Bitterroot National Forest Camping
Clear Montana mountain creek with dark rocks and vegetation
 




Share |

The Bitterroot National Forest is 1.6 million acres of sprawling trees, canyons, rushing streams, and mountain peaks. Portions of the forest spill over into Idaho, but most of the acreage is within Montana, south and west of Missoula. Much of the Bitterroot National Forest is wilderness, contained within the Selway-Bitterroot, Anaconda-Pintler and Frank Church River of No Return designated wilderness areas, which comprise one of the largest wilderness complexes in the lower 48. It is here in the Bitterroot that you can truly escape like few other places.

This is one of Parkcamper.com staff's favorite national forests, and always will be. While the Bitterroot Valley has changed for the worse over the years thanks to poorly thought out development, the forest remains a wonderful place for campers, and is less crowded than some of the other options in the Northern Rockies. This page is a work in progress as we add campgrounds in the next year or so. Those traveling from Yellowstone to Glacier will definitely want to try out the Bitterroot if you get a chance. It's a good way to get off the road and away from the heavy traffic of the parks. We give a hearty thumbs up to this endless and wild forest. Stay tuned to this page as we plan to add many more campgrounds and photos.



Charles Waters Campground

park-like setting with pondeorsa pine and evergreens and picnic table
Charles Waters Campground, Bitterroot National Forest

Charles Waters is just about the perfect-sized campground-not too big, not too small. Even better, the 26 sites are huge and don't feel cramped, which is often the case with public campgrounds. Charles Waters campground is reached by taking U.S. 93 north from Stevensville 3.76 miles to Bass Creek Road. Hang a left on Bass Creek Road and stay on it for 2.07 miles until you see the campground sign.

Visitors can expect vault toilets, potable water, four picnic sites, a nature trail, a bicycle unit, and the ability to use RV's up to 70 feet.

Wooden campground kiosk with pines in background

We found this campground to be especially beautiful, although a road leading up to the Bass Creek recreation area was a source of noise, but I wouldn't expect it to be a constant problem. Charles Waters campground is loaded with big ponderosa pines, and Bass Creek (it's really small) trickles past it all in thick brush. This is a great place to stay, and being close to the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness boundary means you have unlimited opportunities for solitude. Scenic Bass Lake is five miles vie trail from the end of the road, and well worth it for the scenery and fishing. Campers at Charles Waters can take comfort in knowing they are next to one of the largest wilderness areas in the lower 48.

 

Healthy ponderosa pines rising to blue sky above camp site
Healthy ponderosa pine trees and huge site in Charles Waters Campground.

 

Charles Waters campground facts:

Video Tour available:
Open: May to Snow Season
Sites: 26 plus 1 double site
Laundry: No
Showers: No
Dump Station: No
Store: No ( 5.79 miles to Stevensville)
Quiet Hours: 10 am to 6 am
Fee: $10 per vehicle, $5 for extra vehicle
Vehicle length limit: 31 foot RV or 27 foot trailer
Handicapped Accessible: Yes (toilet and sites, nice and wide.)
Toilets: Yes | Tables: Yes | Fire rings: Yes
Water: Yes
Elevation: 3,705 feet
Fishing: Yes (Bass Creek, although small. Hike up to Bass Lake for bigger fish)
Generator: Yes (8 am to 8 pm reasonable usage)
Gas: No (5.79 miles to Stevensville)
Repairs: No(5.79 miles east to Stevensville)
Reservations: Not available


Blodgett Campground

massive, knife-like canyon and pine trees with gated road
The impressive Blodgett Canyon

Blodgett Canyon has long been one of our favorite areas in he Bitterroot National Forest. The trail in to the canyon is fantastic, leading past rich areas of timber, Blodgett creek, and finally up to snowcapped, knifelike peaks and ridges. So what's the lowdown on the campground? Well, five sites, including the host site. That's it. On top of that, Blodgett Campground has a gate at the end of a bridge which closes when the sites are filled. So what's the plus? It's free. There's water from a pump, too. The sites are nice and big.

Those interested in fishing will enjoy gorgeous Blodgett Creek (it's the stream you see at the top of this page). Hiking up into the canyon one can also fish High Lake.

To get to Blodgett Canyon Campground, take Ricketts Road in Hamilton west to Blodgett Camp Road (otherwise known as FS 736) four miles to the campground. Get there early if you want a site, or you'll get "the gate".

 

cream and brown campground sign for Bitterroot National Forest

Campers can expect water, picnic tables, fire rings, vault toilets, spacious sites and a wilderness setting. Unfortunately, on our last visit there our neighbors didn't use campground etiquette. The father drank heavily and shouted at sunrise (yes, sunrise) and the family partied far into the night. He even stumbled over to our site at 7 a.m. with beer in hand, offering advice. It was a friendly conversation, and I smiled as the stench of beer wafted towards me. A little self-awareness goes a long way in the backcountry as it does in the city. The camp host was a nice fellow who truly cares about the landscape. He does a good job and we look forward to returning to Blodgett Canyon Campground one day. The Bitterroot gets in your blood, leaving a unique imprint compared to other national forests across the west.



Blodgett campground facts:

Video Tour available: Coming soon
Open: Year round, closed during heavy snow
Sites: 5, including host site
Laundry: No
Showers: No
Dump Station: No
Store: No (5.22 miles east to Hamilton)
Quiet Hours: 10 am to 6 am
Fee: Free!
Vehicle length limit: up to 45 feet
Handicapped Accessible: Yes
Toilets: Yes | Tables: Yes | Fire rings: Yes
Water: Yes
Elevation: 4275 feet
Fishing: Yes (Blodgett Creek)
Generator: Yes (8 am to 8 pm reasonable usage)
Gas: No (5.22 miles east to Hamilton)
Repairs: No(5.22 miles east to Hamilton)
Reservations: Not available

 


















 

 

 

 Coming Soon: Bitterroot National Forest campground tours, including Charles Waters, Blodgett, and Lake Como. Our files work on any iPod, iPhone, iPad, Android or home computer.


Parkcamper: Northern Rocky
Mountains Edition features
the campgrounds of Glacier,
Yellowstone, Grand Teton,
Badlands and Theodore
Roosevelt National Parks.
Click the DVD to order!