Underground Missiles, More FREE Camping: Colorado-Wyoming-Montana

by thenewstates

Roadtrips for the win! We’re heading up to Montana before winter, and this drive was full of surprises and excellent FREE camping. With a stop at Quebec 1 Missile Alert Facility, we travel back in time to the cold war era and one of the most powerful weapons ever created (thankfully never used).

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Since returning from Mexico, we have been RV traveling in the USA all summer long. After two months of exploring Colorado, it’s time to move and we decided to head north up to Montana. This week we share the journey as we travel through Wyoming. A random roadside sign directed us to a recently reopened historic site: the Quebec 1 Missile Alert Facility. This relic of the cold war era reopened to the public in 2018, and shares the story of the “missilemen” for the Peacekeeper missile program. One of the most powerful weapons in history, each Peacekeeper ICBM contained 10 individually targetable nuclear warheads. Buried 50ft belowground, the Quebec 1 command center could target up to 100 individual sites on the opposite side of the globe on the orders of the President of the United States. Two keys and two of these facilities were required as a safety in order to launch a Peacekeeper missile. Built as a powerful deterrent, the program was decommissioned in 2005. Today visitors can travel down into the high security facilities to get an in person experience of what it was like for missilemen to spend up to 36 hours per shift, underground, always at the ready to launch a powerful arsenal.

We continued our free camping streak (over 2 months straight!) and found great dispersed camping near the town of Buffalo, Wyoming. After a day of working (that #digitalnomad life, got to pay the bills!), we ventured into Buffalo. The town features, no surprise, a lot of buffalo art, murals, and statues. It also is the home of Up in Smoke, a delicious, organic BBQ joint full of locals. We tried the pulled pork, pizza with brisket, and the smoked chicken nachos. Delicious, and tasty beers, too!

After another full day of driving, we arrived at our destination for this leg of the journey: Goose Bay dispersed camping near Helena, Montana Next week will be full of fun as we celebrate Howard’s birthday by land and water in Montana’s capital city!

Resources

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? Where we stayed in this episode ?
Goose Bay near Helena, MT
GPS Coordinates: 46.545595, -111.571641

Grouse Mountain Dispersed Camping near Buffalo, WY
GPS Coordinates: 44.321218,-106.89173

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Apps & Websites We Use to Find FREE Camping

In order to find free camping, we use a variety of resources: 

  1. Campendium: This is our go to search engine for camping because we can actually filter our locations based on cell service and connectivity, which is huge since we work from the road. It’s helpful to see reviews from other campers and you can set the filters for free camping as well. 
  2. iOverlander: This is a great resource for not only finding camping, but the amenities you’ll eventually need after dry camping for a while. You can look for dump stations, water, even RV repair and showers on this user-generated map. 
  3. Freecampsites.net: Another great user-generated map of camping with reviews and pictures. 
  4. Ultimate Public Campgrounds: This is the most comprehensive list of public paid and free campsites with over 43,000 listings. You can display or hide based on operator, amenities offered, price, etc. Another great perk of this app is that you can download maps by region of the country, and once you have it loaded on your phone,  you don’t need internet access to review the listings.

What We Look for in a FREE Campsite

There are certain must haves and nice to haves when we’re scouting out campsites.

  1. Cell service: In case I haven’t mentioned it enough, connectivity is crucial since we work from the road. When we scout out campsites in our tow vehicle, we bring our Verizon Jetpack and antenna with us and run speed tests to see if the service will be good enough for work. If it’s not… we move on. There is a free app called “Speed Test” that you can download to run the same tests we do! 
  2. Privacy: Katelyn is a self-proclaimed introvert… the further away from people the better for her (Howard is the social butterfly) and given the current state of Covid-19, we try to find secluded spots. This often takes a bit more time and effort, but the payoff is always worth it for us. We don’t have to worry about other barking dogs (our pups really don’t like that) or bothering anyone else if we need to run our generator. 
  3. Views: This is always a bonus and something we usually seek out, afterall… with a home on wheels, having epic scenery out your window is what it’s all about! Again, this takes a little more time and effort. But if we know we’re staying somewhere for at least 3+ nights, then it’s worth it for us to spend the time finding an ideal location. 
  4.  A level spot: While our rig doesn’t need to be perfectly level for certain appliances, like the refrigerator, to operate, sleeping on a slope doesn’t always feel good. We try and eyeball a spot for levelness. You can usually tell if it just won’t work or if you can make it better by utilizing leveling blocks, which we often do.  

FREE Camping Rules & Reminders

Since we’ve been doing so much free camping, we’ve unfortunately seen the aftermath of people who don’t respect the land and follow common courtesy. The biggest rule of free camping should be a no-brainer, but sadly that isn’t the case. 

  1. ALWAYS pack out your trash, dumping is NEVER ok. We’ve seen mattresses (!?), old camping chairs, bottles, plywood boards, cans, diapers. You name it… don’t be those people. It will ruin it for everyone. And if you can, leave the campsite better than you found it. We practice the philosophy of Leave No Trace, to learn more click here.
  2. Most BLM camping or Forest Roads have a 14 day limit, which is incredible! This is usually posted at the entrance area. 
  3. And lastly, remember to be respectful of neighbors if you have them. No one likes listening to others loud music, yelling, generators or barking dogs. 😉 
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