Camping, Hiking and Traveling in Montana
Books & Maps
The Castle Mountains are an island mountain range located just east of White Sulphur Springs in Central Montan. The mountains are not the steep chiseled peaks encountered in other areas of the state. Rather, they are more rounded and not as severe with the highest peaks being about 8,000 ft in elevation. However, the forested hillsides of the Castles make them a favorite destination for hikers and hunters. Access to the Castles is rather limited as all of the lands surrounding the mountains are privately owned. Fortunately, a public road that runs through the national forest and provides opportunities for access.
Camping and Hiking in the
There are two developed forest service campgrounds that are located a mile apart on Fourmile Creek Road (Forest Service Road #211) about ten miles from White Sulphur Springs. Grasshopper Campground is the first encountered as you drive from White Sulphur Springs and is the larger and more developed of the two. It sports about a half dozen or ten sites and has water available. This campground is preferred by those who are in campers and Rv's. Richardson Campground is much smaller with only tow or three campsites. This area is all on a slight hill and it can be difficult to find good level parking areas for campers. Unfortunately, it can also be hard to find good level tent sites. However, this campground receives much less use and generally provides better solitude.
I mentioned earlier that hunters like the Castle Mountains. You need to be aware of this if you plan a camping trip here. During both archery and rifle hunting seasons it is unusual to find the campgrounds without groups of hunters, some of whom host elaborate and extensive camps. These are great people that really enjoy the out-of-doors in their own way but they often consider four wheelers and generators to be a necessary part of their camping experience.
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A typical tent camping site at Richardson Campground in Montana's Castle Mountains
The hiking in the Castle Mountains is good but there are not a lot of trails. There is a great ten mile out and back hike described in Hiking Montana that will take you to the highest points in the mountains. Along this trail you will get a great idea of the terrain that makes the Castles special. There is a system of trails that loop through the heart of the Castles. However, this is much more of a backpack trip than a day hike.
The Castle Mountains are home to one of the historic mining areas of Montana and the mining ghost town of Castle is located on the south side of the range. There is a road that travelers right through the original town site and it is an interesting area. All of the lands surrounding the ghost town are private property and there is no excuse for trespassing. Look at the ruins from the road but please respect the property owners and do not leave the road right-of-way.
Mountain meadows, forested trails and lots of wildlife make the Castle Mountains a great off the beaten path camping destination.