Have you always dreamed of doing a Montana wilderness drop camp with your family or friends? If so, what better place to do it than Glacier National Park? More than two million people visit Glacier each year, but few people really take the time to explore Glacier’s backcountry, and that’s where all the good stuff is!

Organizing a drop camp in Glacier National Park allows you to create a one of a kind trip to a location of your choosing. Drop camps are great for hikers who want to access new trails deep in the heart of the Crown of the Continent. Drop camps are also good for groups that love camping away from roads or creating a true wilderness drop camp experience. Please note that camping is only allowed in designated campgrounds and you must obtain a backcountry permit from the National Park Service. You can also use Swan Mountain Outfitters’ drop camp services just to haul your gear in or out, freeing you up to enjoy your trip at a relaxed and easy pace.

Drop Camp Trip Locations

Swan Mountain Outfitters is the only outfitter authorized to provide drop camp services in Glacier National Park. A few popular drop camp locations in Glacier might include:

  • Arrow Lake
  • Atlantic Creek*
  • Coal Creek
  • Cosley Lake
  • Elizabeth Lake Foot*
  • Gable Creek*
  • Glenns Lake Foot*
  • Gunsight Lake*
  • Harrison Lake
  • Lincoln Lake
  • Lower Nyack
  • Ole Creek
  • Ole Lake
  • Lower Park Creek
  • Poia Lake*
  • Red Eagle Lake Head
  • Slide Lake (a Tribal Permit is also required to cross the Reservation)

The National Park Service must have at least three weeks advanced notification of all drop camp trips and drop camp locations not included in the above list may require additional approval. Guests are required to obtain backcountry permits through the Glacier National Park Backcountry Permit Office prior to embarking on their trip. Locations marked with an asterisk (*) are among the top 20 most popular campgrounds and it may be extremely difficult to obtain backcountry permits for these sites.  Approval of these or other drop camp trips does not guarantee a backcountry permit. Conditions may warrant closures in these areas and there is no guarantee that a drop camp trip will be available to an alternate site.

Drop Camp Trip Approval Process

The step by step approval process for reserving a drop camp trip is as follows:

  1. Research the backcountry campground drop location that you wish to access to make sure that stock is allowed on the trail
  2. Contact Swan Mountain Outfitters with your request and be sure to include the information listed in the “Required Information for Drop Camp Trips” section below. We will work with you to review requests and make suggestions about areas that might work for your group
  3. Work with the Glacier National Park Backcountry Permit Office to obtain a backcountry permit (if applicable) while Swan Mountain Outfitters submits your request to the Glacier National Park Concessions Office for approval
  4. Swan Mountain Outfitters will notify you of the NPS approval decision on your drop camp trip as well as any additional requirements or restrictions related to your trip

Required Information for Drop Camp Trips

  • Date of trip
  • Party name
  • Drop camp location and/or trailheads to be used
  • Number of riders (including height, weight and experience level)
  • Number of pack animals and type of gear to be packed in so we can confirm the number of animals that will be required
  • Number of nights in backcountry
  • Whether or not you have a backcountry permit and the name of the individual who obtained it

General Rules and Restrictions for Drop Camp Trips

Please note the following rules and restrictions for drop camp trips:

  • All drop camp locations are subject to prior approval by the National Park Service
  • Guests must obtain their own backcountry permits prior to embarking on their trip. Swan Mountain Outfitters is not authorized to obtain the permit for the party
  • If the drop camp trip involves partnering with Glacier Guides, Inc., Glacier Guides must obtain the backcountry permit
  • Guests must provide Swan Mountain Outfitters with a copy of their backcountry permit so the packer can carry the permit with them while providing packing services
  • Guests must arrive at the campsite to accept their possessions before the Swan Mountain Outfitters packer may leave. No items may be left by Swan Mountain Outfitters for hikers arriving later in the day
  • Stock may not remain in a campground overnight. Swan Mountain Outfitters packers must be able to ride in, drop guests and/or transfer gear and supplies to their care, and ride out the same day
  • Drop camp trips (without additional case-by-case approval) may only occur in July, August and September. Early or late season trips when trails are generally wet or snow covered will likely not be approved and must be reviewed on a case-by-case basis
  • Stock is limited to eight head per trip
  • Pack animals can carry a maximum of 150 pounds of gear, but gear must also be able to fit in standard packing equipment (manty or paniard) and be distributed evenly on the animal
  • Campgrounds in the Belly River area may only be accessed via the Chief Mountain trailhead
  • Guided fishing trips cannot be offered in conjunction with drop camp services
  • Routes not approved for access to campgrounds include, but are not limited to: Belly Camps via Red Gap Pass; Belly or Slide Lake via Gable Pass; Gunsight via Gunsight Pass and Sperry Trail; Ole Drainage via Firebrand Pass; and Red Eagle or Atlantic via Triple Divide

Drop Camp Trip Pricing

Drop camps in Glacier National Park are completely customizable, so pricing will vary depending on the number of riders, the number of trips and the location you choose. An overview of rates can be found at the button below.

** HEADER PHOTO BY RON ZELLAR

View Current Rates