Rudyard is just one of many tiny communities along Montana’s “Hi-Line” region, a row of towns paralleling the Canadian Border and built along the Great Northern Railway, which connects the cities of Minneapolis and Spokane. Like many railroad towns, most of its residents moved away as trains came to play a smaller role in transportation and today, just a handful of them remain.
What makes booking an RV rental in Rudyard such a unique experience, though, is just how few tourists actually visit the Hi-Line. While there aren’t many facilities for visitors like campgrounds and restaurants, the landscape and culture have been untouched by tourism, providing a much clearer look at the area’s history.
The Great Outdoors
Endless fields of wheat radiate from Rudyard, which might not seem like the best place for outdoor recreation. But venture just a short distance from town with the Rudyard campervan rental, and you’ll find some of the state’s best outdoor spaces. Missouri Breaks National Monument is only a couple of hours' drive to the south near Lewistown and encompasses a series of sheer cliffs overlooking the Missouri River. As little to no development has been allowed along the river, it looks much the same as it did when explorers Lewis and Clark came through in the early 1800s. Renting a kayak and paddling a section of the monument is a favorite pastime of many visitors and residents.
To the west of Rudyard is Glacier National Park; referred to as the “Crown of the Continent,” it’s considered one of the premier outdoor spaces in Montana and one of the most visited national parks in the country. If you’re only visiting for the day, driving the Going to the Sun Road is a must-do activity. Carved into the massive peaks between Lake McDonald and St. Mary Lake, it’s a marvel of civil engineering and has some of the most spectacular views in America. If you have more time, be sure to hike one of the dozens of spectacular trails in the park; there are quite a few of them branching off from the Logan Pass Visitor Center midway through the Going to the Sun Highway.
There’s also Lake Francis, near the town of Valier, which is one of the best spots in the region to do some fishing (with proper state license) or bird watching. The lake has some fantastic views of the Rocky Mountain Front, and there’s even a small lighthouse perched on its northern shore.
There are no RV parks in the town itself, so you’ll need to travel to Havre or Shelby to find a place to stay with your motorhome rental from Rudyard. Pondera RV Park, which is a little south of Shelby in the town of Conrad, is one of the options along the Hi-Line. All of their sites have full hookups along with shower and laundry facilities for guests to use. It’s also only a short distance from Glacier Park, so consider staying here if you’d like camp near but not in the park when you book an RV in Rudyard.
Another place to stay when you get a travel trailer rental in Rudyard is the Beaver Creek Park Campground just outside of Havre. It’s owned by the city and is a little more rustic than some of the dedicated RV parks; there are no hookups and sites come with access to a vault toilet and fire ring. However, the campground does have a dump station, and there are some excellent trails to explore around Beaver Creek.
There’s also the Havre RV Park right in the middle of town, which offers full hookups and access to the pool and spa at the nearby hotel. If you were thinking about spending a day or two in Havre, this could be an excellent choice for when you rent an RV. If nothing else, you can camp in the Walmart parking lot in Havre. You’ll need to get manager permission first, but it could be a good place to stay for a night or two.
Exploring the City
Given that Rudyard is only about a half-mile wide, there’s not too much to explore in the town itself. The Depot Museum is one of the town’s only attractions and is definitely worth a visit. Housed inside the old railway depot, it's full of artifacts (sewing machines, vintage farm equipment, and dozens of old photos) that were donated by the residents of Rudyard, many of whom had relatives that homesteaded in the area before the turn of the century. The museum also includes a “Dinosaur Hall” that includes real bones found by property owners around Rudyard. It’s not as large as some of the other museums along Montana’s “Dinosaur Trail” but worth seeing when you get a camper rental in Rudyard.
Aside from Depot, there’s not too much to explore within Rudyard. The closest restaurants can be found a short distance down Highway 2 in both directions. For any sort of variety though, you’ll need to head over to Havre.
Speaking of trips to Havre, one of the most interesting sights along the Hi-Line can be found underneath its streets. Following a particularly devastating fire at the turn of the century, many of Havre’s business owners moved their wares below ground. Even before the fire, many illegal transactions were taking place beneath the streets (there were a few opium dens at the time), and Prohibition a few decades later only increased such activity. Visitors can tour recreations of these underground businesses and get a sense of what life was like in this wild railroad town in the late 1800s.