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Camping at Mikesell-Potts Recreation Area Near Buffalo, Wyoming

Location: Buffalo, Wyoming
Type: County Park
Access: Lake DeSmet, Approximately 8 miles north of Buffalo, I-90 at Exit 51
Coordinates: 44.451597, -106.743348
Road Conditions: Pavement and gravel
Phone Coverage: Verizon, 2-4 out of 5
Maximum Stay: 14 days
Fee: $10 per night, $15 per night with electric
Amenities: Vault toilets, picnic areas, picnic tables at some sites, beach area on lake, and two boat ramps
Website: http://www.johnsoncountywyoming.org/

Details

Mikesell-Potts Recreation Area is a county-owned park that provides an affordable camping option at the base of the Bighorn Mountains. As a county park, the area is well maintained. The camping areas surround Lake DeSmet, and the site also includes vault toilets, a beach, and two boat ramps.

The $10 per night camping fee covers any of the 60 standard sites, including some that are lakeside. (The fee is $15 at one of the 8 sites with electric.) Reservations are not accepted, and all sites are available on a first come, first served basis.

This is a nice, but no-frills, county park, and quite a bit less expensive than any other option nearby. There is plenty of free, dispersed camping in the national forests, but those sites require a long drive up into the mountains and almost never have phone coverage.

Directions

Take Interstate 90 to exit 51 and then head east toward the lake. Take Monument Road to the north, then turn right on Lake Desmet Road just past Lake Stop Resort.The campsites are located on the south side of the lake.

Camping at Keyhole State Park Near Pine Haven, Wyoming

Location: Pine Haven, Wyoming
Type: State Park
Access: Interstate 90, Exit 165
Coordinates: 44.356414, -104.751120
Road Conditions: Pavement and gravel
Phone Coverage: Verizon, 2-4 out of 5
Maximum Stay: N/A
Fee: $10 per night for Wyoming residents, $17 per night for non-residents
Amenities: Beach, boat ramp, fishing, hiking, hunting, playground, restrooms, and dump station.
Website: http://wyoparks.state.wy.us/

Details

There are more than 170 campsites spread between nine different campgrounds at Keyhole State Park. Many of the campsites have picnic tables and charcoal grills, and most will accommodate RVs or trailers.

This state park is located at Keyhole Reservoir in northeast Wyoming. The reservoir is popular with residents for fishing, but the park is located between the Black Hills and Bighorn Mountains which makes it popular with travelers as well. Devils Tower National Monument is only about 20 miles from the park.

The park and camping areas are clean and well maintained. Vault toilets and trash containers are available in each campground. The park is open throughout the year, but some services may not be available during the winter months.

A private marina at the park sells gasoline, fishing gear, groceries, and propane. Shower rentals are also available at the marina.

Overnight camping fees are currently $10 for Wyoming residents or $17 for non-residents. An annual camping pass is also available for state residents.

Directions

Take Interstate 90 to Exit 165, then head north on Pine Ridge Road. Continue to the right when Pine Ridge Road intersects with Highway 180. It is approximately five miles from Exit 165 to Keyhole State Park along paved roads.

Camping at Voyagers Rest Fishing Access Site Near Worden, Montana

Location: Worden, Montana
Type: Recreation Area
Access: Interstate 94, Exit 23
Coordinates: 45.997, -108.131
Road Conditions: Gravel
Phone Coverage: Verizon, 3 out of 5
Maximum Stay: 7 Days
Fee: $7 – $12
Amenities: Vault toilet, fire rings, picnic tables, gravel bar boat launch
Website: http://fwp.mt.gov/

Details

Voyagers Rest Fishing Access Site is a recreational site on the Yellowstone River that allows primitive camping. There are about six primitive campsites at this location (the number of open sites varies year to year).

This is primarily a fishing access site, but people do occasionally camp here as well. The sites are established and have fire pits and picnic tables. A vault toilet is located in the middle of the 20-acre site. Two roads lead from the campsite to the river, but are in poor condition and accessible only during summer months when the river is low.

The campsite is generally quiet, but there is traffic to the river. People often drive out to the river bank. Weekends can be busy with anglers, boaters, and those just heading out to the river for a bonfire or similar.

According to the Montana Fish, Wildlife, & Parks website, there is a fee of $7 per night for campers who have a fishing license, or $12 per night for those who do not. There is no sign at the site that indicates that there is a fee, nor is there a self-registration kiosk or campground host. I have camped at this site a number of times over the past 10 years and was not aware of this “fee” until looking up the FW&P website for this review.

The nearest towns are Worden (one mile west on Highway 312) and Ballantine to the south. Billings, the largest city in Montana is 26 miles to the west on Highway 312. Billings has two WalMart stores, both a Home Depot and Lowes, and numerous other services. Worden does a small grocery store and gas station, but both are open limited hours.

Directions

Voyagers Rest Fishing Access Site is at the end of 18th Road, approximately 1.5 miles north of Highway 312. Highway 312 passes through Worden to the west and Pompey’s Pillar to the west. Ballantine, four miles to the south, also has a gas station. Access from Exit 23 on Interstate 94 will take you through Ballantine.

Camping at Itch-Kep-Pe Park in Columbus, Montana

Location: Columbus, Montana
Type: City Park
Access: Interstate 90, Exit 408
Coordinates: 45.629396, -109.253261
Road Conditions: Pavement and gravel
Phone Coverage: Verizon, 3-4 out of 5
Maximum Stay: 10 Days
Fee: Free. Donations accepted.
Amenities: Restrooms with cold water and toilets (seasonal), picnic tables and fire rings at sites, river access, boat ramp, and dumpster for trash disposal.
Website: http://townofcolumbus.com/

Details

Itch-Kep-Pe Park is a city-operated park in Columbus, Montana. The park has approximately 30 sites for tent, van, or RV camping. All sites are dry camping only.

Itch-Kep-Pe Park is populated with large Cottonwood trees. Most sites have at least partial shade, while some sites also have grass. There are picnic tables and fire rings available at most sites as well.

The park is divided into two sections that are connected by a gravel road. Both sections are on the Yellowstone River. Visitors with larger vehicles may find the first section that is closest to the road to be easier as the sites are larger and more open. The only restrooms are also in the first section, though there may be a vault toilet available in the second section.

Since this is a city park, it is maintained regularly and is patrolled by Columbus Police Department. Summer months are the busiest time, but the park is open year-round (restrooms are closed during winter). There is usually a spike in local traffic around noon and another around dusk as boaters are leaving for the day.

Reservations are not accepted at Itch-Kep-Pe Park. All sites are available on a first come, first served basis.

Columbus is a small town with a population of about 2,000. The town has a large IGA grocery store, several auto parts stores, and other basic services. The closest Walmart is 26 miles to the east in Laurel. Billings, which is about 40 miles east of Columbus, is the largest city in Montana and has two Walmart stores and numerous services.

Directions

Take Exit 408 off Interstate 90 at Columbus. Follow Highway 78 south toward Absarokee.

Highway 78 will turn twice between Interstate 90 and Itch-Kep-Pe Park. Turn right at the intersection of Old Highway 10 which is approximately 0.8 miles from Interstate 90, and then proceed on Old Highway 10/Highway 78/East Pike Avenue for 0.2 miles. Turn left to follow Highway 78. Proceed south for 0,5 miles.

Itch-Kep-Pe Park is on the east side of Highway 78 just north of the Yellowstone River. Traveling from Interstate 90 and Columbus, the park will be on the left side of Highway 78.

Camping Along Tom Wells Road Near Ehrenberg, Arizona

Location: Ehrenberg, Arizona
Type: BLM Dispersed
Access: Approximately 0.25 miles from Interstate 10, Exit 5
Coordinates: 33.622710, -114.435241
Road Conditions: Pavement and gravel
Phone Coverage: Verizon, 2-4 out of 5
Maximum Stay: 14 days
Fee: Free
Amenities: None; primitive, dispersed camping in the desert
Website: https://www.blm.gov/arizona

Details

Quartzsite and Ehrenberg are both popular camping areas in southwest Arizona. Quartzsite is home to the annual Quartzsite Sports, Vacation, and RV Show. Ehrenberg, on the other hand, offers little in the way of services and entertainment, but does have plenty of free, dispersed camping on BLM-managed desert land. Often overlooked on the short drive between Quartzsite and Ehrenberg is Tom Wells Road.

Tom Wells Road, accessed via Exit 5 on Interstate 10, is a well-maintained gravel road that provides access to a very large camping area. The road is in surprisingly good condition for a BLM road, but does pass through a number of washes that may flood during rains. The area close to the Interstate is popular with campers who drive larger rigs, but there is less camping activity as you drive further back from the Interstate. The road remains in good condition for about 2-2.5 miles, but eventually deteriorates as it passes through washes.

This area has more vegetation than many desert areas, and is bordered by the scenic Dome Rock Mountains to the east. There is a network of dirt roads that run east and west from Tom Wells Road so it is fairly easy to camp away from the main route in and out of the area.

As a primitive, dispersed camping area, there are no amenities or services available. This is a nice place to camp and be alone in the desert, but you will need to bring all of your own supplies and be self-contained.

This is a rural, desert area with few services. There is a Chevron truck stop just north of Interstate 10 at Exit 5. Ehrenberg is located four miles to the west at Exit 1, but also has only a Flying J truck stop and the Ehrenberg Mini-Mall which does have a laundromat, showers, and mailbox rentals. Quartzsite is about 13 miles to the east of Tom Wells Road on Interstate 10. Quartzsite has a small grocery store, and a number or restaurants and RV-related services. Blythe, California is about 11 miles west of Tom Wells Road, also on Interstate 10. Blythe has several grocery and department stores, as well as a number of restaurants. The nearest Walmart is in Parker, Arizona which is about 50 miles to the north via Interstate 10 and Arizona 95.

Directions

Take Interstate 10 to Exit 5, an then head south on Tom Wells Road. The road makes a 90-degree turn to the right, and then a 90-degree turn to the left, within the first quarter of a mile. The road crosses a cattle guard 0.2-0.25 miles from the Interstate exit and turns to dirt and gravel. There are numerous places to camp once you cross the cattle guard.

Camping at Saddle Mountain BLM Area Near Tonopah, Arizona

Location: Tonopah, Arizona
Type: BLM Dispersed
Access: Approximately 10 miles from Interstate 10, Exit 94
Coordinates: 33.464388, -113.066330
Road Conditions: Pavement
Phone Coverage: Verizon, 2-3 out of 5
Maximum Stay: 14 days
Fee: Free
Amenities: None; primitive, dispersed camping
Website: https://www.blm.gov/arizona

Details

The BLM dispersed camping area at Saddle Mountain is one of the more scenic BLM areas in Arizona. The camping area is bordered to the south by mountains, with more mountains visible in the distance to the north and west. The area around Saddle Mountain was also surprisingly green in early spring, with grass and other ground cover, plentiful Mexican Gold Poppies just beginning to bloom, and the usual desert vegetation like Saguaro and Creosote.

Saddle Mountain is conveniently located between Quartzsite and Phoenix, about 10 miles from Interstate 10. This location makes Saddle Mountain a convenient stopover spot on the way across Interstate 10, but Saddle Mountain is worthy of visiting for its own sake. This area is much more scenic that Quartzsite or Ehrenberg, where many people spend the winter.

There are several access roads into the BLM camping area from the pavement on W. Courthouse Road. Some of the roads are quite narrow, some are rather rocky and rutted, while others are in surprisingly good condition for BLM roads.

Verizon phone service is good at Saddle Mountain with a usable signal available in the areas that were visited. You may find the signal stronger closer to the road and further from the mountains.

There are some hiking trails around Saddle Mountain, but they may not be easy to find. Still, there is plenty of opportunity for just walking around. Do be careful of the volcanic scree that covers the mountain slopes though. It looks solid, but disintegrates beneath your feet and can cause dangerous falls.

The nice thing about Saddle Mountain, in addition to the lovely views, is that it is not as crowded as BLM areas in Ehrenberg or Quartzsite. While there may be other people camping in the area, this site does not seem to have the traffic that other areas attract.

There are a few gas stations with limited fast food options near Interstate 10. The nearest shopping is in Buckeye, about 30 miles to the east. Buckeye has a Walmart, Lowe’s, Goodwill, and many other stores and services.

Video Tour

Directions

Take Interstate 10 to Exit 94, then proceed south on 411th Ave for 2.8 miles. Stay to the right at a fork in the road, and continue for 0.1 miles to the intersection of W. Salome Highway. Turn right on W. Salome Highway and continue west for 5.2 miles. Turn left onto W. Courthouse Road just before the pavement ends on W. Salome Highway. Follow W. Courthouse Road to the west for about 2.5 miles.

There are several primitive BLM roads along the south side of W.Courthouse Road around Mile Posts 13 and 14. All of these roads run toward the mountains to the south. Note that some roads are in better condition than others. You may want to explore on foot or bicycle before heading back too far with a larger vehicle or trailer.

Camping Along Ehrenberg-Cibola Road in Ehrenberg, Arizona

Location: Ehrenberg, Arizona
Type: BLM Dispersed
Access: Approximately 3 miles from Interstate 10, Exit 1
Coordinates: 33.587184, -114.477294
Road Conditions: Pavement and gravel
Phone Coverage: Verizon, 2-4 out of 5
Maximum Stay: 14 days
Fee: Free
Amenities: None; primitive, dispersed camping in the desert
Website: https://www.blm.gov/arizona

Details

The Ehrenberg, Arizona area is a favorite spot for many full-timers and snowbirds who are looking for a free, desert campsite.

Quartzsite, Arizona is an extremely popular winter destination for many RVers and vandwellers, but its popularity also means that it is crowded and the 14-day camping limits on BLM land are enforced. After exhausting your 14-day stay in the desert near Quartzsite, you either have to pay for a campsite (RV park, dry dock area, or Long Term Visitor Area) or move to another location. Ehrenberg is a popular alternative destination for many nomads who need to move to a different camp.

The winter weather in Ehrenberg is considerably better than in much of the country. While nights can be cold, the daytime temperatures are usually pleasant with plenty of sunshine.

Ehrenberg is a small community on the Colorado River, just one mile from California. Ehrenberg has a truck stop on the south side of Interstate 10 and a local, “general store” on the north side of the Interstate. The local store is known as “The Mall,” and provides just about everything a nomad could want, including mail service, propane, water, showers, and a laundromat.

In addition to being popular with campers, the area is also frequented by those looking for a place to drive OHVs and recreational/target shooters. Weekends in particular can, unfortunately, be noisy.

Directions

The BLM-managed desert with dispersed camping is located south of Interstate 10 between the Colorado River to the west and the Dome Rock Mountains to the east.

Video Tour

This video takes you on a driving tour from Interstate 10 into the BLM dispersed camping area.

Directions

Take Exit 1 off Interstate 10, then head south toward the truck stop. At the roundabout, continue 3/4 of the way around (second exit) and then head east on the frontage road. About 1.5 miles from the roundabout the road splits. Continue to the right at the fork. There is a large area with a network of BLM roads where dispersed camping is allowed.

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