Remember that when you leave this Earth, you can take with you nothing that you have received, only what you have given, a full heart enriched by honest service, love, sacrifice and courage. -St. Francis of Assisi

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Montana State Parks and Forest Service Campgrounds

The crazy schedule that I work in Cody -  2:00 - 10:30 - has affected my usual "morning person" routine. I no longer leave a campsite early in the morning. I left the KOA at the 11:00 am checkout time.

I decided to follow part of the self-guided tour loop that I printed from the internet and I also added a side trip to Chief Plenty Coups State Park.

The directions on the website and Google maps both stated that it was a 5 mile drive on the gravel Edgar/Pryor Road.  It actually ended up being 17 miles.  The road was in great condition and I enjoyed the drive through the countryside/ranch land.

My reward for traveling along this road, wondering if I should turn around, was the sighting of these beautiful horses.  Again, I was traveling through the "amber waves of grains".
I really like driving through the high prairie area east of the mountains.

There was no traffic on this gravel ranch road, so I just stopped along the side of the road just a few feet from these beautiful horses.  They were very interested in the RV - kept looking towards the back of it.

Montana and Wyoming skies were starting to get hazy from the smoke of wildfires west of here.

Chief Plenty Coups State Park

Situated within the Crow Indian Reservation in south-central Montana, 40 minutes south of Billings, this day-use park preserves the log home, sacred spring, and farmstead of Chief Plenty Coups. This state park is a National Historic Landmark.

Plenty Coups (Aleek-chea-ahoosh, meaning "many achievements") was a man of war - and then a man of peace - whose vision has helped bridge a gap between two cultures. Recognized for his bravery and leadership, he was made a chief of the Apsáalooke (Crow) tribe by age 28.

When Plenty Coups gave up his nomadic ways in 1884, he became one of the first Apsáalooke to own and settle on a farm, which was deeded to him through the federal Indian Allotment Act. On his 320-acre tract, located a half mile east of Pryor, he opened a general store, built a home, and tilled the earth until his death in 1932 at age 84.

At that time, as requested by Plenty Coups and his wife, Strikes the Iron, 195 acres of his land was made into a public park. Upon his death, the Apsáalooke people voted to designate him as their last traditional tribal chief.

Front door should always face "east" to greet the morning sun

It was getting late and I still had a long way to go to make it to Nye, MT and the Woodbine Campground in the Absaroka-Beartooth WIlderness. I headed toward I-90 and drove through the west end of Billings and toward Columbus where I would exit the interstate.  I stopped for fuel in Columbus and bought some salad and fruit at the well stocked convenience store (no cooking tonight) and headed toward Nye.
Columbus, MT has a really pretty city campground along the river and this would have been a good option for the night, also.

When I reached Absarokee the wind picked up and it started to rain. There was a RV park in town, but I really did not want to stay in a commercial RV park. I turned onto a side street and there was the post office with a large parking lot, I pulled in there to wait out the rain.  It was over in about 15 minutes and then I continued on to my destination.  

The drive west on Highway 419 is about 28 miles and the campground is at the end of the road. This is another beautiful drive through the hills and ranches. I have stayed at several forest service campgrounds this month and the sites are large and the scenery is beautiful.

The campsite fee was $17 regular price ($8.50 if you have a Golden Access Pass) - this campground does not have any water or electric hookups and does not have a dump station - but that doesn't really matter for a one night stay. Is it a bad thing to want to be 62 years old so that I can pay half price for my campsite, haha?  I added 56 miles to my trip to stay at this campground but it was well worth it over staying in a cramped site in a commercial RV park.  

Photos of Woodbine Forest Service Campground

Had to force myself to get up at leave at 8:30 am on Friday, as I had to start work at 2:00 and it was a 2 1/2 hour drive back to Cody.

I am now searching out more forest service campgrounds to visit.  I hope to stay at one or more on my trip to Colorado Springs in August. Sites can be reserved at but they charge a $9.00 service fee per reservation.  I took a gamble that there would be a site available at Woodbine and there were around 4 open sites when I arrived.  I also plan to stay at many of these sites when I leave Cody in September and head south toward more National Parks and federal lands. 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Red Lodge, Montana

Montana - "Big Sky Country"

On the way from Cody, WY to Red Lodge, MT you pass through the small town of Bearcreek, MT

Bearcreek is the site of a terrible mining disaster. I stopped along the road to read the sign describing the disaster. The old mine buildings are falling apart and look like a ghost town. There seemed to be a path down towards the building.  I did not take any photos or walk down the hill.

Several years ago I had read about a small bookstore in Red Lodge, MT and when I checked the website last week there was a description of a book about the disaster.

"Goodbye Wives and Daughters" by Susan Kushner Resnick

From the book:
One morning in 1943, close to eighty men descended into the Smith coal mine in Bearcreek,  Montana. Only three came out alive. "Goodbye wives and daughters," wrote two of the miners as they died. The story of that tragic day and its aftermath unfolds in this book through the eyes of those same wives and daughters - women who lost their husbands, fathers and sons, livelihoods, neighbors and homes, yet managed to fight back and persevere.

~         ~         ~         ~         ~         ~         ~         ~         ~         ~         ~         ~         ~        ~

Red Lodge is known as the starting place of the Beartooth Highway - one of the routes into Yellowstone.

I was not planning on going into the park today and did not plan to drive the highway.  When I came to the intersection of  Hwy 212, I turned left instead of right - this took me to the beginning of the Beartooth Highway.  I drove along part of it, passing by some Forest Service Campgrounds and climbing higher, I drove up to about 8,880 feet and turned around at an overlook to head back down.

Red Lodge is a cute mountain town.  Lots of stores, but also lots of bars along Main Street. I found the bookstore and purchased the book about Bearcreek and a book about Alaska.  I walked from one end of town to the other, purchased some Macaroons at the bakery and a Gyro from a food truck, yum - the vendor was from Chicago.

My plan was to camp at Cooney State Park for the night. Before arriving at the state park, I drove through a beautiful area of ranches and grassland - "amber waves of grain".  Too bad there was no where to stop to take pictures of this beautiful land.  The road to the southern shore of the state park was gravel and very washboardy, I gave up and turned around.  I did stop by the northern shore near the marina but the campsites there were for tents and the cost for a non-resident for one night, no hookups, if I wanted to stay in the parking lot was $28.00.

I had passed by a KOA on the way to the state park, so I just stayed at the KOA for the night, $33 W/E site.  I was parked next to one of the workampers and they mentioned Woodbine Campground in the forest, and Woodbine was mentioned on a self-guided tour that I had printed from the internet.  So, I decided that Thursday night I would stay at Woodbine, but there were more towns in the area that I wanted to see on Thursday before settling in at the campground.

tent sites along the creek at Red Lodge KOA

To be continued...........

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

North Fork of the Shoshone River

Sometimes I just want to hang out in the forest
I don't always need to drive far to go sightseeing

I am off work of Wednesday and Thursday each week and I try to get away in the RV to see different areas around Cody.

Last week I stayed overnight at 2 different forest service campsites in the Shoshone National Forest. I only used about an 1/8 tank of gas over 2 days - but felt like I was far away from everything. No cell service in these areas.

The Wapiti Ranger Station, located on U S Highway 14/16/20 about 30 miles west of Cody, was built in 1903. It was the first ranger station constructed at federal expense in the United States. In 1963, the Ranger Station was added to the National Register of Historic Places as a National Historic Landmark. The Ranger Station and outbuildings are still used today to house Forest Service summer seasonal employees and pack and saddle stock and for storing equipment and supplies.

Wapiti: [wop-i-tee] a Shawnee word for white rump - also American Elk, large deer

Wednesday night at the Wapiti Campground and Thursday night at Rex Hale Campground
$20 a night for a large site with electric/water

Shoshone River
a 100-mile long river in northern Wyoming, Its headwaters are in the Absaroka Range in Shoshone National Forest. It ends when it runs into the Big Horn River near Lovell, Wyoming. Cities it runs near or through are CodyPowellByron, and Lovell. Near Cody, it runs through a volcanically active region of fumaroles known as Colter's Hell.This contributed to the river being named on old maps of Wyoming as the Stinking Water River.
The current name was established in 1901 due to popular demand.
West of Cody the river is impounded in Shoshone Canyon by the Buffalo Bill Dam, created as part of the Shoshone project; one of the nation's first water conservation projects. A number of hot springs along the Shoshone were drowned by the reservoir. Upstream of Buffalo Bill Reservoir the Shoshone splits into the North Fork, which follows a long canyon down from the Absaroka Mountains to the vicinity of the east entrance of Yellowstone National Park, and the South Fork, which originates at the southern end of the Absarokas.

Fire Fighters Memorial near the Rex Hale Campground
Rex Hale Campground is located along the Buffalo Bill Scenic Byway.The campground
 is named after Rex Hale, one of 15 firefighters who died in the 1937 Black Water Fire,
which burned more than 1,700 acres of Forest Service lands within the Shoshone National Forest.

I love being near water, love sitting by a river. 

Go with the Flow
Immerse Yourself in Nature
Slow Down and Meander
Go Around the Obstacles
Be Thoughtful of those Downstream
Stay Current
The Beauty is in the Journey

Drake Tax Software

Overnight stays in these states:

Overnight stays in these states:
It is the sandstorm that shape the stone statues of the Desert. It is the struggles of Life that form a person's character ~ Native American Proverb