Friday, October 26, 2012

Early Snow


   Crossing the mountain ranges at this time of year can be a tricky business  but we made it to Seattle with just a few cold nights and a light frosting of snow. We’ll be stationary for a couple of weeks , visiting our daughter and son-in-law , then it’s on to the sunny south!

   I probably won’t be posting much for awhile but please check back in a few weeks.Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Dry Falls Interpretive Center


Twenty thousand years ago , during the ice age , a large lake held back by an ice dam formed in Montana. When the dam broke rushing water , more than ten times the amount of water in all of the rivers in the world , poured through the coulee and over this 3 1/2 mile cliff. This scenario may have happened a dozen time.The river returned to it’s normal course after the ice retreated, leaving the cliff dry.

  The site has good wheelchair access to the overlooks. The visitor center ( closed for the season) has a stair climber lift.

The parking lot is large enough for RVs.  Dry Falls


Coulee City Community Park

   It’s off season and this campground is empty but it must be a very busy place in the summer. It’s situated outside of little Coulee City near the dam of Banks Lake. Amenities include tent and full hookup sites ( some pull through), a swimming area, boat dock, and a dump station.

  None of the sites are marked as accessible but many are usable. Three different types of tables are used. Some are concrete on concrete pads and would be hard to use from a wheelchair. The ground is hard parked dirt with gravel. Campground
47.6176, -119.29004

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Northern Quest Casino

   This casino really likes RVers. Without disturbing us, a little welcome packet with a casino map and RV parking guidelines was wire tied to our door handle. A complimentary pen and registration form, to fill out and return at our convenience, were included. RVers may stay for ten days.

  The resort is large with a touch of Vegas – fine dining, spa, pool, shopping and event pavilion. The casino has a non-smoking section but the ventilation is pretty good in the smoking section too. The chairs are easy to move and the money and card slots are easy to reach.

The gas station next to the casino has a dump station ($5.00). A  small discount on gas is available to club card holders. Ask if the dump station is free with a fill up.  Casino

Monday, October 22, 2012

Coeur d' Alene's Old Mission State Park

  Jesuit priests came to this area of Idaho in 1842, invited by the Coeur d'Alene Indians. The church was built in 1850 by the Indians and the priests using huge supporting beams with wattle and daub in-between for the walls. Both inside and outside walls were finished with milled wood in 1865. Priests hand carved wooden statues and ceiling panels and painted the alter and many of the pictures.

  The church and a parish house are opened to tour. The site also has an excellent  museum with displays, artifacts and videos.

  The museum is all accessible. The church has a lift to access the porch. A steep, short ramp is at the door threshold outside but inside has a step down so wheelchair users may have to view the interior from the porch. The parish house has a ramp at the rear door which must be unlocked by the park personnel. There isn’t a walkway to the rear, just a gravel drive and grass. Small parking lots are located at the visitor center and the church/parish house.

  The small lots are not big enough for RVs over 25’. A larger lot is located below the museum with a uphill path leading to all of the buildings. Museum
47.54982, -116.35741

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Garnet Ghost Town

021   Garnet, like most gold mining towns, had a short life.  Its first boom began in 1895 and lasted about ten years. Another short-lived boom ended in 1939 and the last resident died in 1947. Fewer than two dozen buildings remain and are being maintained in a state of arrested decay. A walking tour brochure is available along with informative signs. (removed in the winter)

  The town is not wheelchair accessible due to the terrain. A handicapped parking space, large enough for a 30’ RV, is located at the edge of the town site The main street is flat so it’s possible to roll along and see some of the town. A few of the buildings along the main street have very steep ramps onto the porches.

  Two roads lead to the town. The access from I-90 is not recommended for RVs. The road from Hwy 200 is paved for about three miles then becomes maintained gravel for the next eight miles. It’s steep in spots and also has some sections that are wash boarded.  A parking area large enough for RVs is located about 1/4 of a mile from the town with a switch-backed trail leading down to town. If you do not wish to drive your RV to the town there’s a large parking area right off of Hwy 200. Town
46.82557, -113.33913

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Montana's Museum

  The museum covers Montana’s history starting with the arrival of the first humans and continuing with Lewis and Clark’s explorations and the subsequent arrival of trappers, gold miners, and homesteaders. There are also changing exhibit galleries and a gallery with wonderful artwork by Charles M. Russell.

  The museum is accessible but some of the artifacts are hard to see due to the design of the cases.

   A parking lot is located in the rear of the building and a few spaces are reserved for museum visitors in the lot on 6th Ave. The spaces in the lots are not large enough for RVs. There are spaces along the streets but availability may be scarce during the week.Try to visit on the weekend when the city offices are closed. Museum
46.58634, -112.0163

Indian Road Campground

  We didn’t stay here but since we were driving right by we stopped  to check it out. There are about ten campsites around a small loop road. All of the parking areas are parallel to the road. One site is handicapped accessible, although it is not marked as such. It’s the only one with a long pull through space. It also has a fire pit with high sides and a paved path to an accessible vault toilet. The tables at all of the sites have a long overhang on one end.

  The little park where the campground is located has a boat ramp and access to the Canyon Ferry Reservoir. No fee box that we could find.  Campground
46.33408, -111.52807

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Museum of the Rockies

  Fossils from about 75 different species of dinosaurs have been unearthed in Montana. This museum has become world-renowned as a dinosaur research facility and has many unique displays. Besides the large dinosaur galleries the museum also covers Native American and regional history.

   The museum is accessible although a few of the exhibits are hard to see because of the positioning of the display signs.

  The parking lot is large enough for any RV. Museum
  45.65908, -111.04463

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Pelican Fishing Access Camping

   Many of the fishing access sites in Montana also have camping areas. Some charge a small fee and some, like this one, are free. This one has a couple of tables, a vault toilet, and beautiful views. We had the added attraction of friendly horses in the adjoining pasture.

   The camping area is a little over a mile off of I-90, very quiet and large enough for any RV. Camp
   45.758, -109.77079

Western Heritage Center

  Most of the exhibits in this small museum are text with pictures rather than actual artifacts but it does have some good hands-on displays for kids.

  Everything in the museum is accessible. The wheelchair entrance has a bell which should sound at the front desk to summon someone to come and open the door however it wasn’t working when we visited.

  Parking is on the street in front or along the sides of the museum. The curb cuts, if you must park a few blocks away, are very steep and could be hazardous.  Museum
45.78078, -108.50563

Apsáalooke Nights Casino

  The parking lot for this little casino is not large enough for RVs but right next to it is the large lot from a closed casino which has plenty of space.

  The casino has about 200 machines.The chairs are fairly easy to move and most of the money slots are easy to reach. It’s a little bit smoky. The casino does not have a website.
45.58022, -107.45158

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument

   By 1876 most Native Americans had been settled on reservations but a few bands of Lakota and Cheyenne refused to give up a life of following the buffalo herds and moving with the seasons. This battle marked a tragic end for both Custer, who through arrogance, lost his life along with the lives of many of his men, and the Lakota and Cheyenne who were forced into life on the reservations.

  The monument has a visitor center with a movie, three short trails, and a driving tour with signs. All of these are worthwhile and will give you a good overall picture of the battle.

   The visitor center and movie are accessible. The trails have steep spots and most wheelchair users will need to have help. Both the short trail to Last Stand Hill and the Indian Memorial, and the Reno-Benteen Entrenchment Trail are paved. The Deep Ravine Trail is hard packed sand but is steep and requires a lot of effort plus an energetic pusher. Handicapped parking for cars only is available at Last Stand Hill. All of the interpretive signs along the road can be read without exiting your vehicle. The park brochure has the same information and the number for a cell phone tour is posted at each stop.

  RV parking is available paralleling the road after the visitor center. The tour road is narrow with many curves but it’s doable with any RV.  The pullouts are long enough for RVs but the parking lot at Reno –Benteen Battlefield is small so it may not be possible to stop there with a large RV. Monument
45.5701, -107.43095

Red Shale Campground

   This is a small, free forest campground, right off of US 212. The sites all have tables, fire rings, and fairly level parking pads. Some are long enough for larger RVs.

  Most of the campsites are not wheelchair accessible due to hilly, uneven ground.The vault toilet is accessible but does not have a paved walkway from the road. All of the tables have long overhangs.  Campground
45.57123, -106.14653

Days of '76 Museum

  The Days of ‘76 is a ten day event with parades and a rodeo. It began in 1923 as a celebration of the wild gold rush days. The museum has the history of the celebrations plus a collection of Indian and pioneer artifacts.  Authentic 19th century wagons, carriages, and stagecoaches which are used in the parades are on display on the lower floor.

  Everything is accessible.

  The parking lot is large enough for any RV.  Museum
  44.38611, -103.71619
south dakota1

Days of '76 Campground

  There’s not much to this campground. It’s a muddy parking lot with electric hookups but it’s also the best place to stay if you want to be close to Deadwood. Parking in Deadwood is very limited but from the campground it’s a pleasant mile long walk to the town. A trolley also stops at the campground. If you don’t stay at the campground a large parking lot about 1/2 mile from town has a section for RVs and another trolley stop.

  In an effort to bring tourists and money to Deadwood, most of the buildings, while retaining their historic facades, have been converted to casinos. There are a couple of museums, the Days of ‘76 celebrations and gunfights in the street during the summer tourist season.

  Accessibility in town is pretty good. The sidewalks and curb cuts are in good condition. The casinos have level entries but some of the shops have a step. Campground
44.3859, -103.71492
south dakota1

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Black Hills Mining Museum

  This museum has three parts - the exhibits, a guided tour of a simulated underground mine, and for an extra fee, a chance to pan for gold. The tour is closed for the season and we didn’t pan for gold so our visit was for the exhibits only which cover early gold mining and the history of Lead.

  Everything is accessible.

  The museum parking lot is fairly small. Large RVs should park at the Homestake Mine Visitor Center , a few blocks north. The sidewalks and curb cuts are not in very good condition so wheelchair users will need to have some help. Museum
44.35178, -103.76741
south dakota1

Sanford Lab Homestake Visitor Center

   The main attraction at the visitor center is the view from the back patio into the big hole. Most of the gold was mined underground with tunnels as far down as 8,000’ below the surface but the open pit has been a feature on the edge of town since the early days of gold prospecting in Lead.

  The visitor center and view are accessible. The interpretive signs are all easy to see.

   The parking lot has long RV spaces. Visitor Center
   44.35193, -103.76306
   south dakota1

Homestake Mill Park

   The Homestake mine milling buildings were located on this property until the mine closed in 2002. After the buildings were removed the area was made into a historic park. Old equipment and interpretive signs are located along a switchback trial that leads to the highest level.

  The trail is ADA compliant with a gradual slope, railings, and level landings but it’s very long so most wheelchair users will need to have some help.

  The parking lot is large enough for any RV.   Gold Run Park
      south dakota1

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Roubaix Lake Campground

   Visiting this late in the year means that our campsite is free! Good for us but maybe not for other people because only one loop is opened and the sites are all back in and very short. Grills, campgrounds ,tables, and vault toilets. Free from a week after Labor Day until a week before Memorial Day.
   Even though there are no ADA regcampgrounds, the national forest service has compiled an excellent guideline. This campground has incorporated many of the suggestions. Several of the sites have elevated tent pads. All of the tables have a long overhang on one end. The accessible toilets have paved paths leading to the doors.

   The road to the campground is paved but narrow with curves. Some of the sites in the closed loops are large enough for most RVs. Loop C, the only loop opened in off season, has short sites but a RV larger than our 25’ may be able to fit by parking across two sites.  Campground
44.19761, -103.66341
south dakota1

Dinosaur Park

  These five dinosaurs have been looking down on Rapid City since 1936. They’re a Works Progress Administration project, designed to provide jobs for the unemployed during the depression and bring tourists to the city. They’re built with concrete over iron pipes and are not very accurate depictions but that’s part of the fun. :- )

  Unfortunately we didn’t get to see them up close because of the many, many steps leading to their platforms.

The road, Skyline Driv , is steep with many curves so visitors with large RVs may not want to attempt the drive. The parking lot is large enough for RVs. Park
44.07798, -103.24465
south dakota1

Monday, October 8, 2012

South Dakota Air and Space Museum

  Over two dozen aircraft, from helicopters to the huge Rockwell B-1 Lancer, are on display on the grounds outside. Inside the four hangers are exhibits about early aviation in South Dakota and the history of Ellsworth Air Force Base.

  New smooth sidewalks circle around most of the planes. A few of the interpretative signs are too far away to read. The visitor center is all accessible except for two small displays which have steps.

  The parking lot is large enough for all RVs. The museum is just outside the base entrance so there are no security requirements. Museum
44.13238, -103.07218
south dakota1

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Journey Museum

   An excellent museum. Journey through time with displays about the geological formation of the Black Hills, the age of dinosaurs, the arrival of man, the Lakota culture, the gold discovery, and the founding of Rapid City. The story of the removal of the Lakota from their native lands and the battles caused by this action is explained in detail.

   Everything is accessible.

   The parking lot is large with plenty of room for RVs. Museum
   44.08724, -103.2184
 south dakota1

24 Express Gas Station RV Park

   We’re a little puzzled by this place.It’s right off the interstate and has eight spaces for self contained RVs. No tables or restrooms but electric hookups and a dump station with fresh water all for just $5.00! Everything is self service with a box for the payment. The gas station is self service too, credit cards only.

  The spaces are all very long pull throughs. Campground
  44.06884, -102.45027
south dakota1