Why Montana State Parks Are Great for RVers

Feb 4, 2022 | Best Campgrounds, Campgrounds

Why Montana State Parks Are Great for RVers

By Suzanne Downing

With vast mountain views, abundant wildlife, and long stretches of scenic roadway, Montana is an exceptional place for RV travel. 

As an added bonus, Montana state parks are packed with unique offerings. “We have two of the longest buffalo jumps, three ghost towns, and unbelievable geology for paleontology lovers,” says Pat Doyle, marketing manager at Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

About Montana State Parks

Montana’s 55 state parks offer ample opportunities to get outdoors, including hiking trails, badlands, lakes, caverns, and more. 

To help narrow down your choices, visit the Montana State Parks website. You’ll find a map of all the parks across the state, and you can filter your search to show RV camping sites. The free Montana State Parks Guide breaks down the parks by historical sites, nature parks, and water-based recreation, and gives you additional information on things like accommodations, visitor centers, and park fees. 

Wide angle view of grassy campground with RV and tent set up
Campground at Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park | Photo by: Wandering Pulse

There are 23 RV-friendly state parks in Montana, all with something different to offer. Ghost towns showcase a boom-and-bust mining history, while other parks feature monuments that pay tribute to the state’s rich Native American legacy.

Entry is free for Montana residents with a valid Montana state license plate. For nonresidents, there’s a day-use fee of $8 per car or a $35 pass available for 7 consecutive days. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks also offers camping discounts, including 50 percent off for seniors and veterans. View the park passes and discount breakdown here.  

Booking a Visit to a Montana State Park 

You’ll want to do your research before making a reservation at one of Montana’s state parks. There are 13 campgrounds with electric hookups and nine with showers. Pets are welcome at most Montana state parks. You can make reservations online on the Montana State Parks website

Campsite reservations can be made from the third Friday in May through the third Sunday in September, up to 6 months in advance of arrival. For full reservation policies, visit the Campsite Reservation Policies section of the Montana State Parks website. 

Campsite fees range from $4 to $34 per night and include options for tent, RV, yurt, cabin, and tipi stays, as well as hike- and bike-in, backcountry, and boat slip campsites. 

What to Expect at Montana State Parks

Montana is known for its endless scenic hiking trails, pristine lakes, and topography. Most RV campers spend their time away from the campsite, exploring the features of each park. The campsites are on the more primitive side. 

The interior of a cave with towering rock formations in vivid colors
Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park | Photo courtesy of Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks

Quiet hours are from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. The maximum stay at a Montana state park is 14 nights in a 30-day period. See the full list of campground regulations here

Montana state parks offer a range of activities, from snowmobiling and cross-country skiing to mountain biking and off-roading. 

Best Montana State Parks for RVers

While each Montana state park is unique, a few are especially popular. 

Rock formations against a blue sky
Makoshika State Park | Photo courtesy of Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks
  1. With the most decorated limestone caverns in North America, Lewis & Clark State Park is a camper favorite. “My favorite thing to do in this park is to tour the caverns,” says park manager Rhea Armstrong. “I love the deep, earthy smell, the varieties of shapes and colors and formations, and the physical challenges that make the experience feel intimate and adventurous. We also have 10 miles of hiking and mountain biking trails outdoors.”
  2. With more than 12,000 acres of badlands, Makoshika State Park offers endless exploration. Here you’ll also find some of the world’s best-preserved dinosaur fossils. 
  3. Big Arm State Park on Flathead Lake (the largest natural freshwater lake in the western U.S.) is another popular destination. Enjoy a long pebble beach and camp under mature ponderosa pine and juniper trees.