Goose Bay Dispersed Area, Townsend, MT

Canyon Ferry Lake, Montana

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

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.


Canyon Ferry Reservoir logo

Canyon Ferry Lake, Montana

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

Canyon Ferry Field Office

Tel: (406) 475-3921

Official campground webpage


GPS: 46.5450, -111.5721

Elevation: 3,802 feet

Reservations: First come, first served

Camping Fee: None

Permit: None

Max stay: 14 days

Amenities: Pit toilets

Submitted by

Admin Staff

Admin Staff

Boondocker's Bible

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.

Other Campsites Within 20 Miles Radius

Related Articles About This Campsite

Associated Documents

Canyon Ferry Reservoir and Recreation Area, Brochure with map, rules, and other important info, (eff: June 15, 2022)

2 thoughts on “Goose Bay Dispersed Area, Townsend, MT”


  2. I have been coming here since I was a kid 40 years ago and will come here till I’m gone this place is wonderfull never had a single issue with it not being safe not have I ever got anything taken when I go to town


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