Dry camping along Clark Fork River in Lolo National Forest


Last September we stumbled onto a dispersed Lolo National Forest campground right off Hwy 135, between mileposts 14 and 15, heading downriver (north) from St. Regis, Mont., along the Clark Fork River.

We were actually looking for Lolo National Forest’s Cascade Campground about two miles further downriver around milepost 16 that was listed in Don Wright’s Guide to “Free Campground” ($12 and under). It sits across the road from the Clark Fork River and is the terminus of the historic wagon road Iron Mountain Trail #242.  (Cost is $10 per night; first-come, first-served basis, vault toilet, drinking water, picnic table, fire rings.)

We drove through this 12-site developed campground and then returned to the unnamed dispersed area because it is right on the banks of the Clark Fork River and is FREE.  (Only service available is two vault toilet.)

Just this week, we decided to return to this great spot, to what we call “Lolo 135-15” (Lolo National Forest/Hwy 135/Milpost 15) because it is absolutely amazing camping location for boondocking RVers and tent campers who don’t mind being self-contained and packing their trash out with them when they leave.

Last fall we were privileged to witness a large herd of Bighorn Sheep make their way down a steep mountainside to the river’s edge for a leisurely evening drink before heading back up again. (Click on photos to enlarge and check out [above left] the line of sheep crossing the sheer rock face.)

Douglas-fir, Ponderosa pine and western larch providing abundant shade.

Photos by Julianne G. Crane. Click on images to enlarge. (Top) This year’s campsite on the Clark Fork River; (left) Bighorn Sheep crossing ridge across river from campsite; (right) Bighorn Sheep drinking from Clark Fork River; (bottom) Only sign you see at entrance to campground near milepost 15 on Hwy. 135.

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