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It looks like I will be offered a job in Helena by the end of the week. I will be leaving my beloved Alaska to head that way the first week of May. My house up here in Alaska will go on the renter's market during that time. While waiting for somebody to rent my home in Alaska, I will have to live in my 30ft travel trailer with my 3 pooches. It will be a little on the rough side paying my house payment until it rents, but I am convinced that Montana will be a rewarding move. I'm looking for somewhere to park my RV and live for 1 month to maybe 3 months. I want to try to avoid an RV park, as i'm afraid that my dogs may bark while I'm gone to work at the local hospital during the day. I'd hate to tick off the "neighbors". Does anybody have any idea where a feasible spot may be for me to park the camper until I free up some cash (from renting my home in AK), to rent my own place? I'm looking for a National Forest spot (30' or so for the trailer), or perhaps a farmers field where i can either pay cash, or do some farmwork to pay off the rent while I'm parked? I am a professional male working in the medical profession. I am VERY responsible and I believe the only reason my pooches bark is separation anxiety. I just want to get them used to being in the trailer during the day I'm at work. Right now, they are used to living in a large house, and I'm sure this will be a big change for all of us.
There is a lot of National Forest around Helena, there are places you can camp, but here you can usually only stay at a site for 14 days and then you have to move to another site.
With spring coming on, you should be able to find a spot that you can get to with your 30 foot, just remember the forest roads are NOT maintained so if it snows you could be blocked in. We can get pretty good snow storms at any time during the spring/early summer. Pick a place away from the creeks as we are entering flood season as well.
I don't know what kind of dogs you have, but being from Alaska you should already be familier with the wolves, Grizzly, and black bear, we have cougar also so keep an eye on your dogs when you let them out.
Camping at this time of year also brings ticks, and there are a lot of them out there this year already from what I am hearing so check your dogs and yourself after each hike.
There are several long term campgrounds in the area, most aren't too bad for fees and you can hook to water/sewer/power, so you may wish to look around a little when you get here.
Helena is a lot dryer area than what you may be used to in Alaska, fire is always a threat, and we have a lot of beetle killed trees around that fall during a windstorm.
Last fall during hunting season a friend of mine and I were out and there were multiple trees that fell around us, including one big one that fell on a spot we had been standing just a couple of minutes before.
Hunting is pretty good here, lots of species, you may have to do some driving for some of them, most tags are over the counter, others are drawn tags in a lottery.
Fishing can be good, not to Alaska standards and we don't have salt water, but it is still a lot of fun. You will need to establish residency to buy resident tags, I think that is about 6 months time.
Gun laws are pretty comparable, but you should check them out yourself so you can be sure of yourself, especially in Helena as a loaded weapon within city limits is prohibited, but you don't have to transport the weapon in a locked case, outside city limits is open carry, we have good Concealed Carry Laws.
Get your drivers license asap to start the residency clock for your license. You may be able to get a month or two waived if you present enough "proof" that you are more than temorary. This has to be done at an FWP office. They waived mine because of a Montana tax return for 2011, Montana DL, both vehicles registered AND titled. This was 3 months ahead of the 6 month wait so I could start fishing in mid February instead of early may.
Thank you Silvertip and Roam ! Outstanding information ! Just the kind I am looking for.
I have an Alaska CCW (even though it is not required). I see that it is valid with Montana for reciprocity. Even with that, CCW is not allowed in Helena? Wow! A state like Montana and they are still anti-gun? I know Anchorage had a similar law several years ago, but the Supreme Court shot the law down citing the 2nd Amendment.
Thanks for the tick/flea reminder. Its been almost a decade since I lived in the lower 48 with my dogs, and I forgot all about those pesky bugs.
To be honest, I HATE to be leaving the state of Alaska as I have fallen hard for the state, but, with my job being so specialized, and my being possibly "let go" because of consolidation, I figured Montana is close enough to the standard of living I am having up here in Alaska. I love hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, etc. I love the wildlife. The bears don't scare me at all, as I've had several Grizz in the backyard over the years, but, I hear that the Mountain Lions can be a little on the dangerous side. 2 of my dogs are pretty old, and i'm wondering if they will make it another year or two. I know it will be a heckuva change for all of us. Going from a 2500sq ft log home with acreage for the dogs to run, to living in a 30ft trailer on whatever piece of property I can find will definitely be an impact. Have to follow the job path though. Heck, if I lost my job up here, then I'd lose the house anyway. Here's to a new adventure. I do appreciate the advice, and if anybody has anything to add, I would appreciate it.
I'm scouting out the Bureau of Reclamation's Canyon Ferry campgrounds. Can anybody give me any specific information on these? I'm specifically looking for something with a LOT of space, so the pooches don't bother anybody during the day by barking everytime somebody walks by the trailer. I found on their website that SOME are pay sites, and some are NOT pay sites. Specifically, it says that any undeveloped campground is free with LARGE space per campsite. I can't seem to find which campgrounds those would be. I'm seeing lots of campgrounds listed (Hellgate A&B,White Earth, Cave Point, etc), but I cannot seem to find a good undeveloped site. I'm hoping this is only a temporary campsite, 1-2 months TOPS. Hope my house rents quick. I believe it will, but just need to settle in somewhere for the first month or two while I get settled into the hospital and the community. Thanks again for everybody's help.
Most of the campgrounds around Canyon Ferry are pay per night, but they at least have outhouses. Some are private like Goose Bay and one at the Silos with full hookups.
I only know of one unimproved campground that doesn't charge, but that isn't really a campground, but a place where people camp.
You bound over some pretty fair sized rocks for about a 1/2 mile to get there, it really isn't a road as such, more like a two track goat trail.
There are campgrounds on Holter as well like Devils Elbow that are pretty nice.
This time of year only a few campgrounds have many people in them, so I don't think the dogs would be a problem there.
In the national forest only a few of the campgrounds are pay, and they usually have outhouses and some have electric hookups, but there are a lot of places you can camp in unimproved areas for free.
We are in the middle of a snowstorm today and have about 4 inches of wet and heavy on the ground right now, and forcasts are for up to 11 inches in the valley, 14 in the mountains so that is something to consider for travel.
You might want to look south of town in Jefferson County for campsites in the Elkhorn Mountains as there are some good roads there and campsites.
For a pay site on Canyon Ferry, I always liked White Earth and it is probably about as close to town as you will find, about 15 miles or so.
There used to be some camp sites at the Regulating Reservoir on Canyon Ferry Road, but I don't know if they are open or still in service. Haven't gone up there in a while, but you would have a great view from up there as it is on a hill overlooking the Helena Valley.
Once again Silvertip, you came through. If I ever get down that way, I'll buy you a beer...or 4 ! I appreciate all the info that is coming my way. I moved to Alaska via the same method 8 years ago, and everything worked out well.
I'm just really interested in a campsite where I won't bother anybody. The dogs are used to barking at any strangers (or bear, moose, wolves, etc) that come around the house. I've never scolded them, because they were doing their "job". Now, that I'm going to be around other campers, It'll be hard to break them of their habit. Won't be so bad when I'm there with them, but more worried about when I go to work for 10 hours a day. I don't want to wear out my welcome.
I've just interviewed twice with the local hospital down there. They are flying me down next weekend for a site visit. I'll have a darn good look at the campgrounds you suggested, so at least I'll have a good idea of where to go when I get there.
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