Experience the Old West by Exploring, Camping Southwest Montana

Sunday, September 09 2012 19:51   Camping
Even with fall almost upon us, there's still plenty of time to explore the big sky of Southwest Montana. camping and camping around the vast wilderness of the historic region.

Also known to many visitors as the Gold West Country, Southwest Montana is a large swath of mountains, valleys, rivers, lakes and hearty communities.

sexton_goldwest_campingThe region offers a sampling of all of Montana's lightly-tread amenities including mega-mountains, lunker trout, budding melting pots for art and culture in Butte and Helena, and a slice of the Wild West through the numerous and well-preserved ghost towns in its mineral-rich hills.

Appreciated for its Wild West mining history, rugged mountains, picturesque valleys and hearty communities, Southwest Montana is ideally located on the path between Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks.

It offers a quieter reprieve from the national park crowds, but with no lack of scenery or camping options.

Several camping options lie along the 63-mile Anaconda-Pinter Scenic Loop (Montana Hwy 1) in the heart of Southwest Montana.

The scenic highway, accessed from Interstate 90 at Drummond on the route's north end or Anaconda to the south, winds through the towering peaks of the remote Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness Area, through the cattle ranches of the Flint Creek Valley, and along the shores of Georgetown Lake to the charming town of Philipsburg.

At the banks of the alpine waters of Georgetown Lake are several forest service campgrounds, perfectly situated for easy access to the water for canoeing, kayaking or swimming. Lake View RV Park also offers private RV and tent sites at the southeast part of the lake.

Closer to Philipsburg, you'll find Copper Creek and Flint Creek campgrounds. And while passing through, stroll down Philipsburg's beautifully restored Broadway Street, stopping for a delectable treat at the Sweet Palace or to admire locally mined sapphires at the Sapphire Gallery.

Bannack State Park (Montana Territory's first capital city) gives your camping adventure a spooky backdrop.

Now nearly abandoned, the once booming mining town offers a glimpse into the harsh lifestyle, yet high rewards of the life of a miner.

The state park has two campgrounds: the Road Agent Campground, shaded by old cottonwood trees, and the larger Vigilante Campground more suitable for RVers.

At the Vigilante Campground, guests can also opt to overnight in an authentic tipi for a true Old West experience. It accommodates eight adults and can be reserved from the middle of May through the beginning of October.

If your family is looking for more of a car-camping adventure, head toward today's Montana capital city of Helena and the nearby campgrounds on picturesque Holter Lake and the stunning Gates of the Mountains, named by Lewis and Clark during their historic journey along the Missouri River. Here the fishing, waterskiing and hiking options abound.

For a rugged backcountry camping experience, check out the Gravelly Range near Ennis.

This mountain range is remote, yet highly accessible along the 70-mile Gravelly Range Road that spans the high plateau spine of the mountains.

The road connects Ennis and the remote Centennial Valley and is passable in a passenger car. When the road is wet, however, a higher-clearance, 4WD SUV may come in handy. Locals favor the camping along the road between Ennis and Black Butte.

Day hikes off the road and fly-fishing on the famed Madison River pre or post drive are must-dos.

For more information on all Southwest Montana's camping adventures, visit goldwest.visitmt.com.


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