With over 600 miles to travel from Glacier National Park (Montana) to Theodore Roosevelt National Park (North Dakota), we needed to stop somewhere in between. When first glancing at a map, the Montana novice might feel rather discouraged. I-87 appears to be a stretch of nothingness for hours.
Undeterred, I zoomed to the mid-way point on the map and started looking up all those tiny towns on Campendium. I was sold by the reviews for a city park in the 6,000-person town of Lewistown, Montana.
We stayed in Lewistown from August 4-10, 2018.
Our RV Campground in Lewistown, MT
I must note up front that the first part of the drive was phenomenal. We rolled the dice and followed Google Maps, going south on 83 through Flathead National Forest.
There were some truck warnings at the beginning, and we almost turned back to take a different route. But I’m so glad we pressed on. I didn’t have any problems driving our 40-foot Class A, and it was one of the most beautiful drives we’ve done in the past five years. We were surrounded by verdant woods, crystalline lakes, and quiet cabin country. I’d love to return someday and stay somewhere along 83.
If you need a lunch stop along this drive, check out Moose River Bar & Grill in Seeley Lake, MT.
Okay, so back to Lewistown and our campground there. Kiwanis Park is free for up to 10 days! It’s basically a rest area with camping spots on grass. There are no hookups, but there are potable water spigots where you can fill up. Just make sure not to accidentally block the water when you camp for the night, since everyone needs to use them.
A few of the “sites” (there aren’t obvious places to park–you kind of have to guess) had covered picnic tables. Our spot was fairly level, too.
A few of our neighbors were car or tent camping, and looked like they had been there for longer than 10 days. We were unsure about leaving our solar panel out while we were gone. But we decided not to worry about it, and didn’t have any problems.
We enjoyed meeting a couple of our neighbors. On one side of us, fellow Xscapers and Jeepers! We went off-roading and exploring together, and they even hosted us for a delicious grilled dinner. We genuinely enjoyed meeting them, confiding in them about our self-employment hurdles, and learning from their business experience.
On the other side of our RV, an older man who had been traveling for decades. He gave Caspian a leather pouch he made (which we use for rock collecting) and had an endless number of interesting travel tips. He doesn’t have Internet access, finding his way by a good ole’ atlas and word-of-mouth recommendations from people he meets.
80335 U.S. 87 – Campendium
Things to Do in Lewistown, MT
As I said, we enjoyed outings with our new Xscapers friends. We drove up to Judith Peak, which offers an incredible view in every direction. Rock hounds look for quartz on the drive up the mountain, chipping out the gem along the roadside. Eric attempted to find quartz. The process was comical and unsuccessful.
In the area around Judith Peak, we looked for ghost town ruins using an official map. That ended in disappointment, with half of the ruins not there anymore and some of the spots on private land. We accidentally got in trouble with the neighbors, but we didn’t mean to.
For its size, Lewistown itself holds small town attractions that will keep you occupied during your visit. Frank Day Park has a community pool with gigantic slides, large playground, and peaceful labyrinth garden.
Right across the street, you can walk the remaining 150 feet of railroad track in a town–a noteworthy piece of history in a place that owes its life to the expanding rail system.
There’s also a trail system right there that we didn’t get a chance to explore, but it appears to be heavily utilized by locals for walking and jogging.
Restaurant Recommendations in Lewistown, MT
While Lewistown was a culinary desert compared to what we’re used to, we found three local restaurants to enjoy. We may or may not have gone to each of them twice.
Central Feed Grilling Co. was the standout. Walk in and you’ll feel like you’re suddenly in a big city. We sat on the patio outside and enjoyed amazing steak (we couldn’t stop thinking about it for days), wine for me, and exceptional sides. I love squash, but find it’s often undercooked. This squash was perfectly cooked and seasoned.
Note that it gets busy; they only have one high chair (so laughably weird–maybe they have more by now); and you can’t buy a drink without buying food.
We have had some bad experiences with Mexican food outside of Texas, but El Rancho Alegre wasn’t one of them. While it wasn’t the best ever, it was most definitely above average. The atmosphere is casual and the service is friendly.
If you want to get really casual, then head to Dash Inn. It’s a drive-in from 1952, where you can sit in your car or on the small patio. Most of the locals seem to take their food to go. There’s a drive-thru, as well.
The menu is on Lewistown’s country radio station’s website, which I find endearing–and a bit curious.
Coffee time! Two picks here. Rising Trout Cafe is on main street. The owner is super friendly and the strawberry jam scones are stellar.
We ended up at Six 18 Coffee more often because of the huge second room with books and puzzles for Caspian. We were always the only ones in the room, so I could relax and enjoy my coffee for a few minutes. The pastries here have nothing on Rising Trout, but I did enjoy the flavored coffee. I can’t remember what the roasting company was, but I believe it was local.
Where Are We Now?
We’re wrapping up our time in Denver. I had hoped to catch up on my travel logs while I was here, but it didn’t happen. Sigh–still two months behind.
In better news, we had a wonderful time with my family. Being around his grandparents, uncles, and aunts seemed to age Caspian tremendously. He seems like such a big boy now, with a new obsession for Legos (thanks to his Uncle Timothy).