St. Mary Campground is the largest campground on the east side of Glacier National Park, and is conveniently located approximately a half-mile from the St. Mary Visitor Center. The visitor center offers interpretive programs, shuttle service and Red Bus tours leaving from the center. The campground sits near the entrance of the popular scenic byway, the Going-to-the-Sun Road.
St. Mary Campground is located on the east side of the park, which boasts some of the best trails available for day hiking. Trailheads start at a higher elevation than those on the west side, so less ascent is required to reach scenic vistas.
Potable water is accessible in the campground, and restroom facilities provide flush toilets and sinks with running water.
A couple of miles down the road and outside the park, visitors will find all the comforts of home, including restaurants, gift shops, camp stores, gas and groceries.
Though shade is sparse, the aspen trees that grace St. Mary Campground flutter in spring and summer breezes and provide colorful splashes of yellow late in the season. Views of Singleshot, East Flattop and Red Eagle Mountains provide a dramatic backdrop to the landscape.
St. Mary Lake which, although too cold and occasionally too rough to swim in, provides refreshing scenery on warm days.
One must-see attraction is the sister park across the U.S.-Canadian border, Waterton Lakes National Park. As the other half of the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, Waterton Lakes offers fantastic hiking, scenic boat cruises and several scenic drives all centered around the Townsite of Waterton.
Immediately east of Glacier National Park lies the picturesque Blackfeet Indian Reservation, spanning 1.5 million acres. Visit the Museum of the Plains Indian, in Browning, Montana, for a fascinating introduction to the rich cultural heritage of the largest Indian tribe in Montana.
ADA Access: N
This is a smaller campground on the east end of the GTTS road. Close to St Mary where there are some amenities. In the shoulder season this campground is open to primitive camping.
Large campground, close to services and inside park. Much exposed to the wind, which can be brutal. Little scenery. Fire pits, water access and toilets. A couple miles to all services, quick access to going to the sun road. Not a favorite of mine but when you need to get a spot to camp, this beats not having one.
Beautiful views, close to the going to the sun road, several lakes. Just awesome all around!
We stayed one night at this campground while on a 10 day camping road trip through US national parks. It’s on the eastern side of Glacier National Park. The campground is open year round and is easily accessible. We stayed overnight on May 22 which was still considered off season so the nightly rate was discounted. Furthermore, since the campground is owned by the national park service, I got even more of a discount with my national parks annual pass. It only cost us 5 dollars to spend the night. The campground is in an open meadow near the St. Mary entrance to the park and has views of the glacial peaks. Just be prepared to feel out in the open and to meet your campground neighbors. If you want to feel alone in nature this probably isn’t the campground for you. The campground has flushing toilets, sinks with running water, and a shower (much appreciated after five days of car camping).
One of the most scenic places to stay overnight with the view of St.Marys lake right in front of you! Hikes nearby are Gunsight pass and Virgina Falls and Rising Sun Campground is tight around the corner! Popular site to stay in the summer due to tourist hiking and backpacking.
This is a big National Park campground that will fill up every day in the summer. It is close to the park boundary so you get the best of both worlds…civilization and the park’s beauty. We spent all day hiking nearby so didn’t spend much time in the campground. It is busy but was clean. We used the shuttle so we didn’t have to worry about driving and parking. We stayed in the tents loop, nice and far from RV land.
Don't get me wrong, it's hard to be critical about anything related to Glacier National Park. I absolutely love that place. St. Mary Campground was a little bit of a buzzkill for campers looking for solitude and epic scenery. Most of the mountains are obstructed by trees, our sky view had a power line running through it, and it was a bit noisy. However, it is arguably the best location on the east side of the park to start your adventure up Going To The Sun Road. The rangers were very friendly. Up the road, there is a couple bars, gas station. PS: Don't buy Going To The Sun Beer unless you're just into the novelty. I gave it a shot and it was eh…
We had St. Mary Campground almost to ourselves when we visited in May. We had our pick of sites, and we chose a site that had a great view of the surrounding mountains and valleys. It was the perfect place to serve as a base for a few days of exploring Glacier in the early season.
Since the summer season had not yet started, sites were only $10 (They are $23 in the summer), but there were only flush toilets. Remember to store your food properly; we had some foxes around our site that badly wanted our dinner!
The Going to the Sun Road was still closed in the middle, but we were able to drive up about 12 miles on each side. St. Mary’s Campground also allowed us easy access to the Many Glacier area.
Our favorite springtime Glacier activities included: Hiking to Middle and Lower Quartz Lake (a 12-mile loop), hiking to Avalanche Lake, and kayaking Lake Josephine to Grinnell Glacier.
You can read much more about our five days in the park on our blog: Switchback Kids (Glacier)
Some of the bigger National Parks out west have free shuttle bus services and Glacier’s runs right to this campground so you can access day hiking without having to drive and park. Being close to the entrance means you can easily head into town for restaurants, grocery, etc. Pros: tons of hiking, beautiful area with a stream nearby, generally very private and generous campsites, ranger talks, ease of travel via shuttle, clean, good value. Cons: you need reservations in the summer, some bear activity, no tent-only sections, no showers (as of 2009). Bring your passport to hop over into the equivalent Canadian park.
My wife and I entered this area of the park from the Jackson Glacier Overlook. Hiked in about 6 miles to the Gunsight Campground. Beautiful water falls along the trail at the start. Keep an eye out for bears and moose. The Gunsight campground had about 6 or 7 tent pads large enough to accommodate two tents if needed. There is a pole to hang your bear bag from and a designated cooking area and pit toilet. It was very very windy when we were there. The camp is right near an alpine lake fed from the snowmelt so you have great tasting fresh water (treated it with a steripen). Very comfortable site!