Camping On The Boulder
My First Experience In A Truck Camper
Last weekend I had the opportunity to take out one of our rental truck campers while camping along the Boulder River. We set out on the few hour drive to our destination and were pleasantly surprised by the ease that the Chevrolet Silverado drove down the interstate with the camper loaded. As well as the fuel efficiency of the truck. Over the weekend we drove around 200 ish miles roundtrip and still had half a tank of fuel when pulled back into Bozeman.
The first stop of our trip was Natural Bridge Falls. This is a very popular site in the spring/summer months so I was concerned about parking availability. However, this was not an issue as you can park the truck camper in a normal-sized parking space with no problems at all. While the falls are not currently flowing to their fullest capacity this time of the year, there are a few miles of trails that take you along the river and down into the bottom of the falls. This made for a fun afternoon before we continued our way up the mountain to find a campsite.
As we looked for a campsite for the night we were surprised to see that the majority of the sites were full. This was not something we were expecting to see in late April especially with the amount of snow still on the ground at higher elevations. We continued up the mountain about another mile before we were lucky enough to find a campsite just a few feet away from the rivers edge.
By the time we had found this site, the sun was beginning to set and the temperatures were going down with it. Thankfully these campers are perfectly set up for everyone to use. Even those like me who are not familiar with campers. This made setting up camp as simple as unlatching the top of the camper and a quick push of a button to raise the top. We quickly made use of the heater while making dinner on the stovetop. We then headed outside to roast marshmallows around the campfire. By the time bedtime rolled around we were pleasantly surprised to find the camper had stayed warm, despite turning the heater off while outside. We turned the heater back on before crawling into the queen size bed, which is perfectly sized for a couple. With the heater set at 65, the camper stayed at the perfect temp for us overnight.
Both the heater and stovetop are ran off propane which is stored conveniently located next to the camper door. Propane storage and solar panels located on the roof that power the rest of the camper makes the need for a generator or outside power while camping a thing of the past. Making this camper perfect for those who are wanting to stay in less established campgrounds like us.
The next morning we ate breakfast around the campfire while talking over our plan for the day. This is when we discovered our one problem with the truck camper. We had to break camp if we wanted to drive upriver any farther. This means that we would have to pack up our site and close the camper up while also risking having to find a new campsite later that evening. Ultimately we found this to be the best choice for us that day because we were only camping for two nights. Making moving to a new site was not a huge deal. For those looking to camp for a longer period of time in the same location having to pack up camp and not being able to have a “home base” could pose an issue.
We headed to a nearby trailhead and spent the majority of Saturday hiking and exploring the Absaroke-Beartooth Wilderness. Thankfully we found an empty campsite near the trailhead and set up camp again for the night. Over dinner we decided in the morning we would head closer to town and try our luck fishing. When we woke up on Sunday the weather had cooled slightly overnight and a breeze had developed by the time we closed up camp. This ended up making fishing quite the task. So we decided to cut our losses and grab some breakfast in town before heading back to Bozeman.
Overall this weekend we discovered that the truck campers are awesome but unfortunately not the perfect thing for a weekend trip for us. These truck campers would be the perfect “Road Trip” type adventure vehicle. One where you are looking to be in a new location every night but still want the comfort of a camper. However, if you are looking to be in the same location throw a trailer on the back with your off-road vehicle of choice (dirt bike, 4wheeler, etc) and you’re ready to hit the road.