M-K Campground is located alongside Rock Creek about 15 miles from Red Lodge, MT. It’s on the Rock Creek Road about 3 miles from the Beartooth Highway. Sitting at an elevation of 7,500 ft, M-K is remote, quiet, and scenic making it a place to vacation or spend the night.
|Season||May – September|
|Number of sites||10 campsites|
|Amenities||Vault Toilets, Picnic tables, Fire pits, Food storage|
|Attractions||Stream fishing, Hiking|
|Nearest City||Red Lodge, MT – 15 miles|
M-K campground is located about 3 miles from the Beartooth Highway on the Rock Creek Road. The road is gravel but is usually in good condition and suitable for all vehicles. The campground has a single road that runs parallel to the Rock Creek Road with all of the campsites on one side of the road. The campsites are well defined and each has a table, a steel fire ring and a bear-proof food storage locker.
The campground is administered by the Beartooth Ranger District of the Custer Gallatin Forest and there are no reservations and all sites are first come, first served. The campground often fills so it’s a good idea to arrive as early as possible to secure a site. In a departure from most campgrounds, M-K does not charge a camping fee. Although there are few amenities, free camping is a great bonus!
M-K campground is open all year but the access road is not plowed in the winter so it’s often inaccessible because of snow cover. Although the road may not be open, the campground is always open. The vault toilet is unlocked all year but not maintained so bring your own toilet paper in the off-season. There is no water at any time of year. Although the campground is right on Rock Creek don’t plan to use the creek for drinking or cooking unless you filter or purify the water.
M-K Campground History
M-K Campground is named after the Morrison-Knudsen (M-K) company who constructed the nearby switchback section of the Beartooth Highway. From 1932 to 1936 M-K had their main work camp located near the site of the current M-K Campground.
The work that Morrison-Knudsen did was truly amazing. It’s reported that road was built mostly without plans. The route and the construction was determined by employees making decisions in the field. Despite this, the twisty switchbacks climbing more than 2,000 ft on a very steep sidehill remain a road building marvel. To top it all off, the road came in under budget. In fact, the actual cost of $2.5 million was less than half the estimate of $5.4 million.
Fishing Rock Creek
Rock Creek runs right by the M-K campground and provides great fly fishing opportunities. All of the trout are wild fish – Rock Creek is never stocked. Rainbows are most common but the creek also holds brook trout, brown trout and mountain whitefish. It’s most common to catch fish in the 10 inch range but there are larger ones for the skilled angler.
Rock Creek is in Montana and you need to have a valid Montana fishing license. All of the area around M-K campground is US Forest Service land so you can fish anywhere on the creek you want to. However, if you fish the creek in the Red Lodge area you need to always be aware of land ownership.
M-K Campground is
Quiet and Remote
Even though it’s only 3 miles from the highway, M-K is a remote campground. The Rock Creek Road continues past the campground for another 5 miles before it ends at a trailhead but the road sees little traffic during the day and virtually none at night.
Nighttime brings more than quiet. There are no artificial sources of light near here which results in very dark nights that highlight the stars. The night skies can be amazing with the milky way stretching across the sky. This is a great place for stargazing.
For additional information about the M-K Campground contact:
Beartooth Ranger District
6811 US Hwy 212
Red Lodge, MT 59068