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15 Best Campgrounds in Montana

Written by Brad Lane
Updated Sep 13, 2021

The best campsites in Montana come with a view. Several of these established places to pitch a tent or park an RV are nestled into the many state parks, national forests, and national parks of the state. And all are within eyesight of iconic Montana landscapes, like glacial lakes, snowy mountains, and trout-filled rivers.

Perhaps the biggest bucket-list place to camp is Glacier National Park, with 13 campgrounds to choose from. The campgrounds showcase the many glistening features that make Glacier an international camping destination.

Montana campgrounds go well beyond the boundaries of Glacier National Park, especially in the western and more mountainous half of the state. From Bighorn Canyon to the many campgrounds surrounding Flathead Lake, this part of the state is synonymous with camping and adventure. Other special landscapes to discover from Montana campgrounds include elaborate caverns, well-preserved ghost towns, and historic headwaters.

Dispersed camping is a part of many Montana adventures, and the national forests across the state allow free, primitive camping throughout their wooded acres. The National Forest Service also maintains numerous developed campgrounds that feature fresh water and pit toilets.

Unless a campground is first-come, first-served, look into reservations in advance for National Forest Service campgrounds. You can also book reservations online at state parks.

Find yourself a scenic spot to pitch a tent with our list of the best campgrounds in Montana.

Note: Some businesses may be temporarily closed due to recent global health and safety issues.

1. Apgar Campground, Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Glacier National Park, in Northwest Montana, is also known as the Crown of the Continent. It displays several dazzling glaciated landscapes, and the best campgrounds in Glacier National Park offer a preview of it all.

Apgar, on the west side of the park, is the largest campground in Glacier. It's also one of the most popular, with all 194 sites filling regularly between June and August. The campground accommodates tents and RVs, and nearly all sites are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. Five group sites at Apgar Campground can be reserved ahead of time.

Lake McDonald
Lake McDonald | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Apgar Campground is located near Lake McDonald and connected to the west end of the 50-mile Going-to-the-Sun Road that spans the park. On the opposite end of Going-to-the-Sun Road, the St. Mary Campground is the largest campground on the east side of the park with nearly 150 sites available.

Official site: https://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/camping.htm

Read More: Best Hiking Trails in Glacier National Park

2. Big Arm/Flathead Lake State Park

Flathead Lake in the evening
Flathead Lake in the evening

Flathead Lake is one of the largest freshwater lakes in the country, encompassing over 150 miles of shoreline. Several activities bring campers to this rugged region of northwest Montana, including boating, fishing, and the seasonal cherries that flourish in the lake-effect climate. And for those looking to camp, Flathead Lake State Park has several options.

Flathead Lake State Park includes six units surrounding the lake. On the west side of the lake, the Big Arm State Park unit features one of the largest and most popular campgrounds on the water. The upright Mission and Swan Mountains provide a gorgeous view across the water from the campground. Nearly all 40 campsites at the Big Arm Campground are reservable ahead of time, as well as the site's three lightly furnished yurts.

Alongside access to the surrounding Flathead Valley, Big Arm is also a popular jumping-off point for Wild Horse Island. Only accessible by boat, this 2,000-plus acre state park unit in the middle of the lake is still inhabited by wild horses. Wild Horse Island is day-use only with no camping available.

Other popular campground units of Flathead Lake State Park include Finley Point State Park and Wayfarers Campgrounds.

Address: 28031 Big Arm State Park Road, Big Arm, Montana

Official site: http://stateparks.mt.gov/big-arm/

3. Lewis and Clark Caverns Campground

Inside the Lewis and Clark Caverns
Inside the Lewis and Clark Caverns

An hour west of Bozeman and conveniently located off Interstate 90, Lewis and Clark Caverns is a common stop on a Montana road trip. It's one of the largest known limestone caverns in the Northwest, and it's also Montana's first state park. The only way to see the stalactites and speleothems of Lewis and Clark Caverns is through a guided tour offered by the park (May through September).

After spending time underground, the campground at the state park includes over 40 sites spread throughout a flat, grassy valley. Sites accommodate tents and RV camping, and three spacious cabins are also available to rent. All overnight guests at the campground have access to flushing toilets and hot showers.

While the campground operates year-round with discounted rates during the winter, cave tours and facilities like drinking water are only available during the warmer months. Reservations are available and recommended at this popular campground during the summer peak season.

Address: 25 Lewis & Clark Caverns Road, Whitehall, Montana

Official site: http://stateparks.mt.gov/lewis-and-clark-caverns/

4. Holland Lake Campground, Flathead National Forest

Holland Lake Campground
Holland Lake Campground | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

In the scenic Swan Valley of northwestern Montana, Holland Lake Campground provides spacious campsites with easy access to its namesake feature. With 40 campsites for tents and RVs spread throughout two different loops, the campground features flushing restrooms and potable water. No electricity or water hookups are available.

Alongside the 400-acre lake, which is popular for boating and fishing, several hiking trails stem from the campground, including the Holland Falls National Recreation Trail. The majority of sites are available for reservation up to six months in advance. Many of the sites fill completely throughout the summer season.

Holland Lake
Holland Lake | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Numerous other Forest Service campgrounds line Highway 83 south of Holland Lake. Just over 10 miles from Holland Lake, Lake Alva Campground features 39 sites on a first-come, first-served basis. Seeley Lake is also a popular place to stay in the Swan Valley with an expansive day-use area and a campground with 29 sites available. Both Placid Lake and Salmon Lake State Parks are found on the southern end of the Swan Valley and offer over 60 campsites total.

Location: Condon, Montana

Official site: https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/flathead/recarea/?recid=66996

5. Many Glacier Campground, Glacier National Park

Grinnell Glacier in the Many Glacier region of the park
Grinnell Glacier in the Many Glacier region of the park | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Many Glacier is a coveted campground on the east side of Glacier National Park. It's accessible just north of the St. Mary Entrance, and has over 100 sought-after sites. What makes campsites so hard to get is the stunning scenery easily accessible from all sides.

The nearby Swiftcurrent Lake is the subject of many Glacier postcards. And several of the trails spanning from the campground are nothing short of incredible, including the Grinnell Glacier Trail, which leads to views of its namesake feature. It's these stunning environments that make the campground book out months in advance.

Before 2020, a select number of sites were available first-come, first-served. Arriving early in the morning was the only way to secure one of these sites throughout the peak summer season. For the foreseeable future, campgrounds are only available by reservations that open six months in advance. Reservations often sell out within a few hours.

6. Spire Rock Campground, Custer Gallatin National Forest

Spire Rock Campground
Spire Rock Campground | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Spire Rock is one of the best campgrounds near Bozeman, located a scenic 30-mile drive south on Highway 191 toward Big Sky. This popular campground ambles next to Storm Castle Creek, with all 19 sites offering privacy in a lush forest setting. Small recreation vehicles find sites at Spire Rock Campground, but larger RVs have a tough time navigating the dirt access road.

Every site has standard amenities like a picnic table and fire ring. Potable water and vault toilets are also available. The campground operates seasonally between mid-May and mid-September, and reservations are available during this time.

The campground's most significant appeal is its adventurous surroundings. Less than a mile from the campground is the trailhead for Storm Castle Peak, one of the best hiking trails near Bozeman. And like Lava Lake or Beehive Basin, other iconic hiking trails line Highway 191, spanning both directions from the campground.

7. Mammoth Campground, Yellowstone National Park

Mammoth Campground, Yellowstone National Park
Mammoth Campground, Yellowstone National Park | Mike Goad / photo modified

The Mammoth Campground is the northernmost designated campground in Yellowstone National Park. The campground itself is just across state lines in Wyoming, but the typical approach is from nearby Gardiner, Montana. If traveling through Montana, the route to Gardiner navigates the aptly named Paradise Valley and is worth the drive alone.

Mammoth Campground has 85 sites available year-round. It's the only campground in the park open throughout the winter. The sites accommodate tent camping and small RVs and are available exclusively by reservation between May and mid-October. Overnight guests have access to potable water and vault toilets. No electrical hookups are available.

The campground sits at an elevation of 6,200 feet, adding a crisp air to the shoulder seasons.

Travertine Terraces at Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park
Travertine Terraces at Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

The campground's main appeal is its proximity to the Mammoth Hot Springs area of the park. Travertine terraces, boardwalk hiking trails, and a distinct steamy environment define this rugged region. Mammoth Hot Springs is also one of the oldest areas of Yellowstone, commemorated by the still-standing historic Fort Yellowstone.

8. Crystal Lake Campground, Lewis and Clark National Forest

Crystal Lake
Crystal Lake

Within the Big Snowy Mountain range of central Montana, 30 miles south of Lewistown, the Crystal Lake Campground is a bit of a secret gem in the state. Near the banks of its namesake body of water, all 28 first-come, first-served campsites at this Forest Service campground lend incredible access to the quiet mountain environment, including numerous trails to explore.

A few recommended routes from the campground include the Grand View Trail and the Ice Caves Trail. Potable water and pit toilets are available. Other standard amenities include fire rings and picnic tables.

Address: 21970 Crystal Lake Road, Moore, Montana

Official site: https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/hlcnf/recarea/?recid=61526

9. Bannack State Park

Hotel Meade at Bannack State Park
Hotel Meade at Bannack State Park

Bannack State Park, approximately 90 miles south of Butte, preserves the historic ghost town that sprung from Montana's first major gold discovery in 1862. Over 50 structures line the vacant Main Street within the state park, where visitors can get a true sense of Montana's wild past.

Guided activities like tours and gold panning are available from the visitor center throughout the summer. And the annual Bannack Days takes place in late July with live music, historical re-enactments, and costumed characters bringing the streets to life.

Camping at Bannack State Park is spread between two different campgrounds with 24 total sites available. Campers at either the Vigilante Campground or Road Agent Campground have access to running water and vault toilets, and both campgrounds are located near Main Street and many historic structures.

The campground is located at an elevation of 5,837 feet and is open throughout the year, with limited facilities available in the winter. Reservations are available up to six months in advance and are recommended during the summer season.

Address: 4200 Bannack Road, Dillon, Montana

Official site: http://stateparks.mt.gov/bannack/

10. Bad Medicine Campground, Kootenai National Forest

Ross Creek Cedar Scenic Area, near Bad Medicine Campground
Ross Creek Cedar Scenic Area, near Bad Medicine Campground

In northwest Montana near the city of Libby, this first-come, first-served campground is on the banks of Bull Lake with 18 sites available. The spacious, wooded campsites cater to tents and smaller RVs, with no hook-ups available.

It's the adjacent Ross Creek Cedars Scenic Area that draws people to visit and spend the night. This big landscape contains groves of ancient red cedars, some over 1,000 years old. And Bad Medicine is the closest campground to these biggest trees in Montana.

The campground also sits at the south end of Bull Lake. This proximity, alongside a developed boat ramp and dock, also makes water activities popular from the campground. Arrive early during the summer when attempting to secure a site.

Address: 2395 Bull Lake Road, Troy, Montana

Official site: https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/kootenai/recarea/?recid=49913

11. Makoshika State Park

Makoshika State Park
Makoshika State Park

Makoshika State Park is Montana's largest state park and is located on the far eastern part of the state near the North Dakota border. Unlike the mountainous natural areas in Western Montana, Makoshika encompasses a badlands landscape with stark formations and dinosaur fossil remains.

Camping at Makoshika State Park includes 24 different sites ranging from standard to rustic, and all are spread out for maximum privacy. Cabins and tepees are also available. Alongside easy access to hiking trails and badland formations, each campsite is located near pit toilets.

The visitor center at the state park is well worth a visit. It shares valuable information about the area's rich grounds for paleontology. Among other prehistoric remains, fossils unearthed in Makoshika include Triceratops and Tyrannosaurus rex skeletons.

Address: 1301 Snyder Street, Glendive, Montana

Official site: http://stateparks.mt.gov/makoshika/

12. Missouri Headwaters State Park

The Missouri River at Missouri Headwaters State Park
The Missouri River at Missouri Headwaters State Park

Missouri Headwaters State Park is formed at the confluence of the Jefferson, Madison, and Gallatin Rivers. And this National Historic Landmark and state park offers the chance to camp where the Corp of Discoveries spent the night on their travels in 1805. The park is easily accessible from Interstate 90 and the city of Three Forks in Southwest Montana, 30 minutes west of Bozeman.

Missouri Headwaters State Park features 17 reservable campsites near hiking trails and numerous water activities, including fishing and swimming. Campers also have access to potable water and pit toilets. The sites accommodate both tents and RVs, with no electrical hookups available.

Address: 1585 Trident Road, Three Forks, Montana

Official site: http://stateparks.mt.gov/missouri-headwaters/

13. Afterbay Campground, Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area

Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area
Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area

Encompassing over 120,000 acres straddling the Montana and Wyoming border, Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area makes a deep impression on anyone that visits. The thousand-foot cliffs of Bighorn Canyon are the main showcase of this stunning geological wonder, and campgrounds surrounding the canyon often come with a great view.

On the northern end of the recreation area, near the banks of Afterbay Lake, the Afterbay Campground features 28 sites for tents and 12 sites for RVs. With easy access to water activities, including boating and fishing, all overnight guests at Afterbay Campground are also near potable water and vault toilets.

Another popular campground within the Montana portion of Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area is the Trail Creek Campground. Numerous campgrounds line the Wyoming portion of Bighorn Canyon, including Horseshoe Bend Campground, which is the largest with 48 sites available.

Location: Fort Smith, Montana

Official site: https://www.nps.gov/bica/planyourvisit/campgrounds.htm

14. Hell Creek State Park

Twilight on Lake Fort Peck, Hell Creek State Park
Twilight on Lake Fort Peck, Hell Creek State Park

Part of the larger Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge surrounding the Missouri Breaks in central Montana, this lakeside campground and state park is on the Hell Creek Arm of Lake Fort Peck. With 70 tent and RV campsites available, spread throughout five different campgrounds, Hell Creek State Park offers access to running water and vault toilets.

A public boat ramp is adjacent to the campground, and primitive boat-in camping can also be found throughout the Missouri Breaks.

Address: 2456 Hell Creek Road, Jordan, Montana

Official site: http://stateparks.mt.gov/hell-creek/

15. Woodbine Campground, Custer Gallatin National Forest

Sioux Charley Lake near the Woodbine Campground
Sioux Charley Lake near the Woodbine Campground

Woodbine Campground is in Southwest Montana, adjacent to the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness. All 44 sites at this popular campground tend to fill up during the summer season. Reservations are available and all campers have access to potable water and vault toilets.

The Stillwater River and its tributaries run near the campground and are well utilized for trout fishing and hiking next to the banks. Woodbine Falls is a popular hiking destination from the campground, and the scenic Sioux Charley Lake is accessible via a three-mile hiking trail.

Location: Nye, Montana

Official site: https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/custergallatin/recarea/?recid=60859

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imageCamping and Hiking in Glacier National Park: Visiting Logan Pass and driving the Going-to-the-Sun Road are among the many top things to do in Glacier National Park. The best way to experience Glacier National Park, however, is to hop on the extensive network of hiking trails that are found in every region of the park; and our guide to the Best Hiking Trails in Glacier is a great launching pad for adventure. For starry skies and multi-day adventures, the best campgrounds in Glacier offer plenty of places to spend the night.

imageMore to Explore in Montana: Alongside the top campgrounds, the best hiking trails in Montana offer some of the best ways to get familiar with the state. For a fun basecamp and university city to explore, the city of Missoula in western Montana is filled with community, culture, and adventure in every direction. Similarly, the collegiate city of Bozeman is a gateway into the Custer-Gallatin National Forest and the adjacent Yellowstone National Park.

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