MaryAnn and I traveled alone to Lake Cascade on June 24th. Our friends, Tai and Jane left early in the morning from Winchester Lake to go back to Montana. They liked Montana so much, Tai and Jane decided to buy land there and put a tiny house on it for future trips.
We had planned to meet up with some of MaryAnn’s college friends in Boise. So we continued south stopping at Lake Cascade State Park along the way.
It felt a little strange not having Tai and Jane traveling with us for the first time in over a month. But they will meet us at Stanley, Idaho in the Sawtooth Mountains in a couple days.
In the meantime, let’s check out the road from Winchester to Lake Cascade, Idaho…
In our next post we continue traveling south to Boise, Idaho. We’re going to meet up with a couple of MaryAnn’s college friends she hasn’t seen in 40 years.
From Hell’s Gate State Park in Lewiston we continued east on route 95. The Nez Perce National Historical Site just off route 95 is a worthwhile stop, with another sad story of how the Native American people where mistreated by the American Government and the early settlers.
The Lewis and Clark expedition explored this area in 1805 and were helped by the Nez Perce. Then in an 1855 treaty the Nez Perce territory was greatly reduced until 1877 when their territory was cut down even more because gold was discovered on their land. This sparked a war in which the American government quickly overwhelmed, killed and displaced the remaining Nez Perce.
As I said, it’s a sad story and worth a visit, there’s a short film covering the history, a museum, gift shop and if you have your national parks passport you can get it stamped as well.
We continued east on route 95 into what seemed like going back into another time dimension. The town of Winchester (named after the Winchester riffle) and the state park associated with it are nestled in a rugged and heavily forested area and is definitely a hidden gem.
The town is small, population 340, but has a public library, a gas station, a few small businesses and a couple restaurants. Try not to visit on Tuesday or Wednesday, almost everything seems to be closed.
The town has its roots in lumber and the town moved three times during its history because of deforestation to its current location within the Nez Perce Reservation because of a declaration by President Cleveland in 1895 that said anyone could settle on the reservation. Come along as we do a little exploring of Winchester, Idaho…
Tai and Jane left us for a couple days after Winchester to go back to Montana. They liked Montana so much during our visit there that they decided to buy land and build a tiny home.
In our next post we travel alone to Cascade Lake State Park…
We re-entered Idaho on June 20 and continued east to the Lake Coeur d’Alene area for some sightseeing before heading to Lewiston and Hell’s Gate State Park.
We were hoping to do some bike riding while we were in the Lake Coeur d’Alene area, but that didn’t work out. Coeur d’Alene definitely lived up to its reputation as a very beautiful area. I took pictures as MaryAnn drove. Check it out…
In our next post we travel to another Idaho state park called Winchester Lake State Park.
The temperature continued to rise to over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. We needed to either get back into the higher elevations of the mountains or find places we could be plugged in in order to run our air conditioner.
We crossed the border into Idaho on June 17. The heatwave of 2021 was just getting started and we were looking for places with electric hookups for our rigs so we could have air conditioning.
I have two phone apps that I use extensively for finding places to camp: “AllStays” and “Campendium”. I use AllStays to find private parks, state parks and military parks. I use Campendium to find national forest, public land campgrounds and free BLM land for boondocking.
Using Campendium, I found a campground in northern Idaho called “Springy Point”. With water and electric hookups, Springy Point was a Army Corps of Engineers campground and since the weekend was fast approaching we decided to secure our campsites with reservations.
We stayed one night at Springy Point and then moved on to Fairchild AFB in Washington near Spokane. We didn’t plan on going into Washington but with the weekend now upon us and the heatwave in full swing we decided the first come first serve campground at Fairchild would be the best place for us.
We spent Friday night at Clear Lake Military Recreation area where reservations were required and there were two sites available right next to each other. Saturday night we had to move to the on base campground.
While at Clear Lake we decided to go kayaking and relax on the gentle waters of the shallow lake. This would be the second time on this trip we got to use our kayak and we are starting to get the hang of getting in and out of it, before you know we could become experts!
In our next post we traveled back into Idaho to a state park called “Hell’s Gate”. This park was situated on the banks of the Snake River and on the border with Washington.
After leaving Glacier National Park we met up with friends and fellow Leisure Travel Van owners on the road (Route 2 west). We traveled with these great people to Alaska and back in 2018. It was like deja vu, we met for the first time on the Alaska caravan 3 years ago. Now we’re all good friends with great memories of our epic adventures traveling across British Columbia and Yukon Territory to Alaska and back.
After our meet up with our friends, we continued our adventure through Montana with Jane and Tai to Libby and our next stop at Blackwell Flats Campground on the Kootenia River. We camped along the river just below Libby Dam. This is an Army Corps of Engineers campground and it was completely free, first come first serve.
In our next post we travel from Libby across the border into Idaho. We made reservations at Springy Point, another Army Corps of Engineers campground, but this time we had to actually pay for our campsite.
The summer was beginning to heat up with temperatures in the 90’s and even over 100, we needed to be plugged into electric power. It was also the weekend which made it harder to find a place to camp.
We spent two days at Glacier National Park, Montana. This year the park announced new rules for visitors to the park: Only visitors holding a ticket obtained online from the park website can enter. It’s next to impossible to get a ticket because only 150 tickets are available each day.
The only other option is to wait in line at 6 am or at 5 pm and hope you can get into the park that way.
However, we met someone who had just left Glacier the day before in Lolo, Montana who told us about another way into the park on the west side that won’t require a ticket or waiting in line. We decided to give it a try and beat the lines at the west gate.
We drove up the dirt road as we were instructed by this stranger. Got completely lost and almost ended up in Canada! Turned around and came back down the dirt road about 30 miles and happened to look to our left and there it was a gateway into the park that was completely open with no one waiting!
Yep, we got lost on a terrible road to Canada, but in the end we were able to get into Glacier National Park without a ticket or reservations. Come along with us as we explore Glacier National Park…
On our next post we continued west on route 12 after leaving Glacier National Park. We were headed towards Libby, Montana and Blackwell Flats Campground on the banks of the Kootenai River.
On the way we met up with five friends and fellow owners of Leisure Travel Vans who had gone with us to Alaska in 2018.
On June 12th we left Lolo, Montana and continued traveling north toward Glacier National Park. We had June 14-16 reservations at a private RV park called, “Glacier RV Park” about 5 miles from the west gate of the national park.
We needed somewhere to camp for the weekend while we waited for our reservations at Glacier RV Park. So after studying the map and searching through one of my cellphone apps, “Campendium” we decided on Hungry Horse Reservoir in Flathead National Forest about 40 minutes south of Glacier National Park.
The Hungry Horse Reservoir was created by damming the South Fork Flathead River. Construction began on the Hungry Horse Dam on April 21, 1948 and was completed on July 18, 1953. (Ref Wikipedia.org)
We had several first come first serve campgrounds in mind when we arrived in the Hungry Horse area. Since it was a Saturday we knew it would be difficult to find an available campsite because this was a very popular camping area. We first stopped at the “Lost Johnny Point campground” and even though there were 2 campsites open we didn’t like them and after MaryAnn spoke with the camp host we decided to go to “Lid Creek Campground” about 5-6 miles further down the road.
Lid Creek Campground turned out to be the place for us. The camp host there was very helpful in showing the best sites for us to camp. We were back-to-back to each other and close to the water.
You’re invited to explore Hungry Horse Reservoir with us…
We traveled to Glacier National Park next, one of the highlights of this summer adventure.
On our next post we get lost on a dirt road on the west side of Glacier…
We traveled from Canyon Ferry Lake to Helena to resupply and then continued on to Deer Lodge, Montana. Deer Lodge is the second oldest city in Montana, Helena is the oldest. Both cities have their roots in mining.
We decided to stop in Deer Lodge because a severe winter storm was heading directly toward our area. The temperature was dropping fast and predicted to drop into the low thirties (Fahrenheit) by the morning and significant snow fall in certain areas, this is mid June!
After the storm the next day we visited a prison museum a toy museum, and a auto museum. Highly recommend these places to anyone coming through Deer Lodge.
Lolo, Montana was a surprise too. Let’s take a look at the road through Deer Lodge and Lolo, Montana.
Sometimes traveling without reservations and camping in national forest isn’t always easy, but at the end of the day we have always had a place to park our tiny house. On the road less traveled we never know what adventure is waiting around the next curve in the road.
From LoLo the road took us north to the Flathead National Forest 40 minutes south of Glacier National Park…
In week three we traveled southwest from Great Falls to Confederate Campground (public land) on Canyon Ferry Lake, Montana. We camped right on the banks of the lake for three nights and it was completely free.
While we were there we unpacked our kayaks for the first time on this trip and floated around the bay of this beautiful and quite large lake.
The lake was created by damming up the Missouri River. This also meant there is a strong under current and made it a little intimidating for us beginner kayakers.
There were many encounters with wildlife as well. Deer, eagle, Canadian Geese, pheasant, skunk, prong horn, and many other bird species.
The weather was perfect the first day, the second day a very powerful wind storm blew up and quickly became a dust storm. The third day started out calm, but later in the day another wind storm roared through our campsite kicking up more dust and sand.
From Canyon Ferry Lake we traveled west to Deer Lodge, Montana and a very powerful winter storm in the middle of June, complete with thunder and lightning and wind so strong it was difficult to stand up.
After leaving Yellowstone we continued north on route 89 and stopped for the night in Gallantin National Forest at Canyon Campground. The campground was right off the highway, easy off and easy on. Being so close to route 89 meant there’s some road noise from passing cars, but during the night everything quieted down. The price was right at $5 per night – dry camping.
The next day we once again continued north to Malmstrom AFB in Great Falls, Montana. We didn’t have reservations, didn’t need them since this is a first come first serve campground.
We stayed at Malmstrom for the weekend and brought out our ebikes for a 20 mile ride and caught up on laundry and resupply…
After Malmstrom AFB and Great Falls we traveled southwest to Canyon Ferry Lake to camp on public land. It was completely free camping and we finally got to break out our kayaks! But you will have to wait for our next post to see what happens next…
(The picture above is of the Pecos River in southwest Texas.) My name is Terry C Barber, I am a disabled veteran, retired military and retired pastor. MaryAnn’s a retired special education teacher. Our Next Chapter, the open road – we call it “the Barber Road.” You're invited to join us as we explore North America in our Leisure Travel Van with two Shitzu pups.