One out of four, an unexpected camp by Rock Creek

Friday, August 25

Looking at a map that shows fishing access sites in Montana, the section of Route 212 along Rock Creek north of Red Lodge looks promising for possible camps.

Previous to this morning I researched online and found that Willow Birch FAS, Bull Springs FAS, and Horsethief Station FAS all allow camping.  Only Beaver Lodge FAS does not.

Well, surely we’ll find one we like!

From Pelican FAS the Perfect Tow Vehicle takes Reggie, Roger, the Best Little Trailer and myself  on Frontage Road (Route 10) to Reed Point.

At Reed Point we get on I- 90, head east, and two exits later, a few miles short of Columbus, we leave the interstate and take Route 421 southeast to Joliet.  Then we head south on Route 212 toward Red Lodge.

First we come to Willow Birch.

The campsites are visible from Route 212 because the campground is on a narrow strip of land between Rock Creek and the road.  We ride into the campground passing the camping fee sign.

Oh, darn… $18 a night for non-residents without a fishing license.  

The crew and I walk the campground, looking over each site.

“This isn’t for us.  Let’s keep going.”

I miss the turn to the other fishing access sites.  

I realize my error when we reach the sign for Red Lodge.  Immediately I stop, check the map again, make a U-turn and backtrack.

Gosh, I love this short turning radius . . .

Going in this direction Two Mile Road is well-marked.  We go past subdivisions and the road turns from paved to gravel.

“Huh?  This is Horsethief Station?”

There are campsites along a straight road parallel to the main road, with paths to the creek and one vault toilet.  Very little personality or charm.  I suppose if your objective is to fish, that doesn’t matter.

On the plus side, Horsethief Station FAS is convenient to Red Lodge, being only a couple miles away, access in and out for any size rig is easy, and it’s free.

“Let’s keep going.”

We pass the turn for Beaver Lodge because my research told me it doesn’t allow camping.

Our last hope is Bull Springs.  It turns out to be another utilitarian place to camp in order to go fishing — a gravel parking lot with a vault toilet.  A residence is right next to the parking lot.

Un-uh.  Not for us.  Now what do we do?

I turn around and head toward Red Lodge.  

On the way we come to the sign for Beaver Lodge that we passed a few minutes ago.

“Ya’ know, guys?  We ought to take a look at this.  Out of the four FAS, this looks most like the entrance to a camping area.”

Lo and behold . . .

The narrow road takes us to a sign informing us that camping is limited to 7 days.  No mention of a camping fee.

“Aha!  So we CAN camp here!”

We continue to the end of the road, passing three campsites on the way, none of which have a fire ring or picnic table but obviously have been camped in before.

At the end is a nice site with a table and fire ring.  Soon the BLT is nestled in that spot (barely visible in the next photo).

Reggie and Roger are restless to scout out the area.

This isn’t a spectacular camp.  It’s pleasant enough, shady and quiet.  It will do us fine for a couple days.

As the crew and I walk the length of the fishing access site, I notice a plant bearing white berries.  This plant is all over the place!

Do you know what it is?

I have to be careful with Roger.  Sometimes he walks up to a plant and starts eating the leaves. Weird.  Maybe he subsisted on plants when he was homeless?

Our walk takes us up Two Mile Road where we say hello to this horse.

On the return to our campsite, Roger finds a treasure!

It’s some kind of antler or wood or something.

Whatever it is, proudly he carries it back to camp where he happily works on it. When I’m not looking, he buries his treasure –somewhere I don’t know — and that’s the end of it.

We walk a path toward the creek. It’s overgrown with brush and the ground turns swampy. My built-in snake-o-meter goes “Snake! Snake!”

We turn back.

The rest of the day I putter around the camp site, raking it clean of cigarette butts and other detritus of previous campers, and create the outdoor room.

I put the interior of the Best Little Trailer in order, relax in the lounger, read my Paperwhite, and watch Reg and Rog play.

I let them run around off-leash for a while.

They have a grand time!

Then a car drives past our campsite.

They take off after it, barking and trying to nip the tires.  I chase after the car which keeps going.

If the car would stop, I could grab the crew!

I give up and walk back to the campsite, saying a little prayer.  A few minutes later, here they come, my two renegades, tongues hanging out, thrilled with their little escapade.


I don’t scold them because they might think it’s wrong to come home.  Even though I’d like to!

“Back on the tether you go!”


NOTE:  Thanks to a reader who lives in Montana, I can tell you the plant with the white berries is snowberry. — Sue



This entry was posted in Montana and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

80 Responses to One out of four, an unexpected camp by Rock Creek

  1. Donna Hight says:

    Too funny you are a half mile from my house and I am in oregon. Would have loved to say hello… the berries are snow berries and choke cherries all over. Only Gardner snakes.. there is a campground called Palisases you should check out forest service or the dispersed sites on MK road…enjoy our little town…

    • Pam in Montana says:

      Sue…Sheridan CG is in the same area and has some lovely spots as well. It will be very quiet there now that the holiday is over. Glad you are headed to the Beartooths…you will not be disappointed. Charles Kuralt “On the Road” named it America’s most beautiful drive. gone–ACCORDING-TO-CHARLES-KURALT-THIS-IS–AMERICAS-MOST-BEAUTIFUL-DRIVE.html
      YNP is wonderful in September as well. The crowds are gone. The wildlife come back out and the colors are turning. Enjoy! Enjoy! Enjoy!

  2. Dawn in MI says:

    Off leash! And oh so scary too, but good to know they will come back. I’m so happy they did that! Looks like a nice site. Happy Labor Day!

  3. Marcia GB in MA says:


  4. Bud (N E Washington) says:

    Am I first?

    • Barb from Hoquiam! says:

      Hi Bud!

      • Bud (N E Washington) says:

        How is the weather over on the coast, the smoke here north of Spokane is really thick from the fires all around. The air quality is so bad they are advising people to stay in doors.

        • Elizabeth in WA says:

          The worst yet in Olympia too…we went out to falling ash today and we don’t know of any fires close to us either. Keeps us asthmatics on our toes!!

  5. Paula says:

    So you are a blessing in my life I so appreciate your postings and I don’t even know how I connected with you but I am doing the same thing only in a smaller Teardrop trailer. I am trying to make a living successfully with selling military caps pens t-shirts and wallets and also some bling items for women. You have represented to me one of the strong stellar women that I so aspire to be thank you Pollo Lucas and I’m going to leave the word Paula which most of the time comes out Pollo and I have to laugh about it

  6. Patricia says:

    When I saw them take off after that car, my heart skipped a beat!
    My small dog took off one day, and returned to my camper before I got back from chasing him. I was happy and mad all in one, but of course just hugged him tight!
    So glad R & R r safe.

  7. Pam from Wisconsin says:

    Hard to stay calm with two little renegades making a break for it. Good job! Thought of you when I saw CNN cover the Montana fires. Take care!

  8. Barb from Hoquiam! says:

    OMGosh I held my breath just like everyone else did I am sure! Good babies for coming back!!!!
    Our Kali is deaf now and would just keep going. She chased a skate boarder one day (the gate wasn’t closed all the way–only has happened twice since we have been here). He kicked her (hard 🙁 ) to get her off… I fell apart in the street… It was horrid. I really didn’t blame him, as she sounded vicious going after him… she just loves wheels! Scared me to bits.

    It is hot again today. 93 they said. I hate it! Even the beach was scorching.

    Hugs from Hoquiam! Hugs those boys…

  9. Geri in the FL panhandle! says:

    Those rowdy boys! Chasing cars !!! Hopefully, since it was a campground, the car was hoping slow so no real danger! Good to know they cash go off leash once and awhile and come back home! I think you did the right thing by not scolding them but putting them back on their leads!
    Irma is headed our way….. 😥! Hopefully she will miss the USA but we are getting prepared to evacuate if necessary! Prayers appreciated!

    • Alice says:

      I’m down in the Treasure Coast and praying for a turn to sea real soon or some wind shear (which I don’t think we’ll see). If it comes this way I’m leaving also., Prayers for you, be safe.
      Sue thanks for the great pictures. The boys look wonderful. So cute.

    • Denise - Richmond VA says:

      Geri (and Chuck) and Alice,

      Keeping you all in my thoughts and prayers. I hope Irma turns away, and at most you may get some rain. Take good care! 🙂

    • Dawn in Asheville says:

      Sure hope it veers up north and misses you all. Have family and friends in Florida (that’s where I hail from) so have all my fingers and toes crossed for everybody. I held my breath during Harvey as my dad and his family were all down on the coast (they ended up fine). We don’t need another one!

    • Geri in the FL panhandle! says:

      We need a few more prayers! Chuck is in the hospital with pneumonia! Irma’s timing sucks!
      So if you would add Chuck to your prayers tonight, I appreciate you all so much!
      Thank you!

  10. Cinandjules 🌵 says:

    Nice find! The site and Rog!

    Oh my I started laughing when I saw the two of them in zoom mode! Oh they had fun…silly boys would need a frontal lobotomy if they decided not to return. They just wanted to give you a scare! And it worked…back on the tether you go…AND no rotisserrie chicken for the next two months….yeah right! 😜

    News is a bit sketchy on the fires …I believe there are 68 wildfires now. Stay safe. No doubt you are days ahead in re to this blog post.

  11. weather says:

    Beaver Lodge FAS may not be a spectacular camp, still, I’m glad you decided to check it out, despite not finding prior information stating one can camp there. The site you chose really appeals to me because it allowed you to be almost hidden from view. That would be especially nice upon awakening, to just step outside in jammies to feel the world and day before deciding what clothes suit the temperature, likelihood of rain, etc.

    Off-leash, what fun! Well, for the boys, anyway. I can imagine the worried thoughts that went through your mind while they were chasing the car. I’ve had dogs get loose near a somewhat busy road before, frantically prayed, searched, waited, felt the blessed relief when they came happily running to me…And, yes, scolding would send the wrong message, so I rewarded them with hugs and praise for coming back. I know in time you’ll figure out the best way to teach them that moving vehicles are off limits.

    That horse is beautiful! I love to see one with a tail that long. I remember your mentioning you were currently camped where you had to leave on the 5th. If you haven’t already moved, I hope you find somewhere really nice and enjoy getting there.

  12. Pat from Mich. says:

    You are a bright spot in my day Sue. And Rog and Reg are so funny (and cute!). So glad they came right back. Why do dogs like to chase cars? I can see squirrels and rabbits, but cars?? You’re going to be money ahead this month after all those free camps!

  13. Pat from Mich. says:

    Rogers stick kind of looks like a bully stick. Maybe some other dog lost it?

  14. Marilu in Northern California says:

    Those little rascals! I bet they scared you to death.
    RV Sue or Blogorinos, did you have a favorite site that shows smoke conditions in your camping areas?
    We’re planning a trip and would sure like to have an idea of the smoke.

    • Micky says:

      Marilou, for Montana at least, search ‘Montana Air Quality’ and go to the DEQ site. It gives up to date air quality for various locations around the state. I’m in Montana right now too, and I check it regularly.

  15. Rover Ronda (WA) says:

    OMG! Over zealous dogs returning home – I know how hard it is to give the obedience/safety speech in the upbeat, sing-song-e, so happy to see you voice. We used to have an escape artist. It was the reason his former family gave him up for adoption. We let him stay in the house whenever we left so really wasn’t a problem for us. But over his 15 years he did go exploring a couple times! Yikes!
    So glad Reggie & Roger returned safely!

    I saw a cute Dachshund picture on Pinterest recently.
    The photo – 2 doxies treeing a squirrel.
    The caption- Can’t hear me yelling to leave the squirrel alone. Can hear a potato chip bag open 3 miles away. (Or something close to those words)

  16. R. says:

    You’re in a very beautiful area. We stayed in Red Lodge and north of there is one of our favorite hiking trail. We drove on Beartooth Highway mid July. Wildflowers were amazing and views breathtaking. I returned to Beartooth Highway last summer and there are many places to camp including boondocking. Many dirt roads for dogs to explore. It is a very scenic drive all the way to Yellowstone NP or to Cody, WY. Enjoy it.

  17. Diann in MT says:

    Oh no Sue. I do not like those FAS around Red Lodge. Jeeze. I wish you would have consulted! LOL 😃

    There is a dump station in Red Lodge. At the Cenex? just this side of town.

    I hope you were able to find a fine place to camp in the RL area.

  18. Barb from Hoquiam! says:

    93 degrees today. No real rain for WEEKS. No fires here close but it is awful. Hazy. Worried about family close to just about anywhere!
    You and Cher take care!

    • Diann in MT says:

      Same here. South Central Montana. Got a frost scare last night. Just went down to 38. Heat is returning. Take care Barb and all the Washingtonians. People from Oregon and Idaho as well. We are certainly getting clobbered this summer.

  19. Denise - Richmond VA says:

    Hi, Sue,

    I am so thankful that the boys came back to camp on their own – prayers answered. I know your heart was in your throat. **hugs**

    Happy Labor Day! I hope you found a nice quiet site, away from those who were out for a last harrah before school starts. Speaking of which, the kids in my area go back to school tomorrow. Saturday, the Target school supply section was wiped out, with kids and parents panicking. In talking with a friend earlier tonight, she said this morning, the WalMart was a zoo! I know you don’t miss your teaching days one bit! 🙂 My hat is off to all of the teachers out there – thank you for all you do! That is one profession that I could not see myself doing. I love kids, but do not have the patience for those that don’t listen or mis-behave. Even less patiece for the parents that can be disrespectful and checked out…

    Have a good night, Sue! Sending you and the zoom-zoom bothers love, hugs, and prayers fo safety from me and Gracie pup! We spent some time on the back patio tonight, rocking on the porch swing…just watching the world go by… Enjoyed the light show…the golden light casting shadows among the trees as the sun started to set. 🙂

    • Denise - Richmond VA says:

      I forgot to ask… When the boys came scampering back to camp, who was in the lead? Or were they both running neck in neck? Is the car chasing something that Roger had taught Reggie?

  20. Elizabeth in WA says:

    Oh dear…guess the boys failed that test…well, glad all is well and they came back!! The stinkers!! Glad you did not get hurt RUNNING after them!! Looks to me like a pretty spot there, Sue…not bad!!

  21. Lauri says:

    Sheesh is RIGHT!!!! I’dve been going CRAZY…… trusting & having faith is all you can do at that point tho! Thankfully that turned out fine. Scary tho! Great story of finding the unexpected – good for you!

    I am still shopping for my rig…. I keep vacillating between a class C, a travel trailer or a toy hauler. The reason for the toy hauler is there’s tons of room for my art materials. (I have much to bring!). Every single rig I see is different! All with their own large pros & cons!

    You were lucky! You did your research, you KNEW what you wanted!! Three years later and I’m still researching.

    It’s getting down to the wire tho, I NEED to get out there!!

    Thanks for your share!!!!

    Is there any others preparing to transition to moving into the wilds?

    Thanks much!!


    • Lisa in San Diego says:

      What about living in a Class C, and towing a cargo trailer for your stuff?

      You could drop the cargo trailer at camp, and get better mileage driving just the Class C when needed

      • Lauri says:

        Interesting idea! I’ll have to play with that…. perhaps make the trailer the art studio… I’d need a second A/C…. I’ll throw that around! Thanks.

    • Lisa, Tommie and Buddy in NJ says:

      Hi Laurie,
      if you get a chance google Trekker Trailers. The owner has some really well designed and built vardos and tiny houses. I would have done that if I had the chance. Good luck.

      • Lauri says:

        He’s definitely got some awesome designs!! I love the Gypsy Vargo! They’re all really cute outside!! However they are all a bit small. I’ll need at LEAST 18′.

        I got to thinking, I used to be much more minimalistic before I got into art….. now I find I have collected so much stuff bc I see creativity in practically everything I touch!!!! I’d call it a curse, BUT uts my link to spirituality, Joy & BLISS!!!!

        Have an endless streak of great days!!!



  22. Suzette in TN says:

    Like everyone else, I breathed a huge sigh of relief that the boys came back. I would have been out of my mind! My granddog (a Jack Russell) was a runner. She loved to escape, and once out, she DEARLY loved to evade us. Gave me several near heart-attacks!

    Someone in comments mentioned grizzlies at another campsite. Oddly enough, I had been wondering about bears recently. You haven’t mentioned them in a long time. I guess you’ve been lucky of late. ???

    Hugs to you all!

  23. Pauline in Mississippi says:

    Oh dear, that must have been a heart stopper when they went chasing after that car! So glad they came back.
    Frankly, I will be glad when you are out of Montana!! Those fires worry me and Jerold and I are so concerned for you. Praying for your safety.
    Love to you and the crew.

  24. Cynthia from San Clemente says:

    I know you are days ahead of your posting here and I know you are carefully watching the locations of all the fires …. still, I am praying that you head into calm and not calamity. It’s tough to find a place out west that is safe. Praying too for all the firefighters and other emergency personnel who are battling these fires.

    I have to tell the blogarinos about a great movie I saw yesterday – “All Saints” – based on a true story about a church in Tennessee. If you get a chance to see it, you won’t be disappointed.

    I laughed out loud at R&R in hot pursuit of the car – I wonder if they thought it was just a loud horse!!!

  25. Rover Ronda (WA) says:

    Smoke and ash so bad today it almost looks like it’s snowing. Wish we were free to drive out of it. Just staying inside as much as possible. Ironically some areas in the country are getting too much rain while other areas need rain so badly. Take care everyone wherever you are.

  26. aerolite Steve says:

    I realize you may be long gone by now from the area around Red Lodge, but if not a suggestion if you like beautiful mountain drives …. Bear Tooth Scenic Highway. We took it last week. One of the most beautiful drives around. We lucked out and had a day when the winds came out of the south and blew the smoke away. The days before and after were smoky. Don’t take the trailer.

  27. Joe Bruner says:

    Free campsites are a real find, especially if you weren’t expecting to find a campsite in the first place. The crew looks happy. Stay safe out there.

  28. ValGal (westernWA) says:

    Glad you found another free camping FAS even if it’s not your fave. You don’t complain about the smoke, so I guess it’s not there, or not in any quantity.

    The boys sure keep you on your toes! My dog Mocha will take off if she’s not leashed. She conveniently forgets all training.

    I think it’s so unusual that Roger loves flowers. Didn’t know he eats leaves, too. Be careful which ones he grabs!

    Snowberry is very common here in western WA, too. The berries can last into winter and are pretty at the holidays, especially with a little red holly and greens.

  29. Cat Lady back home in Central City, La says:

    Today is Pauline’s birthday, blogerinos. Please send BD wishes to RV Sue’s sister. Many, many more, Pauline.Have a great one.

  30. rvsueandcrew says:


    HAPPY BIRTHDAY, PAULINE! I LOVE YOU! Don’t worry about us — We are not in any danger.

    GET WELL SOON, CHUCK! Praying for health and safety for you and Geri and anyone in the path of Irma.

    Thank you for the messages of concern for our safety and comfort regarding the Montana fires and smoke. The crew and I are fine.

    Thank you also for the many suggestions on what to do and where to find things. Because of the time delay of my postings, suggestions are usually too late. For examples, we had already dumped tanks at Town Pump in Red Lodge and checked out Palisades Campground. I appreciate you wanting to help.

    Some readers think we are going to drive Beartooth Highway or have written that we should do so. Heavy smoke moves over the mountains in varying amounts, sometimes from hour to hour. I don’t want to challenge the PTV’s transmission only to see a blurred view not clear enough to photograph. I experienced this recently at a “scenic overlook.” I’d rather save Beartooth Highway for another visit to the area, preferably in the spring before the fires begin. I appreciate your enthusiasm for that experience.

    To answer a question regarding the crew: Roger did not teach Reggie to chase cars. I saw him do that before Roger joined us. Also, a note about the photo near the end where both pups look dejected and guilty after their escapade. I did give them loving when they returned and they were very happy. That photo was taken later when they both had their head down for some other reason.

    We are no longer in Montana. Our new camp is very nice (some smoke, not bad). I would like to stay a long time except I have to drive into town for internet signal. 🙁

    I don’t know when I’ll post or reply to emails. I’ll try! 🙂

    Thanks again for sticking with my blog.

    Wishing you good health, calm weather and clear skies,

  31. Rover Ronda (WA) says:

    This weekend I plan to begin my Kratky Method Hydroponic Project. I learned you don’t have to have an aerator or water pump to grow plants in water. One gallon of water will grow a head of lettuce to harvest. And you can use a smaller container if you don’t mind adding water occasionally and want to use less space. Sounds like a good RV garden option. Anyone already doing it?

  32. Judy Johnson in upstate S.C. says:

    Happy, Happy Birthday, Pauline! Hope you have a great new year ahead. Best wishes from Judy in unbelievably beautiful Banff.

    • Cinandjules 🌵 says:

      Banff is on our bucket list!

      Found a gorgeous place on the Havasupai Indian Reservation in AZ that has 5 waterfalls and pools with turquoise water. Havasupai Falls google it! The only problem is Jules has a bum leg and would never be able to hike 10 miles in and back.

      • Geri in the FL panhandle! says:

        When I was there, they used to have horse or mule ride from the start of the trail to rent! The Hualupi (sp?) Indians give horse tours!I took the helicopter tour but still required a bit of hiking! Hope that they still do! Can Jules ride a horse?

  33. Rover Ronda (WA) says:

    🎉Happy Birthday Pauline! 🎉

  34. Great post Sue,, well we will be heading to Magnolia, Kentucky Friday morning to live there and don’t worry we ll keep in touch by following your blog,,, have a great week and stay safe and give Reggie and Roger a huge hug from us too,,,,

  35. Pauline in Mississippi says:

    THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! I was so surprised and pleased to see the Happy Birthday wishes. How very kind of you!!!

  36. Is the white berries ok to eat or are they poison.

Comments are closed.