Gallatin National Forest
good sized black bear looking back at camera on the edge of gravel road and forest


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Camping in the Gallatin National Forest is a diverse and rewarding experience. There are a total of sixty three drive-in campgrounds in the Gallatin National Forest. This site so far covers eleven of the best and most popular, including the world famous "Gallatin Canyon campground group" which is visited by tens of thousands of people every year. The camping choices in the Gallatin allow you to pitch a tent or park your camper in a wide variety of environments. You also won't have to worry about not getting a site as there is almost always another campground not too far down the road. On top of that, dispersed camping is allowed on the forest. I can tell you from personal experience that the Gallatin is one of the best camping locations in the United States. It offers a spectacular, yet cozy feeling. The scenery, hiking, fishing and just "hanging out around camp" are at their best in this Montana national forest.

Click on the campgrounds below to be taken to their information pages:

Bakers Hole Campground
Canyon Campground
Chief Joseph Campground
Colter Campground
Eagle Creek Campground
Greek Creek Campground
Half Moon Campground
Moose Creek Flat Campground
Rainbow Point Campground
Red Cliff Campground
Soda Butte Campground
Spire rock Campground
Swan Creek Campground

Reservations for some campgrounds can be made at: ll 1-877-444-6777

Camping in the Gallatin National Forest General Rules:

1. Camping is set to sixteen days maximum in any one location or campground.
2. Camping with stock is not permitted in most developed campgrounds, but there are exceptions.
3. Dispersed campers must be at least 1/4 mile from developed campgrounds and roadways
4. The Gallatin National Forest wants you to dispose of garbage properly. Please do not litter, and please keep dish or bath water far away from water sources.

5. Please pay attention to the fire restrictions posted on the campground boards and on forest routes. I can't tell you how many times I've seen people build huge fires during drought periods when no fires were permitted. When this forest gets dry, it can light up like a torch. Fines for breaking the fire rules are costly.

This is rugged country! Make sure you have the proper equipment before camping. Store all food in bear proof containers or hang it form a tree. Make sure you do not keep food in your tent. This is also grizzly and black bear country, so please follow all bear precautions to the "T". While camping the forest in the fall of 2009, I had at least two bears enter camp in the middle of the night. Had I not followed proper food storage recommendations, things might not have gone as smoothly. I have also had a bear break into my vehicle while in the Gallatin National Forest. The car was locked but the animal forced its way inside, eventually eating some beef jerky and chips. The rental car company was curious about the giant paw print on the center console and the bear hair on the seating......

An important thing to remember about camping in the Gallatin National Forest is that many of the campgrounds are at least a half hour from any kind of store. Make sure when you head to your site that you have the food and gear you need. Make a pre-camping list and make sure you get your essentials. As an example, some of the drive-in campgrounds on the forest are two hours from the nearest store or gas station. This is not an exaggeration. Always fill your vehicle with gas before heading down the long country roads and ultimately the long forest roads. By diligently preparing beforehand, you can spend more time enjoying the forest rather than carting back and forth to town, chewing up your gas and time. Things like sunblock, batteries for flashlights, fishing gear and items needed for cooking are usually the things people forget.

Being able to drive into a beautiful national forest and pitch your tent next to a rambling stream is a time honored tradition, and this is easily one of the best places you could ever hope to do it. Classic Montana mountain country you won't soon forget.

Image note: I took this last year during the berry season of September in the eastern half of the forest near the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness. This was a good sized cinnamon phase black bear that was chasing another bear in the area. It had little interest in the fresh berries that were growing on the side of the road. It paused to observe me, then slowly walked off into the woods.


NEW! Gallatin National Forest campground tours are now available! Our universal files work on any iPod or computer. Those interested in less crowded campgrounds near Yellowstone will want to view this pack. Click the iPod to order.

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