Montana seems to be made for camping, with that big sky full of stars, rivers to jump in, and natural areas to explore. Camping in Montana has a low barrier for entry, with plenty of spots to choose from. And it’s one of the best ways to connect with the great outdoors in the state. Here are some of our top tips for camping in Montana.
Even in developed campgrounds, there’s always a chance for wildlife interactions. And a fed bear is a dead bear. Even if there aren’t any large predators around, rodents and other animals can get into unattended food and cooking gear and cause problems. Protect wildlife, and your dinner, by storing food, and other attractants like soaps and lotions, in bear proof containers.
Montana has relatively few cases of tick-borne illness compared to other parts of the country, but it’s still important to be aware that ticks are around. Ticks can’t jump, but they tend to hang out on long grass. So if you’re dancing through a field of wildflowers, or hiking a trail with tall grass and bushes overhanging, you could pick one up. Check hairlines, armpits, and groin—with a buddy or a mirror if you can. If you find one, just take tweezers, grasp the tick as close to your skin as you can, and pull it off. Be sure to kill it when you do. There’s no need to save the tick for testing, but be sure to bring up a potential exposure if you get sick in the weeks following.
Know where you’re going and what to expect when you get there—will there be free coffee in the morning, or will you need to boil water over the fire for cowboy coffee? Are you going to go for a whitewater rafting trip, horseback ride, or just hang out at the site with a good book? Plans don’t have to be hard work, but having some ideas in mind can help you narrow down the experience you want.
It can also help you pack for the weather and activities you most want to experience in Montana’s outdoors. There’s a saying in Montana: if you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes. It pays to be prepared for all four seasons, even in summer, depending on the elevation.
It doesn’t always seem like fun to think about rules, but being prepared can make for a more relaxing time. It’s common in Montana for fire restrictions to be in place during the driest months of summer, so be sure to have a cooking plan that doesn’t involve a campfire if you’re camping during that time. Some campgrounds are more dog friendly than others (some like the Butte KOA Journey even have onsite fenced dog parks), so know what your pet can expect too. And remember to brush up on the seven principles of Leave No Trace, a good guideline for any trip.
There’s more to consider with food than just how you store it. Nobody wants to go hungry on a camping trip! Plan out your meals ahead of time. And think about the planet while you do. A lot of go-to camp food comes in plastic packaging. See if you can shop farmers markets or bulk food stores to cut back on packaging waste and support local farmers, sustainably.
The essentials are going to vary depending on you, your group, and your trip plans. For some it might be s’mores fixings, for others climbing equipment. And for others, the most essential part of any camping trip is the campground. Finding the right mix of location and amenities can make your whole trip even better.
Check out Highline Adventures campgrounds across Montana to help awaken your summer fun.