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Old 06-05-2019, 10:14 AM   #1
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Need Camping Help In Montana!!!

Hey all!

My wife and I just recently moved back to MT and are so happy to be back home. We decided to convert a school bus into a tiny home and are currently in Wfish/Kalispell area. Problem is we can't really find any national/state forest that's either 1. close enough to town for us to both still work 2. doesn't cost an arm and a leg to camp at. We are curious if Billings/Missoula/Bozeman/Helena has close access to public lands (close being not a 40 min commute into town.) She teaches yoga, I work off a computer so just need to have VZ 4g cell service to work.

The people in Wfish seem to have a holier than thou attitude towards our situation (even though we both make a good living.) So that has been kind of bumming us out. We are trying to pay off her student loans/explore/and save for a house which is why we chose this lifestyle. Any help or ideas would be greatly appreciated!!!!
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Old 06-05-2019, 10:23 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by KevinDarcy11 View Post
Hey all!

My wife and I just recently moved back to MT and are so happy to be back home. We decided to convert a school bus into a tiny home and are currently in Wfish/Kalispell area. Problem is we can't really find any national/state forest that's either 1. close enough to town for us to both still work 2. doesn't cost an arm and a leg to camp at. We are curious if Billings/Missoula/Bozeman/Helena has close access to public lands (close being not a 40 min commute into town.) She teaches yoga, I work off a computer so just need to have VZ 4g cell service to work.

The people in Wfish seem to have a holier than thou attitude towards our situation (even though we both make a good living.) So that has been kind of bumming us out. We are trying to pay off her student loans/explore/and save for a house which is why we chose this lifestyle. Any help or ideas would be greatly appreciated!!!!
welcome to the forum - hopefully, someone here will have some good tips for you
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Old 06-05-2019, 11:10 AM   #3
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Hey, welcome! I'm down in Gallatin Gateway (10 min outside Bozeman) and we've got the downtown shopping areas within 10-15 min in one direction and then lots of national forest/BLM lands 10-15 min in the other direction.

Specifically, in the canyon going up to Big Sky, there's a road, Storm Castle, leading up to Ratt Lake with free camping up 16 days (?) at a time. There's also the Spanish Creeks road with lots of areas to camp for either free or a couple bucks a night. Gallatin National forest area, basically.
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Old 06-05-2019, 11:12 AM   #4
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US 191 is the road leading up to Big Sky*

Lots of dirt road pull offs along the way. That's actually where I do a lot of my camping with the kids because it's so accessible.
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Old 06-05-2019, 11:20 AM   #5
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US 191 is the road leading up to Big Sky*

Lots of dirt road pull offs along the way. That's actually where I do a lot of my camping with the kids because it's so accessible.
Nice, that's incredible!! I missed your first post about being in Bozeman. That sounds like a really great fit for accessibility!!! We are just so tired of having to hop around daily up here. Looks like we might head to Bozeman :P
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Old 06-05-2019, 11:34 AM   #6
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Bozeman is about as big as it gets. Belgrade is same distance but to the North, has lots of stores (Albertsons, Town & Country, Family Dollar, McDonald's, Taco Bell, etc.) but it's also more industrial oriented. Lots of warehouse zones, storage facilities, tire and mechanic shops, truck stops.

There's also Norris but it's about 45 min away. The Madison is out that way where most people do their fishing and floating in summer.

I'm pretty sure Helena would fit the bill too, I just don't know that area as well.
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Old 06-05-2019, 01:48 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by KevinDarcy11 View Post
The people in Wfish seem to have a holier than thou attitude towards our situation (even though we both make a good living.) So that has been kind of bumming us out.
Really? Whitefish has been one of the places I absolutely want to check out when we hit the road- could you elaborate on this experience?



Quote:
Originally Posted by KevinDarcy11 View Post
We are trying to pay off her student loans/explore/and save for a house which is why we chose this lifestyle. Any help or ideas would be greatly appreciated!!!!
I've noticed what you've described from _some_ people, and in my area they're few and far between. Most everyone I talk to from the ladies at Home Depot to the pizza delivery guy love the project and the idea. Much of my motivations have to do around getting out of debt and financial responsibility (don't spend what you can't earn), but a tiny fraction of people seem to interpret that as some kind of abandonment of civic duty, or parasitism. Seems bizare.
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Old 06-05-2019, 01:52 PM   #8
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Whitefish must be the happening place. Asetechrail moved there last year.

A great resource for cheap camping: http://www.freecampsites.net
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Old 06-05-2019, 02:28 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by DawgBs View Post
US 191 is the road leading up to Big Sky*

Lots of dirt road pull offs along the way. That's actually where I do a lot of my camping with the kids because it's so accessible.
Quote:
Originally Posted by kazetsukai View Post
Really? Whitefish has been one of the places I absolutely want to check out when we hit the road- could you elaborate on this experience?



I've noticed what you've described from _some_ people, and in my area they're few and far between. Most everyone I talk to from the ladies at Home Depot to the pizza delivery guy love the project and the idea. Much of my motivations have to do around getting out of debt and financial responsibility (don't spend what you can't earn), but a tiny fraction of people seem to interpret that as some kind of abandonment of civic duty, or parasitism. Seems bizare.
So to start, we absolutely love Whitefish. We lived here several years in the past and it is near and dear to us and such a beautiful place. With that being said we were renting out here previously and were treated in an entirely different manner. There is a certain "air" to Whitefish that we have not experienced in the rest of MT. There is a surplus of veryyyyyy affluent people out here (median home price is between $360K-$370K.) To put it in perspective we are members at a local gym, friends with the owner, and even had permission to park in the lot over night for as long as we needed. 2 days in we had neighbors coming by pounding on our door yelling at us to get the f*** out of there neighborhood because our bus was an eye sore then had the police called on us. We are not loud, obnoxious, messy people. I run a successful SEO business and we keep to ourselves. Since living here in a bus we have been treated as homeless vagabonds and on top of that there is apparently NO "camping" aka sleeping overnight, in the Whitefish city limits, except for in the state park by the lake. It's been very disappointing to see this side of people, especially since when we lived here previously we were treated with the utmost respect. Status is a BIG thing in Whitefish and people so far have not been very receptive to what and why we're doing what we are. Kind of a bummer but it is what it is.

AGAIN! It's an incredible place to visit, don't let it deter you, I just would not recommend trying to stay here long-term.
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Old 06-05-2019, 03:30 PM   #10
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Same exact thing is happening in Bozeman as well. It's all the higher wealth, socialite crowd moving here from everywhere else. We refer to Big Sky as "Yuppieville." I swear, the people you're describing, all congregate there. You're currently residing in one of the wealthiest areas of the state where not many blue collar folk can survive. There's not much for work unless you're working remotely or small construction jobs. This is actually a big part of why I want to explore outside of MT. It's changing and fast.

The first time I visited MT I stayed in Kalispell and it was amazing! Such friendly people. That cozy small town feel. Anymore though, unless you know someone... It is a great place still, it just has that clique thing going on anymore. I spend more time in nature than with people anymore though. Gateway, where I am now, is still tiny. There's about 270 condos going up and they've started preparing several housing sites. It'll quickly change too.
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