Free Camping at Canyon Ferry Lake, Montana
Goose Bay Dispersed Area is one of four free campgrounds located along Canyon Ferry Lake in Montana. Goose Bay lies on the eastern side of the lake, accessed by State Highway 284. Campers can find large, flat campsites right up along the water’s edge. Expect beautiful views of the lake, watch water skiers glide on by, and get ready to photograph some gorgeous sunsets. The dispersed area does get busy on weekends, but you can find lots of quiet and solitude during the week. The town of Townsend is about a 20 minute drive, while Helena is about 40 minutes.
Camping at Goose Bay Dispersed Area
Camping at Canyon Ferry Lake can be had with nearly a dozen government-run campgrounds. Goose Bay Dispersed Area is one of the free ones. It’s located right next to the paid-version, Goose Bay Marina & Campground. The dispersed area can be found adjacent, along the north side.
Getting into Goose Bay Dispersed Area 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. Before you reach the Marina & Campground, you will see other dirt roads branching off to the right into the dispersed area.
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 clearings offer level spaces. There are some rutted roads, but most of it is easily driven. During the summers, you can still expect cool winds and occasional rain storms. Canyon Ferry Lake is open for swimming, but the water is rather mirky. Access into the lake requires climbing down small drop-offs.
The Campground & Marina offers a store, fuel station, propane tank refills, and a dump station with potable water.
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, can be crowded during the weekend
There is a pit toilet in the Dispersed Area, but that’s it. The nearby Campground & Marina has a small store, propane, gasoline, post office and dump station.
Cellphone Signal Strength
Verizon 4G cellphone signal comes in at about 3-4 bars.
Insects, Pests, & Wildlife
Lots of flying insects and mosquitoes. No signs of coyotes, raccoons, mice, or rats.
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 half-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
Canyon Ferry Downloads
Official Camping Rules & Guidelines for Canyon Ferry Lake, published by U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.
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