Dozens of tenting trailers deserted close to Crimson Lodge following spring snowstorm


RED LODGE — Memorial Day weekend usually marks the start of Montana’s busy summer camping season, but campgrounds near Red Lodge looked more like a winter wonderland over the holidays.

“We woke up and wanted to leave immediately. We were wondering what on earth just happened? It was crazy,” explained Elise Habel, a Billings woman who was camping near the MK campground.

Habel was one of dozens of campers who quickly found their trailer stuck.

“It was at least two feet where we were. It was super unexpected, really wet and thick. It was definitely a crazy little adventure,” she said. “I don’t think a single person got theirs out.”

One caravan after another was swallowed up by the snow. Everyone at the campsite piled into their vehicles, leaving their trailers behind.

“At least 40 just remained because we couldn’t get them out,” said Habel.

Habel and others piled into pickup trucks and braved the snow-covered dirt roads back to Red Lodge.

Meanwhile, there were more travel issues south on Wyoming’s Chief Joseph Highway.

The storm dumped three feet of snow on Highway 296, stranding dozens of drivers who spun and got stuck near Dead Indian Pass. Many also abandoned their RVs and tried to get it out of the mountains.

“My little car kept catching the slush and going over. They said the roads were closed and it was because of a downed power line,” said Carla Straig, a local shack owner.

From southern Montana to northern Wyoming, dozens of camping trips took an unexpected turn. With these camper trailers still stuck in the mountains, the adventure isn’t over yet.

It’s an adventure that will likely be talked about around the campfire for years to come.

“This is definitely a story that we will remember for a long time,” said Habel.