We have no campsite reservation system so campsites are on a first-come, first-served basis. You can camp in developed campgrounds or at dispersed undeveloped sites on public land anywhere along the river corridor. Concentrate your use as much as possible. This action will reduce impacts to the site as well as provide other groups the opportunity to enjoy one of the sites. You can camp on islands but is discouraged from April 1 to July 31 to protect nesting birds. Landowner permission is required to camp on or access private lands.
Suggestion: When camping at one of the developed campsites (e.g., Eagle Creek, Hole-in-the-Wall, or Slaughter River) concentrate your use around one site or fire ring. At Eagle Creek, tents can be set up in the bench behind the grove of trees. This action will concentrate use as well as eliminate the danger of camping under the unstable limbs of the cottonwood trees.
Four types of camping opportunities are available along the Upper Missouri:
Level 1–Developed Public Access Sites and Campgrounds: These sites are accessible by road with a full range of developments that may include parking lots, boat ramps, vault toilets, campsites for tents and RVs and picnic facilities. These sites include the Chouteau County Fairgrounds Campground and Canoe Launch, Fort Benton Motorboat Launch, Wood Bottom, Decision Point Interpretive Trail, Coal Banks Landing, Judith Landing, Lower Woodhawk, and James Kipp Recreation Area.
Level 2–Developed Boat Camps: These sites are accessible to the public only by boat. The sites could include vault toilets, metal fire rings and, occasionally, open-air shelters. They include Little Sandy, Eagle Creek, Hole-in-the-Wall, and Slaughter River.
Level 3–Primitive Boat Camps: These sites are accessible only by boat and contain a metal fire ring. There are no other developments. These sites include Evans Bend, Senieurs Reach, Black Bluff Rapids, Dark Butte, Pablo Rapids, The Wall, McGarry Bar, Gist Bottom, Cow Island, Upper and Middle Woodhawk, and Hideaway.
Level 4–Dispersed Public Land: In addition to the developed sites described above, camping is permissible on any of the 90,000 acres of public land adjacent to the river. Absence of development allows opportunities for those seeking a completely primitive experience. If you choose to camp on dispersed land, take special care to leave it exactly as you found it. Please do not build new fire rings; use a gas stove instead. If a fire ring exists, you may use it, but the idea is to use dispersed land in such a way that your presence is not detectable by the next visitor who discovers the site. We are trying to sustain this opportunity for a primitive experience and need your help. Please practice “Leave No Trace” camping. If you need help with the techniques, please give us a call toll free at 877-256-3252 or talk to one of our staff members prior to your trip.
Some camping areas are much more popular than others, especially sites such as Eagle Creek, Hole-in-the-Wall and Slaughter River. Please be respectful of the other visitors.
Camp on durable surfaces such as established campsites, sand or gravel. Good campsites are found, not made. If you are part of a larger group, do your best to concentrate your tents, so there is room for others. Avoid spreading out your party along the bank and occupying all the best available spaces.
Pack out everything you bring in, including food scraps, toilet paper, hygiene products and so forth; the “pack-it-in/pack-it-out” rule applies on the Upper Missouri.