Best Spots For Free Tent Camping In Montana
GPS coordinates: 45.226, -112.1187
Elevation 5,380 feet
To get to this campground from the Montana Highway 287, turn South onto Upper Ruby Road 357 at Alder. Travel for approximately 10 miles then turn west onto the Ruby Reservoir Recreation Area.
Tucked on the Ruby Reservoirs eastern shore, the site is a tranquil spot for tent campers to escape the noise and bustle of town life.
Ruby Reservoir Recreation Area is not only a quiet getaway but also a place to invigorate your spirit and body.
Equipped with dirt-padded sites, fire rings, and vault restrooms, its the perfect spot to rough it off the grid. Pitch your tent and let the Montana sunshine caress your body. When dusk falls, Montana starry big sky will lull you to a peaceful slumber.
The recreation area is also a popular stop for fishing and boating. The site provides access to the Ruby Reservoir. Designed to provide irrigation water, the reservoirs water levels sometimes experience large fluctuations.
The reservoirs shoreline also offers a sprinkling of garnets that you can collect as mementos.
This site allows campers to bring their pets on their camping trip.
Location: Mill Creek Road, Sheridan, MT 59749
Elevation 8,759 feet
GPS coordinates: 45.5161, -111.9911
Branham Lakes Campground and Picnic Area is a fortune-find to adventures seeking the best free tent camping in Montana.
The campground is a small and rustic establishment covering only 3 acres of the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest land.
Initial Creek Campground: Custer Gallatin National Forest
Initial Creek Campground is operated by the US Forest Service. Its a free campground situated along the West Fork Stillwater Road near the West Fork Stillwater Trail #90.
The site is open year-round but is maintained from Memorial Day to Labor Day only. The rough West Fork Stillwater Road can be treacherous to navigate, so you may want to consider using a high-clearance vehicle.
The camping area contains 6 campsites that are available by merit of arrival time. The sites are ideal for tent camping but you can camp in an RV of no more than 20 feet. There are vault toilets on-site.
Additionally, youre allowed maximum stay of 16 days within 30 cumulative days. Some camping spots contain bear-resistant food storage lockers. However, the campground doesnt provide hookup to water, trash or dumping facilities.
Initial Creek Campground is the perfect camping hideout to enjoy picnicking, fishing, and hiking.
Youll also get a chance to try out horse camping and horseback riding.
Arrive early in the afternoon to secure a camping spot as the site fills up quickly during summer holidays and weekends.
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
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Beaverhead Campground: Clark Canyon Reservoir
GPS coordinates: 44.9965, -112.855
Elevation: 5,544 ft / 1,689 m
Set at Clark Canyon reservoir, the Beaverhead Campground lies off the I-5, 20 miles south of Dillon, Montana. With its strategic location near a wide range of recreational amenities, the campground offers some of the best spots for tent and free RV camping in Montana. When approaching from the south on the I-5, drive on past the exit to Clark Canyon instead of turning right. A gravel road starting at a ramp will lead to the campground.
Beaverhead Campground has everything a camper can fancy in a free camping area. It features both tent and trailer sites with level, easy pull-through spots. The serene surroundings provide a quiet getaway from the noise of busy city life while great cell service in the area allows campers to stay connected with their jobs and loved ones. The stay limit for campers is 14 days.
The campsites have grills and sheltered picnic tables that are set right on the water, giving campers a breathtaking water view and picnicking area. The campground offers water access and provides a boat launch for fishing, boating, rowing, canoeing, sailing, and kayaking.
Campers at the Beaverhead Campground can also leisure in sightseeing, windsurfing, nature walks, ice skating, bird watching, waterfowl hunting, and water skiing.
You may hear the occasional train or faint freeway traffic noise but overall, this is a wonderful free camping area if privacy isnt the main quality youre after.
Best Campgrounds In Montana
Written by Brad LaneUpdated 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.
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Finlay Flats Recreation Area In Montana
Cell Service: none, but we were told other sites at the same campground do have service
Elevation: 2,335 ft
Although this free campsite is actually in Montana, were including it on this list because its on your likely route for your Idaho road trip if you avoid interstates like us and are trying to zig zag through the national forests of Idaho.
This dispersed camping area is found on national forest land along the Clark Fork River, just off Hwy 200 near the Idaho/Montana border. After turning north onto NF-2654/Finlay Flats Road, which is well maintained gravel, travel under 2 miles, cross the railroad tracks, and youll arrive at Finlay Flats.
The free camping spots are large enough for bigger RVs, level, and most of the 10-12 sites have a bit of shade. The spots are close enough together that you wont have a lot of privacy or feel very secluded, but the views of the Clark Fork River and surrounding area more than make up for it.
Youll need to be prepared to boondock while staying at this free campground. There is no potable water, trash, or electricity, however, there are pit toilets available.
Top 10 Campgrounds And Rv Parksgreat Falls Montana
Great Falls is a city of about 60,000 people in Northern Montana that was named for the series of waterfalls that crash down nearby. RV campgrounds in Great Falls, Montana, are close to several Montana road trip attractions, like the C. M. Russell Museum Complex and the Roe River, and this town also hosts Malmstrom Air Force Base. The Great Falls area enjoys long, warm summers, making it a fun place to camp. Here is some vital information on 10 of the best RV parks in the Great Falls, Montana area where you can park your RV throughout the year.
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Public Montana Rv Camping
Montana RV camping is great with outdoor recreation opportunities for everyone. Campgrounds managed by BLM and Montana State Parks offer RV camping. Some of the Nations most visited National Parks offer RV camping in Montana and USFS campgrounds offer cooler locations to escape the Summer heat. Amenities range from dry RV camping with only trash and pit toilets to RV camping sites with full RV hookups. This is only a partial listing of public Montana RV camping opportunities.
BOZEMAN Chisholm Campground. RV camping, bird watching, boating, fishing, hiking, and biking are available outdoor recreation activities.
COLUMBIA FALLS Located near the west entrance to Glacier National Park, Big Creek Campground is a great Montana RV camping destination.
GLACIER NATIONAL PARK Over 700 miles of trails make Glacier National Park a hikers paradise. The spectacular scenery makes this park an ideal RV camping destination as well. Over 1000 campsites in 13 campgrounds. Not all campgrounds are suitable for recreational vehicles.
MISSOULA East of Missoula along Interstate 90 is the Beavertail Hill State Park. Smaller RVs to 28 feet with the campground on the Clark Fork River.
Make Our Lush Oasis Your Basecamp As You Follow In The Footsteps Of Lewis And Clark And Explore The ‘great Falls’ Of The Missouri River
Located in an oasis of trees, flowers and gardens, Great Falls KOA offers unique views similar to the ones that Lewis and Clark experienced playground that offers slides, water features and hot tubs. The River Town Rounders entertain nightly with Western music, and free pancake breakfasts. You’ll also find a fully stocked store with gourmet coffee, an ice cream bar, souvenirs, ice, and more. Limited amenities and office hours during the off-season . Please call for details. Pool: Memorial Weekend – Labor Day Weekend. Max pull thru: 90 feet.
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Woodbine Campground Custer Gallatin National Forest
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
Balanced Rock County Park
Cell Service: No
Elevation: 3481 ft
This free campground is tucked between canyon walls and alongside Salmon Falls Creek. And it’s super nice, especially when considering that its free!
Each site has a covered picnic table, garbage can, fire pit, and grill. There are pit toilets and a small swing set towards the entrance to the campground. Automatic sprinklers come on each night – so check the signs for timing and dont set your tent up in their path!
The creek wasnt one we were going to swim in, but several kayaks and paddle boards went by during our stay. Locals were also heading out on a trail alongside the creek, about 30 minutes of walking from the back of the campground, to get to a larger swimming and fishing hole.
We stayed at the site furthest back and therefore had no close neighbors, and our daughter loved exploring the giant boulders at this site. Some of the other sites are closer together and may prove to be more challenging for larger RVs to set up in.
If you need to be connected for work, you should start getting service if you turn left out of the campground entrance and head up the road less than a mile to Balanced Rock.
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Free Montana Rv Camping
Public Lands offer virtually unlimited free dispersed Montana RV camping locations. You can get free RV camping location tips from the USFS Ranger Districts and the BLM Field Offices. Use the above links to find their contact information and websites, and asked for recommended dispersed camping locations.
The following are just a few examples of great free Montana RV camping locations. Boondocking has tips for finding great remote RV camping locations.
BAKER Unique sandstone formations jump up from the surrounding prairie in Medicine Rocks State Park. Free RV camping with 12 semi-developed campsites. Enjoy photography, hiking, and wildlife viewing in this remote and primitive area in eastern Montana.
BEAVERHEAD-DEERLODGE The USDA Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest has many free developed campgrounds. Located in southwestern Montana, there are over 20 free campgrounds available. Verify vehicle recommended length before heading into remote areas.
COLUMBIA FALLS Free RV camping is available at two designated campgrounds managed by USDA Forest Service.
- Tuchuck Campground 22-foot max recommended 60 miles NE of Columbia Falls.
- Red Meadow Lake 32 foot recommended maximum length RV located 49 miles NE of Columbia Falls.
EKLAKA RV camping is available for smaller vehicles at the Eklaka Park Campground. Popular campground for hunters with several undeveloped roads through the forest for ATVs, motorcycles, and 4×4s.
Free Camping In Montana
We are continuing our free camping sites series for locations around the Northwest & beyond. Montana is such a popular spot to visit for those in the Northwest & other areas of the country and there are a number of places you can camp for free in Montana with tent camping or RV camping. Whether you want to camp in more open spaces to experience the wonder of Big Sky country or head to the mountains or camp by a river, there are so many options of places to camp for free in Montana.
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Many Glacier Campground Glacier National Park
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.
Blodgett Canyon Campground: Bitterroot Range Montana
Location: Hamilton, Montana
Elevation: 4248 feet
GPS coordinates: 46.269653, -114.244896
Also known as Blodgett Creek Campground, Blodgett Canyon Campground is a wonderful spot to soak in the spectacular Montana sights and tranquility.
Finding a peaceful primitive site for tent camping is challenging, but Blodgett Canyon Campground is worth the effort. Its tucked in the Bitterroot Range and offers stunning spots to chill out while exploring nature.
This site is equipped with marginal amenities befitting dispersed camping. There are restrooms and hookup to tap water on-site. Theres also a hand water pump on-site.
The campground may be quiet, but its never a dull place. On top of boondocking, Blodgett Canyon Campground offers opportunities for sightseeing, hiking, whitewater paddling, swimming and playing a round of golf at the Hamilton Golf Club.
The Bitterroot Range is a treasure chest of natural fascination and recreation diversity.
If youd love to push your physical capability and resolve, there are numerous recreation trails nearby.
Challenge yourself to running, hiking, or rock-climbing quests on these nearby trails:
- The Sweeney Ridge Trail.
Location: Hungry Horse-Glacier View RD, Bigfork, Montana
Also called Graves Bay Campground, this camping area is nestled within the Flathead National Forest.
The site is meant for dispersed tent camping and the maximum length of trailer you can bring is 22 feet.
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Resources For Free Campsites:
We have just featured a highlight of free campsites that are found in Montana, but there are many more that are available. Here are some of the resources we found for finding free campsites in Montana for you to see if there are more options in an area you want to check out.
Free Campsites.Net This is a site that is community-driven, with reader reports & reviews, but Id encourage you to also try to confirm these with another website
Campendium Website features free campsites for across the US & Canada plus reviews from readers who have gone to these campsites. This is more of a community-driven website, so you may want to try to confirm these locations with another website as well.
This blog post also has some great tips for boondocking camping with your RV in free camping spots.
Washington State Dispersed Camping Rules And Regulations
Always, always, always follow the 7 Leave No Trace Principles when camping in Washington.
Dispersed camping outside of a developed campground is one of the best ways to enjoy the great outdoors but its essential to limit our human impact as much as possible.
Here are a few of the most important things to do:
- Pack Out All Trash Always pack out all of your trash, including human waste , when dispersed camping.
- Properly Store Food Bears are prevalent in Washington State. Always practice proper camping food storage to avoid attracting wildlife.
- Respect Fire Restrictions Never have a campfire where theyre banned. Always check and follow all posted fire restrictions.
- Choose Previously-Used Campsites Technically you can disperse camp pretty much anywhere in national forests or on BLM land , but dispersed camping best practices say to only camp in previously-used campsites .
- Dont Overstay Respect all dispersed camping stay limits. Most public land in Washington has a 14-day or sometimes 16-day camping limit.
Following these dispersed camping best practices not only ensures a fun camping experience for the next visitor, but it also helps protect local wildlife and helps avoid closures that stem from overuse and mistreatment of public lands.
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