Wisdom Montana in the “Big Hole”

A FRIGID week of Small Town America RV Life in the middle of (literally) nowhere…

What is the “Big Hole”? Just a wide, large valley who’s name was adopted by ranchers and locals residing in this southwestern Montana region in the 1880’s.

The Big Hole is a wide open basin between mountain ranges (one of which I crossed over in the prior post – Crossing Lost Trail Pass.) It is home to almost no one. Cell service here is a true rarity and COLD air “pools” in the valley, making it one of the COLDEST places in the nation! And, of course, I was there in late October 2023 during one of the most severe Arctic Air outbreaks (for that time of year) in decades.

Wisdom, Montana – a town of (perhaps) 75 residents, and yet, it supports three full time restaurants and a coffee shop. The people here are good people. Over my 5 days in Wisdom, I probably met 1/4 of the residents in Wisdom – all very friendly and welcoming.

Shortly after arrival and setting up my camper in Big Hole River RV Park, I stood on Montana 43 exploring the town. Montana 43 is the main road that connects Wisdom with the outside world. It was literally a few minutes before I had to get out of a cars way! Yes, it was the quiet and tranquility (and COLD) that was my first impression of Wisdom.

Of course, in late October, the only folks found in Wisdom are the locals and a few hunters. Very few RV travelers are on the road at this time of year. The arctic air probably amplified the exodus! I stayed in Wisdom for 5 days, and on the first two days, the high temperature was about 20, and overnight lows were near -5F. Impressive again for the time of year! I literally appreciate every day, especially on days like this the construction and quality of my 5th wheel.

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RV Parks in Wisdom

Without a local RV park, staying here would have been quite difficult. Interestingly, Wisdom has two RV camping areas.

There is a small park on the west side of town run by the American Legion, but it is all dry camping – not a great option for late October (low sun and lots of clouds) and sub-zero nights! The American Legion park is donation only with a 7 day limit.

In contrast, the Big Hole RV Park is a full service park. They have hookups (water/sewer/electric) and a bath house. During my stay, the water system had been shut off for the winter, so, I availed myself of only electric – which was more than enough for my needs for 5 days. AND… thanks to incredible insulation in my camper, NO freeze-ups despite subzero overnight temperatures.

Big Hole RV Park is easily accessed from either direction that you’re entering town and is easy to navigate within the park. I believe there are about 20 sites. They normally charge 50./night, but without water (or the bath house) they reduced their rate to 30./night. I suspect they’re open all winter on this basis, but call to check with them if you plan any winter or early spring RV travel to or through Wisdom.

From my campsite, it was no more than (literally) a 3 minute walk to any establishment in town. As I noted before, there is NO cell service in town (except, surprisingly T-mobile recently installed a tower to serve the town), so the RV park, and for that matter, EVERY business in town has fast, high bandwidth wi-fi for your ‘hi-tech’ and communication needs.

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Wisdom Restaurants

How can a town of just 75 residents support 3 full time restaurants and a coffee shop? Simple, each is VERY good in its own right AND Wisdom does attract visitors throughout the year for various reasons. These include summer recreation, hunters, RV travelers, winter snowmobiling and snowshoeing, etc. There’s even a local business that rents

I was introduced to Fettys my first night in town with a very good quality buffet celebrating Halloween. While dining, I had the opportunity to meet Betelgeuse, a local resident who was there for the celebration! I also had breakfast there one morning. It was excellent!

Across the street is the Antler Saloon. Complete with a full bar and a pool table, they also have EXCELLENT pizza. To be honest, ever since leaving the NY Metro region, I’ve found very few decent pizza places and virtually NONE I’d return to. The Antler Saloon makes pizza I WILL return for – in fact probably by the time you’re reading this!

Down the street is a very basic Mexican restaurant. I intended to eat there, but never got to it. There is also the Goose-n-Bear coffee shop right next to Fettys. The coffee is quite good, its an eclectic atmosphere and there are many unique and local items and gifts for sale in the store.

Wisdom – “To Do”…

Big Hole National Battlefield – the site of a surprise attack by the U.S. Military on Nez Perce natives in 1877. Learn about our history at this site.

Hot Springs in Jackson, Montana – hot springs are scattered all over Montana, but, Montana is a BIG place. It’s nice to stay in Wisdom in the comfort of my camper and know that literally 20 minutes down the road is a quality hot spring. Its not picturesque or anything. Jackson Hot Springs is located inside an old hotel (worth visiting on its own), and is basically a 75 year old swimming pool, but its clean and affordable ($10.) It’s even large enough to swim in, if you like swimming in 102F water!

Bannack State Park – home to Bannack, Mt., once the capital of the Montana Territory and site of a major gold mine, home to 3000 residents at one time is now a ghost town with the last resident leaving in 1984. The state, with preservation in mind began buying up the town in the 1950’s (the mine closed in the early 1940’s), and what you’ll see is the town as it was when everyone left! Over 50 buildings remain and you can enter and explore most of them. I spent over two hours there and will make a separate post on this site as I found it to be fascinating! $8. per car admission fee.

Dillon, Anaconda, Butte – three towns within easy reach of Wisdom. Dillon is about 80 miles and is home to over 3000. Anaconda is about 55 miles and is home to 9500 (along with Georgetown Lake and Discovery Ski Area.) Butte has about 35000 residents and is about 60 miles from Wisdom.

Lost Trail Pass, Lost Trail Ski Area, Chief Joseph cross country ski/hiking trails – all just about 30 miles “up” the road, which at the least will get you above the inversion layer, so it may actually be warmer at these higher elevations.

Or… just enjoy the quiet and peaceful environment of Wisdom

One thing I noticed while walking about and through town – its quiet and peaceful! It was kinda nice when not in an establishment knowing that my phone (always with me) was an expensive paperweight! Remember, it won’t work without a cell tower or if you’re nearby a wi-fi router.

**RV Travel is DOWN. Some RV parks are running specials to attract visitors. AND… RV prices (used and new) are declining. I offer a Concierge RV Buying and Selling Service. Basically, I’ve “got you covered” and serve as a “guide by your side” (and quite a bit more.) Check out my service HERE before you purchase a camper that may not meet your needs and expectations.**

Wisdom – Concluding Thoughts

To me, initially Wisdom was a “way-station” to spend a few days before heading to my ultimate destination for Winter 2023 (details coming soon!) Instead, it got under my skin and I will return to spend more time there in the future. Fortunately, I’m close enough to head there for pizza soon – and back to the Jackson Hot Springs!

That’s it for now – look for more soon. If you like my content, please give my videos a thumbs up, comment under them on youtube and / or comment below. Also, please consider joining my newsletter if you just found me.

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