Free Camping on Canyon Ferry Lake, Montana
Confederate Campground is one of four free campgrounds located along Canyon Ferry Lake in Montana. Confederate Bay lies on the eastern side of the lake, accessed by State Highway 284. Campsites here are smaller than those found in nearby Goose Bay Dispersed Area, and the dirt roads here are more narrow and can be more rutted. However, you also get more peace and quiet than Goose Bay. You still have camping right up to the water’s edge, though less picturesque than Goose Bay. The town of Townsend is about a 20 minute drive, while Helena is about 40 minutes.
Confederate Campground, Canyon Ferry Reservoir
Camping at Canyon Ferry Lake is spread out across a dozen government-run campgrounds, most through the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. Confederate Campground is one of the free ones. It’s located just south of Goose Bay Dispersed Area.
Getting into Confederate Campground requires following a dirt road leading off of State Highway 284. The road itself is hard packed dirt and gravel, and is easy to travel along for any vehicle, RV, or trailer. There are some washboarded bumps, and a couple of dips and rises, but all should be fine.
When you reach the campground, it’s best to find a place to pull off to the side, unhitch the trailer or toad, and scout out the area first before settling on a space.
Most of the campsites at Confederate Campground are smaller than those found at Goose Bay Dispersed Area. There is an area of beach that will accommodate large rigs. Otherwise, much of the camping is better suited for smaller RVs and vans.
There is less wind here due to the topography. It’s still cooler here than in town, however. Confederate Campground seems to be more popular with long term campers.
Pros and Cons
Pros: Serene views of a pretty lake, free 14-day stay, cool lake breeze during the summer, 20 minutes away from Townsend for amenities.
Cons: Lots of flying insects, mosquitoes, smaller campsites, not very level
The only amenity here is a pit toilet. The nearby Campground & Marina at Goose Bay has a small store, propane, gasoline, post office and dump station with potable water.
Cellphone Signal Strength
Verizon 4G cellphone signal comes in at 3 bars.
Insects, Pests, & Wildlife
Mostly peaceful during the week, with occasional boaters going by. The weekend is much more busy, and you’ll likely hear nearby campers laughing or yelling. This is not a secluded campsite, you won’t find much privacy.
Safe or Sketchy?
Seems pretty safe boondocking here. We camped here for a couple of weeks. A few times we were able to leave our trailer unattended while driving into Townsend and Helena with no trouble.
How Crowded Is It?
It gets pretty crowded during the weekend, but remains quarter-full during the week with much more quiet and peace. Definitely recommend you get here between Monday and Thursday if you want the best picks of campsites.
U.S. Bureau of Reclamation
Canyon Ferry Field Office
Canyon Ferry Field Office:
Tel: (406) 475-3921
Official Camping Rules & Guidelines for Canyon Ferry Lake, published by U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.