youtubeAs I pointed out in my last entry, the surge of people camping and visiting popular outdoor sites, like national parks, is expected to continue into the summer of 2021 due to lingering impacts of Covid-19 and the huge increase of new RVers. You may find yourself asking, where can I take the family camping in the Pacific Northwest that won’t be overrun? In addition to Mission Canyon, covered in the last entry, following is another little known area in the State of Montana that is family friendly and less likely to be crowded.

In this installment we will concentrate on the things to see and do near the hamlet of Nye, Montana.

Woodbine Falls


Scenic Woodbine Falls

Considered one of the ten best waterfalls in Montana, Woodbine Falls is sure to become a family favorite for everyone in the RV. The relatively short hike (less than a mile) and modest elevation gain (about 300 feet) is suitable for RVers of all ages. Your dog is also welcome to join in the fun, provided that they are on a leash. Another bonus is that the falls are at a fairly low elevation (for Montana), so it is free of snow early in the year until late fall. Conveniently for RVers, the trail starts at the Woodbine Campground.  For those arriving without an RV, there is designated trailhead parking. Not far into your hike, you will cross Woodbine Creek via a rustic but sturdy footbridge. Be sure to stop and pose for a photo at this scenic location. From the bridge, the trail gains elevation towards the falls. About halfway up the trail be on the lookout for an area where the creek branches into four separate channels of smaller cascades below you. The trail ends on a rock outcrop where native rock has been cemented in place to form a barrier, allowing you to safely view the falls while keeping you from falling into the abyss below. Better views can be obtained by scrambling up the hill above the designated overlook, just make sure the scramble is within your physical abilities and be aware as there are no railings in place for your protection.


Woodbine Campground

Stillwater River Trail

The trailhead is located just a short distance west of Woodbine Campground. Many hike the 3.5-mile trail to Sioux Charley Lake or further, but most consider the first half mile of the trail, which traverses on a ledge through a scenic gorge carved by the raging Stillwater River, the highlight of the trail and go no further. During spring and early summer, the volume of water, via snow melt in the mountains further upstream, churning through the gorge is most impressive.


Stillwater Gorge

Mining

The Stillwater Mine can’t be missed as you drive to and from the Woodbine Falls or the Stillwater River Trail. The active mine is the only palladium and platinum producer in the United States. The mine tunnels deeply into what is considered one of the rarest and most challenging ore bodies in the world. Historic nearby mines include the Mountain View Mine and Benbow Mine, both of which produced Chromium, a strategic metal heavily sought after by the U.S. government during World War II. The remains of the Mountain View Mine and abandoned townsite are located about halfway up the mountain behind (west) the Stillwater Mine. The Benbow Mine is located east of the Stillwater Mine over the mountain ridge. RVers that want to make the trip to the Benbow Mine will find many scenic boondocking opportunities in the valley below the mine.


View from Benbow Mine

Buffalo Jump

Those interested in Native American history will want to take note of the high bluffs as they pass through the town of Nye. Herds of buffalo were driven off these cliffs by the natives. The meat and hides were essential for their survival through the cold Montana winters.

Getting There:

Woodbine Falls - From the intersection of Highway 212 and MT-78 in Red Lodge, head northwest on MT-78 approximately 30 miles. Turn left (west) onto paved MT-419, passing through the town of Fishtail. Drive through Nye and past the Stillwater Mine for 28.7 miles, turning left into the Woodbine Falls Campground at N45° 21.324 W109° 54.006.  If you will not be camping, follow the signs to the trailhead parking at N45° 21.161 W109°53.675.

The Stillwater River Trail – Continue driving straight for approximately one third of a mile on MT-419 rather than turning left for the falls as listed above. The poorly marked trailhead is at the south end of the paved loop. If you bring your RV with you to the trailhead, you will find long parking stalls designed for horse trailers and tow vehicles at the north end of the parking area. The trail enters the gorge after less than 100 yards of hiking.

The Stillwater Mine – Located on the right (west) side of the MT-419 about two and a half miles before reaching the junction for the falls and trailhead to the gorge.

Historic Benbow Mine - Located at N45° 21.857 W109° 48.409 up NF 1414 is best accessed with an ATV or off-road motorcycle, but a high clearance two-wheel drive could make the trip as well. The views alone are worth making the trip. There are additional ruins in the area for those that take the time to seek them out.

Camping:

Woodbine Campground

Buffalo Jump Fishing Access Site in Nye

Boondocking - As mentioned, there are some very scenic (top picture) boondocking (aka dispersed camping) sites on the lower portion of FS 1414 on the way to the Benbow Mine. The lower portion of the road is very well maintained by a mining company working in the area and is suitable for most any RV. NF 1414 (aka Benbow Road) departs paved Nye Road (FS 419) at N45° 24.293 W109° 41.72.  Camping is permitted along NF 1414 once you pass by the last residence and cross onto forest service land. Boondocking sites can be found along and off side spurs of NF 1414 until you reach the staging areas for off-road vehicles and horse trailers at N45° 23.260 W109° 45.730.  Shortly past this area, the road becomes unsuitable for RV travel. Camping is allowed in the staging area if you were unable to find a suitable camping spot along NF 1414 on the way there.

Questions? Comments? Please add your thoughts below.

 

Dave Helgeson
Author: Dave HelgesonEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Dave Helgeson is the MHRV Show Director. He and his wife love to travel across the west in their RV. Dave writes about all things RVing but loves to share destinations and boondocking advice.

Comments   

0 #1 Paul 2021-04-30 17:58
Thank you for your informative articles on RVing in Montana. You have helped plan my summer adventures.
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