Autumn camping destination #1: Bear Paw Mountains, a picturesque place in northeast Montana

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Pack your recreation vehicle, throw in an extra layer of clothing and explore a few lesser-know public campgrounds this autumn to discover amazing scenery, spectacular fall color, and an abundance of outdoor activities.

The first of four colorful campground destinations is Beaver Creek County Park in north central Montana’s Bear Paw Mountains. This is an excellent destination for RVers who are drawn to the wide-open spaces, cool nights, and a splash of autumn color.

From U.S. Hwy 2 in Havre, Montana, travel 10 miles south on Route 234 to the park that spans 10,000 acres. It is the largest county park in the nation. This natural recreation area has “rolling grasslands, pine woods, aspen and cottonwood groves, rocky cliffs and cold rushing streams.”

The meandering Beaver Creek and two small lakes provide for excellent fishing and canoeing. There are numerous camping locations within the park, however, only one, Bearpaw Lake Fishing Access Site (FAS), is managed by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. It is known as one of the best fishing access sites in the state.

Jerry McCauley from Great Falls, Mont., who was camping with his wife in their Four Winds class C motorhome, said: “You can’t throw a line with a worm on it into this lake and not catch a trout,” he said. “There are so many fish in there that they are jumping out of the water.”

This magical little lake has 22 primitive camping sites with tables. Vault toilets, no water, no electricity.

If you go:
Per night costs vary, depending on a number of qualifiers including residency and if you have a fishing license. We paid $12.
Open: Seasonal. It really depends on the weather because the roads are not plowed.  Mother Nature determines when the site closes. The region frequently faces heavy snow by the end of October.
Best time for color: Now to mid-October for a golden blanket of aspens and cottonwoods.
– Added attraction: While traveling through that region of Montana, consider taking a side trip to the National Park Service’s Bear Paw Battlefield, the scene of the final battle of the four-month Nez Perce War of 1877.

If you missed other posts on ‘Autumn camping destinations’ — Click here.

Julianne G. Crane

Photo: Jimmy Smith walking down dirt road at the Bearpaw Lake Fishing Access Site campground in Beaver Creek Park, near Havre, Montana, in the Bear Paw Mountains. (Julianne G. Crane)

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