After Yellowstone, our next real destination was to visit our friends in the Seattle area. But it was much too far for us to drive straight there, so we broke the trip up into three legs with two “en route” nights in between.
Our long day-trip to the Tetons turned into a late night, which meant a sluggish morning getting packed up to leave Yellowstone. But with no specific destination in mind for that night, we decided to get as far as we could across Montana then find someplace to stop and spend the night.
We stopped in the little town of Three Forks to use a gas station bathroom and eat the picnic lunch we’d packed. But something (we still don’t quite know what) happened in the car while we were there and we blew a fuse. At the time we didn’t know for sure if that’s what it was, but none of the dashboard instruments worked, and neither did the turn signals. Some kind neighbors in Three Forks came out to see if we needed tools, and one even brought us a few tomatoes from his garden. That part was fun! Apparently this small town doesn’t get many tourists.
We were about 60 miles from Butte and had no choice but to drive without turn signals, speedometer, fuel gauge, etc to Butte to find an auto parts store. At this point we figured we’d better check how one should pronounce the name of this city, since we’d been calling it “Butt” among ourselves but we were pretty sure that wasn’t it. (It’s pronounced “Byoot” for those who, like us, are a little weak on Montana geography.)
Thankfully it turned out to be a quick and inexpensive fix. We had indeed blown a fuse, and after buying a fuse tester (to figure out which one) and a box of fuses, we were back on the road. But we had lost a lot of time. There were options to camp in the Butte area, but we opted to get another hour or so down the road and stopped at a KOA in Deer Lodge, Montana.
Campground Review: Deer Lodge KOA
Price: $32 after KOA discount.
Location: Deer Lodge isn’t really close to anything. Location-wise, this campground’s main draw is being about halfway between Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks. It’s not really a destination in itself.
Facilities: Reasonable. Family-style bathrooms, hot showers. Laundry facilities were on the expensive side, but everything worked fine when we did laundry there. A nice bonus was the Kamp Kitchen, which we hadn’t encountered before. We saved our propane and used a more efficient propane stove, had a big sink area for washing dishes, and were able to microwave Peter’s baby food. The playground was far from the nicest we’ve seen, but it was sufficient to stretch little legs after a long day in the car.
Site description: Grassy and river-adjacent. A very pretty site.
Neighborhood: The neighbors we met were very friendly. They let Emelie pet their dog, and in the morning were willing to give us a jump when our car wouldn’t start. (Dead battery. Possibly connected to the blown fuse the day before… or to Emelie finding the automatic door open/close button. Maybe both. Those buttons are disabled now just in case.)
Pretty campsite by the river
Sunset over the river with mountains in the background. Beautiful.