Beartooth Pass Camping & Campgrounds Red Lodge Area Yellowstone Area Hikes and Attractions

Colter Campground near Cooke City, MT

Named for the famous mountain man John Colter, this campground is right on the Beartooth Scenic Byway and is just a few miles from Cooke City, MT and Yellowstone National Park. This is prime grizzly bear country so the Colter Campground only allows camping in hard-sided campers – No Tents Allowed! The campground is in the Gardiner District of the Custer Gallatin National Forest.

Beartooth Pass Camping & Campgrounds Red Lodge Area Yellowstone Area Hikes and Attractions

Soda Butte Campground Montana

The Soda Butte Campground is the closest campground to Yellowstone Park along the famous Beartooth Scenic Byway. It’s just outside of Cooke City, MT only 4.5 miles from the Northeast Entrance to Yellowstone. The campground is in prime bear country and is only open for hardsided campers – trailers, motor homes or truck campers. No tent camping is allowed.

Soda Butte Campground
SeasonJuly – September
Number of sites27 sites – Hard Sided Campers only
AmenitiesWater, Pit Toilets, Picnic tables, Fire pits, Food storage boxes
AttractionsClose to Yellowstone Park
Nearest CityCooke City – 1.5 miles

Soda Butte Campground is located in the Gardiner District of the Custer Gallatin National Forest. The campground is open from early July thru September. The exact season is weather dependent so check in advance if you are coming early or late.

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The 27 campsites in the Soda Butte Campground fill up almost every night in the summer. There is no reservation system and all sites are available first-come first-served. There is no way to check site availability in advance so plan to arrive as early in the day as possible to try to secure a site. If the campground is full try the Colter Campground which is just a mile away. There are many other choices in our guide to Beartooth Highway Camping & Campgrounds.

Typical campsite in Soda Butte Campground
This is a typical campsite in the Soda Butte Campground. There is a picnic table, a fire pit and bear-proof food storage at each site. The sites are mostly set in the trees and there are great views of the surrounding mountains.

Each campsite has a picnic table, a fire pit and bear proof food storage. Water and pit toilets are available in a central location. There are no hookups for campers. The Forest Service recommends a vehicle length limit of 48 ft. There is a nightly camping fee which you must pay on-site. Cash and check only.

The campground is located at about 7,500 ft elevation and temperatures can be colder than you expect, especially at night. Between the high elevation and the crystal clear atmosphere you can expect to have some of the best star gazing you have ever experienced.

For more information contact:
Custer Gallatin National Forest
Gardiner Office
P.O. Box 5; 805 Scott St.
Gardiner, MT 59030
(406) 848-7375

Bozeman Area Yellowstone Area Hikes and Attractions

Montana’s Missouri Headwaters State Park

At the Missouri Headwaters State Park three great rivers; the Madison, the Jefferson, and the Gallatin join to form the Missouri River. The Missouri flows 2,341 miles downstream until it joins the Mississippi River and ultimately reaches the ocean in New Orleans. In 1805 the Lewis & Clark expedition became the first known European explorers to reach the area. They traveled up the Missouri and named the three rivers they found coming together here.

Central Montana Hikes & Attractions Livingston & Paradise Valley Yellowstone Area Hikes and Attractions

The Yellowstone River [2023]

The Yellowstone River is one of our nation’s most remarkable treasures. It’s the last major free-flowing river in the lower 48 states, traveling 680 dam-free miles. The Yellowstone River begins as a melting snowbank on Yount’s Peak deep in the Wyoming wilderness south of Yellowstone Park. From here it runs north then east until it joins the Missouri River in North Dakota.

Big Timber Area Yellowstone Area Hikes and Attractions

West Boulder River

The West Boulder River is a favorite place for camping, hiking, and fishing close to both Big Timber and Livingston, MT. Popular with day hikers and backpackers, the West Boulder Meadows are an ideal place for a first-ever backpack trip. The combination of excellent hiking, camping, fishing, and scenery make this a very special place.

Western Montana Hikes & Attractions

Salmon Lake State Park

Salmon Lake is one of a chain of natural lakes located along the Clearwater River in northwest Montana. The 630-acre lake is popular with anglers, boaters, campers, and bird watchers. Located on the lake, Salmon Lake State Park provides excellent access, and getting there couldn’t be easier. It’s right on MT Hwy 83 about 7 miles north of the Junction of Highways 83 & 200 (Clearwater Junction).

Big Timber Area Yellowstone Area Hikes and Attractions

Natural Bridge Falls and the Boulder River

The Boulder River is a tributary of the Yellowstone River that originates high in the Absaroka Mountains south of Big Timber, MT. Natural Bridge Falls is the main attraction on the Boulder but the river and surrounding lands provide incredible opportunities for fishing, camping, and exploring.

Central Montana Hikes & Attractions

Little Belt Mountains

The Little Belt Mountains are in the Helena Lewis and Clark National Forest southeast of Great Falls, Montana. There’s a lot of different access areas providing a variety of camping, hiking, and outdoor recreation opportunities. For motorized recreation enthusiasts, the Little Belts offer many miles of trails and roads to explore.

Central Montana Hikes & Attractions

Crystal Lake in Montana’s Big Snowy Mountains

Crystal Lake offers camping, hiking, and fishing located in an island of wild mountains surrounded by prairie. The lake is in the Big Snowy Mountains which are one of the small “island” ranges that dot central Montana. The mountains are south of Lewistown, MT, and offer camping, fishing, hiking, and backpacking.

Central Montana Hikes & Attractions

Cooney State Park – Cooney Dam & Reservoir

Cooney State Park is one of the most visited recreation destinations in south-central Montana. Located within an hour’s drive of Billings, MT, Cooney offers great fishing for trout and walleye and is popular for ice fishing in the winter. Cooney is great for water skiing, wakeboarding, jet skis, and all types of water recreation. Cooney State Park offers camping, picnicking, hiking, and cross-country skiing. No wonder it’s so popular – Cooney Reservoir and State Park have something for almost everyone.