24 Jun Camping at Glacier National Park
After a full day of driving, we pulled into a campground just before sunset. We were on an adventure to go camping at Glacier National Park in Montana, and we couldn’t wait for the fun to begin. The Sprague Creek campsite in Glacier National Park was usually full by this time of the day, but we lucked out and found one tiny site tucked away in the back corner of the campground. “This will do,” we thought, after we weighed our chances of snagging a site in another non-reservable, highly sought after location.
Sprague Creek is located right on the shores of Lake McDonald; there are 25 sites in total, with handful being lakefront real estate. In hopes of catching the sunset, we made our way to the water just in time to catch the last few remaining rays of light shining across the shore. We enjoyed the views of the mountains, and Micah even found some scuba divers coming up onshore after a dive. Apparently, there is an underwater forest in Lake McDonald and it makes for a unique dive site.
The sunset was the perfect prelude to dinner…or so we thought. Just as we got the fire going and the food on the grill, the skies opened up in a downpour. We sprinted to the car, dinner ingredients in hand and decided we should wait out the rain until we eventually called it quits and instead made sandwiches in the car.
After the first soggy night, we woke to sunny skies and a campground that was quickly starting to clear out. We had our eye on the lakefront sites, and when we noticed one of the campers packing up, we asked if we could sneak in and claim the site for ourselves. Things were starting to look up for us!
Shortly thereafter, we had transferred our tents from one edge of the campground to the other, and as we surveyed the lay of the land without all the distractions from the night before, we realized we had migrated to a pretty special spot. Any thoughts we had about moving to another campsite over the next couple of days vanished. We were going to post up here until it was time to head to Banff National Park later in the week.
The first day’s itinerary consisted of driving the “Going to the Sun Road” and stopping to take a few short hikes along the way. Due to the unfortunate forest fires that swept across North America that summer, we weren’t able to stop throughout a large portion of the park. We did however, make it to Logan Pass where we hiked up to Hidden Lake. The majority of our other stops were made up of viewpoints and lookouts. We also made our way to West Glacier for some coffee and shopping.
An early evening was definitely in order after our debacles throughout the past couple of days. We spent the evening cooking over the fire and enjoying the views over Lake McDonald.
The next day was the best day we had in Glacier National Park by far. To start the morning, we made our way to West Glacier for showers and freshening up. Then it was time to head towards the tiny town of Polebridge before venturing on to Bowman Lake for hiking and a picnic.
We spent most of the afternoon swinging in our hammocks before slowly making our way back to our campsite.
Luckily, except for the first night, we had pretty decent weather for the remainder of the trip. As we began packing up our site on our final morning, we realized how lucky we were to have snagged that our lake front campsite. We had at least 5 people come up and ask us if we were leaving because they all wanted to switch to our sweet digs!
Our replacement moved in as soon as we moved out–we hope they enjoyed the campsite as much as we did!
Practical Tips for Camping at Glacier National Park
- There are 13 campgrounds and over 1,000 campsites at Glacier National Park.
- Out of the 13 campsites, only 4 have sites that can be reserved in advanced–the campgrounds where campsites can be reserved in advanced are Fish Creek, St. Mary, Many Glacier, and Apgar (group sites only).
- Camping is only allowed at designated campsites throughout the park.
- The majority of campsites operate on a first come first serve basis. When you arrive, find an open campsite and then pay at the registration area. To pay at the registration area, you fill out an envelope with the requested information and deposit your money in the envelope, then tear off your receipt and place the envelope in the registration box. Place the receipt on the post at your campsite and you are good to go!
- Campsites range from $10-$23 per night.
- During the busy summer periods, campgrounds can fill up early in the morning. Check the Glacier National Park Campground Status page for updates on fees and campsite availability. The page shows if a campground is open and what time a campground was completely filled for the day.
- Each campsite is limited to 2 tents, 2 cars and 8 people. Group campsites are available for larger groups.
- Campsite check out time is 12:00 p.m., and campsites cannot be left unattended for more than 24 hours. All campgrounds enforce a 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. quiet time.
- Showers are available at Fish Creek and St. Mary campgrounds, and pay for use showers are available at nearby private campgrounds as well as the Rising Sun and Swiftcurrent Motor Inns.
- Food and garbage must be stored in bear proof lockers and trash cans at all times.
- For even more information, head to the Glacier National Park website!
Have you ever been camping in Glacier National Park?