trip report: Colorado, Montana - Page 2 - Fiberglass RV


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Old 08-04-2011, 09:30 PM   #15
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Mike...what a SUPER trip and report....and those photo's are amazing...great job and thanks for sharing......I plan on taking about the same trip in Sept...live in San Antonio area.....couple questions...did you do the "million dollar highway" believe its 550...and if so what make of tow vehicle do you have...I have a 06 Nissan Xterra 4liter...and am a little concerned.....tell me its for-not!!!! Again thanks for the posting...if you have any advice...and camping/photo op suggestions...I'm all ears....Horst
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Old 08-04-2011, 09:53 PM   #16
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You we're less then a 1/4mi. from my home in Ridgway! One block north and you'd have seen a Trillium 4500, Love bug, and Scamp all in about 3 blocks. The fact that i can be in high alpine, farmland, and red rock desert all in the same day is what made me move here. "I want to be as close to SE Utah as I can get without LIVING in SE Utah". Wish I'd known you we're in the area! BTW, the ranch entrance with views of the Senffels range to the S. in your pics. is Ralph Loren's.
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Old 08-04-2011, 10:07 PM   #17
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FABulous, Mike! Thank you, thank you for posting.
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Old 08-04-2011, 10:51 PM   #18
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Thanks again, all.

Horst, I have a 3.5L V6, 270 HP Highlander and I'm towing a boxier trailer with more wind resistance. Yes, that road from Durango to Ouray is the Million Dollar Highway. Some of the time I put it in 2nd gear and went about 40 MPH, to spare the drive train unnecessary strain... and with the curves, often that's about all the speed you want anyway. As for camping, I found a lot of spots on Free Camping | RV Camping, Car Camping, Tent Camping | Campsites, Campgrounds and will be posting a few there that I found on my own.

Scott, so interesting that you know the people who live where I took that photo. It's such a great spot for a picture, I bet there are people stopping and snapping there all the time. Too bad I didn't know about you living there, maybe we could have visited a bit.

When I left Moab I drove west on I-70 and saw a bit of the San Rafael Swell, which is an interesting upheaval of land. Feeling rested from my two nights in Moab, I headed north on Hwy 28 and eventually joined I-15 around Nephi, then headed north to Idaho. All of this is very pretty country with green valleys and hills or mountains in the distance. When I crossed the Idaho border I got the idea to look for a campsite in the Caribou Targhee NF, just east of the highway. So I took Hwy 36 back SE and in about 4-5 miles I spotted a campground sign, pointing down a dirt road. Well, a couple miles down this road there was the CG... but the sign said "group campground," and there already was a group! They had reserved the CG for their bunch and plainly didn't want strangers to join them, but they pointed out that just past the grounds the road ended in a turnaround, and people often camped there. So I went the extra 1/4 mile east, and sure enough one family alreay had a spot staked out, complete with 4-wheelers. I found a good nook and parked, and it was a peaceful spot. Until morning! Some pickups arrived with dirt bikes, and soon the place was getting crowded with off-roaders, so I got back on the road fast.

I have a brother in Idaho named John, and I'd told him I was coming his way. So that afternoon we met up, and he led the way to his cabin in the woods and we started to visit. The next morning he took me up the road from his place to Sawtell Peak. Here's a picture of John:
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Then he proceeded to take me on a tour of Quake Lake, Henry's Lake and the vicinity. I never knew before that a 1959 earthquake tilted a big plate of the earth, caused a landslide that buried a campground full of campers, and created an entirely new lake! That area has some amazing history and geology.

In mid-afternoon I was getting the itch to be on my way, so I left John's place and headed north into Montana. Up US-287 to Ennis, then west on SH 287 through the Madison Valley...
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... and to the town of Sheridan. I'd read at the aforementioned website about a camping area aobut 8 miles east of Sheridan on NF land, and I headed that way. After 3 miles the pavement gave way to good gravel, then another mile or so and the road got downright rough... with a couple of dicey washout areas. But I made it through them (slowly) with barely a scrape of the jack foot, and another half mile revealed several good spots to pull off and camp.
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I walked around some, but I made sure I had my can of bear spray just in case!
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Old 08-04-2011, 11:45 PM   #19
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Your Report is getting better & better! I like your way of traveling, etc. It is how we prefer to go as well. Without rushing if at all possible. Thanks for sharing.

Not sure if you are still traveling, but if you are still on your way to Glacier, maybe some of this will be of help:

We have been to Glacier twice over the years. Both times we have stayed over by St. Mary and just off the Going to the Sun Hwy. But my son stayed down by Many Galaciers and then over on the westside as well. All are neat. On the last trip we spent a few days at Waterton Nat'l Park in Canada before going down to Glacier, nice up there as well. I believe I would try one of these on our next visit Many Glacier and Two Medicine and Sprague Creek. Seems like Glacier National Park - Many Glacier Campground Information would be the one for me.

Across from the Glacier Area, MT in Canada: We have stopped at Fort Macleod, Alberta when on our way to Waterton from Banff. It was were the first RCMP made an appearance. ("The initial force, commanded by Commissioner French, was assembled at Fort Dufferin, Manitoba. Their destination was Fort Whoop-Up, a notorious whiskey trading post located at the junction of the Belly and Oldman Rivers. Upon arrival at Whoop-Up and finding it abandoned the troop continued a few miles west and established headquarters on an island in the Oldman, naming it Fort MacLeod.")

It is in the general area of a neat site, Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump.

At Waterton, (we were there in '97 and stayed at least 2 days) we stayed at Townsite Campground because the Crandell Campground was full. Townsite - "Located at the south end of the Waterton townsite, this campground offers 238 sites (95 of which are fully serviced), hot showers, flush toilets, food storage and kitchen shelters. There are no individual firepits. This open, mowed lawn campground, exposed to winds from Upper Waterton Lake, is an excellent place for RV's or for those who wish to be within walking distance of town amenities." Crandell - "Located along the Red Rock Parkway in the scenic Blakiston Valley, this campground is set in a pleasant montane forest. It offers 129 unserviced sites, flush toilets, piped water, kitchen shelters, some fire rings and firewood, food storage, recycling bins, and a dump station. All sites are back-in, and loops may be tight. We recommend that only camping units shorter than 9.5 meters/30 ft use this campground." Camping But will need pass ports to do Canada.

We had a canoe with us on the second trip, my son & I canoed on Cameron Lake in Waterton. We canoed from the Canadian side to the US side and up to icebergs breaking off a glacier (what seemed like one to me anyway) at the far end of the lake. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi...onLake-s01.jpg We had edged up to the glacier/ice formation(s), even under one. Small icebergs were floating around there as well. When about half way back, we heard this loud BANG echo across the lake from were we had been. I believe part of the ice formation had broken off & crashed into the lake. Not the wisest thing to have done to get so close.

We also canoed on St. Mary's Lake....we found that the small island with 'pine' trees growing from them in the lake is in fact two islands. We canoed between them. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi..._Mary_Lake.jpg

If close to Great Falls, MT: C.M. Russell Museum -Really neat if you like Western Art - HIstory. It was why I wanted to go.

Just across the border from Montana in North Dakota: Theodore Roosevelt Nat'l Park -Great Place to see Bison and Western Landscapes. But a somewhat out of the way detour.

On our first visit to Glacier, we were there in June and the road 'Going to the Sun' was not open yet. But of course there are many other things to see and do there as well. GoToSun Info

If you use US 89 in Montana to get to Glacier, they have a city park with camping at Choteau which is about 105 miles from the east entrance at St Mary's and 140 miles to West Glarier. We stayed at it, I believe, in '97, but do not remember a creek. We stayed in a city park, in the town, not sure if it is the same town. Looks about right on the map. There is overnighting at a rest area, closer to Glacier as well, near Dupuyer.
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Old 08-05-2011, 10:57 AM   #20
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Adrian, thanks. I'm back home now (have been for 2 weeks) but I'm slow getting the trip report posted up. Doing a bit here and there in between other tasks.

After a peaceful night by a swiftly flowing stream in the national forest near Sheridan, I drove north to I-90, then west to exit 174, then north toward Kalispell. All of this area was really picturesque and a pleasant drive. By this time I had decided not to camp in the park after all, but to get a campsite with electric, water and wi-fi at the private Glacier CG just a couple miles west of the turnoff into Glacier NP.
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As you can see, the place was nicely wooded and attractive. Well off the road and quiet too, although I could hear the distant trains as they traveled the tracks that run alongside the highway. WiFi was available at the office but not at the campsites... due to the trees, they said. I stayed here 2 nights so I could spend some time enjoying the west side of the park.

The first place I went in the park was the area with some gift shops and a restaurant and stuff, at the west end of Lake McDonald.
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I ended up coming back along this shore several times to snap pics or just to sit and enjoy the view. I think you can see why.

I also drove east to the end of the line at Avalanche CG (the Sun Road was still closed beyond that point due to the heavy snows), stopping many times along the way at turnoffs to take pictures and look. On the way back west I spotted a bunch of flowers that looked nice, but there was no place to pull off. So I went another 1/2 mile or so to a turnoff by Sprague Creek, got out my bike (Trek Pure Sport), and pedaled back to the flowers.
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While parked there, I noticed a row of these vehicles:
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They are operated by a concessionaire and carry perhaps a dozen tourists each. They are called "Jammers," apparently because in the old days they had stick shifts and the drivers had a tendency to jam and grind the gears. One sees these jammers traveling all around the park. They look pretty classy, don't they?

I spent considerable time pedaling around the Lake McDonald area. there is a nice bike trail around this end of the park, winding around the campground and then through the forest to the worker's homes near the park entrance.

One thing I don't understand is why McDonald's hasn't gotten one of their restaurants located here yet.
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Old 08-05-2011, 11:48 AM   #21
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I believe they were called jammers because the transmissions were unsynchronized and had to be double clutched when shifting. My experience with that was with a 1947 two ton Ford. Upshifting usually didn't require double clutching but downshifting always did unless you really enjoyed the awful grinding. I also believe those flowers are lupines. Several years ago Ford took them and upgraded them with new engines and transmissions and other stuff that they could be retitled as Fords of the year that work was done. We should be in Glacier in about 5 days with our Egg Camper. Hoping for a site in Two Medicine. Missed out last year.
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Old 08-05-2011, 01:20 PM   #22
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Yep, on the flowers: "Wild Lupines (Lupinus Argenteus) are one of the most common wildflowers in Glacier National Park. It plays an important role in Montana state history as Meriwether Lewis collected the specimen and it remains one of seven still intact in the Lewis & Clark Herbarium."

A relative of the Lupinus texensis (common name Texas Bluebonnet) a species of lupine which is endemic to Texas and found in Oklahoma as well.

Desert Lupine (Lupinus shockleyi) can be found in the Big Bend Area.

In New Mexico, we have the Lupinus neomexicanus or New Mexico Lupine.
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Old 08-05-2011, 08:11 PM   #23
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Aha, so that is the Lupine I've heard so much about. It really is nice. I only got to see that one patch of it, unfortunately. Probably was just getting started.

While enjoying the west side of Glacier, I decided to hike to Avalanche Lake. This was a pretty big hike for me, about as strenuous as I would want.... something like 4 miles round trip plus about a 500 foot elevation gain, if memory serves. But I'd heard that the view was worthwhile, and it certainly was.
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It was really neat to see several long cascades plummeting down the rocky slopes toward the beautiful lake below. The hike, although tiring, took me through a pretty forest and often alongside the busy, rushing creek with its churning white water.

The next morning I hooked up and left the Glacier CG, and took the highway that loops around the south edge of the park. Some of the highway around the SE side was rather rough and beat up. Turning into the Two Medicine area, I stopped for many photos and also found a picnic area and ate lunch.
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Then I headed for Many Glacier to see if I could manage to get a campsite there.
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Old 08-05-2011, 08:54 PM   #24
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I had debated whether to get a spot at St. Mary CG or go on to Many Glacier CG. I'd heard good things about Many Glacier, but was concerned about getting a site. Past history of that CG at this time of year was that it often would fill up around midday. While at Two Medicine I asked the rangers what my chances were, and they said that for some reason Many Glacier wasn't filling till about 4:30 or so. Encouraged, I passed by St. Mary and hurried to Many Glacier. Although the map makes it look like a short distance, with all the curves and bumps it took longer than expected, and I arrived around 4 pm. But lucky me, there were a few campsites! I ended up (totally by accident) camping next to a nice couple from Michigan... and I grew up in Michigan, so we had a great visit.

Many Glacier is everything it's bragged up to be. Loads of steep mountain peaks all around, and plenty of great views for pictures. Here's a waterfall.
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The Many Glacier Hotel, with the mountain backdrop, shows why some folks call this place "Little Switzerland."
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Ok you flower folks, what is the name of these puffy white ones?
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Old 08-05-2011, 08:57 PM   #25
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WOW, Mike! Your Photos are amazing!!! Think I'll try your way of traveling next year when we head to WY again. Trouble is my folks want us to hurry up and get there so we can spend the entire time visiting. Driving 10+ hour days was just too tiring so I think I'll add a couple days to the trip at least next time. Sounds like you boondocked a lot. Did you use a generator to keep cool till you got into the higher elevations? Wish I was starting from more Central U.S. instead of the farthest SE corner of it. Takes so long to get out West and back that it eats up siteseeing time.
How long was your entire trip? Any more photos??????
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Old 08-05-2011, 08:58 PM   #26
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I saw this deer actually munch a couple of those white flowers! I guess they must be tasty. Some of you may recall in another thread that I mentioned this deer walking right through my campsite... actually directly between me and the Michigan folks. We all were marveling at the deer's fearlessness.
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I was glad I came here for the night. I was able to ride my bike around on the paved roads (very little traffic, and it was moving slowly) and stop anywhere to snap photos.
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Melissa, I have no generator. I have to spend one night around the OK panhandle, about 4500 feet elevation. Going out it cooled off to mid 80's by 10 pm, with a strong wind and no humidity, so I was ok boondocking. After that I was mostly in the mountains where it was cool. When in Moab, though, it was too hot and I paid for an RV park site for the electric so I could run the A/C. I was out about 18 days.
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Old 08-05-2011, 09:59 PM   #27
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Beargrass - name is misleading, Bears have no use for it, nor is it a grass. It’s one of Glacier National Park’s most recognizable flowers and can grow at a wide-range of elevations. The Blackfeet Indians used to use the hardy leaves of Beargrass to create clothing and baskets. No matter what trail you hike, beargrass is sure to rise above the real grass and dot the landscape. They are four to five feet in height and are topped off with cream colored bulbs that look like an upside-down vase.

Seeing your photos makes me want to do another trip to Glacier. My son & his wife hiked to Avalanche Lake. He was greatly impressed with it. He liked the west side a lot. I believed they camped at Sprague Creek CG.
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Old 08-05-2011, 10:41 PM   #28
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Beargrass! I would never have guessed. Thanks, Adrian.

After overnighting at Many Glacier, my next move was to head for St. Mary. The Going to the Sun Road was finally open! I would get to drive to Logan Pass on the first day possible. This was, I believe, a record late opening date for the Sun Road... July 13. This is what they had to plow and cut through at higher elevations:
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Some of you may have seen this next photo in the other thread, but to get things into one place I'll post it again here.
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This big fella was standing right by the edge of the parking lot at Logan Pass. He was showing off his rack, I think.

Lower down, in St. Mary Lake there's a lovely turnoff to see Wild Goose Island. A person could sit there and enjoy the view for a long time.
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Of course, with a backdrop like that I have to get in front of the camera myself, because too many of my past years' albums don't have any photos of the guy who owns the cameras, and I made up my mind to change that.
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Before starting up the Sun Road, I dropped the trailer in the visitor center parking lot. There were several construction delays on the Sun Road. After Logan Pass I encountered a severely long line of cars waiting (about a mile long, I could see them), so I turned around and headed back. It was enough for me, I didn't need to go back to Avalanche. Back east I went, stopping for photos of course, and when I got back to the visitor center I discovered that some fool had backed and parked his 5ver within 3 feet of my hitch!

Well, what's a guy to do? I parked next to my trailer, got inside it and fixed some lunch, thinking about how I wanted to cuss out that guy. But when I saw the owner come to his truck, I got out and simply said, "I can't believe that a fellow RVer would do that to someone!" He looked mighty embarrassed and said, "I just didn't think." They got in and moved away, and I was glad I hadn't said more and maybe ruined their whole day and mine as well. Time to hitch back up.

The Michigan folks I met at Many Glacier had come in from the east along US-2 and they told me about a little municipal park in Malta, MT that they'd stumbled upon; no-frills camping was only $3 per night. It was 2 pm, so I set my sights on Malta and headed east.
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