Beartooth Highway Camping

Beartooth Highway Camping

The Beartooth Highway crosses through three National Forests – the Custer, Gallatin and Shoshone. All three forests have campgrounds available along US 212. I’ll give a brief run-through starting at the west end of the Beartooth Highway, close to Cooke City, Montana, and traveling east to Red Lodge, Montana. I’ve also included phone numbers and web links where additional information can be found.

Gallatin National Forest – Gardiner District – 406-848-7375

Traveling west to east along the Beartooth Highway from the Northeast entrance of Yellowstone National Park, the first approximately 10 miles of the highway lie within the Gallatin National Forest.

For the 2013 camping season there are two campground located along the Beartooth Highway in the Gallatin National Forest are currently open РSoda Butte Campground with 27 campsites, and Colter Campground with 18 campsites. Both campgrounds are located 1 mile east of Cooke City, Montana. Both are designated for hard sided camping only, with no tent camping allowed.   Both are managed on a first-come, first-served basis. The Gallatin Forest advises that campers should be aware that these campgrounds may fill up on weekends & holidays during the summer months and you should arrive in the early afternoon to ensure there is a space available for the night.

Detailed information about these campgrounds can be found on-line on the Gallatin National Forest website at: http://www.fs.usda.gov/activity/gallatin/recreation/camping-cabins/?recid=5566&actid=29

Shoshone National Forest – Wapiti District – 307.527.7158

Continuing west to east along the Beartooth Highway – the mid-section of the road is located within the Shoshone National Forest. The Shoshone offers the most opportunity for developed campgrounds along the Beartooth Highway.

For the 2013 season the following campgrounds (in order traveling west to east) are currently open – Fox Creek, Crazy Creek, Beartooth Lake, and Island Lake. All of these campgrounds are managed on a first-come, first-served basis. The Shoshone Forest advises that campers should be aware that these campgrounds may fill up on weekends & holidays during the summer months and you should arrive in the early afternoon to ensure there is a space available for the night. Fox Creek Campground does offer electrical hookups.

Detailed information about these campgrounds can be found on-line on the Shoshone National Forest website at: http://www.fs.usda.gov/activity/shoshone/recreation/camping-cabins/?recid=35807&actid=29

The Shoshone Forest website also provides detailed information about dispersed camping on the forest at: http://www.fs.usda.gov/activity/shoshone/recreation/camping-cabins/?recid=35807&actid=34

Custer National Forest – Beartooth District – 406-446-2103

The eastern end of the Beartooth Highway travels through the Custer National Forest. The Greenough Lake, M-K, Limber Pine, Parkside, Sheridan and Ratine campgrounds all offer camping opportunities along the Beartooth Highway. All of these campgrounds are located along the eastern end of the Highway – within 11 miles of reaching Red Lodge, Montana. The Custer National Forest does take on-line reservations for these campgrounds if reservations are made far enough in advance (usually within 7 days of your stay). Unreserved campsites are then managed on a first-come, first-served basis. The Custer Forest advises that campers should be aware that these campgrounds may fill up on weekends & holidays during the summer months and you should arrive in the early afternoon to ensure there is a space available for the night.

Detailed information about these campgrounds and an on-line reservation system can be found on-line on the Custer National Forest website at:

http://www.fs.usda.gov/activity/custer/recreation/camping-cabins/?recid=60817&actid=29

Did You Know?

Clay Butte Lookout - Beartooth Highway

The Clay Butte Lookout was built in 1942 by the Civilian Conservation Corps and was used as a fire lookout. It was staffed until the 1960s, when aircraft proved a better tool for fire detection. Today, because of its popular scenic vantage point and proximity to the Beartooth Highway, Clay Butte is used as a visitor information site. It was remodeled in 1962 and has been staffed since 1975 by volunteers. The focus of Clay Butte today is to give visitors a glimpse of how fire lookouts functioned 60 years ago. Sightseers driving the scenic byway stop to obtain information or take in the view, which includes wildlife, botanical areas, the effects of the Clover-Mist wildfire of 1988, and the geology of ancient seas that once covered the Beartooth Plateau.

Fishing Beartooth Highway

The cutthroat is the only true western native trout. Originally wide spread throughout the state, it is now relegated to the higher, cooler, more inaccessible back country lakes and streams. Cutthroats are easily identified by the bright red “cut” on the lower jaw.