The 10 Best RV Trips to Take in Montana

Whoever dubbed Montana the Big Sky State got it right on the nose. As one of the largest, most expansive states in the nation, Montana is known for its epic landscapes and sparse population. In other words, it’s an RVers ideal destination. One of the state’s biggest attractions can be found in the origin of its name: montaña, Spanish for “mountainous country.” And mountainous it is. The Northern Rocky Mountains run through a large portion of Western Montana, along with other sub-ranges in the central and northern parts of the state.

Where there are mountains, there must be valleys as well. More than half of Montana’s geological landscape is prairie lands. These beautiful, windswept prairies make up the northern section of the Great Plains region. River valleys are abundant in Montana, too, and are another one of the many reasons tourists love the Big Sky State. Montana’s crystal-clear lakes and rivers offer ample opportunity for outdoor recreation. What’s more, RV rentals in Montana are affordable, making it easy to plan the ultimate Montana road trip.

The list of reasons to visit Montana is a long one. Suffice it to say that it’s one of the most scenic, humbling, and introspective landscapes in the world. From the towering mountain peaks to the lowland prairies, Montana’s scenery will have you in constant awe. We’ve put together a list of some of its most majestic and interesting destinations. Don’t worry – we’ve included a few spots where you’ll get the chance to run into other people. You know, so you don’t feel too lonely under that endless Montana sky.

 

1. Glacier National Park

You just can’t make a list of Montana road trip destinations without including Glacier National Park. It’s one of the best-known parks in the state, renowned for its rich and diverse ecosystem, and of course, its natural beauty. Otherwise known as The Crown of the Continent, Glacier National Park is part of a 16,000 square-mile protected wilderness on the U.S.-Canadian border. As you can imagine, the Park offers plenty to do, including hiking, fishing, ranger programs and guided tours, and special events throughout the year.

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Glacier State Park Information

Address: 64 Grinnell Drive, West Glacier, MT 59936

Contact: (406) 888-7800

Price: $30 entrance fee for a seven-day permit

Website: https://www.nps.gov/glac/index.htm

Where to Stay

There are 13 campgrounds throughout the park, 7 of which can accommodate RVs. Four of the RV-friendly campgrounds allow you to make a registration in advance; the rest are first-come, first-served. Camping fees range from $10 to $23 per night. Please note, none of the campgrounds provide hookups, and some campgrounds or sites may prohibit generator use.

 

2. Going-to-the-Sun Road

While you’re in Glacier National Park, don’t miss the infamous Going-to-the-Sun Road! This scenic road is nearly 50 miles long and connects the eastern and western portions of Glacier National Park. Along the road, you’ll cross the Continental Divide at a whopping 6,646-foot elevation. Needless to say, this road isn’t for the faint of heart. However, if you can brave its narrow turns and steep drop-offs, you’ll be rewarded with a plethora of jaw-dropping views. The drive takes about two hours total without stops, though there are plenty of places to stop and snap a photo or have a picnic. It’s important to note that RVs longer than 21 feet are not permitted.

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Going-to-the-Sun Road Information

Address: 64 Grinnell Drive, West Glacier, MT 59936

Contact: (406) 888-7800

Fee: Free with Glacier Park Entry Fee

Website: https://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/goingtothesunroad.htm

Where to Stay

Five of Glacier Park’s campgrounds are located along Going-to-the-Sun Road, including four that allow RV parking. Rising Sun Campground and Apgar Village also have food and other lodging options. Campsite fees vary between $10 to $23 per night. There are three Visitor Centers along the road where you can find more information.

 

3. Garnet Ghost Town

I know we promised to bring you to a populated place, and we’ll do that soon. First, you have to visit the best-preserved ghost town in the state, Garnet Ghost Town. Garnet was built quickly and haphazardly as miners and their families moved north after the Gold Rush. In 1898, the town was home to roughly 1,000 people. Just a mere seven years later, the mines were spent and 90% of the population had abandoned the town. By the 1940’s, only the buildings and their furnishings remained. Today, visitors come from all over the country to tour the town’s fully-intact and furnished buildings. There are also several hiking trails and a visitor center store on the grounds.

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Garnet Ghost Town Information

Address: Garnet Range Rd, Drummond, MT 59832

Contact: (406) 329-3914

Fee: $3 for guests older than 16

Website: http://www.garnetghosttown.net/index.php

Where to Stay

Nearby Public Lands offer dispersed camping. You can check out this list of RV parking in Montana to find popular places to stay for the night. Bearmouth Chalet is about half hour south of Garnet and offers 46 RV sites with full hookups. There’s on-site laundry, a recreation room, and a pet park as well. Rates start at $35 per night.

 

4. The Berkeley Pitt in Butte, Montana

See? We told you we’d bring you somewhere with more people! Butte is a mid-sized city in Montana with roughly 32,000 inhabitants. For Montana, that’s a lot! It’s a quirky city that started out as a mining town in the 1800s. Today, it’s a center for tourism and historic preservation. One of the city’s more unusual attractions is The Berkeley Pit, an abandoned copper mine that’s now filled with acidic water. The water contains toxic levels of heavy metals and surprisingly, a variety of new fungal and bacterial species that can resist such harsh conditions. So, basically, you’ll be standing over an enormous pit of bacteria-infested toxic waste. Pretty cool, right?

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Berkeley Pit Information

Address: 200 Shields Ave., Butte, MT 59701

Contact: (406) 723-3177

Fee: $2

Website: http://www.visitmt.com/listings/general/landmark/berkeley-pit.html

Where to Stay

Butte KOA is just minutes away, right smack in the center of Butte. Amenities include full hookups, wifi, a snack bar, a pool, and a dog park. Butte KOA is convenient to all of Butte’s attractions, including the Copper King Mansion, Historic Dumas Brothel, the Historic Clark Chateau Museum and Gallery, and of course, the Berkeley Pitt. KOA camping rates range from $35 to $70 per night.

 

5. West Yellowstone and Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone’s northwestern edge sits on the border between Montana and Wyoming, and five of the park’s entrances are in this region. West Yellowstone is a small city that serves as a gateway to the park. It’s a tiny city with just over 1,200 residents – a fun, quaint town where you can recharge your batteries before heading into the vast wilderness of Yellowstone. There are several attractions in the area, including the Yellowstone Historic Center, The Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center, and a handful of companies offering nature and wildlife tours. And, of course, America’s first national park is just steps away.

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West Yellowstone Information

Address: West Yellowstone, Montana 59758

Fee: $30 to enter Yellowstone National Park

Website: http://www.visitmt.com/places-to-go/cities-and-towns/west-yellowstone.html

Where to Stay

West Yellowstone is more than accommodating for travelers of all sorts. There are a handful of RV parks within the town’s borders. This includes the Buffalo Crossing RV Park, which is just a few hundred feet away from the entrance to Yellowstone National Park. Amenities include a trading post, one of the largest outdoor movie theatres in the country, and laundry and shower facilities. Rates start at $40 per night during the off-season.

 

6. Big Sky

Since you’re in the Yellowstone area, why not head north to the picturesque town of Big Sky? This resort town is beautiful – and eventful – any time of the year. During the summer, hiking, fishing, horseback riding, and whitewater rafting on the Gallatin River are just a few of the activities Big Sky has to offer. But winter sports are the real star of the show here. With more than 5,800 acres of skiable landscape, Big Sky is one of the top skiing destinations in the world. Even if skiing isn’t your thing, there’s still plenty more to do, including snowmobiling, dog sledding, and sleigh rides.

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Big Sky Information

Address: Big Sky, Montana 59716

Website: https://visitbigskymt.com/

Where to Stay

Where else to stay but the beautiful Big Sky Camp and RV Park? The park is surrounded by scenic mountain views, with trees and rivers lining the grounds. It’s a clean, quiet park that’s just 10 minutes outside of Big Sky’s historic downtown. There are a variety of RV sites, including sites with full hookups and free cable and Wi-fi. Rates start at $29 per night for full hookups.

 

7. Pompey’s Pillar

Pompey’s Pillar marks the end of the Lewis and Clark Trail, or at least, the evidence of the trail. It’s the only remaining physical piece of evidence of their nearly 2 and a half-year journey. In July of 1806, Clark’s expedition party reached what is now known as Pompey’s Pillar. The towering rock formation afforded the party a vantage point with panoramic views of the grasslands below. But they weren’t the first to find the Pillar. Native Americans had carved hundreds of petroglyphs into the rock, which they called “the place where the mountain lion lies.” Today, you can still see the remnants of the petroglyphs, in addition to Clark’s autograph etched into the soft sandstone.

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Pompey’s Pillar Information

Address: Pompey’s Pillar Access Rd., Worden, Montana 59088

Contact: (406) 875-2400

Fee: $7

Website: http://www.pompeyspillar.org/visitor-information/

Where to Stay

There are two campgrounds nearby; the Grandview Campground & RV Park in Hardin, and the Billings Village RV Park. Both are about a half hour away from Pompey’s Pillar. The Billing’s Village RV Park is conveniently located to downtown Billings, where local shopping and eateries are plentiful. Amenities include full hookups, free cable and Wifi, laundry, a bike trail, and a playground. Rates start at $55 per day.

 

8. Flathead Lake

This expansive lake is one of the largest freshwater lakes in the country and the largest west of the Mississippi. You’ll marvel at its pristine waters, which are so clear they appear to make the lake look shallow, when in fact it’s more than 350-feet deep! The area offers an array of outdoor recreation, including boating, fishing, hiking, guided tours, and wildlife observation. Don’t forget your camera; the tree-lined shores and pure sparkling waters offer ample photo opportunities.

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Flathead Lake Information

Address: 490 North Meridian Rd., Polson, MT 59860

Contact: (406) 756-9091

Fee: Fishermen will need a tribal fishing permit, available at local stores.

Website: http://www.fcvb.org/flathead-lake-montana.php

Where to Stay

There are handfuls of campgrounds along the shores of Flathead Lake, including the Flathead Lake KOA and the Rollins Restaurant and Campground. Rollins consistently receives high ratings for its delicious buffalo burgers and huckleberry milkshakes. It boasts a boat dock as well and of course, sweeping views of the lake. Amenities include free Wifi, firepits, horseshoes, and a rec center. Rates start at $55 per night. Or, you could head to one of these other top RV parks in Montana.

 

9. Miracle of America Museum

If you’re looking for an oddball attraction, the Miracle of America Museum has you covered. An impressive display of Americana, the museum has collection representing everything to do with American history. There are dozens of buildings on the grounds, each packed with their own collection of themed exhibits. In one building, you might find a gallery of vintage motorcycles and leather jackets; in another, you’ll find a collection of old toys and a player piano. It’s a huge museum, so make sure you set aside at least a few hours to explore.

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Miracle of America Museum Information

Address: 58176 Highway 93., Polson, MT 59860

Contact: (406) 883-6804

Fee: $6 for adults, $3 for kids

Website: http://miracleofamericamuseum.org/

Where to Stay

The Museum is just south of Flathead Lake, so any of the campgrounds mentioned in the previous listing will work. If you want to be really close to the Museum, however, you can stay at the Eagle Nest RV Resort up the street. This award-winning resort offers free cable and Wifi at every site. Facilities include a pool and jacuzzi, outdoor sports courts, a recreation room, a camp shop, and more. Rates start at $37 per night during the off-season.

 

10. Garden of 1,000 Buddhas

Let’s top off this list with another odd and unusual, albeit beautiful destination. For starters, the Garden of 1,000 Buddhas sits inside an Indian Reservation – not your typical Buddhist shrine locale, right? The circular monument represents the wheel of Dharma, and the monument itself represents international peace. Each of the Buddha statues honors a Buddha that has or will walk among us in this lifetime. It’s a beautiful place where visitors can go to reflect on life and shed the negativities of the world. Many who visit leave feeling a renewed sense of peace and positivity.

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Garden of 1,000 Buddhas Information

Address: 34574 White Coyote Rd., Arlee, MT 59821

Contact: (406) 726-0555

Fee: Free, though donations are greatly appreciated.

Website: http://www.ewambuddhagarden.org/

Where to Stay

There are two campgrounds near the Garden of 1,000 Buddhas: Jocko Hollow Campground and Jim & Mary’s RV Park. Jocko Hollow is the closest, but is also the smallest, with only nine or ten campsites. Jim & Mary’s is a much larger RV park with lawns and flower gardens separating the sites. Each site includes free cable TV and Wifi. Rates start at $45.30 per night.

 

Big Adventures in the Big Sky State

Whether you like the great outdoors, quirky cities, or unique roadside attractions, Montana is full of possibilities. It’s a picture-perfect place where travelers of all kinds go to seek out adventure. The Big Sky State also a top RVing destination, due to its wide-open roads and bevy of outdoor activities. It’s no surprise, then, that there are handfuls of reputable RV dealers in Montana.

The truth is, whether you rent or own an RV, Montana offers endless exploration. As one of the biggest, least populated states in the country, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to crank up the tunes and cruise. Don’t forget to stop at a few of the destinations on this list, though! Happy trails!

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