Flathead National Forest

Dispersed Camping Rules:

  • Dispersed camping is allowed within 300 feet of an allowed road according to the MVUMs, but the office said you can camp basically anywhere.
  • Party size limited to 15 people around the South Fork of the Flathead River; 10 people in some areas.
  • Time limit: 16 days in one spot, after which you must move 5 miles. You can return to the original spot after 7 days.
  • The office says there are some good spots for vehicle camping. Don’t block gates, roads, etc.  Described it as “so-so”.
  • Cell coverage is basically nonexistent.

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Custer Gallatin National Forest

Dispersed Camping Rules:

  • Dispersed Camping is allowed within 300 feet of routes designated on the MVUMs.
  • In areas that contain designated campsites, camp only at designated campsites.
  • No dispersed camping near developed recreation areas.
  • Time limit: 16 days, after which, you must move 5 miles, and not return to the original campsite for 7 days. (Very generous!)
  • Catholes are OK; not within 200 feet of a water source.

Designated Dispersed Camping Areas:

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Bitterroot National Forest

Bitterroot boasts the “largest expanse of continuous pristine wilderness in the lower 48 states“, and that’s just half the forest!

Dispersed Camping Rules:

  • The only DC rules I can find are on the MVUMs themselves.
  • Dispersed camping is allowed within Bitterroot NF, within 300′ of the centerline of an allowed road.
  • No camping within 30′ of any body of water
  • Campsite access must be by non-motorized means. I infer this only applies if you’re going off road.
  • You’re not allowed to damage any vegetation to get to your campsite, so don’t drive off road.
  • Some roads are only open seasonally.

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Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest

Dispersed Camping Rules:

  • Dispersed Camping is allowed within BDNF. The MVUMs do not have Dispersed Camping in the legend, so it’s “probably” allowed by default. I have sent an email to them and await a response.
  • Time limit: 16 days in one area within any 30 day period. “Area” is not defined.
  • Mandatory forest-wide storage order:
    • During the day, a human must be within 100 feet, and in sight, of all food not in storage.
    • At night, food must be in storage except while being transported, eaten, or prepared
    • An enclosed, hard-sided vehicle (van) counts as properly stored
    • Otherwise it must be in a certified bear-resistant container

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