Good Sam RV Travel Guide & Campground Directory

One Tank Trip for Montana Camping

Philosophers have asked: What’s in a name? In the case of Montana, plenty. Early settlers called this region “The Land of Shining Mountains”, and with good reason; some of the most magnificent mountain ranges in the entire U.S. are found right here. Later residents gave Montana the nicknames “The Big Sky State” and “The Treasure State”, both equally appropriate. The broad expanses of blue sky stretch as far as you can see, and Montana’s rich natural beauty truly makes it one of the jewels in our nation’s crown. It’s a land where the rugged spirit of adventure lingers to this day, challenging all who visit.

Let’s kick this one tank trip off in Bozeman, which has a well-deserved reputation for being the premier destination for a Rocky Mountain getaway. Among the many things that Bozeman has to offer, you might enjoy the nearly 50 miles of trails that make up the Bozeman Trail System, which lead you along a winding path through thick forests and provides spectacular views from lookout points along the way. The Museum of the Rockies is another popular visitors’ spot, as it features exhibits that tell Montana’s tale from prehistoric days to the present, showing geologic formations, Ice Age fossils, and artifacts from the days of pioneers and fur trappers.

Let’s hit the road! Head west on the I-90 for 7 miles before taking the southbound US-191 for an 80-mile cruise through scenic Montana camping countryside. Have your camera ready to capture any wildlife that might be hanging out by the roadside. Before you know it, you’ll pull into the town of West Yellowstone, which is a perfect staging area for a trip into Yellowstone itself. This quaint mountain town has a charm all its own, and offers several information areas and exhibits about Yellowstone. Highlights include the educational Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center, where you can get up close to these mysterious and highly misunderstood animals, and the Yellowstone IMAX Theater, which gives you a view of the park not available by any other means. It really is an awe-inspiring experience. Of course, the only proper way to experience the area is with a personal visit to Yellowstone. With an area of nearly 3,500 square miles that stretches across the borders of three states, to say that this park is massive is quite an understatement. Yellowstone is home to hundreds of species of birds and mammals, several of which are endangered, and the Park remains one of our nation’s most popular tourist attractions. It’s not hard to see why.

Provided you can tear yourself away from the grandeur of Yellowstone, head north on the US-191 for ten miles until you come to the westbound US-287, which you’ll take for 42 miles into the town of Ennis. This authentic Western cowboy town gives you the feeling of having stepped back to the days of Butch and Sundance, and is thought by many to be the fly-fishing capital of the world. No less than three mountain ranges surround this unspoiled Montana camping land, and with more than 10,000 trout in the local waters, the chances of delivering a delicious trout dinner are pretty good!

If you’re looking for a bit more Old West flavor, take a short side trip west on the MT-287 for about 15 miles until you come to the extremely well preserved “ghost town,” Virginia City. This town is home to over 100 people who keep the city in authentic period condition, and plays host to several events and festivals throughout the year. Five miles further west on the MT-287 brings you to Nevada City, which was built as a mining town in the 19th century and – like Virginia City – has been faithfully restored to its original condition. If you’re an aficionado of the Old West, this area will be like a dream come true.

When it’s time to return to the 21st century, going east on the MT-287 takes you back to Ennis. From here, drive north on the US-287 for 45 miles until you come to Highway 2, which takes you the remaining 3 miles into Three Forks. This area has the distinction of being the location of the Missouri River’s headwaters, as well as the Lewis and Clark Caverns. This array of caves has some spectacular displays of nature at its most unusual, with crazy stalactites, stalagmites, and columns.

When the time comes, it’s a quick 30-mile trip east on the I-90 to get you back to Bozeman, where you started this one tank trip, but this is Montana, the land of explorers. Why not take a little time and do some more exploring of your own?

Other Area Sponsors in Montana:
Fairmont RV Park

Woodall's Recommended Montana RV Campgrounds