Camping in Glacier: Two Medicine Campground

camping in glacier: two medicine lake

Is Two Medicine the most beautifully-situated campground I’ve camped in yet? Yes. A resounding Yes!

Two Medicine Campground in Glacier National Park has a stunning setting along Two Medicine Lake, surrounded by the mountain peaks this park is known for. Though big, it’s surprisingly quiet and even semi-private, depending on your site.

When we were planning our trip to Glacier, I called on the counsel of our friend, Renee, who had spent two summers working in the Park. She recommended Two Medicine as being just as beautiful as the other campgrounds, but quieter and less crowded.

We found this to be true, since the other three main campgrounds are much closer to, or on, Going-to-the-Sun Road.

The National Park Service says Two Medicine was the main stopping point for visitors coming to the east side of the park until the road was finished in 1952. Now it’s more off the beaten path, which was just what we were looking for!

sunset over two medicine lake
Beautiful sunset over Two Medicine Lake—this view was a 3-minute walk from our campsite

What We Loved about Two Medicine Campground

Our stay was at the end of June, which meant cool-to-cold nights, some snow left on the mountains and very cold water in the lake. Here’s what we found to love about this campground:

It’s Off the Beaten Path: Not Much Traffic

It’s quite a ways off the beaten path—an hour from the St. Mary Entrance and the east end of Going-to-the-Sun Road. That meant that, though the campground’s 100 sites were full almost every night of our stay, there was surprisingly little traffic on the road to get there.

It got quite busy at the Visitor Center, being also a major trailhead. But in other ways it didn’t seem crowded like other areas of the park.

A Mountain in our Front Yard

We stepped out our camper door and looked right at a mountain. You can’t beat that! A short walk over to the east end of the lake gives you a 360º view of all the surrounding peaks. Simply gorgeous.

camping two medicine lake, glacier
Our camper with a mountain right in front of us! Lovely.

Lots of Local Wildlife

On our first evening at our campsite, a cow moose ambled through the site next to ours (the people weren’t there at the time!). She was very relaxed about it, although we sure weren’t! Quite an introduction to the campground 🙂

And we saw these guys every day, somewhere or other in the campground:

mountain sheep, two medicine campground
Some of the local mountain sheep population—a common site at the campground

Besides that, we saw more moose and some marmots when out on hikes in the area.

Pristine Two Medicine Lake

One of the things I was most excited about was kayaking on Two Medicine Lake. Beautifully clear, as all alpine lakes are, but not as big as some of the more popular lakes in Glacier.

kayaking on two medicine lake
My nephew kayaking on the east end of Two Medicine Lake

I still had a stiff wind come up in the afternoon, and our last two days there were large whitecaps on the lake, so we didn’t paddle then. But what a marvelous way to get a different view of the mountains and lake!

And so picturesque. I took pictures each day, and each picture looks different because of the lighting or clouds.

Tons of Great Hiking

There are a dozen hiking trails from Two Medicine of varying lengths and difficulties.

Two of the three hikes we did during our time at Glcier were right from the campground. My “kids” (daughter, son-in-law, son and nephew) hiked the 12-miles out and back to Cobalt Lake one day from there.

hiking two medicine campground
We did a quick hike on the other side of the lake our first evening at the campground

And on our last full day, I hiked the 9 miles around the lake with my daughter and son-in-law. Even though that was loooooong for me, it was so worth it! And the trailhead right there. Awesome.

What to Know about Camping at Two Medicine

It’s Off the Beaten Path: Lots of Driving to Get to Other Places

The asset of Two Medicine being less crowded can also be a liability when it’s takes a long time to get to other highlights of the park! Plan on lots of driving during your stay. But again, so worth it! The scenery along the way is stunning. Relax and enjoy.

It’s just over an hour to St. Mary Visitor Center and the east end of Going-to-the-Sun Road. And it’s over an hour-and-a-half to Many Glacier Hotel and that area. Then it’s an hour-and-twenty from Apgar Visitor Center, on the west end of the Sun Road back to Two Medicine.

All are incredible, though, and not-to-be-missed!

It Fills Up Daily in the Summer

None of the campsites are reservable at Two Medicine, and it fills almost daily in the summer season, every day. We heard from the Montana residents next to us that this usually starts the 3rd week of June (we were there the 4th week) and continues through Labor Day.

two medicine campground
The most beautiful campground I’ve stayed in yet!

Campers need to out by noon, so your best best is to shoot for arriving between noon and 3:00, although many sites will be vacated before noon. We arrived closer to 4:30 and had to drive through the campground twice to find a spot that suited our pop-up camper.

Park then Register

It’s self-registration at Two Medicine Campground. You’ll find a site, park your RV or plop some gear down to save it, then go back to the Registration Board, fill out the envelope and put your fee inside. Rip off your tab and clip it to the stake at your site with site number.

You can pay for as many nights as you plan to stay, but there’s no refund if you leave early. If you want to pay night-by-night that’s fine, too, but you’ll have to fill out a form before noon each day and repeat. In 2019 it was only $20 a night—so cheap for what you get!

No Showers or Hot Water

Big deal. You can do without for a few days!

There are flush toilets and running cold water in a couple of sinks, as well as electricity in a couple of bathrooms in the campground. My daughter and I washed our hair in the sinks a couple times using heated water we brought over from our camper.

This 3D image shows you the Two Medicine area from above

Grizzly Bear Territory

We were OK with not seeing any bears while we were there.

All of Glacier is grizzly territory. Have bear spray along, especially if you plan to do any hiking. The rangers are very good about checking for bear-safe camping practices and are very strict about it. Bear boxes are scattered through the campground—wonderful things! Use them.

Here’s more info on bear safety.

Changeable Mountain Weather

Weather in the mountains is always fairly unpredictable, so when hiking, boating or even driving for any length of time your best bet is to dress in layers. Even if it’s a clear blue sky in the mornings, it very often clouds up and rains in the afternoons, so have rain gear along.

Nights are chilly to downright cold. We had packable down, wool socks, knit hats and gloves along for mornings and evenings. I think our nighttime lows were 35-40ish degrees.

campsite, two medicine lake
The “kids” relaxing at the campsite

Plenty of Mosquitoes

Glacier has plenty of water, which means plenty of mosquitoes! You’ll want your bug spray along. Try the natural stuff if you choose, but we’ve always found DEET works the best (and we’re from Minnesota—we know mosquitoes!)

On windy days, no mosquitoes!

Keep Your Dog at Home

Like all our national parks, Glacier has strict rules about pets in the park. They’re allowed in the front-country campgrounds, like Two Medicine. BUT…

  • They must be leashed, kenneled or in your vehicle at all times…
  • They’re not allowed by the lakeshore or on the lake (in a canoe or kayak)…
  • They’re not allowed on the trails…
  • They may not be left tied and unattended in your campsite…
  • They’re not allowed in the backcountry at all.

You’ll have a lot more fun if you leave your dog at home—and so will your dog!

How to Get There

Glacier National Park is in northwest Montana, bordering Alberta, Canada. Two Medicine Campground is in the southeast corner of the park.

Glacier National Park map
(don’t look at the Going-to-the-Sun road route very closely!! A bit off in places…)

You definitely want to plan your driving with print maps or ahead of time. Cell phone service out there is sketchy at best, and non-existent often, so don’t rely on your phone’s GPS.

Resources

Want to camp in Glacier but want to fly instead of making the road trip? Here are a couple resources to help you out:

  • Outdoorsy is an owner-to-renter site, like Airbnb or Vrbo, but for RVs. It’s genius! Rent an RV from someone in the Glacier area and they might even be able to go set it up for you!
  • Wooded Nomad is a family business in Minneapolis that rents camping and outdoor rec equipment. They’ll ship to your location (one of the lodges at Glacier, for example) and you just have to pick it up there, then re-ship back when you’re done with their prepaid shipping label. Slick!

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