We have the luxury of no firm plans until we need to be in Santa Rosa, CA on 8/20 for our son Peter’s wedding festivities. But where to go? Before we left Glacier, we looked at our camping options.
Montana’s a camping mecca, with National Parks, National Forests and State Parks, there are so many camping options to choose from.
Goodbye Glacier! I hope we can return to see you again someday.
We aren’t full service RV ‘resort’ people. We came here to experience nature and our Airstream is well-equipped to support us off the grid so private campgrounds were off the table. We were looking for a rustic state or national campground, Forest Service land or Core of Engineers site, where we can truly experience nature.
We checked recreation.gov, the website for camping reservations at national campgrounds. Most sites in places we were interested in going were already reserved, but we found many first come first served sites in campgrounds far off the beaten track. We ruled some of these out as we wouldn’t want to tow the Airstream 10 miles or more on a Forest Service road then find no space available.
Moving to freecampsites.net, we found a great camp at Lake Koocanusa, near the Canadian border and decided to go there. It took us off Route 2, but the campground looked beautiful, with good Verizon coverage that will let Rob work from our site.
The Thompson Chain of Lakes campgrounds is right along Route 2, halfway between Kalispell and Libby. They were perfectly situated, but would they have an open campsite?
We decided to check these out on our way up to Lake Koocanusa. If they were OK, we’d set up camp there.
It was Sunday afternoon and the campground was emptying as weekenders were going home. We found a beautiful site right on the water, under the pines with a small beach for kayak access at our site.
Kayak access to the Thompson Chain of Lakes right from our campsite
One issue…there is no Verizon coverage which means Rob has to drive to a nearby town to work each day. If you could see this camp, you’d understand why he agreed to do this so readily.
Lower Thompson Lake is crystal clear, part of a chain of lakes, connected by small canals. You can kayak between them (and we did, as the sun was setting last night). We set up camp, situating the Airstream so the door faces the lake, pulled out the awning and set up the tent over the picnic table. We laid down our rug, set up our chairs and were soon ready to enjoy the lake.
We returned to Kalispell to the laundromat, grocery store and a farm store to buy a Honda generator. We had put off buying a generator because we have a 125 watt solar panel on our roof and wanted to see if we really needed one. Solar has met our needs so far, but if we want to camp in the woods, we realized that we really needed a back up. We want to use renewable energy as much as possible, so we won’t be using the generator unless we have to.
Chula gave us some pre-dinner entertainment. She decided our new grill brush was the Ogre of Evilness and needed to be taken down. She growled at the thing, throwing it up in the air, catching it and biting it until she was positive she had thoroughly killed it.
Good Morning, Lower Thompson Lake!
This morning, I clipped Sugar and Chula into their leashes after Rob left for ‘the office.’ “Let’s go explore the campground, OK?” There are 8 sites on our loop, and all except one are directly on the lake.
So much to sniff…so little time…
We met our neighbors, local Montanans who were enjoying the lake with their grandchildren when their big husky ran out to greet us, scaring the bejeebers out of Chula. They told me that locals tend to use this camp on weekends and to expect a quiet camp during the week. They gave me some tips to help Rob with internet access. They were very kind and I was sorry when they told me that they were planning on going home today.
This otter looked like a snake as he swam along
As we walked up to the campground’s boat slip, I looked over at the lake and saw an otter gliding through the water, looking at us. I’m amazed at the amount of wildlife I’ve seen today …tiny chipmunks running through the campground, a hummingbird whizzing by our camp, a pair of loons coasting past our kayaks, diving for food, a hawk dive-bombing the water for fish, MANY fish jumping in the lake.
Later the day gets warm and Chula and I decide to go kayaking. Sugar wouldn’t come into the boat, choosing to sit on the bank and watch us paddle around the lake. Occasionally, she’d walk into the water if we got farther away, but go back to the bank if we got close enough to put her in the boat. She’s been with us on many kayaking trips and I was surprised she didn’t just jump in the boat. Oh well….maybe next time.
We’ll stay at Thompson for the week, then keep heading west to Oregon. I remember reading about RV Sue‘s trip up there a couple of years ago and remember her comments about how nice the state parks are there.
Go West, Young (?) Wilkes!
My daughter Joy calls me almost every day. Today, she called with news of moving…