Sometimes you just need a spot to park your rig for the night on the way to somewhere else. Nothing more. Nothing less. Because, let’s face it, when there are fifty candles on your birthday cake the fifteen-hour drives are a whole hell of a lot less fun. Especially when the kids and wife are along for the ride, and you can’t spend the entire time blasting tunes, eating Doritos and Oreos, and drinking strawberry milk.
This is the role Countryside RV Park played for us as we geared up for the final week of an epic camping trip through the northwestern United States. It served this purpose well, while offering up a first-rate rainbow experience during our short stay.
Countryside RV Park is located a couple minutes south of Dillon, Montana, a small city in the Beaverhead Valley in the State’s southwest. It’s a pretty area, with former goldrush ghost towns and now ranching (sheep, apparently) along the I-15, but it’s not especially renowned for much in a worldly sense.
Dillon is not without its colour. As one would expect in this part of the USA, there’s some opinionated folks around. Were it not for a quirky niche destination on my part, it’s unlikely we’d have ever done more than drive through the place; if that, even.
That quirky destination was Crystal Park, a small state park in which you can plunder the hillside for near-perfect quartz crystals. It’s … an interesting concept for a “park”. I wanted to check it out, see if it came as advertised, rock nerd that I am, but only scheduled a few morning hours for the adventure before moving on.
I wasn’t too keen on spending the night in a rustic campsite on forestry lands. Besides, we were due for groceries and laundering, so civilization was best suited to our needs. With grocery stores and laundromats, Dillon fit the bill and Countryside RV Park was ideally located to not only use the city as required but offered a quick escape the next morning for the three-quarters of an hour drive to Crystal Park.
Campsites at Country RV Park
This is the context in which I review Countryside RV Park. Context is important. This isn’t the type of place at which we’d actually spend a holiday, but for an overnighter, it was splendid. We got groceries at the Town and Country, washed our clothes at Clean Critter, and had a decent meal at Sparky’s Garage. Oh, and the rainbow. Did I mention that yet? Awesome rainbow.
Countryside RV Park offers 44 full-service campsites (30 & 50 amp at each), 19 of which are pull-throughs while the remaining 25 are back-ins. All the sites are huge. Seriously. I’ve yet to see an RV that wouldn’t fit here, and I’ve seen some ridiculously big units over the years. In fact, I saw some ridiculously big units here!
Make no mistake, Countryside RV Park is a popular stop with the massive motorhome crowd. By comparison, our 16’ Geo Pro looked almost comical in a campsite that could easily have accommodated a complete clone of our setup.
This big rig friendly layout certainly appeals to some. As it should. After watching even mid-sized RVs struggle to make room in National Parks campgrounds, I can appreciate the desire to just have an easy place to park the beast. No fuss, no muss, just space. Wide, open space.
Countryside RV Park has a large, dual loop layout with campsites positioned on the outer loops and a large communal grass area in the middle. Like the loop roads, the campsites are gravel and level with strips of grass separating the sites from each other. Services are found to the left at the edge of the neighbouring grass.
Although there is no mention of this on their official website, there appears to be seasonal campers at Countryside RV Park. I base this on the fact that a couple of campsites have concrete pads and the motorhomes parked in them display potted plants and other décor. One even had wheel covers suggesting they aren’t leaving too soon.
Maybe these folks are seasonal workers? Or maybe they’ve set up shop for an extended stay of a month? Whatever the case, not everyone is a fly-by-nighter like us.
Being a stickler for planning, I booked our site well in advance and was able to secure site A9 at the far end of the inner loop. There was nothing especially unique about our campsite other than an unobstructed view of the fields to the west and mountains in the distance.
That’s unobstructed if you ignore the surplus parking area across the loop road from our campsite. I’d have loved to have a truly unhindered view of the countryside to the west, but unfortunately there were a handful of vehicles parked in the grass at the edge of the campground.
This is designated as parking on the provided map, so it’s not like it came as a surprise to me. I just didn’t expect to find several trucks and cargo trailers stored there. It would have been nice to kickback in a lawn chair and just stare out at the hills beckoning us westward.
Or the sunset. We enjoyed a decent sunset once the rains passed, and I bet there are nights when they’re spectacular.
Amenities at Countryside RV Park
Each campsite at Countryside RV Park comes with a designated picnic table, but there are no firepits. Everything was green during our early July visit, but I can well imagine this area dries up to a crisp over the summer. With few trees to buffer the ever-present breeze/wind, grass fires are surely a risk.
That said, it’s not as if the place is void of campfire pleasures. The grassy loop interior receives regular irrigation and there you will find a community firepit. A ratty segment of corrugated steel tubing sits in the grass with black evidence of former usage in its centre. A pile of long, well-aged wood pieces are piled nearby.
The rain that led to the rainbow dampened the slim chance of a campfire the night we stayed here, but I can envision some enjoyable group campfires when the weather, and guestlist, are amenable to it. Just bring your own chair and roasting sticks.
To the west of the wood pile is a single horseshoe pitch. This was fun to see and perhaps hinted at the typically older campers that tend to frequent Countryside RV Park. The place has no playground, for example. One would think if a steady stream of families with children were visiting, some kind of playground would reside in this large grassy area.
Instead, there is the horseshoe pitch. Sadly, one of the pits is missing the post, so I don’t think horseshoes gets played much anymore either. I really need to start hauling our shoes around just out of principle. Horseshoes is a great game that gets no love anymore.
There are a handful of trees around the campground, both in the grassy area and around some of the campsites. Several appear to be young, so the shelter game is in its infancy at Countryside RV Park. Looking at the surrounding farmland, trees are not a common occurrence in the area so it’s nice to see park management trying. But don’t kid yourself, you’ll almost surely be camping beneath open skies.
Moving eastward now, towards the main office, you’ll find the fenced remains of a once grand swimming pool. This was a real heartbreaker. I peeked over the obstructed chain link fence and quickly realized that the pool has not been used for quite some time.
I don’t know if this is a covid fatality or if the pool has been out of commission for even longer, but it’s not coming back to life anytime soon from the looks of things. And that’s a real shame because, in spite of the gloomy weather that evening, a dip in a pool would have been the perfect medicine for our weary bodies.
I know pools are costly to maintain, but boy does this feel like a missed opportunity to provide campers at Countryside RV Park with a welcome perk. Especially considering it’s literally right there taunting campers like me. Had it never existed, I wouldn’t have even mentioned this but, man, that corpse was calling to me.
The main office building serves as supreme HQ for the entire campground and includes a residence for the manager/owner (not sure which). I’m unsure if that residence is a year-round home but it’s convenient location makes the somewhat tight hours of operation of the registration desk a bit frustrating.
Not that I expect 24/7 service. This is not a hotel. But it would have been nice to be able to buy ice as we headed out for the day at 8:30. And getting inside to peruse the book library (or borrow from the free DVD library) would have been nice on a quiet evening. Those are nice extras to offer campers but only if they’re accessible. Anyway, despite my nitpicking, the staff were super friendly during registration.
Immediately next to the main office is the boarded-up entrance to the laundry room. I’m not sure what happened here, but the laundry room is obviously not available. I honestly hadn’t realized there was laundry here when I made our plans, so we intended to use a laundromat in town regardless, but it would have been super convenient had the one at Countryside RV Park been operational. Hopefully they get whatever issues it has remedied in the near future.
Bathrooms and Showers
The campground bathroom and showers were a bit tricky to find at first. They’re located at the back of the office structure and there’s no obvious signage indicating as much. Even when approaching from the interior field, the pool fencing blocks evidence of the bathroom entrance.
Now, I suppose most folks at Countryside RV Park use their onboard facilities, what with the preponderance of giant rigs and full services at each site. I get that. For weirdos like us, who prefer not to sully our small living quarters, finding the bathroom was a bit of an adventure. More pickiness.
The main bathroom entrance leads to a short hallway with women’s facilities to the right and men’s to the left. Each sex has two options: a bathroom and a shower room.
The bathroom is not unlike the one you have in your home, save for the urinal in the men’s version. There’s a sink, a toilet, and the aforementioned urinal. The entire room can be locked for privacy, or I suppose you could share with a close friend (or stranger) if that’s your bag.
I mention this only partly in jest. The women’s version has two stalls in it with only shower curtains providing privacy from the front. This confused the ladies in our entourage (okay it freaked out my kid).
Having two stalls suggests that multiple people can use the bathroom at any one time, in which case the shower curtains are a bit underwhelming for the skittish. Conversely, the ability to lock the door for personal use begs the question, “Why two stalls?”
The showers at Countryside RV Park offer a similar setup but in a separate room to the bathrooms. The men’s had two robust concrete shower stalls with showerhead and water controls. We didn’t use them so I can’t comment on quality of shower or duration of hot water. But they got them if you need them.
With sewers at every campsite, there’s no real need for a dump station. The website indicates they offer dump services to non-customers for a price. I imagine they simply let the purchaser use an empty site since I didn’t see any dedicated dump station at the campground.
Despite all the mention of big RVs, there is a designated tent area at Countryside RV Park as well. It’s basically a grass field in the southwest corner of the grounds. Nothing special in any sense, but there was someone using it the night we stayed.
Tent Camping and Dog Park
The tent area also shares space with a designated “bark park” according to the official campground map. Again, there is nothing immediately recognizable as a dog park in this piece of lawn aside from a cheeky fire hydrant.
Another dog park apparently resides next to the large garbage bins in the southeast portion of the campground. This otherwise non-descript area, or field, leads to a funky old wooden saloon building. I have no idea what the story is behind this structure as it appeared to have no official function. It’s a cool building though, and ties into the old west feel of the Dillon region.
Between the two dog parks is a stretch of manicured grass that functions as additional parking and overflow. There are no services but like the tenting area, one family was boondocking here during our stay. If you’re in no need of fancy on-site amenities, then this rustic option is a cost-efficient alternative. Also, great if you’re truly just in need of a place to park and sleep for a night.
I mentioned that Countryside RV Park is ideally located near Dillon, Montana without being stuck in the city itself. It is, however, next to a secondary highway that takes drivers west into some beautiful recreational country.
Though less busy than the interstate we arrived on, this road is far from void of traffic. With the open layout of the campground, you’ll get road noise without a doubt. And there be a lot of diesel pickup trucks in these parts.
Countryside RV Park offers free WiFi, which is nice. A password isn’t even required. And I could get reception at our campsite, arguably the furthest from the office and presumable WiFi source.
The Rainbow of all Rainbows
Being only a short jaunt off the interstate and with the county seat of government only a mile or so up the road, cell service is plentiful from the comfort of your campsite.
So, about that rainbow. In the early evening, we enjoyed a brief rain shower which, after a few days of unrelenting thirty plus degree heat, was a welcome reprieve as the temperatures briefly abated. As the sun returned from its momentary hiatus behind the dark clouds, one of the best rainbows I’ve ever witnessed came to life before us. It arched majestically over the campground, with both ends pointedly visible in the ranchlands on either side of Countryside RV Park. Coupled with the sunset soon after, this phenomenon made our expected-to-be-uneventful stay anything but.
And if rainbows don’t turn your, well there’s a gorgeous Mustang hanging out by the campground service shed next to the main office. No idea if this belongs to the owners or a staff member, but ooo baby, what a beautiful car.
As I said when starting this review, I don’t see myself camping at Countryside RV Park in a vacation sense. This just isn’t the kind of campground I look at for multi-day stays. But for an overnight stop on a lengthy drive, it checked all our boxes. And had the laundromat been working, I’d have penciled in an additional box to check.
That said, the defunct pool was disappointing. I do hope that gets back up and running. And while I suspect the clientele trends older, the lack of a playground in that humungous green space was noticeable.
I’ll give Countryside RV Park 3.5 Baby Dill Pickles out of 5. Nice folks in a pretty area that is close to the conveniences of a small city and within range of some locally important attractions. And if you’re lucky, you’ll get a lovely sunset for your troubles. If you’re REALLY lucky, you’ll get the rainbow of a lifetime.