Camping in Montana

      Your detailed roadmap to camping experiences in Montana.

      Your Go-To Montana Camping Guide

      Craving a true escape under the big sky? Then Montana’s calling your name. This “Big Sky Country” lives up to its nickname, offering vast wilderness with mountains, forests, and crystal-clear lakes.

      From pitching a tent in a national park to seeking a more rustic experience in a dispersed camping area, Montana caters to all types of campers. Hike through breathtaking landscapes, cast a line in a pristine lake, or simply sit back and stargaze – Montana’s adventure awaits.

      Best Places To Camp In Montana

      Glacier National Park

      Nestled in the northwest corner of Montana, Glacier National Park is a crown jewel of the state, boasting awe-inspiring mountain scenery, pristine alpine lakes, and diverse wildlife. Camping within the park offers an immersive experience, allowing visitors to wake up to breathtaking vistas and embark on various hiking trails directly from their campsites. Popular campgrounds include Many Glacier Campground, offering stunning lake views, and St. Mary Campground, situated near the park’s eastern entrance.

      Glacier National Park Montana

      Flathead Lake

      Flathead Lake, the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi, is a popular destination for water enthusiasts and campers alike. Surrounded by the Flathead National Forest, the area offers campsites nestled amidst towering pines, along the lake’s picturesque shoreline, or near charming towns like Bigfork and Polson. Visitors can enjoy various water activities like kayaking, paddleboarding, and fishing, while also exploring the surrounding forests on hiking and biking trails.

      Flathead Lake Montana

      Kootenai National Forest

      Spanning across northwest Montana, the Kootenai National Forest offers a diverse landscape of towering peaks, pristine lakes, and sprawling valleys. It boasts numerous campgrounds catering to different preferences, with options ranging from developed sites with amenities to primitive backcountry camping for experienced adventurers. Popular spots include the Libby Ranger Station Campground, situated along the Kootenai River, and the scenic Smith River Campground, ideal for whitewater rafting enthusiasts.

      Kootenai National Forest Montana

      Big Sky

      Located southwest of Yellowstone National Park, Big Sky is a renowned ski resort town that also offers excellent camping opportunities during the summer months. Campers can choose from campsites within the Big Sky Resort, providing convenient access to various amenities, or explore the surrounding Gallatin National Forest for a more secluded experience. The area boasts stunning mountain scenery, with opportunities for hiking, biking, fishing, and whitewater rafting.

      Big Sky Montana

      Missouri River Country

      The Missouri River, winding its way through central Montana, creates a picturesque landscape and a unique camping experience. Campgrounds along the river offer stunning views and direct access to various water activities. Lewis and Clark State Park, with its historic significance and scenic setting, is a popular choice. Additionally, the Last Chance Gulch Town Campground, situated near Helena, offers a unique opportunity to camp within walking distance of the city’s vibrant downtown area.

      Missouri River Country Montana

      Things To Do In Montana

      Glacier National Park

      Nestled in the Rocky Mountains, Glacier National Park boasts stunning alpine scenery, pristine lakes, and diverse wildlife. Nicknamed "The Crown of the Continent," the park features over 700 miles of hiking trails, offering experiences for all levels, from leisurely walks to challenging climbs. Popular highlights include the iconic Going-to-the-Sun Road, a scenic drive offering breathtaking vistas, and Logan Pass, showcasing panoramic views of the Continental Divide. The park is also home to numerous glacial lakes, perfect for kayaking, boating, or simply soaking in the tranquility.

      Yellowstone National Park

      One of the world's first national parks, Yellowstone National Park is a geothermal wonderland known for its geysers, hot springs, mudpots, and diverse wildlife. Visitors can marvel at the iconic Old Faithful geyser, which erupts every 44 to 125 minutes, and explore the vibrant Grand Prismatic Spring, the largest hot spring in the United States. The park also boasts stunning scenery, with canyons, waterfalls, and various ecosystems. Keep an eye out for bison, elk, bears, and other wildlife roaming freely throughout the park.

      Flathead Lake

      Located northwest of Glacier National Park, Flathead Lake is the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi River, offering a plethora of water-based activities. From boating, fishing, and swimming to kayaking, paddleboarding, and sailing, the lake provides adventure for all levels. The surrounding area is also perfect for hiking, camping, and enjoying the scenic beauty of the region. Charming towns like Bigfork and Polson dot the lakeshore, offering unique shops, restaurants, and cultural experiences.

      Big Sky Resort

      Situated in the heart of the Lone Mountain Range, Big Sky Resort is a paradise for winter sports enthusiasts. Renowned for its vast terrain, powder snow, and breathtaking views, the resort boasts over 3,500 acres of skiable terrain, catering to all skill levels. During the summer months, the area transforms into a haven for outdoor activities, offering hiking, biking, fishing, and golfing opportunities. Big Sky Resort provides a year-round escape for adventure seekers, with stunning scenery and diverse recreational options.

      Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument

      Located in southeastern Montana, the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument commemorates the Battle of Little Bighorn, a pivotal event in American history. Visitors can explore the battlefield, learn about the Lakota and Dakota people and the U.S. 7th Cavalry, and pay their respects to those who lost their lives. The monument offers guided tours, exhibits, and educational programs to help visitors understand the significance of this historical site.

      Nevada Ghost Town

      Step back in time at Nevada Ghost Town, located near Philipsburg. This historic mining town, established in the late 1800s, offers a glimpse into Montana's gold rush era. Visitors can explore abandoned buildings, learn about the town's history through interactive exhibits, pan for gold, and even ride a historic steam train.

      Giant Springs State Park

      Located near Great Falls, Giant Springs State Park is home to the largest freshwater spring in the United States, discharging an impressive 156 million gallons of water daily. The park offers scenic walking trails, a fish hatchery, and educational exhibits about the unique ecosystem and the importance of the spring. Visitors can also enjoy bird watching, picnicking, and exploring the nearby Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail.

      Medicine Rocks State Park

      The park features over 500 petroglyphs (rock carvings) and pictographs (rock paintings) created by Native American tribes thousands of years ago. Visitors can explore the various rock formations, learn about the history and symbolism of the artwork, and appreciate the cultural significance of this sacred site.

      Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge

      In the heart of northwestern Montana, the Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge provides a sanctuary for diverse wildlife, including grizzly bears, bald eagles, bighorn sheep, and over 250 species of birds. The refuge also offers diverse activities, from wildlife viewing, hiking, and fishing to canoeing and kayaking on the Kootenai River.

      Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness Area

      Encompassing over 1 million acres in southwestern Montana, the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness Area is a haven for backpackers and experienced hikers. This rugged landscape features towering peaks, alpine lakes, and vibrant wildflower meadows. Hikers can choose from various trails offering challenging climbs and breathtaking views, with opportunities for wildlife sightings like bears, elk, and mountain goats.

      Clark Fork River

      The Clark Fork River, winding its way through western Montana, offers a scenic backdrop for various outdoor activities. Take a scenic float trip on the Clark Fork, enjoying the diverse wildlife and stunning mountain scenery. Kayak or paddleboard through the calm stretches, or go whitewater rafting on the more challenging sections for an adrenaline rush.

      Carter Caves State Park

      Located near Wise River, Carter Caves State Park is a speleologist's paradise. Explore the fascinating network of underground limestone caves, adorned with stalactites, stalagmites, and other speleothems. The park offers guided tours for visitors of all ages, allowing them to delve into the unique world beneath the surface.

      Featured Montana Parks

      Inspiration From Our Nearby States

      Book an RV in Montana

      Montana's majestic mountains, crystal-clear lakes, and sprawling wildflower meadows await you! Experience the Big Sky Country in style and comfort by booking your RV today. Start planning your RV adventure today and get ready to create unforgettable memories.

      Frequently Asked Questions

      Montana's summer offers the warmest weather (June-August), perfect for hiking and water activities. However, spring (May-June) and fall (September-October) offer beautiful landscapes with fewer crowds and pleasant temperatures.

      While free dispersed camping is available on public lands in Montana, it often requires venturing further from amenities and popular areas. Be sure to research regulations and obtain permits where necessary.

      Reservations are highly recommended, especially during peak season and in popular campgrounds. You can reserve sites through Montana State Parks, the National Park Service (for national parks in Montana), or private campgrounds.

      Fire restrictions can vary depending on location and time of year. Always check the current fire restrictions before starting a campfire. Be responsible and extinguish fires completely.

      Gear needs vary based on the season and intended activities. Generally, essentials include a tent, sleeping bag and pad, cooking equipment, food and water, a first-aid kit, appropriate clothing for the weather, and insect repellent.

      Respect Leave No Trace principles to minimize your impact on the environment. Be aware of specific camping regulations like leash laws, firewood restrictions, and noise limitations.

      Montana offers endless opportunities for exploration. Enjoy hiking, fishing, kayaking, wildlife watching, stargazing, or simply relaxing and enjoying the natural beauty.

      Several companies offer guided camping trips in Montana, catering to various experience levels and interests. These trips can be a great option for a more structured experience or exploring remote areas safely.

      The cost of camping in Montana varies greatly depending on the location, type of campground, and amenities offered. Here's a general breakdown:

      • Free: Dispersed camping in BLM and National Forest lands (potentially requiring permits).
      • Budget-friendly: State Parks, with camping fees ranging from $10-20 per night.
      • Mid-range: Private campgrounds, typically priced between $20-50 per night.
      • High-end: Luxury campgrounds with amenities like swimming pools and on-site activities, starting at $50+ per night.

      Yes, wild camping, also known as dispersed camping, is legal in designated areas on public lands in Montana. However, there are specific regulations and restrictions to be aware of:

      • Permits: Some areas require permits for dispersed camping, which can be obtained online or at local ranger stations.
      • Location: You may not be able to camp within a certain distance of roads, trails, or water sources.
      • Length of stay: There are often limitations on how long you can camp in one location.
      • Leave No Trace: It's crucial to follow Leave No Trace principles to minimize your environmental impact and respect the land.

      Yes. Tents are a popular option for camping in Montana, and all campgrounds allow tent camping unless specifically restricted. Choose a tent that suits your needs and weather conditions, ensuring it provides adequate shelter and protection.

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