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
THANK YOU FOR SHOPPING AMAZON FROM MY BLOG!