We stayed at Beaverhead Campground on Clark Canyon Reservoir, Montana in July 2020.
Our Previous Stop: Free Camping By The Water At Canyon Ferry Lake, Montana
Our Next Stop: Montana
Location: 44.996457, -112.855009
Camping Limit: 14 Day
Amenities: Vault Toilet, Pavilions, Picnic Table, Garbage Cans, Handicap Campsites & Access, & Freshwater (From Handpump).
Town: Dillon, MT – 20 miles
Gas Station: Gateway Canyon Travel Plaza – 12 miles
Dump Station & Potable Water: Lewis & Clark Campground – 1.5 miles ($10: no dumpsters. Potable water is free)
Grocery Store: Safeway – 21 miles
Cell Phone Service
Verizon – Good
AT&T – Good
Buffalo Lodge – 1 mile
Beaverhead River Access– 0.5 mile
Dillon, MT – 20 miles
Clarks Lookout State Park – 21 miles
Beaverhead Rock State Park – 35 miles
Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve – 169 miles
Yellowstone National Park – 135 miles
Helena Montana – 150 miles
Missoula Montana – 190 miles
Glacier National Park – 317 miles
Beaverhead Campground, Clark Canyon Reservoir Montana
The Beaverhead Campground is next to the Clark Canyon Reservoir about 20 miles south of Dillon Montana. The campground is the first one you meet when you take the exit off the I-15. It’s before the dam crossing. Turn left at this awesome sign for Clark Canyon Reservoir and you will end up at the Beaverhead Campground.
There are actually quite a few free campgrounds all around the reservoir and even one fee campground with full hookups. It’s a great area to spend a few weeks and if you don’t like camping right next to a freeway you can check out some of the other campgrounds further down the road on the western side of the Clark Canyon Reservoir.
Notice that almost all the campgrounds have picnic tables, pavilions, drinking water, and handicap access. The only campground that costs money is the Lewis & Clark campground. It has full-hookup sites for $30 a night or you can stay there for a month for $300. It also has a dump station for $10 and you can fill up on fresh water wherever there is an open campsite. Note the hydrant right next to the dump station is non-potable so don’t fill your RV fresh water tank with that.
The fresh water at all of the free campgrounds is a little tricky to get if you are looking to fill up your trailer. You actually get the water from hand pumps. It’s great for filling up a few jugs but you can’t connect a hose to it and it’s quite a bit of work to get even just a few gallons. If you need to fill up your trailer or a lot of water jugs I suggest going to the Lewis & Clark campground and filling up there.
There are a lot of large, big rig friendly campsites at Beaverhead Campground, and about half of them have a nice pavilion with a picnic table and a fire pit. The pavilion sites were always taken first but most people only spend one or two nights so if you don’t get a pavilion spot all you have to do is wait a few days and one will most likely open up pretty quickly.
Every campsite has at least a picnic table and a nice fire pit so even if you don’t get a pavilion you will at least have a picnic table. Even the more open sites located right next to the dam had everything you need for an awesome free campsite.
The fire pits were some of the nicest I’ve ever seen and every campsite has one which is important because there is a rule that all campfires must be in the provided fire pits.
There are also clean well-maintained vault toilets throughout the campground and large garbage cans you can throw trash bags in. Someone came and collected the garbage almost every other day so there was always space to dispose of trash.
If you have a boat there is a small boat ramp right next to the dam and another one just a little bit further down just past the Beaverhead Campground. It ends with a larger boat ramp and a large turn around so you can drive all the way to the end of the road and not have to worry about getting stuck. There is actually one more hidden campsite next to the pavilion at the end of the road near the boat ramp. If you want to be away from people and have your own space it’s a good spot to check out.
Even though it’s free there are some rules at Beaverhead campground and there is even a camp host. You are not allowed to leave anything unattended for more than 24 hours, quiet hours are from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m., you must keep your pets on a leash and clean up after them, and there is no shooting of firearms or fireworks allowed. It’s basically the same kind of rules you will find in any national forest campground.
Clark Canyon Reservoir is known for its excellent fishing and boating opportunities and it’s a great place to kayak and paddleboard as well as swim. The water was really clear and clean compared to most reservoirs we’ve stayed at and we were able to paddleboard out to Armstead Island which actually has a pavilion on it. It’s a great place for a picnic. The beaches are a little muddy and just rocks but it’s still a nice place to spend the day and go for a swim.
The reservoir actually covers a historic site. Before there was water the area used to be a prairie with a river running through it. Lewis & Clark camped near the cliffs of Armstead Island. It’s where they met with the Lemhi Shoshoni Tribe to gather supplies and also where Sacagawea was reunited with her people. Just a cool piece of history I thought was interesting. It’s always fun to learn about what an area looked like before a dam was built and everything was covered by water.
My Review Of Beaverhead Campground
Even though the Beaverhead Campground is close to the freeway you actually hardly hear it at all. In fact, when we drove across the dam to the Lewis & Clark Campground to dump our trailer we could hear the noise more from there. There’s a small hill between Beaverhead Campground and the I-15 which blocks a lot of the noise, the only night noise that may bother you is the occasional trail that passes by on the other side of the freeway.
It’s unbelievable that Beaverhead Campground is free. The campsites are better than a lot of the campgrounds that cost money we’ve seen and everything is clean and in excellent shape. The grass is cut and maintained and free drinking water is normally something only found in fee campgrounds.
We stayed there for 10 days and were able to swim almost every day and it was nice to sit out under the shade of the pavilion during the hot part of the day. Most people use the campground as a one night rest stop on their way to other destinations but I think it could be a destination itself. It got windy some nights and was slightly breezy most days but the wind kept the mosquitoes away and made the stay that much more enjoyable.
You are just 20 miles from Dillon Montana which is a nice little town with some cool historic buildings and the Beaverhead River which is world famous for its incredible fly fishing and huge trout.
We loved camping there and would recommend this campground to anyone. You can stop there for just a few nights on your way to somewhere else or make it a trip and spend a week. Either way, it’s an enjoyable area and a great place to dry camp.
Have any questions about Beaverhead Campground or camping at Clark Canyon Reservoir? Leave a comment below.