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Amazing Views & Free Camping Near Glacier National Park

We stayed at McGinnis Creek, Columbia Falls, Montana in Late July 2020.

Our Previous Stop: Canyon Ferry Lake, Montana

Our Next Stop: Idaho

Campground Info

Location: 48.5144, -114.1476
Cost: Free
Camping Limit: 14 Day
Amenities: None

Related: Save 50% On Campgrounds All Over The United States With Passport America

Essentials Nearby

Town: Columbia Falls, Montana – 14 miles
Gas Station: Town Pump – 15.5 miles
Dump Station & Potable Water: Conoco – 16 miles ($5 Water From Hydrant Is Potable)
Grocery Store: Smiths – 15 miles

Cell Phone Service

Verizon – Good
AT&T – Good

Nearby Attractions

North Fork Flathead River – 1 mile
Standard Peak Hike – 7 miles
Polebridge Mercantile & Bakery – 24 miles
Glacier National Park West Entrance – 20 miles
Whitefish Lake – 27 miles
Flathead Lake – 41 miles

 

McGinnis Creek Camping Area Montana

Mcginnis Creek is an 8 mile dirt road off of North Fork Road just north of Columbia Falls, Montana. To get to it just drive down North Fork Road until it becomes dirt. Then it’s the first public road on your left. Make sure you turn off onto a road and not a private driveway as there are 3 or 4 you will pass before getting to the road.

Once you’re on McGinnis Creek Road it’s just a steady incline all the way into the mountains. It ends after about 8 miles in a small area that would be perfect for van or tent camping. I wouldn’t go all the way to the end with a large RV or trailer but there is a good place to turn around at the 3rd good RV campsite I’ll talk about later on in this article.

See Also: Best Portable Power Stations That Include Solar Panels

The main thing you need to know about McGinnis Creek is there are only about 3 good RV campsites and the rest are just shallow pull-offs you can use to park off the road. The first good site coordinates are (48.514568, -114.147904), the second spot coordinates are (48.530908, -114.157667), and the last good RV campsite coordinates are (48.565048, -114.192800). Note that the road is fairly steep. If your tow vehicle is heavy or old make sure you are ready to do some braking on your way out.

Also, cell phone service starts to get worse the further in you drive.

Google Maps view of the 3 good RV campsites on Mcginnis Creek Road.

The first good camping spot is only 1.6 miles up the road. It’s the small road that goes left.

View of our campsite from the main road at McGinnis Creek.

There is one really nice large site here and another smaller narrow campsite.

free-camping-near-glacier-national-park-mcginnis-creek-montana

That’s the one we were able to get. Even though we have a large 32 foot travel trailer there was plenty of room to back it into the site and the views from our front door were unbelievable.

View from our trailer door (McGinnis Creek, Montana).

Evening view from Mcginnis Creek.

We did have some room in front of the trailer for our solar panels and chairs but not much else.

Small RV campsite on McGinnis Creek Road.

One thing I loved about the campsite we got other than the fantastic view was the beautiful trail of wildflowers behind our trailer.

Wildflowers behind our trailer at McGinnis Creek.

The cell phone service was ok up here for both Verizon and AT&T but it was a little sketchy at times. Some days it would work amazing and others not at all.

The next campsite big enough for a large RV is up the road another few miles. This site is closer to McGinnis Creek than the other ones, and it’s also a good place to turn around if you don’t want to go further up the road.

See Also: How To Find Nearby RV Dump Stations & Fresh Water Fill-Up

The third site is 5 miles from the beginning of McGinnis Creek road. It’s the largest and it has some amazing views of the mountains in Glacier National Park. You can easily fit 3 RVs here and even more if people park right.

Large camping area 5 miles up McGinnis Creek Road.

In the two weeks we spent up Mcginnis Creek we only ever saw one trailer parked here. Because it’s so far up the road it’s not very well known and chances are you will find a spot here.

If you are in an RV or towing a trailer I wouldn’t go further than this campsite. The road gets really narrow after this and there aren’t any RV spots past it anyways. There is an amazing hike about a mile past this and some good spots for tent campers.

The road is well maintained and only has a few rough patches. Most vehicles should be able to handle it. We even saw some cars driving up the road to get to the Standard Peak Trailhead.

If you are just looking for a spot to spend the night or all of the good campsites are taken there are plenty of pull-outs you can camp on.

Skoolie camping on a pull-out on McGinnis Creek Road Montana.

There are also a few small roads that lead to gates along McGinnis Creek. Some have a few small places to camp big enough for vans or cars but for the most part, they aren’t big enough to camp on. If you can’t find anywhere to camp on McGinnis Creek Road there is a large camping area called North Fork Road just south of it where there are tons of campsites. The views aren’t as nice and there’s not much cell service but it’s another free camping area near Glacier National Park.

Our campsite at McGinnis Creek.

My Camping Review Of McGinnis Creek, Montana

Even though there aren’t a ton of places to camp at Mcginnis Creek it’s still an amazing place with tons of wildflowers, stunning views, and large huckleberry patches (we were able to do some huckleberry picking in early August).

Our campsite may have been small and difficult to get into but it was well worth it. We were off the road, covered by trees, and only had one neighbor. We were only 20 miles from the west entrance of Glacier National Park so it was the perfect home base for exploring Glacier.

We were also just about a mile from the North Fork Flathead River which is an amazing place to swim, fish, and raft. We found a swimming hole near the pull-out on the main road just before it turns into a dirt road.

See Also: Free Camping Near Yellowstone – Fish Creek Rd Review & Info

Columbia Falls wasn’t too far away and it had plenty of stores and restaurants. The $5 dump station at the Conoco was easy to get to and they even had propane and potable water.

If you don’t like to pay for campgrounds and you want to camp on a hillside overlooking the North Fork Flathead River this is the place to go.

Have any questions about camping at Mcginnis Creek? Leave a comment below.

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