Camping in Montana: 30 of the Best Campgrounds You Need to Visit

Tent Camping in Montana Near Mountains

Montana is undoubtedly one of the best states for outdoor recreation in the entire country.

Locals and visitors alike enjoy hiking and backpacking, wildlife viewing, hunting and fishing, water recreation, winter activities like snowshoeing, and, of course, camping to name just a few popular outdoor activities.  

Camping in Big Sky Country is my favorite way to explore the state whether you prefer to stay at tent campgrounds, RV parks with full hookups, or free dispersed campgrounds in the middle of nowhere.

You’ll find Montana campgrounds near towns and cities, miles upon miles down dirt roads, near excellent fishing lakes and rivers, and in national parks. No matter which corner of the state you wish to explore, you’ll have a variety of fantastic campgrounds to choose from.

Here’s how to find the best camping in Montana.

Index

  1. Regions
  2. Tent Camping
  3. RV Camping
  4. Free Camping
  5. Additional Tips

Montana Camping Regions

Map of Montana

When it comes to camping, Montana can be broken down into six main regions.

These are Glacier Country, Central Montana, Missouri River Country, Southwest Montana, Yellowstone Country, and Southeast Montana.

  • Glacier CountryLocated in the northwest corner of the state, Glacier Country is home to Glacier National Park. It’s the perfect Montana camping destination for those wishing to explore mountains, wildflower meadows, and alpine lakes.
  • Central MontanaSpanning the north central expanse of Montana, Central Montana is notable for its sweeping mountains, seemingly endless prairies, and a beautiful chunk of the Missouri River.
  • Missouri River CountyTucked into the northeast corner of the state, Missouri River County is a slice of paradise on the Great Plains. It’s open and vast with excellent fishing and incredibly dark night skies.
  • Southwest MontanaAs the name implies, Southwest Montana is in the southwest corner of the state. It’s a mountainous region notable for its mining and ranching heritage. When you think of Montana, this area is likely what you imagine in your head.
  • Southeast MontanaOne of the least visited sections of the state, Southeast Montana is notable for its friendly locals, Indian Nations, Old West history, and unique terrain.

To help you plan your Montana camping trip, we list which region each of our favorite Montana campgrounds is located in below.


Best Tent Camping in Montana

Tent Camping Under the Stars in Montana

Unbeatable tent camping in Montana is easy to find. Dozens of campgrounds across the state welcome tent campers with open arms. In the market for a new tent? Check out our roundup of the best camping tents before your Montana tent camping trip!

Here are 10 of the best tent campgrounds in Montana:

1.     Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area

Region: Southeast Montana

Sprawling and beautiful Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, most notable for its stunning 1,000-foot-tall canyon cliffs, is home to three developed campgrounds plus ample backcountry and dispersed camping. Horseshoe Bend Campground, Afterbay Campground, and Barry’s Landing & Trail Creek Campground are all open year-round and accommodate both tents and RVs. Although all three campgrounds are great, Afterbay is my favorite thanks to its convenient location on the shores of Afterbay Lake making it ideal for fishing, swimming, boating, and more. 

Learn more about camping at Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area.

2.     Makoshika State Park

Region: Southeast Montana

The largest state park in Montana, Makoshika State Park covers an expansive badlands area made up of stark rock formations. 24 total campsites are available for both tent and RV campers, although the ample privacy between sites and rustic nature of the campground makes this state park best for tent camping in Montana. Makoshika is also home to a high volume of dinosaur fossils.

Learn more about camping at Makoshika State Park.

3.     Glacier National Park

Region: Glacier Country

Glacier National Park is truly one of the natural gems of Montana. It’s a must-see destination for many visitors and camping here is often considered a bucket-list activity. 13 developed front-country campsites and numerous backcountry campsites give campers plenty of options to choose from. Apgar Campground (194 campsites) on the west side of the park and St. Mary Campground (150 campsites) on the east side of the park are the largest and most popular campgrounds. I personally prefer smaller Cut Bank Campground for camping in Glacier National Park.

Learn more about camping in Glacier National Park.

4.     Big Larch Campground

Region: Glacier Country

Tent camping in Montana doesn’t get much better than a stay at Big Larch Campground on the shore of Seeley Lake in Lolo National Forest. Easy access to the lake makes this campground ideal for hot summer days where you’ll want to spend most of your time swimming, lounging on the beach, and boating. Town is just a short jaunt away and several nature trails are located in the area. Big Larch Campground has just under 50 campsites total.

Learn more about Big Larch Campground.

5.     Indian Trees Campground

Region: Glacier Country

Indian Trees Campground is easily accessible from Highway 93 near Sula but remains a quiet and peaceful place to stay thanks to a limited number of campsites (just 15 total) all spread far apart from each other. Set in the Bitterroot National Forest, this Montana campground is shaded by tall ponderosa pine trees and is surrounded by many wild and scenic rivers perfect for fishing.

Learn more about Indian Trees Campground.

6.     Pine Creek Campground

Region: Yellowstone Country

Located just outside of Livingston, Pine Creek Campground is your perfect homebase for exploring the Absaroka Mountains or as a stopover on the way south to Yellowstone National Park. The small quiet campground has just 27 campsites and is set at roughly 5,500 feet in elevation. Don’t forget to check out the 1.5-mile roundtrip trail to Pine Creek Falls or the 5-mile roundtrip hike to Pine Creek Lake if you have time for a hike.

Learn more about Pine Creek Campground.

7.     Tom Miner Campground

Region: Yellowstone Country

Just north of the north entrance to Yellowstone in Gardiner, Tom Miner Campground is one of my favorite places for tent camping in Montana, bar none. The 16 campsites are all first-come, first-served at $7 per night. It’s located high in the Gallatin Mountains in the Custer Gallatin National Forest. Expect beautiful scenery on the drive in and pop on down to the nearby petrified forest if you have time.

Learn more about Tom Miner Campground.

8.     Bad Medicine Campground

Region: Glacier Country

Bad Medicine Campground is located in the western reaches of Montana near its border with Idaho. This small pristine Montana Campground has 18 total campsites perfect for tent camping and small RVs. It’s set in a shady forest on the south end of Bull Lake, a popular fishing destination.

Learn more about Bad Medicine Campground.

9.     Holland Lake Campground

Region: Glacier Country

It’s hard to find developed camping in Montana nearly as beautiful as that at Holland Lake Campground in northwest Montana. Part of the Flathead National Forest, this campsite is set on the titular 400-acre lake. A multitude of hiking trails are close at hand. Roughly 40 campsites are available to both tent and RV campers.

Learn more about Holland Lake Campground.

10.  Lowland Campground

Region: Southwest Montana

Head to Lowland Campground for a quintessential Montana camping experience just 20 miles from Butte. This small campground has just 12 campsites that accommodate both tents and small RVs/trailers. Located in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, the location is fantastic for outdoor recreation like hiking, mountain biking, fishing, hunting, and so much more.

Learn more about Lowland Campground.


Best RV Camping in Montana

RV Camping in Montana

Want to explore Montana in an RV? Luckily, the state has countless RV parks and campgrounds with RV spaces. Whether you prefer boondocking or full hookups, there’s a Montana RV campground for you. Use our RV rental tool if you don’t have an RV of your own!

Here are 10 of the best RV campgrounds in Montana:

1.     Yellowstone Grizzly RV Park

Region: Yellowstone Country

For some of the best RV camping in Montana, look no further than Yellowstone Grizzly RV Park in West Yellowstone. Just a few blocks away from the national park’s west entrance, this is the perfect RV basecamp for exploring everything Yellowstone has to offer. It has over 200 sites with full hookups as well as additional amenities like cable TV, Wi-Fi, laundry facilities, and more.

Learn more about Yellowstone Grizzly RV Park.

2.     Jim & Mary’s RV Park

Region: Glacier Country

RV camping in Montana doesn’t get much better than Jim & Mary’s RV Park. Located in Missoula, you’ll be greeted with friendly hosts and clean campsites. This Montana RV park has around 70 sites with full RV hookups. Downtown Missoula is just 10 minutes away!

Learn more about Jim & Mary’s RV Park.

3.     Yellowstone’s Edge RV Park

Region: Yellowstone Country

Another top-notch Montana RV park near Yellowstone, Yellowstone’s Edge RV Park is just outside of Livingston near Paradise Valley. It boasts a cozy, comfortable atmosphere with hosts that will quickly become friends. The RV park has 85 sites with full hookups and a wide range of amenities. Not only is this a great homebase for exploring the national park, but it’s also just minutes from some of the best fishing in Montana.

Learn more about Yellowstone’s Edge RV Park.

4.     Outback Montana RV Park

Region: Glacier Country

Hoping to go RV camping in Glacier National Park this summer? Then Outback Montana RV Park is for you. Just outside of the park’s western boundaries near stunning Flathead Lake, this well-kept RV campground is popular for all the right reasons. It’s conveniently located near Glacier National Park. It provides access to Flathead Lake for fishing, swimming, boating, and more. It has a huge range of RV sites with full hookups as well as grassy tent sites and even cabin rentals.

Learn more about Outback Montana RV Park.

5.     Yellowstone Park / Mountainside KOA

Region: Yellowstone Country

There are a lot of KOA campgrounds in Montana but the Yellowstone Park / Mountainside KOA is one of the best. Like almost all KOAs, it’s notable for its impressive mix of RV sites with full hookups, grassy tent sites, and cabin rentals. But the real reason to stay here is its proximity to the national park and many of its major features. For instance, the west entrance is just 7.5 miles away while the famous Old Faithful geyser is just 37 miles away.

Learn more about Yellowstone Park / Mountainside KOA.

6.     Downstream Campground

Region: Missouri River Country

Not all RV campers want to stay in an RV park on their Montana camping trip. If you prefer something a little more rustic, Downstream Campground just below Fort Peck Dam on the Missouri River might just be for you. Not only does the spacious campground offer 85 campsites, 70 of which have electric hookups, but it also has an RV dump station, potable water, and clean restrooms with flush toilets and hot showers.

Learn more about Downstream Campground.

7.     Lewis and Park Caverns State Park

Region: Southwest Montana

Lewis and Park Caverns State Park is notable for two things. It was the first state park in Montana and remains its most popular. Of course, the beautiful and interesting limestone caverns are what makes it such a must-see Montana camping destination. Once you’re done exploring the caverns or hiking the park’s trails, retire to the 40-site campground and enjoy the spacious campsites in your RV. Full hookups, an RV dump station, and restrooms with hot showers and flush toilets are all available to make your stay more enjoyable.

Learn more about camping at Lewis and Park Caverns State Park.

8.     Lake Como Campground

Region: Glacier Country

Another great Montana campground in the Bitterroot National Forest, Lake Como Campground is ideal for RV campers that want a private Montana camping experience. It has just 10 total campsites (and pull-thru) that can accommodate the largest RVs and fifth-wheel trailers. The campground is set underneath a shady stand of pine and fir trees. It’s a short walk to the titular lake. Water and electric hookups are available at just $16 per night per campsite.

Learn more about Lake Como Campground.

9.     7th Ranch RV Park

Region: Southeast Montana

7th Ranch RV Park’s claim to fame is that it’s the closest RV park to Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument. But that’s not all to love about this southeast Montana RV Park. 7th Ranch is also notable for its large pull-thru sites with full hookups, fast Wi-Fi, clean restroom and shower facilities, and well-groomed grounds. It’s a popular RV camping destination for those attending the annual Crow Fair Celebration Pow Wow & Rodeo each August.

Learn more about 7th Ranch RV Park.

10.  Columbia Falls RV Park

Region: Glacier Country

Yet another fantastic RV park near Glacier National Park, Columbia Falls RV Park has 76 RV sites with full hookups that can accommodate any size of RV. In addition to its convenient location just minutes away from the national park’s entrance, this Montana RV campground is most notable for its stunning mountain views, nearby parks (including the city swimming pool), and friendly office staff.

Learn more about Columbia Falls RV Park.


Best Free Camping in Montana

Dispersed Tent Camping in Montana

I love camping in Montana because of the abundance of public lands, like national forests and BLM land, that offer free dispersed camping. Although primitive (plan to go to the bathroom in the woods since there’s likely no toilets), the remoteness and sheer beauty of free camping in Montana makes the slight inconvenience well worth it. 

Here are 10 of the best free campsites in Montana:

1.     Potosi Campground

Region: Southwest Montana

Potosi Campground is one of my favorite places for free camping in Montana. Located in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, this small campground is set near the Tobacco Root Mountains with South Willow Creek running through the middle. The 7-mile dirt access road from nearby Pony can be quite rough. Don’t forget to check out Upper Potosi Hot Springs during your stay. 

Learn more about Potosi Campground.

2.     Wisdom Veteran’s Memorial Park

Region: Southwest Montana

Looking for free camping in Montana close to town? The Wisdom Veteran’s Memorial Park is located within walking distance of the small town of Wisdom. It’s basically a large grass park that welcomes tent and RV campers alike. Well water and pit toilets are available. The surrounding scenery is beautiful and includes the Big Hole River, Big Hole Valley, and distant Beaverhead Mountains. Take the time to stop at the nearby Big Hole National Battlefield.

Learn more about camping at Wisdom Veteran’s Memorial Park.

3.     Far West Fishing Access Site

Region: Southeast Montana

Just outside the small town of Rosebud in southeast Montana is Far West Fishing Access Site. Set on the shoreline of the Yellowstone River, this area is a popular daytime destination for swimming and fishing in the summer. A handful of campsites are scattered throughout the area suitable for tents, vans, and small RVs/trailers.

Learn more about camping at Far West Fishing Access Site.

4.     Fresno Reservoir

Region: Central Montana

Fresno Reservoir is just to the west of Havre in north central Montana. There are a handful of free places to camp around the reservoir, including a large flat gravel area for RV boondocking. This primitive camping area is easy to access and home to excellent fishing and swimming.

Learn more about camping at Fresno Reservoir.

5.     Hungry Horse Reservoir

Region: Glacier Country

North of Flathead Lake on the Flathead River, Hungry Horse Reservoir is an excellent place for dispersed camping in Montana, especially if you plan to visit Glacier National Park. It’s basically just a handful of pullouts along the road leading to the developed campgrounds. A few of the best have views of the reservoir itself. There’s a lot of other dispersed camping in this area if you drive around and look for it.

Learn more about camping at Hungry Horse Reservoir.

6.     Bruegger Centennial Park

Region: Missouri River Country

It’s not often you find free camping smackdab in the middle of town. But Bruegger Centennial Park offers RV campers and van campers just that! There’s a small parking lot with a sign welcoming overnight guests (no parking on the street). Downtown Culbertson is just a short walk away. Tent campers are also welcome although it can feel somewhat uncomfortable as you’re basically pitching your tent in the middle of a grassy city park.

Learn more about Bruegger Centennial Park.

7.     Travertine Road Dispersed (Gallatin National Forest)

Region: Yellowstone Country

It doesn’t get much better than free camping near Yellowstone! Travertine Road Dispersed in Gallatin National Forest is the true dispersed camping experience without developed campsites. It’s an easy drive to the town of Gardiner and almost all the pullout sites boast amazing views. There are a ton of dispersed campsites in this area. The farther in on the access road (it can be rough) you drive, the more private your site will be.

Learn more about camping at Travertine Road Dispersed in Gallatin National Forest. 

8.     Freezeout Lake

Region: Central Montana

Freezeout Lake near the town of Fairfield is the best place in Montana for seeing snow geese and tundra swans. Hundreds of thousands of the birds arrive each spring as a stopover point on their migration from the Gulf Coast to Alberta and Saskatchewan. Whether or not you visit during snow goose staging season, you’ll be sure to appreciate the smattering of dispersed campsite around the lake. Know that camping here is primitive with minimal facilities and it can get very buggy during the summer.

Learn more about camping at Freezeout Lake.

9.     Red Meadow Lake Campground

Region: Glacier Country

This small free campground is located in Flathead National Forest. It’s situated on the shores of a crystal-clear alpine lake at roughly 5,500 feet elevation. It’s a popular place for picnicking and fishing in addition to camping. There are 6 total campsites best suited for tents, vans, and small trailers.

Learn more about Red Meadow Lake Campground.

10.  Cottonwood Recreation Area

Region: Southwest Montana

Cottonwood Recreation Area is home to a small Bureau of Reclamation campground. It boasts just a handful of dispersed campsites. No amenities are available except for a vault toilet. The campground is located near the Canyon Ferry Reservoir. Note that its proximity to Helena means it can fill up fast, especially on holidays and summer weekends, although you should still be able to find somewhere to pull off for the night.

Learn more about camping at Cottonwood Recreation Area.


Additional Montana Camping Tips

Van Camping Montana

Keep the following tips in mind for the best Montana camping trip possible:

  • Book Early – Glacier National Park, Yellowstone National Park, and other popular camping destinations are very busy in the peak summer months. Make reservations well in advance and consider visiting in the shoulder season (spring or fall) if possible.
  • Wildlife Safety – Montana is home to a huge variety of wildlife, including bison, grizzly bear, wolves, and other potentially dangerous animals. Know the ins and outs of wildlife safety, including proper camping food storage, especially in bear country. While you’re at it, make sure to always follow the leave no trace principles.

Camping in Montana is really just like camping anywhere else with the proper preparation, planning, and know-how!


Plan Your Montana Camping Trip

St. Mary Lake Glacier National Park

We have several camping resources, like our family camping checklist and camping gear guides, for camping beginners hoping to explore Montana’s campgrounds.

Don’t forget to check out our additional best state camping guides and national park camping guides while you’re at it.

And, don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions about planning your Montana camping trip!

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