Fall Camping for Non-Hunters

Aspens are turning gold and umber, nights are longer, and days feel crisper. Summer is over—but don’t put away your tent and sleeping bag just yet. The warm days and cool nights of autumn are just right for a camping trip. When you’re planning your fall outing, you have to think about who else is out there. I don’t mean bears (although in their hyperphagic state, it’s best to be prepared for them, too)—I’m talking about hunters. We love our friends in the bright orange hats, but it’s more fun to go camping without worrying about getting shot. Here are a few of the best campsites for nonhunters.

Here are a few of the best campsites for non-hunters.

Lewis Lake Campground- Yellowstone

Hunting isn’t allowed in Yellowstone National Park, but most of the park’s campgrounds close for the season in September. Lewis Lake Campground stays open until early November, and it situated off the beaten path adjacent to Lewis Lake. Pack your down jacket, because at 7,800 feet, it gets colder than lower campgrounds. Bring your kayak, fishing pole and Yellowstone National Park fishing permit, to take advantage of the proximity to the big lake. Try to get a site in loop C to be near the lake. $15/night, no reservations.

Lewis Lake Campground, NPS photo

Missouri Headwaters State Park

Camp where Lewis and Clark stayed in 1805! This park encompasses the confluence of the Jefferson, Madison and Gallatin Rivers. The Lewis and Clark Expedition anticipated this important headwaters all the way up the Missouri River in 1804 and 1805. It just takes a half an hour drive from Bozeman to enjoy fishing, bird watching, and cultural sites. Campsites are $12 for Montana residents and the tipi rental is $22, no reservations during the off season.

Slippery Ann Wildlife Viewing Area

If you’d rather shoot elk with a camera than a gun, Slippery Ann is the place to be during the rut. As elk bugle and mount each other, you can watch from the sidelines on the Charles M. Russell Wildlife Reserve. Hundreds of elk are visible around dawn and dusk displaying typical behavior of the rutting season. The Slippery Ann Wildlife Viewing Area is along an excellent 20-mile long self-guided tour. Camping is allowed above the viewing area along the road. There are no amenities, and no reservations, but there isn’t a fee, either.

Want more info on planning a trip to Yellowstone? Check out my other site: YellowstoneTrips.com

This originally appeared in Outside Bozeman magazine.

Permalink 09/28/15 06:24:00 am, by Mel Email , 413 words, Categories: Montana, Yellowstone, State Parks, Wyoming, Sleep, Seasons, Wildlife ,

One Day in Churchill with Kids

It's been awhile since I posted. Not because we haven't been doing anything, but rather because we've been doing so much.

Welcome to Churchill! It has so much to offer.

Now we are in Churchill, Manitoba on the edge of the Hudson Bay. Henry and I have both been up here a handful of times --he more than me. The kids have been hearing about this tiny town, its polar bears and beluga whales, its river and tundra, since they were babies. Now, thanks to Polar Bears International, we are here as a family.

We flew in from Winnipeg early this morning and spent the day wandering around. I've been posting on Instagram (@TravelingMelMT) and here are a few more to give you an idea of what Churchill is all about.

Scroll to the bottom to see our video update.

The lichen-covered rocks are a welcome back.

We've been really drawn to the beach this summer. But this beach just might have polar bears.

One of the highlights of this trip so far, is seeing wildflowers.

Glassing for wildlife and spotting a monster!

After two days in the car and a flight, we couldn't wait to run around on the rocks and jump over tidepools.

A congregation of snow geese.

The airplane wreck known as "Miss Piggy" turned out to be a great (if not especially safe) jungle gym.

Henry, Anders, and Finn watch a seal and lots of beluga whales.
Sunset over the Churchill River from Cape Merry.

Permalink 08/09/15 08:36:00 pm, by Mel Email , 249 words, Categories: Beyond Greater Yellowstone, Anders, Flora, Family, Finn ,

I'm on the Oboz Trail Team!

I am super excited to announce (way after the fact) that I am part of the 2015 Oboz Trail Team! Nearly 100 people applied, and 16 were chosen. Lucky me!

What is Oboz? What's the Trail Team?

Most basically, Oboz makes hiking shoes and boots. And they are based over the hill in Bozeman, Montana.

They say, "You know that we go the distance to make boots and shoes with unrivaled quality. You know that Oboz fit like a glove right out of the box. You know we plant a tree for every pair of shoes sold, and you know that we are a company made up of sincere outdoor enthusiasts with a passion for the natural world and exploring it responsibly."

That sounds pretty good, doesn't it?

I get to wear their shoes and boots around and share how much I love them on social media and in person.

Along with the other Trail Team Ambassadors, I write for the Trail Tales blog.

My first post was about shrinking your carbon footprint. Keep an eye out for my Peru Trail Report coming up soon. And there are a lot of other great posts over there, too.

Check it out!

Emerald Peak trailsports and the Big Horn River in Thermopolis.

I've been wearing three different Oboz shoes on my hikes and wanderings. My absolute favorites are the Emerald Peak trailsport shoes. I like a pretty lightweight shoe even when I am backpacking, so these are perfect for me. I wear them hiking, walking around town, and plan to wear them backpacking this summer. And they are the perfect color, because you can never wear enough turquoise, right?

Mystic Low BDry in Death Valley. Gotta match the shoes to the scenery.

I'm also digging the Mystic Low BDry low hikers. These are also pretty lightweight, and are waterproof and have a bomber sole and traction. Also perfect for hiking, around town, and in my case, backpacking. I wore them this winter on packed snow.

I love that these have a little bit of an old-school look to them.

From the mid-hiking boots, I went with the Bridger Mid BDry. I wore these more in cooler, wetter weather, but I think most people would like these for backpacking. They are comfy enough for day hiking, too, I just prefer being in trail running shoes for everything. The beauty of these boots, and all Oboz boots, is that there is no break-in period. I can wear these when I need extra protection and come out blister-free.

Henry got in on the action with the Switchbacks.

Sidenote: I don't just wear them when I am sitting. I walk around in them, too.

Permalink 06/02/15 07:50:00 am, by Mel Email , 445 words, Categories: Announcements [A], Hikes ,

Thermopolis {Dinosaur Center, Star Plunge, Bison Pasture}

Showing off stickers you can collect at different Chambers around Wyoming as part of their celebration of 125 years of statehood.

We packed a lot into our two days in Thermopolis. On the second day we played at the second water slide pools, checked out dinosaurs, and explored a little farther into Hot Springs State Park..

Wyoming Dinosaur Center

This is not some dinky, small town dinosaur museum--it's really good. We went to see the Archaeopteryx fossil.

"Only 11 specimens of Archaeopteryx exist in the world today and “The Thermopolis Specimen” is second only to the 'Berlin' specimen in terms of completeness, including a well-preserved skull that for the first time gives scientists a “top view” of the head of Archaeopteryx. This scientific icon is the only one on display in North America."

There is so much more to see than that, though. Many dino skeletons (both replica and actual fossils) fill a big hall. There are also pre-dinosaur displays and replica skulls you can touch.

My only regret is that I didn't do a little more prep for our visit because we could have signed up for a dig. How fun would that be?

Someone put a lot of thought into naming that.

The Thermopolis Archaeopteryx fossil specimen.

Star Plunge

The Star Plunge is a little more updated than its next door neighbor, the Tepee Pools. It's still funky, though. The outside water slide, which looks really fun, was closed because of pump problems the day we were there. The indoor slide was fast and fun. And we liked hanging out in the outdoor pool.

The indoor pools and water slide at Star Plunge.

Finn plunges.

And, of course, Anders is having an awesome time.

Bison Pasture

The Hot Springs State Bison Herd lives in Hot Springs State Park. We drove above the Star Plunge and explored the roads within the pasture.

The Hot Springs State Park herd averages more than 20 animals at the present time. The herd is free roaming within the boundaries of the pasture for the majority of the year. During the months of May and June the herd is confined to the Corral Area to aid the rejuvenation of the pasture. Edible plants are allowed to develop to the proper seed producing stage prior to allowing the animals free graze.


Mom taking advantage of a photo op.

We stopped in a couple other places in the State Park to check out active and old hot springs.

Walking the edge of an extinct spring.

Teenagers jumping into the COLD, muddy Big Horn River.

Finn checks out White Sulfur Spring.

Bended rock.

See our first day's adventures here.

Permalink 05/28/15 11:08:00 am, by Mel Email , 440 words, Categories: Wyoming, Museums/Nature Centers, Hot Springs, Wildlife, Anders, Family, Finn ,

Thermopolis {Tepee Hot Pools, State Park}

My mom is here for a visit and we decided to take her to the best-named-town in Wyoming -- Thermopolis.

It's like a mini-Yellowstone out here, except way, way less people. And since the blue skies are broken up with rain storms throughout the day, we are happy to have hot spring pools, water slides, dinosaur museums, and a cozy cabin to play in.


Turned out two of the three(ish) routes into Thermopolis were closed. The Wind River Canyon was covered in mud slides from all the rain, and the Big Horn Mountains were so snowy, they closed the road. Luckily, we took a different route and got to see many of the towns listed on public radio: Greybull, Lovell, Worland.... It was five hours of roadtripping fun!

Lunching in Lovell.

Wyoming has big skies, too.

Our little cabin, the "Bear's Den" in the Eagle RV Park.

Hellie's Teepee Pools

It's like a trip back in time here. And by that, I mean this place is a little dated. But, I love that about it. The two water slides are really fun once you master your technique (only let the bottom of your feet and shoulder blades touch. Sidenote: this is a great core workout). The boys couldn't hold themselves up in this fashion, so they didn't go very fast, but we still had a blast. It's funky and fun.

Finn on the indoor slide.

Mom bombs down the outdoor slide.

Warming up in the hot tub.

Spa time.

Hot Springs State Park

The Tepee pools are inside Hot Springs State Park. There are also terraces that look like they belong in Yellowstone, playgrounds, lawns and picnic tables, trails, a bridge over the Big Horn River, and more. We spent the evening wandering around.

The State Bathhouse from the terraces.

Cruising the boardwalks, just like Yellowstone.

The writing on the hill says, "World's Largest Mineral Springs."

Crossing the Big Horn on the suspension bridge.

Swollen, muddy, Big Horn River.

That's the first day...See our second day's adventures here.

Permalink 05/27/15 06:45:00 am, by Mel Email , 338 words, Categories: Hot Springs, Anders, Family, Finn ,

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