Livingston Montana and Sheridan Wyoming

Livingston MT and Sheridan WY

Livingston and the Train Museum

After leaving White Sandy BLM Recreation area, we return to Paradise Valley near Livingston.  Downtown Livingston has a neat train museum – the Livingston Depot.  There are great displays for the building of the railroad that led to the explosion of settling of this area.  The museum covers the tremendous effort required to lay tracks over and through the mountains.  The railroad shipped goods from the mines, farms and ranches in the area to the big cities to the east and west, and tourists in to see Yellowstone.  Early on Livingston was the gateway to the nation’s first National Park.  Displays show the history of the railroad all through the mid-1900’s when trains were THE way to travel.

This area is also very popular with Hollywood, as it was used for many movies since movies started being made.  There is an exhibit “Film in Montana” upstairs that showcase movies shot in Montana and old film editing equipment.

There is also an area for local artists.  On exhibit is a gallery for a woman cowboy photographer (“Pure Quill:  Photographs by Barbara Van Cleve.” ).  She uses a lot of low-light and evening shots for an unusual portrayal of cowboy life.  Check out her website or if you are near Livingston stop by the train depot during 2018.  Very enjoyable.  She has a great ‘eye’.

Paradise Valley KOA is a very nice full-featured camp with amazing views of the mountains south of Livingston Montana.  See our earlier post here when we stopped on our way to Yellowstone National Park.

Livingston Wyoming Pictures

Sheridan and the Bighorn Mountains

Bighorn Mountains

Driving south on Interstate 90 from Livingston Wyoming to Sheridan takes you along the eastern side of the Bighorn Mountains.   At first the range is not impressive while driving along I-90 – there are few mountain peaks visible that we saw.  You can easily drive by them and say, “huh, nice hills.”  But drive into the mountains from Sheridan and almost immediately we are greeted with spectacular canyons and valleys with up-scale housing on US 14.   Spend a few minutes at Shell Falls for a nice break.

Dense forests and wildflowers galore (mid-July) at the crest led to desert scrub on the east side following US 20.  We stopped several times to enjoy the views.


Sheridan Wyoming

Similar to our thoughts about the Big Horn Mountains, don’t judge a city by what you see from the freeway.  Christine wants to see the King Saddlery in downtown Sheridan.  After driving through the typical strip malls, once we reach the downtown area we find a very tricked out old town.  The rodeo is in town, and the streets are packed.  There are cool artsy statues along the main street and the shops are bustling.  You can do a lot of people watching and whether you are checking out the cowboys or the cowboy watchers it’s fun.

King’s Saddlery

Alright, I think we are going to see some saddles.  Kings Saddlery is a legendary store about a legendary family of leather craftsmen. Just walking through the store and then the museum, which is in another building, it brings you to a life that was simple, but so full of hardships and joy.  You can almost imagine what it was like living during the time that King Saddlery first came about and the life of the cowboys and their families.  Don King started making saddles in 1946 followed by his sons John and Bob.

Sheridan/King’s Saddlery Pictures


The Cowboy Cafe

We had breakfast at the Cowboy Cafe, then did some window shopping before heading back to the Sheridan KOA and the dogs.

Next up… the FMCA rally in Gillette Wyoming!

Happy Trails!

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White Sandy Recreation Area

White Sandy Recreation Area

What can beat Yellowstone National Park?   How about taking a couple of weeks off?  We are doing exactly that, at White Sandy Recreation Area near Helena Montana.

Relaxing at White Sandy

Driving over the rise between Helena and White Sandy Recreation Site where the Missouri River and Prickly Pear Creek meet we are struck by the beauty of the mountains and the river.  It’s a small campground.  There is a state campground to the left and on the right is the BLM campground on the river – both with a couple dozen campsites each.  BLM is a first come first serve and we were lucky in hitting this mid week and only about 5 sites had been taken.  Out site is right on the Prickly Pear Creek.

A planned two day lay-over turns into 13 days of pretty peaceful respite. We are working on a few blog and video segments in between exploring, sleeping and reading.  On the 4th of July it gets busier on the river, with some fireworks and the ‘Eyes of Lola’ drone catches some of the action.  As the fireworks are not that close by, it hasn’t affected the dogs as it has in the past.

Dry Camping at White Sandy

White Sandy Recreation Site is located where the Prickly Pear creek meets the Missouri River.  There are no hook-ups for water, electricity or sewer.  There is water available, but it is a rusty brown from the iron in the water oxidizing.   Since we originally only planned to stay for 2 days, we arrived at the campground with about 25 gallons of water.  Now that we are staying longer than our original plans, we need more water than we came with.  After talking to the camp hosts they advised either getting water at the state campground or a private campground nearby.  We couldn’t find the water at the state campground, so called the Sinclair service station we passed at the exit from the interstate.  They have potable water, so we ran down to the Sinclair service station and to get fresh water and propane.  Fortunately it’s only a few miles away.

Water at Sinclair

The Sinclair station has a nice grocery store with Montana Ham products!  Sure smells good, but we restrained ourselves and only got some delicious bacon.  The water is good – the same as they use for their popular drive-by coffee kiosk outside of the store.  To get water, we block one side of the kiosk, but they are fine with that.  No charge for the water fill-up, but we get coffee and give a nice tip.  They also have a dump station for RV’s too; along with propane (which we also filled up) and good access for RV fill-ups.

With fresh water and our solar panels we are set!  We did run the generator on the 2nd night because we need to run the generator a couple of hours at least once a month.  Perfect timing because it is warm and it gave us an opportunity to cool the inside of Lola that evening.  We ran the generator on night 12 also – again so we could run the A/C for an hour before turning in.

Solar – We Got Sun!

So how’s the solar working?  In an environment where there is abundant sunshine, clear skies and long days the Solar and Lithium batteries work fantastic.  We cooked using the oven, ran the inverter to work on our computers to edit videos and in general keep all the gadgets charged.  We watched TV, some previously recorded shows and Blu-Ray each day as we vegged out.  A few days that had some clouds, our batteries drained a bit more; but the next day we were busy exploring and the batteries recovered.  <click here for our Solar Installation etc.>

White Sandy Video

Here’s our first White Sandy video using ‘Eyes of Lola’ our Mavic Drone. 

Helena – Montana’s Capitol

After a week of snoozing and relaxing we hit the road in the toad and drive to Helena, the capitol of Montana. We head into the capitol building.  It was pretty chilly out and windy, but made it into the building where it was nice and warm.  Since it is summer recess, the hallowed halls of the legislature are quiet.  Other than a few staff members it is like going into a church – we even looked for the mice!  After lunch in downtown Helena, we head back to the dogs so they can swim in the Prickly Pear creek.

The Falls at Great Falls

Next we drove up to Great Falls to check out The Falls at Great Falls on the Missouri River.  The Missouri River is the longest river is the United States.  Even this far northwest, it is wide and strong.  It is a bit of a challenge to figure out exactly how to get to the falls themselves, but we manage.  That itself is surprising because the town is named after the falls so you would expect better directions.  The falls are not real high, but are wide and an impressive amount of water flows over the dam and then over the falls.  A small parking log faces a small bridge going to a small island with picnic areas and 1950 era displays of modern electric kitchens!  What a hoot. There is also historical markers for the Lewis and Clark expedition that made there way here in 1805. Besides the falls, the major feature here is the dam that is just a little upstream from the falls, and the power station there.

On the way back we stop at the Adel Mountain Volcanic Field on the way back to White Sandy.  

Helena and Great Falls Video



The nights are dark, with just a few lights around some of the RVs – perfect for getting the telescope out.  We also got the camera out to get some pictures of the Milky Way.  I forgot the techniques of getting Milky Way pictures and my star stacking program (Deep Sky Stacker) didn’t work; but still got some pretty good shots. Astrophotography  It’s nice warm weather at night for star gazing.

Happy Trails!

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Bozeman Montana and the Museum Of The Rockies

Yellowstone Day -1
Museum of the Rockies
Bozeman, Montana

After spending a couple of days in Thermopolis and going to the Dinosaur Dig what could be better than stopping in Bozeman to go to the Museum of the Rockies (MOR). It has been a lot of fun traveling with our daughter and her family.

Museum Of The Rockies

At the MOR the main exhibits are more dinosaurs and there are also exhibits on Native Americans, early pioneers and a traveling show about guitars. The third floor is a hands on area for kids to check out how a volcano is created and the surrounding area. There are several different shows in the Planetarium that are a must to see. The MOR is a great experience for young and old and is in a wonderful facility.

We left the dogs in Lola during our visit to the museum, and while the rest of the family went shopping in the museum store I went out to check on the dogs.

It had been raining while we were in the museum and because we left the windows open in Lola the inside was a little damp. Once we all got together again the girls decided to go shopping. Can’t resist a Costco and there is one in Bozeman.

Our son in law and I stayed in Lola with the kids and dogs. While we were waiting for the girls to return a tremendous lighting and rain storm went through Bozemen. Lola was rocking and the streets had temporary flooding.

By the time everyone was together again at the MOR the rains had stopped however that didn’t stop traffic from being congested. We decided to go back the way we came in from I90 to MOR. Much easier drive.

The Drive To Henry’s Lake State Park Idaho

The drive from Bozeman to Henry’s Lake Idaho is a very picturesque drive with mountain streams and cliffs around each corner. I enjoyed driving especially since there are very few grades to deal with, and the ones we do have are gradual.

Traffic starts to increase as we drove along the Gallatin Gateway in Montana getting closer to Yellowstone National Park. We had become spoiled driving around the eastern side of Yellowstone through Wyoming and central Montana and seeing more antelope than cars!

We finally pulled into Henry’s Lake State Park at 6 p.m. ready to set up camp and have dinner.

Paradise Valley – Livingston Montana

Paradise Valley KOA

Near Livingston Montana

After two days at Thermopolis where our grandson was able to go on a dinosaur dig for a day, we drove on to our next stop Paradise Valley outside of Livingston, Montana.

Reviews of the KOA can be found here.

The Drive to Paradise

From Thermopolis it is a 276 mile drive through western Wyoming and into southwest Montana. We took US 310 to I-90 then US 89 at Livingston to the Paradise Valley KOA. From Christine’s research the easiest entry into Yellowstone with a big-rig is through West Yellowstone, so we basically drove around Yellowstone from the southeast (Thermopolis) to West Yellowstone stopping at Livingston mid-way.

The roads in rural Wyoming and Montana are amazing. We were expecting rough roads, instead we had miles and miles of smooth mostly straight and for the most part 2 lane highways along this stretch. There was very little traffic, so while the speed limit is 70 to 80 we cruised along at 60 to 63 with a few cars passing us. There were few turn-outs but with the roads clear it was easy for other travelers to pass. This is the way exploring America should be.

Paradise Valley KOA

Paradise Valley KOA is nestled in an alpine valley with Black Mountain and Mt. Cowen to the west and Canyon Mountain to the north offering spectacular views along the Yellowstone River that flows right next to the park. We think we understand the term “Journey” and “Destination” on the KOA signs. “Journey” KOAs are next to highways where “Destination” KOAs are farther from major roads and seem to offer more resort type activities. This KOA is the nicest KOA we have stopped at and look forward to spending a few days here sometime in the future.

In addition, we had breakfast , which was served in a pavilion area offering pancakes, eggs, hash-browns, bacon, ham etc. at a very reasonable price. Good food and mountain air; we were sorry to go, but ready to explore Yellowstone.

Happy Trails!