Glacier National Park (GNP) is a breathtaking example of unbridled wilderness and evolving geology encompassing roughly 1,500 square miles. Getting to Glacier Park – located in Montana, US – may be an excursion in itself, but trying to appreciate the countless sights of such a vast, unspoiled land is an equal excursion. Overnight stays are an ideal way to take it all in, whether it be in cozy B&B, a rustic cabin, or a wooded campsite.
Campgrounds generally fill up quick on a first-come-first-served basis and very few offer advanced reservations. June to September is considered peak season, most travelers including families plan their trips during this period.
The famous Going-to-the-Sun Road spans a distance of approximately fifty miles, running from east to west through the park. This captivating road borders some of the best campgrounds in Glacier National Park making it a popular outdoor venue for those looking to camp beneath the stars. Of course, with popularity comes scarcity, therefore it can be difficult to get into these campgrounds. Conversely, camping areas like Two Medicine and Bowman Lake, equally as beautiful, take longer to fill up.
In no particular order, let’s take a look at many of the great camping facilities you’ll find on your venture to one of the most spectacular National Parks in the United States.
1. St. Mary
Close to St. Mary Lake along the “Going-to-the-Sun Road” road and considered the largest camping area on the eastern side of the park, accepting reservations in advance. The St. Marry Visitor Center and nearby camping area are connected with a short hiking trek.
You are permitted both Recreational Vehicles (RVs) or tents while visiting this campground. Potable water is available to you for overnight stays. If you’re camping in a tent, Loop A is a quiet, generator-free zone with showers not overly far off in Loop C.
Located on the eastern side of the park and known for beautiful mountains, wildlife, and day hikes, this campground is close to the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn where you’ll find a restaurant and gift store.
The Many Glacier Campground offers limited sites for camper vehicles, plus tent camping. If you are looking to go there with a recreational vehicle, your RV cannot be longer than 35 feet.
A popular sight not far off is Grinnell Point rising to the west of Swiftcurrent Lake.
The Going-to-the-Sun Road also leads to the Apgar Campground. In close proximity to Apgar Village, only 3 miles from the park’s west entrance. Nearby, you’ll also find camping supplies, gift stores, and restaurants.
And more, enjoy kayak rentals and guided horseback rides or drop by the Ranger Station and visitor center. This campground boasts just under 200 different types of sites permitting both RVs and tents.
And if it’s full, check out Smoky Bear Ranch, known for their hospitality, hearty breakfast, and extensive park knowledge.
Just 13 miles away from “East Glacier Park Village” this facility is not overly busy. It consists of approximately 100 different camping sites where RVs and tents are permitted. Out of the 100 sites, RVs up to 36 feet are allowed in only 10 of them.
Two Medicine Campground is located on the shores of a gorgeous lake named Two Medicine Lake. You will find close by hiking routes and amazing boating opportunities. During 4 consecutive months (June to September), this camping area provides you with access to running water, or you can enjoy rustic camping in October, but closed come November for the winter months.
Kintla Lake Campground is located near the Canadian border on Glacier Park’s northwestern side. It is the most isolated front-country campsite with only 13 sites. RVs of up to 21 feet are permitted but not recommended given access is via a rough dirt road.
Although, due to limited access for RVs, Kintla Lake is better known for tent camping. If you choose this Glacier Park campground, despite its size, you will enjoy running water between June and September.
Just 9 miles away from the west entrance of Glacier National Park, and access from the “Going-to-the-Sun” Road. It consists of 25 different campsites, available only by reservation. RVs and tow units over 21 feet are strictly prohibited here.
Lake McDonald adds value to the beauty of this camping area and running water makes it a great attraction for campers.
Adjacent to “Trail of the Cedars” and “Avalanche Gorge” having approximately 87 sites. It is just 15 miles away from Glacier Park’s west entrance, accessible from the “Going-to-the-Sun” Road.
Sites at this campground are available on a first-come-first-served basis. Tents are allowed everywhere but about 50 sites are reserved for RVs of up to 26 feet. During the summer, these sites generally fill up quickly.
It is the 2nd largest camping area in Glacier Park and is located just 4 miles away from the west entrance. Fish Creek Campground is situated along the beautiful Camas Road. It consists of 178 different camping sites which can be reserved in advance.
If you are a registered camper, you can use Loop A showers. Access to running water is available. Fish Creek is closed between September and May. Expect to see plenty of wildlife throughout the day, even in the evening.
Bowman Lake Campground is located in the North Fork area of Glacier National Park. It is a distant camping area having quiet surroundings with 48 different sites with easy access to running water (from May to September).
The tiny village – Polebridge – is the nearest visitor attraction to Bowman Lake. The distance between the village and campground is approximately 7 miles.
Located at the beginning of the “Going-to-the-Sun” Road and approximately 3 miles away from the west entrance of Glacier Park. With fly-fishing clinics and ice-cream corners, you can make your West Glacier KOA trip truly memorable.
On the east side, St. Mary KOA offers similar amenities, and generally easy to get reservations.
Glacier National Park campgrounds are not only known for wilderness adventure, many are also in close proximity to other adventures such as boating and guided tours. A word to the wise, book before you arrive when possible.