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Montana Day Trips: Spring Creek Campground

Summer is going by quickly, as it always seems to do. Before you know it, fall will be upon us, bringing beautiful colors and colder days. Want to take a day to get away from it all (but not TOO far away), and enjoy the best of what Montana has to offer?

One of the best kept campground secrets is a mere hour west of Billings, just south of Big Timber. Spring Creek Campground and Trout Ranch, just a mile or so south of Big Timber off of the Main Boulder Road (Highway 298) is beautiful, relaxing and the kids will love it. The small scale general store will set you up for the well-stocked fish pond (a sure thing for the little ones), and even clean your fish for you once you’ve caught your share. For the more advanced fisher-people in your party, the Boulder River runs right along the campground. Kick back with your picnic and enjoy along the scenery, or if you’d rather, take the little ones over to the playground and let them burn off some energy. Bring your camper if you like, or rent one of their quaint little cabins along the water’s edge if you decide to make it more of a weekend get-a-way.

If you didn’t bring your picnic supplies, head down the road about 14 miles to the tiny town of McCloud. There lies an unexpected destination called Holly’s Road Kill Saloon. Holly’s offers down-home food and whatever kind of beverage suits you, in a cool little local hangout. There is indoor and outdoor seating if the weather cooperates, and if you time it right, you might even find live music playing while you dine.

Once you’ve had your fill and are in need of a little exercise, continue about eight miles south into the Gallatin National Forest where you will find the Natural Bridge Falls. You will see the signs as you approach, parking is plentiful, and the outhouses are well kept. You can make the hike as short or long as you’d like. Either way, the scenery is beautiful, with many areas designed to overlook the river as you wander along the well maintained path. As the Boulder River has made its way through this limestone rock over the years, a natural bridge and waterfalls were created. Unfortunately, the bridge collapsed in 1988, but the falls are still worth the hike alone. A word to the wise: Stop and read the interpretative signs along the way. You won’t be sorry you took the time.

For more information about things to do in and around the Big Timber area: http://www.bigtimber.com/75-things-to-do.

photos by Aimee Andren