The Best Camping Near Glacier National Park, Montana

The Best Camping Near Glacier National Park, Montana

Full of winding hiking trails and freckled with crystal blue alpine lakes, campgrounds near Glacier National Park promise days of exploration and natural wonder. Strap on your hiking boots, get on horseback, or even book a helicopter tour to explore the stunning views of this ever-changing landscape.

Glacier National Park, Montana
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About Camping Near Glacier National Park

From Apikuni Falls to Going to the Sun Road, camping near Glacier National Park brings you up close to natural sights that simply won’t last forever. Play on the beaches of Lake McDonald with gorgeous glaciers as your backdrop, or go on a rafting trip for true immersion into the landscape. No matter your itinerary, campgrounds near Glacier National Park offer unparalleled views and access to once-in-a-lifetime activities.

Top Campgrounds Near Glacier National Park, Montana

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Glacier National Park Camping FAQs

From Apikuni Falls to Going-to-the-Sun Road, camping near Glacier National Park brings you up close to natural sights that simply won’t last forever. Play on the beaches of Lake McDonald with gorgeous glaciers as your backdrop, or go on a rafting trip for true immersion into the landscape. No matter your itinerary, campgrounds near Glacier National Park offer unparalleled views and access to once-in-a-lifetime activities.

Covering about a million acres, this is one of the most popular national parks in the United States. In 2022, Glacier National Park had just under 3 million visitors, ranking tenth-most visited among all U.S. National Parks. This far north, summer days are long, and the weather makes it such that the peak season here concentrates visitors more than most parks. The weather gets cold quickly here, so there’s a limited number of days to enjoy the park each year.

What Is Glacier National Park Known For?

Well, as the name suggests, glaciers. It’s unfortunately not all sunshine and rainbows when it comes to the glacier situation here. Actually, it’s too much sunshine. The glaciers here are shrinking and have been for years now. Over about half a century, starting in the mid-1960s, every glacier in this park has gotten smaller, though some more than others.

Which is all the more reason why to plan your trip now. In the summertime, the glaciers are the most visible, along with the rest of the park. No matter the size of the glaciers, this is still one of the most beautiful parks in North America. Plenty of the peaks in this park have been formed by glaciers, giving visitors a firsthand look at what years of glacial movement can do to rock formations. It’s also just one of the best places to see wildlife, so bring your camera!

Top Sights to See in Glacier National Park

Going-to-the-Sun Road

Easily the most well-known part of the park, this beautiful scenic drive is a must-see. Travelers should be cognizant though that Going-to-the-Sun Road can close as early as the beginning of September, depending on the weather. You can check the park’s website for closure information, but going sooner is better than later in this case.

Lake McDonald

This is the largest lake in Glacier National Park and one of its most picturesque. It’s also home to one of the best lodges in the park, the chalet-style Lake McDonald Lodge. For those wanting to do the full hike, it’s a 14-mile out-and-back trail. If that sounds a bit beyond what you’ve got planned, no worries; you can drive to Lake McDonald via Going-to-the-Sun Road.

Red Bus Tour

This isn’t a “sight” in the strictest sense, though it certainly is something fun to see. The Red Bus Tours are a defining feature of Glacier National Park. These touring coaches (not technically buses, but they are quite big) have been zipping passengers around the park since the early 1900s.

In an effort to have fewer cars in the park, Glacier brought in these coaches, shuttled visitors around, and gave tours. In the early 2000s, the buses were revamped, so visitors can experience a tour of Glacier the same way that they were done a century ago.

Best Time to Visit Glacier National Park

Glacier follows a pretty traditional peak season of June to September, and that’s definitely the best time to go. This is Montana—not exactly a place known for being warm all year long. Summer temperatures are a very comfortable 65-70 degrees during the day. Overnights, even in the summer, drop down to the mid-40s at the warmest. July and August are the warmest months, as well as the months with the fewest days of rain.

The shoulder season here is an option, but it’s going to be cold, and closures are always a risk. Roads and amenities close seasonally, and their re-open time mainly depends on the weather pattern. Off-season travelers have to contend with road closures and extra uncertainty.

That said, fall in Glacier is one of the most incredible things you can experience, so all that might be worth it to you. In October, temperatures are a relatively reasonable 45 degrees during the day, getting down to 30 or so overnight.

Tips for Camping Near Glacier National Park

Reserve Well in Advance

It’s not a top-five-most-popular park, but it’s certainly a top 10. Any park with this kind of name recognition is going to be popular, so grab your reservations if you can. There are 173 total first-come, first-served sites in Glacier National Park. Rising Sun Campground accounts for 84 of those and Bowman Lake Campground accounts for another 48. Outside of Rising Sun, all the other campgrounds require driving tough dirt roads, so plan accordingly.

Amenities Vary by Campground

This isn’t too unusual for parks, so you really always want to keep this in mind. However, there’s definitely a variance at Glacier. Some of the more popular, reservation-only sites have a decent amount of amenities—what you’d expect at a typical frontcountry national park campground. However, some of the more remote ones are low on amenities and not particularly accessible. Adjust your plans accordingly.

RVs Need to Plan Well

Not every section of the park is suitable for RVs or trailers. For one, most of the first-come, first-served campgrounds (outside of Rising Sun Campground) have bumpy dirt roads. Trailers aren’t prohibited from taking those roads, but they are advised against it.

In many ways, this park is more primitive than a lot of the other popular ones, so all campers should be planning ahead. Still, do your homework on this one. For example, the popular Going-to-the-Sun Road has strict vehicle requirements. Nothing over 21 feet long (including bumpers) or over eight feet wide (including mirrors). While that won’t affect smaller rigs and vehicles, larger setups aren’t going to be allowed.

Tips on Entering Glacier National Park

Prepare to Spend More Time Than You Think

You really want three days minimum, but four or five is better. Not everyone has that kind of time, so you could see some of Glacier in two days, but only some of the highlights at most. The point is that you don’t want to be rushed, especially if you get stuck in a long entrance line. If the clock is ticking as soon as you get there, you’re not going to have a great experience.

West Glacier Is the Most Popular Entrance

It’s also the most convenient for basically all travelers. If you’re willing to brave the entrance lines (or get up early enough), go ahead and make the tradeoff for convenience. However, if that doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, there are actually seven total entrances. Of those seven, the Camas Creek and Polebridge entrances are two of the least used.

Camas Creek, along with Saint Mary and West Glacier, are the only three entrances to connect to Going-to-the-Sun Road.

Entrances Are Seasonal

If you’re heading here in the peak season, this doesn’t matter to you. However, off-season and shoulder season travelers need to know that the most remote entrances, like the less-used Polebridge Entrance, for example, will close at some point. When the snow starts to come down, the remote entrances are no longer passable, and you’ll have to go elsewhere.

How to Camp in Glacier National Park

You’ve gotta prepare to make friends if you want to camp in Glacier National Park; it’s a popular spot. Alternatively, you can drive the rough dirt roads and roll the dice on a first-come, first-served basis. If you’re doing that, Kintla Lake is your best bet. It’s far away, tough to get to, and only has 13 spots. Because of this, though, there’s almost always an open site.

The app is your friend if you manage to get a campsite here, so you can have your reservations and all basic information on hand. The Apgar and St. Mary Visitor Centers have Wi-Fi, but it’s rare throughout the rest of the park. Download any campground information ahead of time.

Best Campspot Campgrounds Near Glacier National Park for Tent Campers

Glacier Meadow RV Park and Campground

Plenty of private campgrounds just open a patch of land and say, “put your tents here.” I suppose that’s pretty much just how tent camping works, but Glacier Meadow RV Park and Campground offers you some options. For visitors wanting to spread out, the meadow sites are the way to go, with unadulterated night sky access. For visitors wanting to really get that camping feeling, wooded tent sites let you sleep under the Montana trees.

Though a great place to pitch a tent, it’s anything but primitive. You’ll find a general store here, along with a dog park, playground, and even internet access for those who need it. However you decide to partake in the amenities, this is the ideal basecamp for all things Montana adventure.

Best Campspot Campgrounds Near Glacier National Park for RV Campers

Columbia Falls RV Park

It’s hard to get much closer to Glacier National Park’s west entrance than Columbia Falls RV Park. Just minutes from the park, Columbia Falls offers some of the most well-kept facilities around. Want to roll out of bed and head straight to the park? No problem. Want to take things a little slower? Well, take your time and browse through the amenities here, hit the general store, and even enjoy the on-site hiking opportunities as a warm-up.

Whitefish RV Park

Whitefish, Montana, is known primarily as a ski destination, but when the summertime comes around, Whitefish RV Park is the place to stay. Since it’s near Glacier National Park, you can get a headstart on everyone and beat the crowds to the entrance. Of course, after a long day in the park, you want somewhere relaxing to head back to. Whitefish RV Park has all the essentials covered, and if you forgot something at home, the on-site general store probably has it.

Best Campspot Campgrounds Near Glacier National Park for Lodging

Glacier Grizzly Resort

Stay in luxury at this resort in East Glacier, Montana. Glacier Grizzly Resort offers a premium stay for those looking to have a proper glamping experience. There’s a two-story cabin, spacious tipi-style accommodations, and of course, classic tent and RV spots. At this level of luxury, you can be assured that the staff is attentive and all your needs are considered ahead of time. However, when the view’s this good, you’ll probably just want to sit and stare for a while.

Mountain Meadow RV Park & Cabins

Glacier Grizzly sounded a little too comfortable for you? You want to get a good night’s sleep, but you still want to feel more immersed in nature? Mountain Meadow sounds like the place for you, then. You’ll be nestled among trees with the water right nearby, taking in the Big Sky Country. This is the place where reasonable levels of luxury meet unbelievable levels of adventure. If glamping isn’t your speed, the log cabins here probably are!

You are still at a lodging-focused campground, so you’ll have enough creature comforts, but not so many that you’re taken out of the experience. Lodging guests have access to showers, laundry, bathrooms, and a dog park. Of course, the log cabins themselves have all the basics you’d expect like tables, chairs, fire pits, mini-fridges, and all that good stuff.

Glacier National Park is a destination on any good national parks bucket list. With beautiful wildlife and incredible hiking opportunities, it’s a place everyone should see at least once.

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