Camping & ATV Riding in Montana

I enjoy taking in mountain scenery and a smooth ride much more than clawing up a steep hillside.
So most of my riding is on forest service roads rather than trails. For that reason, not one of these photos is taken where it would be dangerous to travel.
Technically ATVs on these roads should be Street Legal, but I have never seen anyone enforcing those rules in Montana.

The ATV season for most of these areas is from July (Even sometimes July 15) through October.
December through March, all of these same areas are great for Snowmobling.

Gravely Mountains near Yellowstone
The Gravlies main road runs 30 miles north to south along the 8,000 ft central ridge.
Five access roads come up from the Ruby Valley on the west or the Madison Valley on the east.

All these are good smooth roads, and offer beautiful vistas all the way.

Riding Up Cottonwood Canyon

Red Hills north of Black Butte ...................................................The View from Black Butte Cabin

Lionhead Area near Yellowstone
The Gallatin National Forest has hundreds of miles of Jeep and ATV roads. I particularly enjoy the Lionhead Area just west of West Yellowstone.
There is a 20 mile long ATV only loop road that nearly tops Lionhead Peak and offers much above tree line riding.


Little Belt Mountains - Central Montana
I usually enter this great area by camping at Kings Hill Pass on US 89 south of Great Falls.
From there you can ride northeast on the beautiful 8,000 ft Yogo Peak road and even down toward Stanford if you wish.
Some of those roads get fairly rocky. Most of these roads are designated "Share The Road", i.e.ATV/Jeep.
Or you can ride northwest or southwest around the Tenderfoot Valley. That area is about 6,000 ft and a bit more wooded. It can get muddy.
Finally there is some great riding to the southeast towards Checkerboard

Baldly Peak 10,600

From the top of Yogo Peak 8,800 ft

The Tenderfoot area

Homestake Pass near Butte
The Deerlodge/Beaverhead National Forest maintains over a hundred miles of fine ATV only roads in this area.
Because of the sandy soil the roads are exceptionally smooth. Most of them are in open country.
This is old west country with old mines. Also the geology and rock formations are really interesting.
I usually camp at Homestake Pass and ride mostly north of I-90, but also south.

Spire Rock




Pioneer Mountains SW of Butte
This very scenic area is SW of Butte between Wise River and Polaris.
The Grasshopper campground is always popular with families because of its close proximity to Elk Horn Hot Springs, and Crystal Park.
The whole family will enjoy digging quartz crystals, and exploring ghost towns, followed by swimming in the hot pool.
Rides include nearly topping 10,000 ft Comet MT, and Lacy Creek areas ( The Lacy to Pattengall ATV only is very rocky).

My Camp in Pioneer Mountains .................................................The old Elk Horn Mine town site


Lunch in a Beautiful Meadow.....................................................Up On Comet Mountain 9,600 feet

Flathead Country NW Montana
Here you are really in the Rocky Mountains. It is a lot more wooded in this area, and you are more likely to find lakes and beautiful trout streams.
The Flathead National Forest is not as friendly towards ATV riding, however, so you will have to stay on gravel or jeep roads.
The Hungry Horse Reservoir area offers some beautiful riding. However, the best riding is in the Blacktail Mountain area SW of Kalispell.

Desert Mountain near Hungry Horse

Great Northern Mountain
Blacktail Mountain Area

Bitterroot National Forest S of Missoula
Sadly most of this area burned in Aug 2011

This western Montana national forest is friendly towards ATVers and has huntreds miles of nice ATV only roads, as well as several hunderd more Jeep roads.
It is an excellent area for camping and ATV riding. I usually camp at Painted Rocks State Park.
From there you can ride south to Woods Creek (Paved). Three mile south of there, at Sheep Creek, starts a beautiful 40 mile long ATV only trail FSR 5685.
Or you can ride a circle route that heads west up FSR 5669 & 5665 to Woods Creek Pass on the Montana/Idaho Border.
From there you can take a side trip into Idaho to Horse Creek Hot Springs, where you can soak in a natural hot springs (free).
Then after returning to the pass go SE along the MT/ID state line to Horse Creek Pass.
Finish your trip by going down Beaver Creek and West Fork of the Bitterrroot to the beginning.
Also, just south of Painted Rocks Lake on FSR 5703 are a number of seasonal ATV only road. I have not driven them, but hear they are great.

Woods Creek Road

The Hot Springs

Along the State Line road.........................................................Elk are often seen on these roads

Along the 40 mile ATV only Road (closed in the fall)

Custer National Forest far SE Montana
This small National Forest offers some very interesting geological features along its 50 miles of jeep roads.