Portland-Woodburn RV Park – Woodburn, OR

We chose to stay at Portland-Woodburn RV Park due to its location between Springfield, Oregon where AM Solar is located and Clackamas, Oregon where Ultimate Airstreams is located. We had updates done to the Airstream at both places and booked our appointments with both back in April. We were able to schedule them close enough together that we only had five days between where we needed a place to stay and Woodburn-RV Park was a good option.

Portland-Woodburn RV Park

115 N. Arney Road, Woodburn, OR 97071

www.woodburnrv.com

  • Full Hookups
  • Pull-Thru Sites
  • Restrooms with Showers
  • Pool
  • Enclosed Dog Area
  • Playground
  • Recycling
  • Propane Fill
  • Cable
  • Laundry
Site 24

The RV park is located right off the I-5 and next door to the Woodburn Premium Outlets, which was a very popular place during our stay over the Labor Day weekend. We took advantage of the fact Oregon doesn’t have a sales tax and purchased a few things during our stay. There are a handful of restaurants within a short walk from the RV park. The sites are blacktopped and grassy, but offer no privacy from your neighbor. The property is clean and the people are nice. It’s about a 40-minute drive into downtown Portland. Woodburn is a nice little city with all of the services you might need, including a Walmart. For those that aren’t RVers, a Walmart is always nice to have as they have an RV supply aisle in which they sell the good RV toilet paper – the only other place I’ve been able to find it is Amazon, but it’s pricy. If you’re looking for something closer to the city, I’d recommend Pheasant Ridge RV Park, which is only a 20-minute drive. It’s a bit pricier, but it’s a beautiful RV park where we stayed for a couple of nights after picking up our Airstream from Ultimate Airstreams.

 

 

 

Solar Panels, Batteries, and Brakes in Eugene, OR

Solar and Battery Upgrade

When we bought the Airstream in June of 2017, we had the dealership install two 100w flex solar panels. We never upgraded the batteries to anything beyond what was installed at the factory, and even after replacing those first batteries with a new set (of the same), they were never able to hold a charge like we would need to successfully function without shore power (that’s what RVers call an electric hookup). We talked about upgrading the batteries for a while, and in doing research, found that our flex panels don’t generally have a long life expectancy either. In April, after 15 months on the road, we decided we wanted to add two more solar panels and upgrade to lithium batteries. We knew we were missing out on one of the benefits of this lifestyle, which is to be able to stay places without having to hook up. There are so many options out there for boondocking, especially in the West. We wanted to have the convenience and flexibility to be able to subsist for a few nights and not have to depend on electricity. We scheduled an appointment for late August with AM Solar in Springfield, Oregon, who we found to have rave reviews.

We originally were going to have them install just two 100w rigid panels, but decided to have them replace the flex panels as well. We now have four 100w rigid panels. We swapped our crappy batteries for two Battle Born 12v 100Ah lithium batteries. Our original converter has been disconnected and replaced with two lithium-compatible chargers. To complete the upgrade, a Victron battery monitor system was installed so we can monitor our battery levels as well as our solar input on our phones in the Victron app.

There are two big decisions that need to be made when upgrading solar and batteries: Lithium vs AGM batteries and Fixed vs Portable solar panels. You should make these decisions based on how YOU are going to use YOUR rig – don’t worry about how other people are using theirs. We weren’t looking to be able to live off grid 100% of the time, though we are fully capable of doing that now, but to have the flexibility and convenience to make decisions about where we stay independent of whether or not there’s an electric hook up. Sometimes we want full hookups, other times we don’t. We have a great setup now for the times we don’t.

There are some solar purists out there that feel that anything other than portable solar panels are a waste of money. Again, this depends on how you’re going to use your rig. For the non-RVers out there, when you park a trailer in direct sun, it gets hot inside. Alternatively, when you park in the shade, it stays cooler. For the people that like to stay off grid regularly, being able to park in the shade but still receive sun on the solar panels is a necessity. In cases like this, one would need to have portable solar panels that are plugged into the RV by a long cord, but sit on the ground and are able to be moved around and adjusted as needed in reference to where the sun is in the sky. We don’t like heat. When it’s hot, we like to use our air conditioning. In order to use a/c, we need to have an electric hookup as our inverter does not support running a/c. It’s possible to install an inverter powerful enough that will allow you to run a/c strictly off of battery power as opposed to shore power, but it’s very pricy, and as I said, we aren’t looking to go off grid permanently so it’s unnecessary for us. If it’s hot, we like to be on shore power. Therefore, we don’t need to be able to park in the shade and still get sun to our solar panels. We’ll save our dependent-on-solar-panels days for cooler temps that allow us to sit in direct sun without feeling like we’re slowing baking inside our Airstream.

Wholesale Solar has a great blog post that explains lithium vs AGM batteries better than I ever could, so please click here to read it if this topic interests you. For us, the deciding factors were that lithium has a much greater depth of discharge, a faster charge rate, and a longer lifespan.

So, what exactly what can we do with our fancy new batteries and solar panels? We recently spent about 24 hours at a Harvest Hosts to try our new system out. We made dinner in the oven, watched hours of TV, had the furnace kick in a few times, ran the fridge on propane, charged cell phones, used the water pump as needed, turned on lights, and used the stove to heat water for the French press. The lowest our batteries got to was 78%, and seeing as they can safely get down to 20% and we were not holding back on using power, we were very impressed. Even though it was raining when we hitched up and rained for about half of our 4-hour drive, we were back up to 100% when we reached our next destination, thanks to our solar panels.

While this project was not cheap, to us, the convenience it provides and the money we can save boondocking is worth every penny. The staff at AM Solar are consummate professionals and did an amazing job. Everything is under warranty for an unheard of seven years, so we have peace of mind that if any issues should arise in years to come, AM Solar has our back!

AM Solar

3555 Marcola Road, Springfield, OR 97477

www.amsolar.com

The finished product!
AM Solar used one of the storage compartments under one of our twin beds to install the batteries and equipment.
Battle Born lithium batteries come with a 10-year warranty.
The battery screen in the VictronConnect app.
The solar screen in the VictronConnect app.

 

What’s that sound?

The day before we dropped the Airstream off at AM Solar, we pulled into a campground in Cascade Locks, Oregon and noticed an odd rattling sound coming from the wheel area on the passenger side of the Airstream. Travis crawled underneath to see if he could see what was going on, but didn’t see anything obvious. Seeing as there was nothing we could do where we currently were, we hitched up the next day and continued to Springfield with bated breath. We knew there was an Airstream dealership/service center in Portland, so figured that was going to be our best option. After we dropped the Airstream off at AM Solar, we drove to our hotel in downtown Eugene. Along the way, we noticed a billboard for Sutton RV, the ‘Pacific Northwest’s Original Airstream Dealership’ which was located in Eugene.

Guys, this is the second time we’ve had an issue with the Airstream and both times we happened to be in a city with an Airstream dealership/service center. What are the odds?

We called them the next morning, which was a Monday. We explained our situation: weird noise; full timers; Airstream currently at AM Solar until Thursday; Airstream would be dropped off at Ultimate Airstreams the following Tuesday. It was a small window of time. They were busy. It was short notice. BUT, they told us to bring it in Thursday and they would look at it to at least diagnose the problem. We cancelled the first night of our RV park stay and extended our hotel stay one night. We picked the trailer up Thursday from AM Solar and drove 15 minutes to Sutton RV. Just 2.5 hours later we got a call saying one of our brakes was basically shredded and needed to be replaced. They had the part and the Airstream would be fixed and ready to go Friday afternoon. Yay! We were able to pick the Airstream up 24 hours after dropping it off and continue on our way to Portland. Kelly at Sutton RV did us a solid and was awesome to work with. While we hope we never have to see them again, we know we’d receive fantastic service from a hard-working and honest service department if a problem were to arise in their area again.

Sutton RV

2400 W. 7th Ave, Eugene, OR 97402

www.suttonrv.com

The old. When Kelly sent this picture he said, “Your holding bolts broke off and you had parts missing.” Yikes!
The new.

 

Our Stay in Eugene

While AM Solar was working on the Airstream and Sutton RV fixed our brake issue, we stayed at the Home 2 Suites in Eugene. While the hotel was very nice – suite with kitchenette, indoor pool, free breakfast, free laundry, decent fitness center – I would not stay there again. There’s a very large transient population in downtown Eugene, which made us feel a little uncomfortable walking around. After living in San Diego for a while, homelessness is not unfamiliar to us, but we saw some really nasty things that were pretty off putting. Our recommendation for anyone getting work done at AM Solar that needs to stay in a hotel for a few days would be to stay in Springfield.

Home 2 Suites by Hilton Eugene Downtown

102 W 11th Ave, Eugene, OR 97401

www.hilton.com

 

Cascade Locks/Portland East KOA

Our stay at the Cascade Locks/Portland East KOA was our second one-night stay in a row and the second stay in a row where I forgot to take a picture of our site. We were really torn about this KOA. The property is actually pretty nice, though I’m not sure what qualifies it as a KOA Holiday as opposed to a KOA Journey. It has a real woodsy feel, as there are a lot of trees that provide great shade. However, the streets are pretty narrow and those lovely trees can impede rigs trying navigate through the campground. We ended up with what had to be the worst site in the campground, which was site 106. It was a tight turn to get into the site and an even tighter turn to get out of it. We were directly across from the pool, which was fully patronized all day long. The site next to us had a travel trailer and three vehicles, which amounted to about 15 people and 15 people worth of noise. When we walked Max, we noticed that the rest of the campground was pretty quiet, so if we had been in pretty much any other site, we probably would have enjoyed ourselves a bit more. The campground is in a great location to explore Cascade Locks and the surrounding area.

Cascade Locks/Portland East Holiday

841 N.E. Forest Lane, Cascade Locks, OR 97014

www.koa.com

  • Full Hookups
  • Pull-Thru Sites
  • Cabins
  • Tent Sites
  • Restrooms with Showers
  • Laundry
  • Game Room
  • Swimming Pool with Hot Tub
  • Dump Station
  • Playground
  • Fenced-In Dog Run

After getting settled in, we drove into town to get some lunch. We got burgers at Bridgeside, a restaurant on the banks of the Columbia River on the Oregon side of the Bridge of the Gods. Because we brought Max with us, we sat on the patio, which we had all to ourselves. Cascade Locks seems like a great little town to explore, but we just didn’t have the time this trip.

Coyote Run RV Park – Connell, WA

We spent one brief night at Coyote Run as we quickly made our way from Glacier National Park to Springfield, Oregon, where we would be dropping the Airstream off at AM Solar to upgrade the batteries and add more solar panels. Our stay was so brief that I forgot to take a picture of our site. When we left Glacier, we decided to just keep driving until we didn’t feel like driving anymore, and this day turned out be our longest driving day of the year thus far. As we started to lose steam, I opened the Campendium app to find a place nearby. Coyote Run looked like a good option, and seeing as it was kind of in the middle of nowhere, we didn’t call ahead as we figured they wouldn’t be full. Well, we got lucky, because we ended up with the last site that would fit us. It was a buddy pull-thru site, so we shared our grassy front yard with our neighbor, which was perfectly fine. Most of the rigs seemed like long-term residents — the gigantic propane tanks give it away — who we assumed were employed by the large prison nearby. This is a very basic, small RV park right off the highway that worked well for our one-night stay. We didn’t use any of the amenities, but I did peek in the restrooms, which were individual restrooms with showers and they looked clean.

Coyote Run RV Park

351 E Hawthorn Street, Connell, WA 99326

www.coyoterunrv.com

  • Full Hookups
  • Pull-Thru Sites
  • Individual Restrooms with Showers
  • Laundry
  • Propane Fill
  • Cable TV
  • Recreation Room

Cranbrook/St. Eugene KOA – Cranbrook, BC

We stayed one night at the Cranbrook/St. Eugene KOA after we left Banff National Park. Cranbrook seems to be a popular place for RVers to spend the night before crossing the border back into the United States. This property became a KOA just this year and thus far, seems to be a KOA in name only. There’s signage, but not much else that differentiates it from its past life as the St. Eugene RV Park. This is a KOA Journey, but is nicer than most KOA Holidays that we’ve stayed at. It was once part of, and sits adjacent to, the St. Eugene Golf Resort and Casino, which is a beautiful property. Staying at the KOA gives you access to the resort’s amenities, including the swimming pool, hot tubs, steam room, sauna, and fitness centre. There’s also a spa, golf course, and casino on site, as well as a couple of restaurants. It’s a nice, quiet place to spend a night or two.

Cranbrook/St. Eugene KOA Journey

7777 Mission Road, Cranbrook, BC V1C7E5

www.koa.com

  • Full Hookups
  • Pull-Thru Sites
  • Restrooms with Showers
  • Laundry
  • Playground
  • Basketball
  • Horseshoes
  • Badminton
  • Bocce
  • Recycling
  • Pet Area
  • Access to Resort Amenities
Site 23 is a level, gravel, FHU site with a large grassy area.

The park sits along the St. Mary River and is well maintained. The only negative that we found is that there are no trees, so you’re always in direct sunlight. It was pretty warm when we stayed, so I can see this being a drawback for longer stays.

Note: Just before we reached the KOA, Google Maps routed us down a 13km washboard gravel road that was VERY rough. The notice below was posted in the KOA laundry room, so it seems this is a usual occurrence.

Make sure to follow the directions above and DO NOT drive down this road.

Crossing the Canadian Border with an Airstream and a Dog

When planning our trip to Canada, the border crossing was the biggest question mark for us. We didn’t know what to expect, but it turned out to be nothing to worry about and took less than five minutes.

We crossed at the Sweetgrass, Montana crossing, which is listed as Montana’s busiest border crossing and the only one that’s open 24 hours for commercial vehicles. There are six lanes, with one reserved for people holding a NEXUS card and two reserved for commercial purposes. There were two cars ahead of us when we pulled up, but they moved through very quickly.

When we pulled up to the window, the agent asked for our passports immediately and then asked the following questions:

Where are you headed?

How long will you be in Canada?

What’s the purpose of your visit?

Do you have any alcohol? How much?

Do you have any tobacco products?

Do you have any cannabis products?

Do you have any weapons?

Do you have a taser or pepper spray?

Do you have more than $10,000 cash with you?

Will you be selling any goods while you’re in Canada?

Americans crossing into Canada are each allowed to have 1.5 liters of wine -or- 1.14 liters (40 ounces) of liquor -or- 24 cans of beer, as well as 1 carton (200) of cigarettes, up to 50 cigars, and 200g of loose tobacco. For more information about the items you can and can’t cross with and the possible duties imposed, visit www.ezbordercrossing.com. There were also signs posted that stated “All cannabis items must be declared,” but we have no idea what the rules are for that.

He then asked to see Max’s rabies vaccination record. After that, he handed everything back to us, and we were on our way!

Approaching the border from Sweetgrass, MT…
Waiting for our turn…
And we’re through!

The city on the Canadian side of the border is Coutts, which is where we spent the night before driving up to Cochrane, just west of Calgary, the next day. There is a duty free shop in both Sweetgrass and Coutts, so you can buy all the alcohol and tobacco your heart desires without having to pay a duty fee. If we were to cross the border via this route again, we would keep driving past Coutts to Lethbridge, about 100km (60mi) north. Coutts is a tiny, dusty, agricultural city without many amenities while Lethbridge is the third largest city in Alberta, offering food and recreation options.

After spending five nights in Cochrane, AB and three nights each at Lake Louise Campground and Tunnel Mountain Campground in Banff, we spent one night in Cranbrook, BC as we made our way back towards the border.

We crossed back into the U.S. at the Roosville, BC border crossing. It was much busier than when we crossed in Sweetgrass — maybe because it was a Friday instead of a Thursday, and there were only two lanes as opposed to three. The border agent gave us a hard-to-explain uneasy feeling, but again we had no issues crossing once answering his questions:

How long were you in Canada?

Do you have any fresh produce or plants?

Did you buy any items to declare?

This time, there was a gauntlet of cameras and devices to drive through before reaching the border agent’s window.

From there, it was less than a 2-hour drive to our destination of West Glacier. Be prepared and be honest when crossing the border, and you should have no issues. We recently read of a fellow Airstreamer forgetting to declare a couple pieces of produce at the same border crossing and were fined $300 and had their passports held until they paid it.

Bow RiversEdge Campground in Cochrane, AB with a bit of Calgary

We spent five nights at the beautiful Bow RiversEdge Campground in Cochrane, AB, which is 40 minutes west of downtown Calgary. The city of Cochrane is super cute and clean and we really enjoyed our stay at this park. The one drawback we experienced is that they are strict about their check in time — we arrived an hour and a half early and they wouldn’t let us check in. We can appreciate adhering to the rules, except that when we tried to pull into our site at 1:00, the previous person was still there. It was a tad frustrating, but they moved on in about 10 minutes, so we were able to get settled in without any more issues.

Bow RiversEdge Campground

900 Griffin Rd E, Cochrane, AB

www.bowriversedge.com

  • Full Hookups
  • Pull-Thru Sites
  • Fire Pit
  • Picnic Table
  • Laundry
  • Restrooms with Coin Showers
  • Dump Station
  • Playground
  • Basketball
  • Horseshoe Pits
  • Bocce
  • Adjacent to Off-Leash Dog Area
  • Firewood for Sale
  • Recycling

Site 85 is a level pull-thru with a tree for shade, picnic table, a fire pit, and grassy area. The property is very well kept with lush, green grass throughout and hedges between the sites for privacy. We used the tidy laundry facilities, but didn’t step inside the restrooms, which have coin showers.

The campground sits along the edge of the Bow River with an off-leash walking trail in between, which was a great place to walk Max every morning and evening.

During our stay, we drove into downtown Calgary late one afternoon. It’s a 40-minute drive from Cochrane to downtown, or about 20 minutes to the outskirts of the city. Starting at the city limits, there are a number of Light Rail Transit (LRT) stations that connect to the city center, which is a good option to avoid expensive and difficult to find parking in the downtown area. Calgary is a very large city, the third largest in Canada in fact, yet very green and very beautiful. We walked around a bit along 17th Avenue, where you’ll find a lot of shops and restaurants. We also visited Olympic Plaza, the site of the medal ceremonies during the 1988 Winter Olympics where there’s a reflecting pond to enjoy on hot days that becomes a skating rink during winter months. We attempted to visit the Calgary Tower, but it was closed due to elevator repairs.

Back in Cochrane, we visited the Krang Spirits Distillery, which is a small batch distillery that makes gin, vodka, whiskey and fruit liqueurs. We got a tour of their facility and did some free tasting of their spirits. We went home with two bottles of liqueurs – Raspberry Krang Berry Spirit and Krang Krupnik Spiced Honey Spirit. The tour was very interesting and we learned that in order for an alcohol to be considered whiskey in Canada, it has to be in a wood barrel for three years.

We had delicious tacos and drinks at Half Hitch Brewing, which is only a few minutes from the campground.

Located right next door to Bow RiversEdge Campground (within walking distance) is the Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre. They have a fitness center, indoor running track, aquatic centre, outdoor splash park, climbing walls, hockey arena, curling centre, indoor soccer, gymnastics, gym with basketball, and so on. We paid the drop-in rate to be able to use the fitness center. It was $20 for the two of us, but 25% off with a coupon from the campground, making it $15 Canadian, which is a little over $11 American — so, less than $6 per person, which is pretty reasonable.

Bow RiversEdge and Cochrane were beautiful and relaxing, and a great jumping off point for our two weeks in Alberta and British Columbia.

 

 

 

Gold Springs Park – Milk River, Alberta

This park was merely a place to stay for one night once we crossed the border into Canada. It was pretty hot and miserable and besides picking up a few things from the grocery store and walking Max, we didn’t leave the Airstream. Gold Springs Park Campground sits halfway between Milk River and Coutts. It seems like a place people from the local rural areas go to spend the weekend as there are quite a few seasonal sites. There are a number of sites without an electric hookup, or only 20amp, so there were people running generators. If we ever drive that route again and need to stop, we would probably keep driving north until we reach Lethbridge, which is a real city with amenities and things to do.

Gold Springs Park Campground

www.goldpsrings.ca

  • 30amp Electric Only Sites
  • 20amp Electric and Water Sites
  • Tent Sites
  • Cabins
  • Restrooms with Pay Showers
  • Water Fill
  • Playground
  • Reservoir with Fishing
  • Paddleboat Rentals
  • Laundry

Our site (#40) was one of a few pull-thru sites. It was gravel/dirt and a bit unlevel with a picnic table and fire pit, though it was so hot and windy that nobody should have been having a fire (people still did). We didn’t use any of the amenities and left fairly early, so we can’t really give an in-depth review.

 

Helena, you were a nice surprise!

We stayed in Helena for a week along our route up to Canada. We had never really heard anything about the city, so didn’t know what to expect, but we were pleasantly surprised by a beautiful, clean, quaint city that has a lot to offer and seems like a great place to live. We were able to explore quite a bit during the week and were happy that a city that was initially added to the itinerary as a place to kill time before going into Canada for reservations at Banff turned out to be a great place to spend the week.

Helena North KOA

850 W. Lincoln Road, Helena, MT 59602

www.koa.com

  • Full Hookups
  • Pull-Thru Sites
  • Restrooms with Showers
  • Laundry
  • Propane
  • Picnic Table
  • Wifi

The Helena KOA became a KOA at the beginning of this season and is still in the midst of transitioning. As a matter of fact, it seems to currently be a KOA in name only, as even their maps still say Lincoln Road RV Park. It’s missing the things KOAs are known for: Cabins, tent sites, dog park, playground, and family-style shower rooms. However, none of those things matter to us, and we found the property to be very clean, well maintained, and sufficient for our needs. The sites are level, long, and gravel with a concrete patio, picnic table, and really nice grass. The employees are all very nice and helpful. The wifi generally worked pretty well, which is a bonus seeing as we had terrible cell reception, even with a booster — good enough to make calls and texts, but was intermittently dependable for anything more than that. The location is great — very close to I-15 and you can get anywhere in Helena in about 15 minutes.

Things to Do in Helena

Montana State Capitol – A self-guided tour is available, though not necessary to appreciate the beautiful facility.

Cathedral of St. Helena – The cathedral rivals most cathedrals/churches we’ve seen around the world. Built in 1908, the cathedral was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.

Gates of the Mountains Boat Tour – The tour on the Missouri River lasts about two hours. The guide provides historical and environmental information about the area, which was so named by Lewis and Clark and recorded by Meriwether Lewis in their travel journal on July 19, 1805: “this evening we entered much the most remarkable clifts that we have yet seen. these clifts rise from the waters edge on either side perpendicularly to the height of 1200 feet. … the river appears to have forced its way through this immense body of solid rock for the distance of 5-3/4 Miles … I called it the gates of the rocky mountains.”

Hike Mt. Helena – There are a number of routes up Mt. Helena from the trailhead, where there’s a parking lot and a pit toilet. We chose to take the 1906 trail up, which is 1.5 miles one way with over 1,000 feet of elevation gain. We took the Powerline Trail down, which is 1 mile one way with the same 1,000+ feet of elevation, making it pretty steep and hard on the knees. The 1906 trail is definitely the better route and has nicer views than the Powerline Trail. At the top, there’s a 360-degree view of Helena.

Food & Drink – From what we saw, Helena isn’t really a culinary hub. We ate at home for most meals, but we did visit Blackfoot River Brewing Co. and Big Dipper Ice Cream, both located near the historic, walkable Last Chance Gulch area of town. We give two thumbs up for both establishments!

We really enjoyed our week in Helena and would definitely return!

 

 

Bozeman, MT: Back to the Hot Springs

As we did last year, we again went from the Billings KOA to Bozeman Hot Springs Campground & RV Park. Please read about our previous stay here, as I’m not going to repeat all of the info from that post.

We originally had booked five nights in Bozeman, but after our first night, decided to extend our stay another three nights. Because there are very few options for RVs in the area, the Hot Springs Campground is pretty much at capacity most of summer, which resulted in us staying in one site for our first five nights, a second site for one night, and a third site for our last two nights — not the most convenient, but we were able to experience different sites and realized some of the negatives we experienced during our stay last year can easily be remedied by staying in the right site.

When we got off I-90 to make our way to the campground, we found ourselves in the middle of a pretty intense rain/hail storm. We waited out the worst of it in the parking lot at the campground and then checked in and made our way to our site. Our site was completely under water. Attributing it to the recent storm and figuring there wasn’t anything we could do, we backed in and began getting set up. After hooking up the electricity, I noticed that any time I touched anything metal on the trailer I could feel an electric current. We had never experienced this before and had no clue as to whether this was a result of all the water or if there was something wrong with the electrical. I know, I know — two places in a row where we had issues with electrical. It was a bit defeating and very frustrating. We told the employees in the office what we were experiencing and they moved us to their emergency site. It was a super long pull-thru without much shade, but at least it was dry. To compensate for the trouble of moving, they gave us a night free, which was greatly appreciated.

Our second site, which was actually the third, was a pull-thru right next to the site we stayed in last year. We hated this site as much as we hated our site the previous year. The quality of the various sites is so disproportionate to the price you pay. We realized how important it is to reserve a site here a decent amount of time in advance in order to have a good selection.

Our third (fourth) site was a super long pull-thru in the same row (G) as the emergency site we first stayed in. These sites are so long that there are actually two options for hookups depending on where in the site you want to park your trailer. The G row sites are also pretty shady which comes in handy when it’s hot and sunny.

G0 – The emergency site where we spent the first five nights.
J7, our second site.
J7 – The quality of the J row sites is horrendous compared to the rest of the campground — weedy, muddy when wet, and don’t seem to receive as much attention as other sites.
G4, our third site. Lots of nice grass and trees for shade.
We could have parked the trailer back further to use the hookups offered there, but we chose more forward in the site due to the placement of the large tree.
After a few days of rain, we took advantage of the giant faux tree stump fire pit at G4.

As you can see, not all sites are created equal even though you pay the same price for many of them. We paid the same for all three sites: H4 (our original site), J7, and G4. If we were to stay here again, I would try to get a G row site. They’re huge and shady and the grass is so well maintained. C row, H row, and I row are also nice. The K row sites have concrete pads as opposed to gravel like the rest of the sites, but no shade.

The campground has a large, fenced-in dog area that I don’t recall from last year. It was nice to let Max wander around off leash for a bit.

We made sure to really take advantage of the hot springs during our stay, visiting them pretty much daily. We also used the fitness center twice, which is a great bonus option seeing as it can be hard to get a good work out in while traveling full time.

We’ll most likely return to Bozeman again, so we decided to check out the other RV options. If you need hookups, there are basically four options: Hot Springs Campground, Sunrise Campground, Bear Canyon Campground, and the Gallatin County Fairgrounds. We drove through both Sunrise and Bear Canyon and found neither to be very impressive. However, Sunrise is VERY close (about a 3-minute drive) to downtown Bozeman, so if downtown is what you’re looking for, this might be the place for you. Bear Canyon sits a little further out and some of the back-in sites have nice canyon views, but just like Sunrise, most of the sites seem to be fairly narrow and lacking privacy from your neighbor. We did not get a chance to drive through the fairgrounds. We determined that for us, even though it’s the most expensive and a bit further from downtown Bozeman than we’d like, Bozeman Hot Springs Campground & RV Park is probably the best place to stay.

The Museum of the Rockies is a must-see destination for anyone remotely interested in dinosaurs, as they have the largest collection of dinosaur remains in the United States. In addition to the multiple Tyrannosaurus rex and Triceratops remains, there is a nearly complete Allosaurus. You’ll also find other prehistoric mammals including mammoths and rhinos. In addition to the paleontological exhibits, historical artifacts, photo murals, and textiles help to tell the story of Montana’s past including Yellowstone, Native Americans, fur traders, gold miners, and white settlers. There’s also an extensive temporary Genghis Khan exhibit that’s fascinating — did you know he’s responsible for passports, paper money, pants, and forks, among other things? To compliment the exhibit, there’s a twice daily live performance with Mongolian artists in the auditorium. We also timed it right to catch the Capcom-Go film in the planetarium, which celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. If you find yourself in Bozeman, definitely visit the Museum of the Rockies. Bonus: Your ticket is good for two days.

Food & Drink

We tried three new places for food and drink during the week that are worth sharing:

The Coffee Pot Bakery Cafe is less than a half mile from the campground. They, of course, have coffee and pastries, but also sandwiches, salads, hot breakfast items, and the best chicken pot pie we’ve ever had. We picked up food to go from here a couple of times because of how close and convenient it was and were never disappointed.

Nordic Brew Works is located about halfway between the campground and downtown Bozeman. It was under construction when we visited last year, so it’s super new and clean. We had a delicious dinner and Travis enjoyed a flight of beer. We also picked up burgers to go for dinner one night, which were also fantastic.

Blackbird Kitchen is located in downtown Bozeman. It’s a small, organic Italian restaurant with a limited menu, but every bite we had was delicious.

Minus the electrical issues, we enjoyed our time in Bozeman. There’s still so much to explore, so we hope to make a return trip soon!