostly hikers come here so fishing pressure is light.

Once you reach the end of Going-to-the-Sun Road, you will be at St. Mary, the eastern entrance to the park. It is a wonderful place to say your goodbyes to Glacier National Park and start your trip home, plenty of incredible memories of your RV vacation etched into your memory.

Picture credits: The pictures of Avalanche Lake and Hidden Lake are by National Park Service staff.

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The Beartooth All-American Road into Yellowstone

Beartooth Highway

Beartooth Highway

Visitors to Yellowstone National Park can approach from the northeast via one of America’s most scenic routes, the Beartooth All American Road. This stretch of US 212 runs from Red Lodge, Montana, through forested mountains, Alpine tundra, and lush valleys to the park entrance in Wyoming, just past Cooke City. All American Roads are, in the judgement of the U.S. National Department of Transportation, the most scenic of the National Scenic Byways. The Beartooth is the final 70 miles of US 212, which originates in Edina, Minnesota, 950 miles to the East. Please remember that much of the Beartooth is closed during the winter.

Have your camera handy, as this drive features some of the most scenic country on the continent. Plateaus offer fantastic views of sharp peaks dramatically rising up to meet the wide western sky, and the hundreds of small lakes you will drive past can glint in the sun like diamonds or moodily reflect the beauty of the surrounding landscape, depending on the light and how you look at them. A trip along the Beartooth is officially estimated at 2-3 hours, but we’d suggest leaving plenty of extra time to soak up the views, and to enjoy at least one meal at one of the many places you’ll want to stop along the way.

You might want to keep the binoculars at the ready, too. Wildlife viewing opportunities are plentiful here, as the Beartooth highway provides access to one of the last complete ecosystems in North America. At any time during your trip, you might encounter grizzly bears, mountain goats, gray wolves which were reintroduced to Yellowstone in 1995 and are gaining a foothold, as well as countless species of birds.

The Beartooth begins in Red Lodge and consists of a 69 mile drive into the northeast Entrance of the park. The drive will climb into Alpine tundra at nearly 10,000 feet, and take you past three national forests (Custer, Shoshone, and Gallatin) and through the beautiful Beartooth pass. Winter conditions here are so harsh that only a few hardy mammals stay year round, and the pass is closed to all wheeled traffic. Summertime, however, allows the RV traveller exceptional views of the surrounding scenery. The switchbacks leading up from the head of the valley offer dramatic outlooks, and culminate at Vista point, which has a short walk out to overlook Rock Creek Canyon and Hellroaring Plateau. There are many turnouts along the route that provide breathtaking views of the unspoiled glacial lakes below. These are very narrow and require extra care, especially if you’re driving a rental motorhome that you’re not intimately familiar with.

Driving down from the pass, you will motor through scrubby softwood forests and wildflower meadows. Several large peaks in the Absaroka Range will be visible, including Pilot Peak which is slightly over 11,000 feet. Continuing to descend, you’ll travel through some denser pine forests before emerging at the highway’s namesake, Beartooth Lake. Watch for a great view of Beartooth falls. Just about a mile before going into Yellowstone via the northeast entrance, you’ll pass through the historic mining camp of Cooke City.

Be careful to reserve camping in advance, or to secure your site early in the day, because Yellowstone can be quite busy in mid-season. The National Park Service has information about camping sites available in or near Yellowstone. For camping in Red Lodge, Montana, we’d suggest the Red Lodge KOA.

Also be sure to check the weather, either with the Park Service or the Montana and Wyoming weather services before setting out. Summer snow isn’t unheard of along the Beartooth!

Picture credits: The picture of the Beartooth Highway is from the Wikimedia Commons. It file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

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