The Camping Test

As we approach Yellowstone, we needed to test one vital thing: how well Fin (and therefor we) sleeps in the Westy.  We tried camping with him when he was about 6 months old and he did not sleep well.  He woke up in the middle of the night several times and after that we cut our trip short and went home.  As we’re looking to camp for 9 days in Yellowstone, we did not want a repeat.

Westy camping

So the weekend between Missoula and Bozeman acted as our test run for camping.  We had a couple things we needed to figure out.

  • Where do we all sleep?
  • Since Fin goes to bed at 8:30, can we get in the van quietly enough?
  • Can we fit all our stuff and us comfortably?
  • Will the van stay dark enough in the morning?
  • Will the van stay warm through the night?

So with all this in mind, we headed to Cromwell Dixon campground.

Which was closed.

So we headed to Moose Creek campground.

Which had no shade.

So we drove into Helena, bought groceries, and picked a random campsite from the map.  This brought us to Devil’s Elbow, a nice little campground Northeast of Helena.  Not being in the mountains, there wasn’t much in the way of trees, but we made do.  Being next to a lake, this campground exists for boaters and RVs.  It’s not my first choice for campground, but we had a great and relaxing time.  There are some good walking trails, and vistas, plus it’s right next to the Helena National Forest if a hike is needed.

With our food and campsite settled, we tucked Fin in and prayed.  He cried for a couple of minutes but after that slept trough the night!  He’s a much deeper sleeper these days, so we were able to sneak into the van without waking him up.  And the second night?  He went to sleep without crying at all.

We decided to set his bed up behind the back seat while we took the bed in the pop-up and this arrangement worked out perfectly.  It gave us space to move on the floor and we didn’t have to worry about Fin rolling off of anything in his sleep.

For heat, I picked up a space heater that I thought we could line directly into our propane tank, but it turns out that I bought the wrong heater so we have to run it off of 1 lb. propane bottles.  It makes it more expensive, but such is life.  I’m hoping that by fall we have a proper space heater installed in the van and we can get rid of the heater we use now.


With the top up, a large area of the van loses heat rapidly.  To counteract this I took some roll-up bubble foil insulation and cut it to fit.  The first night we went without this and put it up on the second night.  The difference was stark and I’m really glad that wee bought the foil, because a 1 lb. bottle of propane does not last the night with our space heater.


The Results

Fin sleeps wonderfully in the Westy!  We sleep wonderfully in the Westy!  Camping is a go!


With a light heart we spent the weekend watching boats launch, reading, walking, playing, and relaxing.

Devil's Elbow Campground Tree Devil's Elbow Campground Dock Devil's Elbow Campground Rabbit Devil's Elbow Campground Ballon Devil's Elbow Campground Westy Sunset

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