Canuck a bit confused by USFS sites

Hey hey all! I’m trying to navigate the logistics of camping around Bozeman. Originally I was hoping to poke my way up to the Fairy Lake Campground (road condition permitting) for one night before my install. The site seems to indicate that accessibility is closed after Sept 15th and the same seems to be said for some of the sites I’ve been looking at the Hiyalite canyon area.

Is it best to just call the USFS office to get some beta?


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I don’t know those places, but most of the western USFS campgrounds close in the fall. The forest is obviously still open to boondock, but in the campground, they lock the restrooms, turn off the water, and close the gate. Websites are typically up to date, I wouldn’t expect different info from anybody answering the phone.


As above, the USFS web pages for the various national forests and their campgrounds are accurate. You’ll find the gates locked this time of year. Depending on the area/forest, some easier to boondock in than others. For example, the Gallatin between West Yellowstone and Bozeman isn’t the easiest to boondock in. There just isn’t a ton of access, especially in the winter. There are some trailheads and some are further back off the road but not all of them. And I noticed more “no overnight camping” signage posted this summer on my trips between Idaho Falls and Bozeman. I ride and race my mountain bike in Big Sky and always end up in a campground b/c of the limited dispersed camping options (that I am familiar with anyway) up the Gallitan.


Well crap, here I was hoping of just driving up towards that Fairy Lake area and seeing if I can find a spot to throw the tent for the night. Sounds like it may be more of a challenge than I thought.

@Dignon I love the MVUM’s for seeing when road access changes. From living in Bozeman I know there are pull off’s that you can boondock in before the gates close on 12/1. There are also some pull off’s before the gates. The word of warning that I offer for Fairy Lake Road is that it can get really icy after the first few miles this time of year. Slow and careful out there. You also might be able to boondock near the battle ridge cg. Another good option would be FS road 631 depending on snow depth.


Heck, yah! I’ve got studded tires and chains; but with no winch and local contacts. I’ll definitely er on the side of caution, just trying to make the best out of my short trip to Montana. I dig that map you link. I had thought of just going up that direction and find a nice spot with a good view and flat spot to set up the ground tent.

I’ll have the camper for my adventure north towards Eureka after my install at noon on the 18th. I’d take suggestions on that route as well. Especially ones that may lead me towards a spot to put some skins on and go for a little walk. Maybe even get some turns in.

Avenza Maps is a good app that lets you download the MVUMs easily and will display your GPS location on them. We use it frequently to find dispersed camping.

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I used to use Avenza, but now I’m more of a Gaia GPS and recently Fatmap’s. I think I’m going to poke my way up Bridger Canyon road towards Fairy lake and see what I can find.

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Last time I was up that way I spent some time at fairy lake. From what I remembe you can still get up in there you just won’t be able to stay at the campground. There were several spots along the road to the lake that were great looking spots. There were also several other random dirt roads that I drove on in that area which had some good looking spots.
I also camped at the trailhead to Corbly Gulch which is really close to Bozeman. Really rough road. Good luck

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