Three Forks, Montana
We like it so much at Spring Creek RV Park that I make reservations for two nights on our return route.
With just over 90 miles to go, we take our time getting up and out on Wednesday morning. Bill "silicones" the slides and washes the windshield, and I do some interior cleaning.
Unfortunately it takes us nearly an hour at the dump station.
Because as Bill pulls out, the rear tire on the Jeep is completely flat :-( It's a pain, but I'm so glad we're somewhere safe and level!
At first he's not sure about getting the lug nuts off (that have been put on with a hydraulic wrench of course), but just as I'm giving the location to the AAA dispatcher he lets me know he's got it. My hero!
Again, I get no photo of him doing fun work. I better be getting wife-points.
While working on the tire the wind is steadily increasing, and as we pull out of the park it's 20 mph from the northwest. Not turning out to be the best travel day.
It impacts fuel consumption, but if I'm going to drive in the wind, give me a head wind every time! It's not too bad back on I-90, and dies down around Livingston. By the time we reach Bozeman it's barely a breeze.
|Another beautiful drive|
Camp Three Forks is another very pretty park. The owners purchased the land 47 years ago, planted a gazillion trees, and opened an RV park. They sold it to KOA and managed it for a few years, didn't like the way KOA did things, and bought it back. The address is still KOA Road, but the park is back in family hands. I learn all this from Santa Claus who is a work camper at the park.
Seriously, he's Santa back in Michigan, and has been for over 40 years. People are so fun.
Gravel roads and sites, all shaded. Many, including ours, are 100 foot long pull-through. Almost 200 sites plus tent area and small cabins.
I thought I'd reserved FHUs but my name is on the water/electric list so we'll make do. It won't kill me to use the laundry room (turns out it's very nice and clean and convenient). I'm given the 30 amp rate for a 50 amp site but when Bill hooks us up it's only 30 amp. Oh well, we're already level.
|Lots of green|
We don't expect to get satellite, and we don't. The park WiFi works well most of the time. The trees keep the interior cool, and there are lots of birds. And bunnies! Black bunnies!! Tessa is so distracted she might never get her business done while we're here.
Thursday morning is bright and sunny. We head out early for Bozeman. We've really pushed the "where you should drive with these tires" rating, and have been lucky to only have two flats on the Jeep. We bite the bullet and opt to replace them at Walmart. The Goodyear tires we choose aren't cheaper, but their warranty means we can get repairs and maintenance in more places.
In just over an hour we're out the door with new, beefier, Jeep shoes. Bill finds a place for breakfast that is wonderful. Only open for a week, Un-Knotted should be very popular in no time. We liked everything about this place. Really, put it on the list for when you're in the area. Do it :-)
|The quiche and homemade hash browns are divine.|
|Wonderful and comfy decor - come and enjoy a cup of coffee and coloring books!|
|Tessa-approved doggie-tv with headrest.|
|And cute guys!|
We make the 1/4 mile climb to the interpretive area below the 300 foot limestone cliff. You can stand across from this cliff with the grass-covered hills all around and imagine the drama unfolding right in front of you. It is a very powerful place.
Runners were trained from a young age for speed and endurance. Wearing buffalo, antelope or wolf hides, they lured the buffalo to the "pishkun" or cliff where they were then stampeded over the edge. The buffalo jump was often the key to existence for native peoples, and everything from hides to bone marrow was used.
|Most of the bones excavated from this site were found in this area.|
This past fall we had some elders from the Salish tribe in Western Montana who visited MBJSP and one elder who was in his 80s mentioned hearing stories as a boy from his grandfather about using the jump to run Buffalo off when he was a boy. So that might place last use of the Jump in 1840s.
This is a difference of 140 years from what was originally thought so it's interesting to get the more updated information!
|Limestone cliffs on both sides of this river valley|
Figuring the biggest park will get the biggest crowd on the weekend, Friday we head for Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park. Even though I don't do tight, dark spaces very well, I still want to see what we can see. The beautiful weather continues.
The main visitor center is closed due to "staffing issues," and signs direct us to continue up to the cave. There are also signs in the parking lot suggesting that leaving large trailers here before driving up the steep road is a good idea. A few 5ers have accepted the invitation.
A quick drive through the campground reveals a nice meadow with spectacular views in every direction, two loops with electric hookups, potable water spigots in several locations, two vault toilet buildings, camp host, and very large sites. Another unexpected location that we would definitely enjoy.
The climb to the top includes 9% grades and a few switchbacks, but the road is wide with trees on the "I can't look that way" side, so I'm okay with the height. So are a lot of other people as we find the parking lot nearly full.
|Crosswalk as picnic area|
|Half way to the top.|
There are a couple steep and narrow trails that more nimble hikers would enjoy, but for us it's back to the road to enjoy the views.
|Interesting veins in the basalt walls|
|Hwy 287 runs along the river - where we started|
|Back along the river, the canyon walls are striped in gray and green|
|Lots of pretty flowers|
|Some blooms that last all year|
Friday starts out late for the last state park in the area. Just seven miles up the road is Missouri Headwaters State Park.
The Gallatin, Jefferson and Madison rivers come together here to form the mighty Missouri River - the longest in the country. This spot is also famous as the location of Sacajawea's kidnapping as a child by a rival tribe, and where she would return with her own child years later as part of the Corps of Discovery. Lewis and Clark's party camped here to survey the area in 1805.
|The beginning of one big river|
|where three come together|
|You-know-who doing you-know-what|
|Interpretive signs line the trail throughout the small park|
|The Gallatin Hotel built by Jarvis Akin in the mid 1800's was the social center of the struggling town|
|When the hotel closed, part of it was moved to another location, and the remaining building became a barn|
|Started out as a barn, still a barn.|
|Fields of grass in every direction|
From the park we drive east until the road turns to dirt. And we keep going. We love just going to see what we might see.
We pass by acres of green crops, and hills of green and gold grass. It's so pretty here. I love the forest and the ocean, but I'm falling in love with these wide open plains as well. I feel like I can breathe bigger. I know, weird.
|It's okay to be different|
|Three Forks, Montana in front of the Northern Rockies|
The Iron Horse Restaurant is the only place open and we have to wait a bit for a good meal.
The rodeo grounds are on the way out of town, but there are dozens of cars parked along the way. People line both sides of the road. The stands are full to overflowing - I don't know where all the people still arriving are going to watch the event. I know we aren't going to see it :-(
Wonderful to see a small town event draw such a big crowd. I hope everyone had a safe and fun evening. We'll catch another rodeo down the road.
Back home our 100 foot site has become a 50 foot site as a tenter has set up camp behind us. Huh.
Before long all the "backs" of the pull-throughs are filled with tenters. None of the tent sites are being used so there must be something wrong with them. We've parked behind the motorhome, but before we go to bed Bill moves the Jeep to the front so we don't get blocked in.
One more day in Three Forks, probably a quiet one - we're out of state parks :-)))))