I was traveling to meet up with a group of friends in Glacier NP as a stop along my solo cross country road trip. We didn't set reservations and all the campgrounds were full, so we opted to "dirt bag" it and take advantage of some free dispersed camping by the Middle Fork Flathead River. It's a popular spot for people to do this, as well as for folks to spend a day on the river, swimming and floating etc. There are plenty of large, flat spots to camp so you can usually find a place even late in the evening. A nice location with river access, incredible night skies, easy access via 15min drive to the west side of Glacier NP (photos), flat ground, perfect for a quick camp fix! Of course, it's busy and so not very quiet or private and since it's dispersed camping, there were no facilities - but we're not picky. We took advantage of the space to play some camp games, too.
I was traveling to meet up with a group of friends in Glacier NP as a stop along my solo cross country road trip. We didn't set reservations and all the campgrounds were full, so we opted to "dirt bag" it and take advantage of some free national forest camping off the road up a ways along Hungry Horse Reservoir near Doris Creek. There are a few places up the gravel road along the lake where you can pull off to camp away from the road. It's gorgeous! A beautiful location, lakeside access, incredible night skies, easy access via 30min driving to the west side of Glacier NP (photos), quiet (no people), flat ground, perfect for a quick camp fix! Of course, since we didn't take a real campsite there were no facilities - but we're not picky.
Not my ideal camping setup - near town, rather noisy from nearby homes and street, and the sites are close together - but it worked well enough for a single overnight car camping stop while on a long road trip. It isn't busy, it's cheap, and the showers are decent so It's one of the better options available if you don't want to be surrounded by tourists heading to Glacier NP in nearby locations. It's close enough to East Glacier (photos) that I could spend most of the day in the park before finding a place to camp away from the busy areas and en route to my destinations to the east. Since I had to take off early the next morning on the next leg of my trip, it was convenient that I could stop in town for coffee and gas before hitting the road.
Very personable and friendly folks at the front desk. Compared to campgrounds in the national park, the price is reasonable. Plus, the fees benefit the indigenous community who owns the land. Not very private, but a quiet spot, easy to drive in and set up, full facilities (though showers are in poor condition) with lake access and only a short drive from the East Glacier NP entrance.
I visited Sage Creek for one night in August 2017 during a solo cross country road trip. Though a very bare bones place to camp, it was one of my favorite overnight spots that month..
The only facilities are a couple pit toilets and picnic table shelters. No water. The campground is really one large circle, and it fills up with people. There isn't really an option for privacy.
However! It is a free place to camp and it is surrounded by hills and therefore sheltered by wind and morning / evening sun, and it is perfect if all you need is a place to sleep. A lot of folks passing through are also on long road trips, so you can chat and meet cool people on their own adventures. The sunset and sunrise were incredible, and at night you can hear coyotes howl and see the milky way. Bison and coyotes come through the campground on occasion. Despite being full of people, it felt quiet and peaceful and wild enough to have a taste of the landscape's true character. A bison grazed behind my tent all night and I slept incredibly sound.
I write when I travel, and as I watched the sunset from a hill above the campground I jotted down a poem:
Early August in the Badlands
The wind slides away today’s arid heat, swept
as if with a broom over the hills and horizon
following the sun’s trailing colors. The few trees and
grasses here sigh, relieved of harsh
rays, but now deprived of productive light. The birds -
swallows, hawks -
make final swoops before giving way the sky to bats’ delight
of insects and nighttime desert flowers.
The moon shakes her shawl of clouds and dusty haze;
Brighter. Gleaming silver underwater. Twilight
is her shining moment before the first stars
behind her brief solo and eventually blanket the above
in a sparkling quilt. The crickets rejoice, as do the coyotes –
Now is their time to Sing and to Dance and to Thank
the moon and then roam, playfully, over the prairie.