Bozeman, Montana

Bozeman Trail Campground and RV Park

August 30, 2020

Hungover from the wedding and worn out from flying back to Montana, we weren’t particularly excited to drive to Bozeman, but our schedule called for it, so we did what we had to do.

Following a quick, forgettable trip southwest along I-90 we arrived at our new home for the week – the Bozeman Trail Campground and RV Park. We hate ragging on this place too much because the employees/owners were always so nice and accommodating, but the park itself just wasn’t up to par relative to the other campgrounds along our journey. First and foremost among our complaints – the noise. This place was LOUD. Between the Interstate, the nearby train tracks, and the building next store being demolished, we rarely found ourselves with a moment’s quiet. The other major negative working against Bozeman Trail was the cell service. The park happened to be right on the other side of a hill shielding us from the nearby AT&T tower. Fortunately, by alternating between the weak cell signal and spotty campground WIFI, Sam was able to maintain enough bandwidth to get her work done.

After a brief recovery period following the previous weekend, we began to venture outside of the campground. We figured what better way to get a feel for an area than through a bird’s eye view – so we chose the closest, tallest hill we could find and climbed it. The hill in question, Drinking Horse Mountain, came outfitted with nice little trail and provided some lovely vistas of our new host city.

Everyone knows that after a heavy drinking weekend you can’t just stop cold turkey, so we decided to play it safe and go out downtown for a few drinks after work one day. We had a great time just strolling up and down Main Street taking in the sights, sounds, and smells that the quaint, yet trendy downtown area had to offer. Eventually, we petered out walking around and ducked into a fun outdoor cantina for a few cold ones.

When the weekend rolled around, we took the hour drive south into the mountains to Big Sky, Montana. Throughout our travels, we heard so many glowing reviews of this southern Montana ski town that we just had to check it out and see what the fuss was all about. To put it bluntly – we were slightly underwhelmed. Don’t get us wrong, the area is lovely, the resort seemed nice enough, and we enjoyed our hike along the Beehive Basin Trail, but after our recent adventures in northern Montana (Glacier, Kalispell, etc.) we weren’t exactly blown away by Big Sky.

On the plus side, the 7.1-mile out-and-back hike culminated at a crystal-clear alpine lake which made for some good picture opportunities.

Upon finishing up the hike and tracing our steps back to the campground, we were greeted into Bozeman by plumes of black smoke emitting from a nearby mountainside. We quickly realized that the smoke was the result of a forest fire which was rapidly spreading across the mountain and encroaching on the city’s own hillside letter “M” (this one for Montana State University, which calls Bozeman home). This was the first time either of us had seen a real forest fire up close and it was truly a sight to behold. Although the fire ended up raging for days and consuming thousands of acres of vegetation in the process, it sure made for a fun light show each evening for the remainder of our stay in the area.

You’d think we would have been whipped, but somehow, we still had one more hike in us before leaving Bozeman. This last adventure took us back south along the Gallatin River towards Big Sky. However, this time our activity for the day was the Lava Lake Trail.

The 6-mile trail closely followed the Cascade Creek which supplied a constant stream of pleasant sounds and alluring backgrounds.

DISCLAIMER: Sam wants the record to show that she was “freezing” for most of the hike because the trail was largely shaded.

Once we finally made it to the lake, we had a great time just hanging out on the shore, watching the fish, soaking in the sun, and taking in that fresh mountain air.

If Sam thought that she was freezing on the hike, she was in for a rude awakening on our final day in Bozeman as the season’s first real cold spell settled in while we were packing up the trailer to leave. Fortunately, the chilly weather ended up dissipating in a day or two, just in time for us to enjoy our stay in Gardiner, Montana, and the granddaddy of them all – Yellowstone National Park!