Rock creek runs through Red Lodge, MT and the Beartooth Highway (US 212) follows the creek as it heads toward the switchbacks that climb steeply to the Beartooth Pass. Rock Creek is popular with campers who enjoy the area’s many recreation opportunities and also by travelers on the Beartooth Highway.
The Rock Creek campgrounds are all administered by the Beartooth Ranger District of the Custer Gallatin National Forest. The campgrounds are mostly close to the highway and are clustered in three areas – Main Rock Creek, East Side and West Fork Rock Creek.
Main Rock Creek Campgrounds
The main Rock Creek Road splits off from US 212 12 miles west of Red Lodge, MT. If you are traveling from Yellowstone Park, the road is 56 miles from the NE Entrance near Cooke City, MT. This is right at the bottom of the famous switchbacks that climb steeply out of the creek bottom.
There are 4 campgrounds along this road. Three are located very close together less than a mile from US 212 while the fourth is less than 3 miles in on a good forest road. Click on a campground name to get more info.
|Main Rock Creek Campgrounds||Distance from US 212|
|Parkside Campground||0.4 mile|
|Greenough Lake Campground||0.8 mile|
|Limber Pine Campground||0.9 Mile|
|M-K Campground||2.9 Miles|
East Side Campgrounds
Two campgrounds are located on the east side of Rock Creek a few miles north of the Main Rock Creek sites. Both campgrounds are located on the East Side access road which is 8 miles south of Red Lodge and 60 miles east of Yellowstone Park’s NE Entrance near Cooke City, MT. Click on the campground name for complete details.
West Fork Rock Creek
There are three campgrounds along the West Fork Rock Creek with additional dispersed camping in the area. The West Fork road splits off from US 212 just 1 mile from downtown Red Lodge, MT. Look for the road right on the edge of town. Click on the campground name to get full information.
|West Fork Rock Creek Campgrounds||Distance from US 212|
|Palisades Campground||2.5 miles|
|Basin Campground||7.0 miles|
|Cascade Campground||10.3 miles|
Rock Creek is Bear Country
All of the Rock Creek campgrounds are in prime grizzly bear areas. Most of the campsites have steel bear-proof food storage lockers but if you are in a site that doesn’t have one make sure to store all food in a vehicle. While camping you should only have your food out of storage when you are cooking or eating.
Bear spray is always recommended for campers and hikers. Make sure you have spray and know how to use it. Carefully read the directions so you know what to do if you ever have an encounter. Yellowstone Park has great information about How To Use Bear Spray.
Rock Creek Dispersed Camping
There are opportunities for dispersed camping along the main Rock Creek road and alongside the West Fork Rock Creek road. These campsites are free to use but offer no amenities. Some sites have been used for years and have camper-built fire rings but there are no tables, steel fire pits or food storage cabinets.
While the Forest Service doesn’t advertise the dispersed camping opportunities, they also don’t try to hide them. In fact, the maps they have posted in the area show small dots where there are well established sites. The map at the top of this page shows these sites.
Most dispersed campsites are along the road and close to the creek. While it’s great to be camped creekside, you must take special precautions to make sure you don’t add any pollution to the water. Never wash dishes or yourself in the creek. Since these sites don’t have vault toilets you must be very careful in how and where you pee and poop. Get far away from the creek, bury your poop and never leave toilet paper on the ground. It’s up to us to care for these public lands so do your part!
To learn more about the Rock Creek Area contact:
Beartooth Ranger District
6811 US Hwy 212
Red Lodge, MT 59068