It’s that time of year again: crisp air and cool mornings mean the last days of good camping weather are upon us. So after class this Friday, grab your gear, pack up the car, pick up some friends and head out for a weekend in the good ol’ Big Sky country. Here’s a list of spots to hit before the snow comes down.
2. Fairy Lake Campground, northern Bridgers
Take some buddies and trek up to Sacajewea, chill on the shores of the lake with a good book, shoot the breeze, or scope out the rope swing and try to dare one of your friends into taking the plunge. Be prepared though; it’s a long drive back into town.
3. Squaw Creek, Gallatin Canyon
Some of the most breathtaking sites can be seen just steps away from your truck, car, or tent at the top of Castle Mountain and Garnet Peak. Looking to climb? Just a short walk away, Scorched Earth and The Cave have some great climbing routes and stay warm in the afternoon.
4. Madison River, Ennis/Norris
Ever read Huckleberry Finn? There’s a reason they stayed on the river so long. Scaling Neat Rock, working on your cast, hiking the Bear Trap, and an apres-outdoor soak at Norris Hot Springs. This is the life.
5. Greek Creek, Gallatin Canyon
There is no place greater to catch a break than here. Take it easy while listening to the Gallatin gurgle down the canyon. Fish in Yellowstone Park for the day with friends, head south and catch an IMAX movie in West Yellowstone, or devour some onion rings at the Corral Bar.
6. Yellowstone National Park
The first of its kind never ceases to amaze. Take a dip in the Boiling River, run alongside the buffalo in the Lamar Valley, or take a hike up Slough Creek with your favorite fly rod. The best part? No traffic jams of summer tourists in taking pictures of bears and moose out their Winnebagos.
7. Yankee Jim Canyon, Gardiner
What’s better than paradise? Paradise with a cheeseburger. Set up camp and head to Helen’s in Gardiner to work on your belly. Head back to camp and lie next to the churning rapids of the Yellowstone. Take your chalk bag and crash pad for some nearby bouldering.
8. Pine Creek, Livingston
A little bit of music will always ease you into a nice slumber. Catch some live music at the Pine Creek Café and wake up curled nice a tight in your sleeping bag, ready to take in a hike to the picturesque Pine Creek Lake. Bring your rod. The Cutthroats are waiting.
9. Colter, Cooke City
Wouldn’t you love to trek into the Beartooth Wilderness without humping a 50-pound pack? Car-camp it at the Colter campground and rise with the sun to get a jump start on a day hike into this rugged alpine environment. Leave the whiskey at home; these majestic mountains deserve to be seen without the hangover haze.
10. Hyalite Recreation Area, Bozeman
Just a short journey from town lands you in this pristine paradise. You can choose from three campgrounds to start from. Mountain bike to the breathtaking Emerald Lake, trail run up Hyalite Peak, or take a trip around the reservoir in your canoe. This is car-camping at its finest. Casual, midday starts are expected and Town & Country is only a 20-minute drive away in case you run out of food.
This blog post is adapted from an article published in Outside Bozeman, Summer 2006, by Becky Edwards.