How To Find A Campsite In Montana

Now that it is officially spring (and with current events top of mind for most people) it’s time to start planning the summer’s camping trips. Some of the more common questions we get are around finding a campsite in Montana. There are a lot of ways to get a campsite, but some advanced planning and forethought helps a lot. Here’s some advice from our team for your summer camping trip.

Planning ahead is without a doubt the single most valuable thing when finding a campsite in Montana. If you can plan your trip out, that gives you plenty of time to reserve the sites that can be reserved and find some awesome out of the way spots. If you’re doing things at the last minute the odds of you getting the site you really want go down.

Planning ahead also takes a lot of stress out of the process. If you can get your ducks in a row, campsites reserved, car rented, etc a month or two before your trip you can spend more time enjoying the planning process and the trip itself. You don’t want to have to cut your days short while you’re here to hurry and try to find a campsite. Remember, the earlier you can plan things and make reservations the better!

Many campsites around Bozeman and Yellowstone National Park can be reserved online. Finding a campsite in Montana is a breeze with this system, which can be found here. (Reserve sites in Yellowstone here). Reservations typically open six months in advance of the current date, and some of the most popular ones book when they become available. This system has campsite maps and photos of each site, so you can get a sense of what you’re looking for.

We generally urge our customers to use this system if they plan on camping. These campgrounds are among the most popular in the region, and fill up quickly. If you have questions about which campgrounds to check out or where to go, let us know! We’re more than happy to help you find the perfect campsite.

While most campgrounds in the area do offer advanced reservations, many do not. These first-come, first-served campgrounds are a great choice if you weren’t able to reserve sites or are taking a last minute trip. Finding a campsite here can be challenging at the more popular campgrounds, but is certainly not impossible.

All campgrounds are typically less during during the early part of the week – Monday through Thursday let’s say. The weekend rush is over and people are back at work. Most check out times for campgrounds are 10-11am, so if you can get there early and pick up a site as it’s being vacated, that is a good option during busier times. As we continually say, please be considerate and not pushy when trying to find a campsite during busy times.

Photo: Jess Delo

If you’re not wanting to deal with the campgrounds and somewhat more crowded atmosphere while finding a campsite in Montana, try an FWP fishing access. Many of these offer campsites, and are ideal if you are fishing or floating that river. Bring cash or your checkbook to pay the fee, and have at it. Some of our team’s favorite campsites in the entire state are at FWP fishing accesses. These are ideal for swing season camping in the spring or fall.

In addition to these options for finding a campsite in Montana, there is also the vast swathes of public land available within an hour or so drive of Bozeman. There are countless roads through the National Forest you can camp on, and many unimproved campsites scattered throughout the mountains. PLEASE NOTE: follow all regulations for camping along these roads and in drainages. Many of them don’t allow camping except in designated sites, which we can help you find.

As you go more toward Central and eastern Montana, the amount of BLM land available for public use is staggering. Much of this is open for people to camp on, wherever they so choose. Be sure to keep a clean camp, and pack out all trash and waste if you’re camping on BLM. This part of the state is reasonably overlooked, and offers complete solitude in a very unique setting. More to come…

Finding a campsite in Montana doesn’t have to be a challenge. There are many, many options to make the most of your camping trip. Have questions or not sure where to start? Shoot us an email, and let us help!

Things are a little overwhelming on the national scale right now, and there is a lot of uncertainty about everything. One thing is certain – Montana and Yellowstone National Park aren’t going anywhere. This too shall pass, and when it does we’ll all need more time outside than ever. Make the most of it with Hatch Adventures.


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