RVers' Treasure under Big Sky

Published: Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Covering an area of 94 million acres, it is not really difficult to understand why Montana is ranked as the fourth biggest American state. From this large coverage area, the state classifies nearly a quarter as public land. An extra five million acres are dedicated wilderness areas where elks, bears, wolves, antelopes, and deer are often seen. Mountains, meanwhile, are abundant which is how Montana got hold of its name in the first place, the term originating from a Latin word which means "mountainous".

Needless to say, Montana is replete with natural attractions, and for travelers like RVers, this is one important aspect that is always taken into serious consideration. With Montana, RV riders ought to expect a truly enjoyable ride.

The Regions of the "Treasure State"

Montana, which also goes by two other names, including "Big Sky Country" and "Treasure State", is generally seen as being composed of six basic regions. These are the Glacier Country (Northwest Region), the Russell Country (North Central Region), the Missouri River Country (Northeast Region), the Goldwest Country (Southwest Region), the Yellowstone Country (South Central Region), and the Custer Country (Southeast Region).

The Glacier Country

The mountains that rest on this region were formed primarily through glaciation which simply means that they are covered in ice. This is not actually surprising considering that Northwest Montana receives quite a significant amount of snowfall during the winter months, with its mountains usually bearing the brunt, especially during heavy snow activity.

RVers visiting Glacier Country might think that winter time is the ideal period to see the area. In a way, this is accurate for winter in the region provides opportunities to engage in such activities as skiing and snowboarding amidst a stunning scenery of white but tempered by rather mild temperatures. Yet, the remaining seasons likewise offer exciting outdoor opportunities. During summer, for example, camping out at Beavertail Hill State Park in Clinton City should be quite exciting since the activity is quite popular there, alongside fishing wildlife viewing, and trail hiking. For RV parking, Ekstrom Stage Station should be able to provide the needed answer. The campground used to be occupied by log buildings but is now a fully-loaded RV camp site with a restaurant renowned for its homemade pies.

The Russell Country

The region was named after Charlie Russell, a young Montana artist from the 1800s who perfectly captured regional life during his time. He made beautiful sketches of the rivers, lakes, and mountains that comprise the North Central Montana landscape, attractions that remain unchanged through the years and which RV-boarded tourists will most likely find to be genuinely enticing.

Numerous are the cities that make up the entire Russell Country but for RVers, one regional city worth visiting is Great Falls where attractions, both man-made and natural, will greet them. Situated along the sides of the Missouri River, Great Falls is the third biggest Montana city where Charlie Russell started his historic sketches of North Central Montana. His former home cum log studio is now housed at the C.M. Russell Museum Complex that RVers can get to see through guided tours.

For outdoor fun, Great Falls offers the Giant Springs Heritage State Park with its natural spring considered as among the coldest worldwide. Here, RVers can either enjoy a picnic or take a scenic drive across Roe River. Other attractions include a view of the falls that play a major role in the tourism industry of Great Falls. These include Black Eagle Falls, Rainbow Falls, and Crooked Falls which can all be seen via River's Edge, a non-motorized but paved pathway stretching for about eight miles where only bikers, joggers, and roller-bladers are allowed entry. For RV riders who want to view the falls through their RVs, a nearby alternate paved road is available.

Two RV parks are ready to serve RVers visiting Russel Country. These include Dick's RV Park and Great Falls KOA Kampground with the latter being the preferred one as it is found near Great Springs State Park

The Missouri River Country

An outdoor paradise and a historic area are the phrases that best describe the Missouri River Country. Here, regional history starting from early Native American settlers up to the time of notorious outlaws like Dutch Henry, the Wild Bunch, and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid are all enshrined in county museums that RVers are welcome to explore. Meanwhile, for the outdoor lover, the region offers a wide array of natural wonders that include unexplored wilderness areas, wondrous rivers, and wildlife sanctuaries where adventures of unimaginable proportions are always a possibility.

Glasgow is one regional city where both history and the great outdoors make a happy mix. RV-boarded travelers can start their tour of the Missouri River Country with a visit to the Valley County Pioneer Museum where Indian artifacts and fossil remains are proudly displayed. Afterwards, they can go straight to nearby Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge and catch red foxes, coyotes, deers, and bugling elks play around in total freedom. They can also try listening to the songs of rare bird species like the blackcapped chikadee and the mountain bluebird.

A search for RV parks based in Missouri River Country should prove to be quite fruitful as many of its cities have one or two of these. Glasgow, in particular, has four RV campgrounds and RVers will have a grand time choosing from Camp Creek Campground, Trails West Campground, Shady Rest RV Park, and Hi-Line Terrace Mobile Home and RV Park.

The Goldwest Country

The valleys that comprise Goldwest Country are planted with agricultural crops but what will likely attract RV-boarded tourists to this region is its enormous peaks clad in white snow and rivers teeming with various fish species. Additionally, Southwest Montana holds the enviable distinction of being placed in between two principal Montana state parks namely the Yellowstone National Park and the Glacier National Park, where outdoor activities abound, thus making the region a natural stop-over area for most RVers.

Apart from the two main national parks, there are several other Goldwest Country attractions that RVers can try exploring. In Anaconda City alone, the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness features peaks as tall as 10,000 feet where many historic areas await discovery. Down at Washoe Park, meanwhile, playgrounds for children, picnic areas, baseball fields, and tennis courts offer absolute enjoyment.

RV-boarded travelers can likewise try visiting Georgetown Lake, among the more popular attractions in Anaconda. Set about 18 miles away, the lake is a common meeting spot among campers, windsurfers, boaters, and anglers.

Finally, one can take the RV and start off on a scenic cruise along the Pintler Scenic Route which will involve spectacular views of the mountains that engulf Philipsburg and Anaconda cities alongside the serene shores lining Georgetown Lake. At the end of the cruise, one should reach St. Timothy's Chapel, where Georgetown Lake continues with its panoramic scenery.

With such countless attractions, getting the RV a good place to rest should naturally be on the list. Apparently, Anaconda is well-aware of this, that is why it features four RV parks, including Hunter's Trailer Court, Big Sky RV Park, Lake View RV Park, and Denton's Point Campground, the latter being the ideal camping site being set on the southern shoreline of Georgetown Lake.

The Yellowstone Country

The South Central Region is essentially composed of prairie lands although it is not really uncommon to see isolated mountains from afar. River valleys, led by Yellowstone and Missouri, can also be seen here with Yellowstone River directly providing the needed water supply of the Yellowstone National Park, admittedly the most famous of all regional attractions.

Of the many cities falling under the control of the Yellowstone Country, Bozeman should be seriously considered by RVers as a possible tourist destination. Its many historic sites notwithstanding, the city has also been blessed with a vast selection of natural wonders that includes mountain ranges, trout streams, and a forest area covering over a thousand acres. Try hiking or biking across the terrain of the Gallatin National Forest and during winter, visit two ski resorts namely Big Sky Ski and Summer Resort and Bridger Bowl, for a round of exhilarating skiing. Afterwards, settle in at Bozeman KOA, an RV park set in central Gallatin Valley where the Yellowstone National Park can be reached after a mere 60-minute driving time.

The Custer Country

Quite obviously, the region was named after the American general who fought bravely against the unstoppable force of the Native Americans centuries ago, an event commemorated in many regional landmarks and state parks found all across Custer Country. History is definitely alive in this particular region and RV riders can relive those shining moments by visiting various trail areas situated in such places as the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument and by touring historic landmarks like the Custer Battlefield Museum.

Of course, Custer Country is not entirely about history for there are also several areas here that focus more on the natural wonders that adorn the regional landscape. A good example of this is the Makoshika State Park, the biggest public park in Montana, where campers are a welcome lot. Here, they can have a picnic, watch a live show at the outdoor amphitheater, or take a marksmanship test at the shooting and archery ranges. Alternatively, one can take the RV and set off on a scenic drive across the park where encountering fossil remains of extinct dinosaurs is always a possibility.

Regional cities that RVers need to consider when exploring Custer Country include Billings and Glendive owing to their proximity to major Southeast Montana attractions. The former houses the Billings Metro KOA, an RV park near the Little Bighorn National Battlefield and is also the gracious host of Zoo Montana where its 70-acre wide greenland provides the perfect shelter for many exotic animals.

Glendive, meanwhile, boasts of having the Makoshika State Park under its jurisdiction as the park lies along its southern tip. Its other principal attraction is the Yellowstone River whose waters flow through the city. The river and its adjoining area, the Yellowstone National Park, can best be accessed via Green Valley Campground, an RV park that RVers can easily reach by traversing Highway 16 after which one should turn right at Green Valley Lane.

A Look at Some Montana Cities

Helena City is the Montana state capital and this should definitely be among the cities that RV-boarded visitors need to explore when visiting the "Treasure State" partly because of the many historic attractions found therein but also because Helena is situated near several water systems, opening up possibilities for outdoor water-based activities. Apart from her, a few other cities should likewise be worth being granted the needed exploration.


A city belonging to the Goldwest Country, Helena started out as a mining town in 1852 when the first gold find was discovered in its midst. More than 20 years later, the city became the official state capital with the Capitol Building consequently being built sometime in 1898.

The building was constructed in Greek Renaissance style that RVers will find worthy of being visited not only due to its historic architectural design but also because her murals are a quiet depiction of early Montana evolution. Outside, RV riders can visit the gentle hills that surround the city while farther on, two lakes, Hauser and Holter, beckon them to go swimming, fishing, boating, or water-skiing. Another lake, the Canyon Ferry, situated at the eastern tip of Helena, is popular for its ice boating ventures.

Parking for RVers should not pose any problems since there are about three RV parks set right within Helena. Of the three, Devil's Elbow Campground ought to be most ideal since the roads leading to it are entirely paved with driving time needing only 20 minutes max.


The city is also called the "Garden City" since its landscape is enveloped in lush greenery. Set inside a densely forested mountain, Missoula is regarded by some as the educational, medical and cultural center of Montana particularly since it houses the University of Montana situated along the Clark Fork River banks. The university, easily among the most attractive in the US, sits on a 200-acre wide land where approximately 12,000 students are enrolled.

Touring the university grounds should prove to be highly educational for most RVers but if they prefer an outdoor-based exploration, three nearby rivers can provide the ideal solution. On the northeastern side lies Blackfoot River while down south are Clark Fork and Bitterroot Rivers, all offering such outdoor recreations as canoeing, kayaking, rafting, and fishing. And to cap an activity-filled day, one can choose from five distinct RV parks including Turah RV Park, LLC, Outpost Campground, Missoula KOA, Jim and Mary's RV Park, and Jellystone RV Park, all situated within Missoula city proper.

Yellowstone National Park

The park holds many significant distinctions, chief of which is that it is the biggest national park in the US and the first park granted national stature worldwide. Additionally, it is the most prominent American wildlife sanctuary with a land coverage stretching up to 3,472 square miles.

The park features a wide range of natural attractions that include steaming geysers, pristine lakes, awesome waterfalls, and an all-around engaging scenery. The geysers are particularly endearing since they are rather extensive with over 10,000 of them having thermal properties.

RV riders visiting the park may find a one-day tour rather short and inadequate so a second visit may be suitable, in which case, they need to look for several camp parks where their RVs are welcome. There are several of these found within the Yellowstone National Park although highly-recommended would be Norris Campground situated in the middle of the park where areas for RV camping are well-designated.

Big Sky Ski and Summer Resort

Set within the Big Sky village is this unique playground that RVers will find totally complete as it operates all year through and offering the widest selection of outdoor activities complete with lodging provisions. The Big Sky Ski and Summer Resort covers such a vast area that practically all forms of outdoor recreations can be enjoyed here. Skiing is naturally the top outdoor sport here during winter but the remaining seasons likewise offer exciting activities. For instance, the Lee Metcalf Spanish Peaks Wilderness area is a common meeting place for avid hikers at any given time while during summer, gondola rides are quite popular at the foot of Lone Mountain where amazing views of the resort landscape are simply beyond description.

For a better exploration of the area, RVers can opt for a stay at one of three campgrounds situated near the resort where the RV can be placed in security. Of the three, Moose Creek Flat Campground ought to be chosen since it provides access to nearby Gallatin River where fishing ventures abound. Most significantly, several of the camp sites here are RV-friendly.

Visiting Montana

Owing to its mountainous landscape, Montana does experience extreme winter condition at times, but this is often applicable only in the upland regions. The lower areas are not particularly prone to snow storms since moisture does not usually reach the prairie lands, as this is often absorbed up in the Montana mountains.

RVers who prefer a mountain setting for their Montana sojourn are best advised to come in during summer since the temperatures during this time are rather mild. If one intends to go camping, warm coverings like gloves and hats should be brought along. The evenings, meanwhile, offer relief from daytime heat as they are often cold.

Cameron Cabins and RV Park

Situated inside the ranch town of Cameron, this RV park offers RV sites founded on grassy picnic lands amidst rows of mature trees. Surrounding the park is Big Sky where its famous ski resort beckons all interested ski enthusiasts but let that not hamper the spirit of other outdoor lovers, for the resort welcomes them as well with opportunities for hiking, hunting, fishing, wildlife viewing, and many others.

Cameron is conveniently settled between picturesque Virginia City and the famed Yellowstone National Park, allowing RV visitors the rare opportunity to see two significant places near Montana state. The town itself is teeming with outdoor opportunities including fly-fishing along the Madison River which is only a mile away. The RV park, meanwhile, offers modern restrooms, WiFi access, and a delightful breakfast at its resident cafe bar, the KBear Cafe.

Trout Creek Motel, Cabins and RV Park

Situated in Trout Creek, this RV park proudly boasts of having 18 clean but affordable sites that are fully hooked-up variously scattered across open and tree-shaded areas. The latter areas feature fire rings and picnic tables, allowing RVers to have a quiet family get-together while exploring the hospitality of the place.

Attractions-wise, Trout Creek is set close by where water-skiing is popularly engaged in, with amazing views of wildlife completing the adventure. For a more diverse set of outdoor pursuits, including mountain climbing, hiking, snow skiing, and snowboarding, RVers can head off to Clark Fork River, accessible on foot.
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