On June 22, 2023, my wife and I departed with our truck and trailer on a ten-day outing that would end up spanning four states and just over 1,700 miles. Our route is depicted in the figure to the right.
We spent the first three nights at Indian Trees Campground in Montana. The following five nights were spent in the Luby Bay Campground near Priest Lake in Idaho. The last two nights were spent at Cronwell Dixon Campground in Montana, and Riverside Campground in Idaho, respectively.
Indian Trees Campground, Montana
We spent the first few days at Indian Trees Campground. We occupied site 3, one of five first-come, first-served sites. Site 3 is lovely in that the small creek flows adjacent to the site, so you can enjoy the sound of rushing water as you lounge around camp. After several walks around the campground, we selected a few sites worth considering the next time we’re up this way. Site 8 is away from others, but the walk from the parking area to the table and fire pit is quite long. Site 13 is likely the best reservable site. Site 6 is excellent and reservable but it is their designated disability site. Sites 7 and 9 together would be fantastic for families occupying both.
On Friday, June 23, we traveled north to Sula and bought one-day fishing licenses. We then fished on the Bitterroot River just north of Sula. We both caught several fish. The river was much fuller than the last time we were in this area; it was July, the last time we were here, and we had a very wet winter. After fishing, lunch, and an ice cream snack from the Sula store, we returned to the campground and enjoyed a nice soak in the nearby hot springs.
We left Indian Trees Campground on Sunday, June 25, and headed to Luby Bay Campground on Priest Lake in Idaho. From the above map, you can see that we traveled through Missoula, Montana, west on I-90 and north to Priest Lake.
Luby Bap Campground, Priest Lake, Idaho
We arrived at site 52 on Sunday evening, had dinner, and walked all the campground loops. There are several individual sites we liked. Sites 18, 20, 40, 48, and 49 are reasonably private from both sides, and the table and firepit are on the door side of the trailer. Site 52, which we stayed in, is only private from one side. Sites 11, 32, 39, and 42 are great, but the table and firepit are behind the trailer. Site 11 is by the lake and our first choice. There are several combinations of sites that are great when traveling with others. For example, excellent double sites include sites 10 and 11 near the lake, site 16, which is a 125′ pull-through, sites 41 and 43, and sites 50 and 52. For three groups traveling together, sites 13 and 24 would work well.
On Monday, we totally relaxed for the day. We blew up our tubes and headed to the beach at the Luby Bay Campground. We floated for a while and then enjoyed lying on the beach. The water is remarkably warm, given the time of year and the northern latitude of Priest Lake. We were so lazy and relaxed that we went to Hills Resort for dinner: no activities, food preparation, or even dishes to do.
On Tuesday, we drove from our campground to Roosevelt Grove Of Ancient Cedars And Granite Falls. You may notice that the linked site talks about visiting Idaho and things to do there, but this grove and waterfall are both in northeast Washington. I’m not sure you can get there without going through Idaho, but the grove and waterfall are definitely over the border. It is a very short hike from the parking area to Granite Falls. It is quite a bit longer hike to the cedar grove. The hike to the grove is easy and well worth the time. The cedar trees are enormous, and the undergrowth and surroundings are beautiful and peaceful. On our way back from our hike, we stopped at Elkins Resort for some great hamburgers.
On Wednesday, June 28, we took our kayaks around the east side of Priest Lake to Lionhead Campground. This is one of the Idaho state parks around the lake. It cost us $14 for a non-resident day-use pass, allowing us to park our truck and launch our kayaks. From that launch site, it was a quick trip across the open lake to the beginning of the thoroughfare that leads to upper priest lake. The thoroughfare is open to boats of all kinds, but no wakes are allowed, making it a great paddle.
After a 2.5-hour paddle, we reached Upper Priest Lake. This lake is only accessible to hikers and boaters. The return paddle only took about 2 hours, and we stopped several times to feed ducks and appreciate the scenery. I probably said this last time I went, but I will fish along the way the next time I go.
On Thursday, we took another lazy day and enjoyed lying around camp, playing board games, walking the campground, and enjoying the beach for a late afternoon swim. After our swim, we went to Elkins Resort for dinner; the food and service were excellent. After dinner, we drove by a property for sale and dreamed about living near Priest Lake. We love the area but dislike how far it is from the rest of our family. We’re not ready to settle down away from others.
On Friday, we packed up and headed to Seeley Lake, Montana. What were we thinking when we decided to move without reservations on the Friday of the 4th of July holiday weekend? We weren’t thinking, so we didn’t get to stay near where we wanted to be.
Cronwell Dixon and Riverside Campgrounds
After driving for the entire day, we pulled over in Avon, Montana, to eat at the Avon Diner and regroup over food. The food was actually pretty good! While eating, we decided to head toward Helena, Montana and hoped to find something along the way. We ended up at the Cronwell Dixon Campground. We arrived just before sunset and struggled to get our big rig in their little back-in spot. I think it was a combination of being tired and a difficult parking spot, but it took us forever. However, we finally got in, streamed a bit of entertainment, and went to bed. We didn’t set up much and so our exit was quick.
On Saturday, July 1, we pulled into site C-19 at Riverside Campground near Island Park, Idaho. We have often been to this campground and know our way around pretty well. There wasn’t a single site available on loops A and B that are reservable, but we had a few to choose from on loop C. C-19 was a great site. We loved the trees, shade, and the separation between neighbors. From Riverside Campground, it was a straight shot home.
Our trip was wonderful and relaxing. This is the latest in the year we have begun camping, and I hope we get some more in before the cold weather once again haunts our lives. I hope we get some more later in July and potentially for Thanksgiving. The more, the better!
Our power system continues to function well. We regularly used our microwave oven, toaster, hair dryer, and curling iron. We even used the air conditioner a few times to cool the trailer after we’d been gone all day and yet never had to use the generator to recharge our batteries. We have hit our sweet spot with 800 Watts of solar and 360 Ah of Lithium-ion batteries. While at Priest Lake, we would use about 10% more battery than we were able to recharge, but over five days, this only amounted to half of our reserve. When driving between stops, our batteries fully charged.