Family-Friendly, Frugal Camping


We just spent last week exploring the beautiful northwest corner of Montana.  Every year for the last 6 years, we have gone on a camping trip with our kids when school gets out.   We decided years ago to try and stay within the Montana region because we want our boys to appreciate where they live and there are so many amazing areas of Montana and the surrounding areas.  We’ve been doing this for 6 years and still haven’t seen or done all the Big Sky country has to offer!

The Northwest region of Montana is a breathtaking area of our state.   It still feels very untamed and wild.  We enjoyed the fishing, hiking and the remoteness.  My husband and I also introduced our kids to Troy, Montana.  A true, small Montana town with great hospitality!  We went to Troy because Ethan’s fishing reel broke and we needed a replacement.  So, we stopped by the “Bait and Booze” to pick up a new rod and reel for him.  Our kids got a real chuckle out of the fact that the bait store was also the liquor store.  That’s small town Montana at its finest!

We stayed a variety of campgrounds during the week.  Every one had its pros and cons.   We stayed at everything from a KOA, to a private campground to National Forest campgrounds.  We loved them all and enjoyed what each one had to offer.

Family Friendly, Frugal Camping

Camping is a great time for families!

The KOA was the most expensive but was a special treat for our kids.  The KOA in Kalispell offers free 3- wheel bikes to ride, bumper boats, swimming pool, hot tub, arcade, miniature golf, basketball, horseshoes, a petting zoo and a playground.  This was a great place for the kids to play and have some fun.  They also offered a free all-you-can-eat breakfast which was a super deal and very handy!  In addition to the higher cost, the other draw backs were the small campsites, lack of privacy and check out was 11am sharp.

At McGregor Lake we stayed at a private campground.  It was mid-priced.  It offered full hook-ups and fishing access.  The campground was brand new but had large sites.  It was also located between two lakes to which we could walk.  It wasn’t very private but fortunately there weren’t a lot of people that night so it felt more private.   This was a pretty basic campground without a lot of frills.  Again, check out was at 11am.  They weren’t as strict as the KOA but we definitely knew when it was time to leave!

Family Friendly, Frugal Camping

National forests are a fun and frugal way to camp.

Finally, we stayed at two different National Forest campgrounds.  The campsites were private and large.  Plus, each campsite was provided with a large picnic table, fire ring and fire wood.  Plus, the two campgrounds we stayed at were located next to water so the fishing access was exceptional.

But the winning benefit of these campgrounds was the price!  $10 a night!  We were also very impressed that you could get to a campsite at anytime during the afternoon and you didn’t have to check out until 2pm the next day.  In fact, after checking with the campground host, we were able to stay for an extended amount of time for no additional cost.

Family Friendly Frugal Camping in Montana

Enjoying Big Sky Country!

National Forest campgrounds don’t offer electricity, wifi, water or sewer.  If your camper has a generator, you’re allowed to run it for periods of time.  But we welcome the time to “unplug” and just enjoy nature and each other.

So this summer as you get out and enjoy the beautiful Big Sky Country, consider what your needs are when it comes to a campground.  Montana provides a wide array of camping options for all levels of campers!

Overall, we were delighted with the National Forest Campgrounds and found them frugal, beautiful and a perfect space to celebrate summer and our special family time!


 Erin’s got tons of tips for saving money, couponing, sticking to a budget, and living sustainably in her blog archive.


Erin Eisenman-Turner is proud to be a native Missoulian. Along with her husband and three sons, they raise chickens, pigs, rabbits, and vegetables at Turner Family Farms in the Orchard Homes area. When the farm chores are done, the coupons clipped, and the blog written, you can find Erin exploring Montana, collecting antiques, and trying to maintain a well-run, happy, and organized home for her family.

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