Flathead National Forest

On your way up to Glacier National Park, a long stop at nearby Flathead National Forest is in order. Located in the Rocky Mountains of Northwest Montana, the 2.4-million-acre forest is packed with lakes and rugged wilderness that makes Glacier look like Times Square (well, we won’t go that far, but Flathead sure is remote).

While permit-free camping is allowed just about anywhere in national forests, Flathead has more than 30 campgrounds in its boundaries, but most are fairly small. There are also 14 cabins that are available to rent on an overnight basis. Says the Forest Service, they all have either wood or electric stoves for cooking and heating and one of them even has indoor plumbing.

Photo by Cassidy Bender/U.S. Forest Service (https://flic.kr/p/2ky7WGx)

For backpackers, a must-see is the Chinese Wall. Located in the forest’s Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex, it’s one of the most recognizable destinations in the area. The Chinese Wall is a roughly 1,000-foot vertical ribbon of rock stretching some 22 miles along the eastern slope of the Rockies. Typically, it’s accessed via the Benchmark Trailhead, which is about 18 miles one way. The Continental Divide Trail passes directly below the wall on its east side. 

A much more accessible destination in the forest is the Hungry Horse Dam, which creates the 34-mile long Flathead Reservoir. 

Start your adventure here on the Forest Service website to learn more.