The Cut Bank Campground is often overlooked by visitors at Glacier National Park because it is in a remote location. The size of this campground is small and it is easy to assume that it will be filled up, so relatively few people drive down the long dirt road to check it out. This cozy little wilderness campground is officially not recommended for RV campers or travel trailers and this limits the appeal even more. All this is like music to the ears of a car and tent style camper, because the limited appeal will likely mean that there will be a few empty campsites on any given day.
The Cut Bank Campground access road can be found on Highway 89 in the Glacier National Park front range. The dirt road to look for is Cut Bank Creek Road, which runs west. Nearby landmarks are the Cut Bank Creek Bridge and Starr School Road. There is a sign for the campground, but it is easy to miss when passing through, so be sure to keep the eyes peeled!
The area around the Cut Bank Creek Bridge is a small recreation area of its own. This is a big grassy field picnic area that is popular with dog owners and fishermen. For dog owners, this is a good place to play Frisbee with Rover out in the wide open spaces! After passing the picnic area, the dirt road becomes rougher as it enters the wilderness. The dirt road goes through a long stretch of National Forest property and private ranch land meadows along the creek. This is a great wildlife viewing area, so be sure to bring a good camera along for the ride! There are a few dispersed campsites in the National Forest along the dirt side roads by the creek, which are a good option to keep in mind if doing some fly fishing is in the plans. Cut Bank Creek is really the size of a river in this region, so there are plenty of sweet fishing holes to be found.
After driving a few more miles on the dirt access road, the Glacier National Park boundary sign will be seen along with several wild bear warning signs. The deep forests get thicker and the views of the mountain peaks certainly are majestic in this area. From here to the campground the views just keep getting better, so plan on spending some extra time taking the sights in when passing through.
At the end of the five mile dirt road journey is where the Glacier National Park Cut Bank Campground signage is located and it does pay to read the information board before setting up camp. There are a lot of dangerous black bears and brown bears in this area, so following the park Bear Safe Rules must be done for the safety of all campers in this place. All it takes is letting food sit out to attract bears like honey. Proper food handling, food storage and sanitation will prevent bears from inviting themselves to dinner. Bear proof steel food storage boxes are provided in this campground and this actually is better than storing food in a vehicle, because the local bears already know the fool proof boxes are a waste of their time!
The Cut Bank Campground is not in the Glacier Park campsite reservation system, so this is a first come-first serve site. There are only 14 campsites under the tall trees and bringing clean drinking water is suggested. If I recall correctly, pets are not allowed in this wilderness area, but if wrong, it would pay to keep them on a short leash because of the mountain lions, bears and Bigfoot!
As can be seen in the photos, the weather can change with little warning at Glacier National Park, especially during the autumn season. Upon arrival it was all blue skies and ideal conditions for photographing the park. The original idea was to camp at Cut Bank for two or three days, but the weather changed overnight and it was nothing but dense foggy overcast the next day. For this reason, the plans were canceled and I returned to the park a week later when the weather improved.
During the second trip, I drove down Cutbank Creek Road one last time just because this looked like a good place to spot a Grizzly Bear and the hunch was correct! I snapped a few photos of a Grizzly a few hundred yards away in a tall grassy meadow with a 300mm lens. This big brown bear was feeding with its head down, so there really was not much to see. However, the hump on the back did confirm that it was a Grizzly. After looking way in the distance for a little while, a half dozen other cars were hovering with cameras hanging out the windows and it was time to move on. The big brown bears certainly are the star of the show at Glacier, so be sure to be Bear Safe when camping at Cut Bank Campground in the remote front range!
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