Day Eight: Boondocking for the First Time

On the road out of Miles City by 10 am.  I took the time to dump all of my tanks, as I knew I’d be without hookups at my next site: Headwaters of the Missouri River State Park.  There are just 17 sites in this campground, and there is no electricity, water or even a dump station.  I’ve never boondocked in this fifth wheel (overnighting without any hookups), so I was excited about the challenge.

As I drove west, I began to see the snow capped peaks of the Rockies growing closer and closer.  The Headwaters are west of Bozeman but still east of Butte.  I stopped at a rest area about 2 hours into the drive.  It was fairly scenic.

Parked at a rest area
Rest area view

I was still on I-94, but finally joined I-90, an interstate I have driven east and west many times.

I-90 heading west. The mountains are coming!

Bozeman was my first real taste of mountain driving, as you go over Bozeman Pass, elevation 5,702 feet, to get to the city.  Rory climbed up the grade great, but on the downhill part we had a slightly unexpected scene when, rounding a bend, we came to fully stopped traffic in both lanes!  Stopped fine and no one hit my rear end, so that was a plus.  Traffic crawled along until an off ramp appeared where the police were directing all traffic to offload.  I had to follow along, and discovered a huge wreck on I-90 just past the off ramp, including a semi that had completely burnt to the ground.  They were still trying to put out the flames.  A few miles along a frontage road brought another junction with 90, so back on the freeway I went.

I got to the campground around 6:30pm.  I’m glad I had the site I did, #15, as I’m not sure any of the others would have fit.  There were 2 other, much smaller trailers, one truck camper and 4 tenters.  It’s not a campground for giant rigs, this is certain.  But, it was pretty and the park itself was awesome.

Site #15
Very private site

The headwaters were just half a mile away.  This park is where the Lewis and Clark expedition had aimed: to explore to the source of the Missouri and then beyond.  They named the three rivers that form the Missouri the Madison, Jefferson, and Gallatin.  Thomas Jefferson was then President; it was hoped that Lewis and Clark would find a navigable passage all the way to the Pacific Ocean.  It was known at the time that the Missouri and the Columbia river were at roughly the same latitude, so the hope of a “northwest passage” was high.

Instructions for the Lewis and Clark expedition.

The Jefferson river was named for the president; James Madison was the Secretary of State at the time, and Albert Gallatin was the Treasury Secretary.

The Madison is coming in from the left; the Jefferson from the center. Missouri goes off to the right. The Gallatin joins about a mile from here.
Jefferson River as it joins the Madison
Madison River with snow capped mountains visible in distance
Interesting cliff on Missouri, past the Gallatin confluence
View to the East from the Headwaters. Another beautiful day!
Madison river
Sunset at the campground

I went to bed with just the sound of birds singing and the slight wind blowing.  It got chilly, but overall was a great place to spend a night on the road.


3 Replies to “Day Eight: Boondocking for the First Time”

  1. Very pretty scenery! Did you already know all of this geography and history or are you learning it as you go?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: