Beartooth Campgrounds

Best Beartooth Campgrounds Near Red Lodge and Cody

Jun 26, 2024

A portion of the United States Route 212 that links Yellowstone National Park and Red Lodge, Montana, is known as the Beartooth Highway, also referred to as the "Highway to the Sky" and designated an All-American Highway.

To get to Beartooth Pass, the 69-mile highway winds and rises to more than 10,000 feet above sea level.

There are many sharp drop-offs along the route, which winds through arctic tundra and alpine woodland. There are also frequent views of lakes and 12,000-foot peaks.

The beartooth road route descends into Wyoming and then back into Montana to Cooke City and the northeast gateway to Yellowstone.

Accessible Beartooth Campgrounds

Along the Beartooth Highway there are many public campgrounds. Many factors will determine which option is perfect for you.

Okay, if you are ready to go camping, let's head straight to the best places. It is said that information sharing is a good thing let's begin!

1. Beartooth Lake

Beartooth Lake

Campers using tents or RVs are welcome at this 21-site campground located on Beartooth Lake's coast in the Shoshone National Forest.

There is a boat launch on the lake, as well as vault toilets and potable water available. Many treks, including the Beauty Lake Trail, are available from a trailhead on the east side of the lake.

Locating Beartooth Lake is simple. On the Beartooth Highway, it is roughly 40 miles west of Red Lodge and 23 miles east of Cooke City (Hwy 212).

The turn to the lake is clearly signposted, and the lake is accessible from the highway. A US Forest Service campground with 21 spots that are offered on a "first come" basis makes up the majority of the development.

Be advised that during the summer months, the campground is frequently full. Backpackers who want to explore the backcountry of the Beartooth Plateau can also access an important trailhead and a boat ramp location in addition to the campground. 

2. Island Lake on the Beartooth Plateau

Island Lake on the Beartooth Plateau

Island Lake is a lovely high-mountain lake located in Wyoming's Beartooth Plateau. Trust me it is the right place you should be. It is nestled a short distance west of the Beartooth Pass, it may be easily reached from the Beartooth Highway (US 212).

At an elevation of 9,518 feet, Island Lake spans 146 acres and reaches a maximum depth of about 100 feet.

With a boat port, beach area, and campground run by the US Forest Service, Island Lake is a well-liked recreation location. Hikers and backpackers especially enjoy the trailhead.

Just 25 miles east of Cooke City, Montana, and roughly 38 miles from Red Lodge, Montana, Island Lake is located off US 212, also known as the Beartooth Highway.

Sadly, there aren't any mile markers along the roadway, so you'll just have to keep an eye out for the clearly visible signage.

Access is via a brief diversion road that leaves US 212 and continues north. All vehicles may access this route, which connects to the boat launch location and campground.

READ ALSO: Baldwin MI Campgrounds

3. Parkside Campground on Rock Creek

Parkside Campground on Rock Creek

Around 12 miles southwest of Red Lodge, Montana, and 56 miles east of Yellowstone Park, Parkside Campground is situated off the Beartooth All American Highway (US 212).

There are 28 campsites in the campground, which is located directly on Rock Creek and less than 0.5 miles from the highway.

Situated off US 212 on the main Rock Creek road, Parkside is one of three campgrounds in close proximity to each other. Parkside, Greenough, and Limber Pine are the next closest neighborhoods near the freeway.

The three are all located one mile from the highway. The two camping loops are on different sides of Rock Creek, and Parkside is directly on the creek.

Every location features a steel fire ring and table. Pit toilets and a water supply are situated in the middle. There is also cell service, access points to boat ramps, and spacious parking lot for you.

4. Crazy Creek Campground

Crazy Creek Campground

The flowing waters of Crazy Creek fall 120 feet down a bedrock slope, making Crazy Creek Falls more of a slide than a waterfall.

Crazy Creek Campground features 16 campsites overlooking Crazy Creek from a bluff; a short hike leads to the falls.

The campground, which is located about eleven miles away from Cooke City, is accessible from May to September and features vault toilets, fire rings, and picnic tables but no water.

Every campground features a picnic table, a steel cabinet for storing food that is bear-proof, and a fire pit. Water is absent, however there are vault toilets.

Paying the overnight camping charge ($10.00 in 2020) in person is required. We do not take electronic payments or credit/debit cards.

READ ALSO: Bailey Campgrounds and RV Resort

5. M-K Campground

M-K Campground

Situated next to Rock Creek with a good scenic views and wildlife viewing, M-K Campground is roughly fifteen miles away from Red Lodge, Montana. It is located around three miles off the Beartooth Highway on Rock Creek Road.

At 7,500 feet in height, M-K is a peaceful, secluded, and beautiful location that is perfect for a trip or overnight stay.

The M-K campground is situated on Rock Creek Road, about three miles from the Beartooth Highway. Despite being gravel, the route is normally in good shape and appropriate for many types of vehicles.

All of the campsites are located on one side of the campground's single road, which runs parallel to Rock Creek Road. Each of the clearly designated campsites features a steel fire ring, picnic area, a nearby store, hot springs, hot showers, a table, and a bear-proof food storage box. 

6. Soda Butte Campground Montana

Soda Butte Campground Montana

Along the well-known Beartooth Scenic Byway, the nearest campground to Yellowstone Park is Soda Butte Campground. It is located 4.5 miles from the Northeast Entrance to Yellowstone, just outside of Cooke City, Montana.

The campsite is only accessible by hardsided campers, such as trailers, motor homes, or truck campers, and is located in the heart of bear country. Camping in a tent is not permitted.

The Custer Gallatin National Forest's Gardiner District is home to the Soda Butte Campground. Opening dates for the campground are early July through September.

If you want to arrive early or late, confirm the season ahead of time as it depends according on the weather. 

7. Lily Lake Camping, Fishing & Boating

Lily Lake Camping, Fishing & Boating

At 7,670 feet on the edge of Lily Lake, there is a partially built campground called Lily Lake Camping Area.

Lily Lake features five sites with picnic tables, three communal steel bear-proof food boxes, as well as a vault toilet, while being legally designated as dispersed camping. Neither water nor steel fire rings are present.

The Lily Lake camping area is situated at the northernmost point of Forest Road 128 (FR128), which extends from the Beartooth Highway (US 212). Around 15 miles east of Cooke City, Montana, FR 128 crosses US 212.

Less than a mile east of the junction of US 212 & WY 296 is where you will find FR128 if you are traveling by route of the Chief Joseph Highway (WY 296). A good amount of cars may use the mile-long access road.

A 22-foot vehicle is recommended. There have been claims that certain towing units can be challenging to turn around.

READ ALSO: Best Boulder City Campgrounds

Frequently asked questions

Q1. At what point does the Beartooth Highway start and finish?

While it crosses into Wyoming en route, the Beartooth Highway is a segment of U.S. Route 212 that connects Cooke City and Red Lodge, Montana. Additionally, Cooke City serves as Yellowstone National Park's northeast entrance.

Q2. How much time does it take to travel the Beartooth Route?

You can get from Red Lodge to Cooke City in roughly two hours if all you want to do is enjoy the road.

On what has been called "the most beautiful road in America," there are places where the posted speed limit is as high as 80 mph. On the other hand, it's far preferable to go more slowly and explore over a period of time.

Q3. What is the price of the Beartooth Highway?

Driving on the Beartooth Highway is free of charge. On the other hand, each private vehicle, including an RV, must pay a $35 seven-day entrance charge to Yellowstone National Park.

Q4. What is the Beartooth Highway's length in miles?

Beartooth Highway length is 68.7 kilometers.

Q5. How might one best navigate the Beartooth Highway?

A car, RV, or motorcycle can be used to travel the Beartooth Highway. On occasion, bikers use the same route as cars, climbing thousands of feet to reach Beartooth Pass from either way.

Q6. Which season is best for traveling the Beartooth Highway?

In the winter, the Beartooth Highway is blocked because of heavy snowfall in the Beartooth Pass. The optimum time to drive the whole length of the route is usually from the Friday of Memorial Day weekend (late May) until mid-September.

Q7. Is traveling east to west on the Beartooth Highway preferable?

Driving on the Beartooth Highway is possible in both directions. Some drive from Red Lodge along the Beartooth Highway as an entrance to Yellowstone National Park, while others make the trek from west to east as an extension of their vacation.

Q8. Do bathrooms exist along the Beartooth Highway?

There are restrooms in National Forest campgrounds, the Top of the World shop in Beartooth Pass, the Rock Creek Vista Point Rest Area and Interpretive Trail, and within the towns of Cooke City and Red Lodge.

Now you know it all and the choice is yours to make. Sportsaber is always here for you when it comes to giving you legit information about incredible places you can relax in the middle of summer.

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