Featuring ten small lakes and varying types of untouched wilderness, Axolotl Lakes is a beautiful area perfect for RV lovers chasing adventure. Located around 15 miles southwest from the town of Ennis, Axolotl Lakes is managed by the Bureau of Land Management and offers visitors free dry camping in an incredibly picturesque location.
The lands in and around the Axolotl Lakes were originally inhabited by Native Americans, and some of their ancient ceremonial sites and campsites still remain within the wilderness designation. Previously owned by a not-for-profit organization, Axolotl Lakes became under the Bureau of Land Management umbrella in the early 2000s when the land was purchased and added to their portfolio. Including the lakes, there are around 400 acres to explore, but most of the visitors will find themselves in the 40-acre recreation area.
There are many fantastic recreational opportunities suitable for people of all ages, including fishing, swimming, hiking, and wildlife viewing. During the winter months, you are also in a great location to access some of the renowned Montana ski fields, such as those at Big Sky.
Since this is a wilderness area there are little to no amenities for visitors, but you will be able to set up a primitive camp at Axolotl Lakes. If you are wanting to camp with some more amenities there are a few private camping options within the town of Ennis, or you can stay at the nearby Axolotl Cabin. Please note that during the winter months access to the wilderness area will be extremely difficult due to the large amounts of snowfall. Axolotl Lakes is open all year round.
Axolotl Lakes has one road that takes you directly to the wilderness area, and it can be reached by turning off from Highway 287. The area is also within an easy driving distance to a few small towns thanks to its location near Highway 287. If you do need to pick up any supplies before your trip you can stop into Ennis (around 15 miles away), Sheridan (around 27 miles away), and Twin Bridges (around 36 miles away). The closest cities to Axolotl Lakes are Bozeman (around 67 miles away), and Butte (around 83.5 miles away).
If you are thinking of visiting Axolotl Lakes in your RV you should be prepared for the weather conditions depending on what time of year you are traveling to the area. During the warmer months traveling to and from Axolotl Lakes is relatively easy, but during the winter the roads do not regularly get plowed so it will be near impossible to drive your RV to the lakes. You could try accessing the lakes from walking in, but there is no guarantee of how close you will be able to get.
There are no developed parking areas within the wilderness area, but you are free to park your rig in already disturbed areas near the roadside.
Axolotl Lakes is the perfect place in southwest Montana for free dry camping on BLM land, but if you would like some amenities you will have to look elsewhere.
The most popular place for RV travelers to call home near Axolotl Lakes is a private RV resort in the town of Ennis just off the main highway. Here you will find a pet-friendly place to stay that features large pull-through sites, very well-kept common areas, and even WiFi! The RV resort is suitable for big rigs and you can choose to stay here for as little as a day or many months.
There are plenty of full hookup sites to choose from, all of which come with 30 and 50 amp electrical hookups. If your rig is under 30 feet you will also be able to get a little discount - how good is that? Other amenities within the campground include hot showers, laundry facilities, a camp store, and a clubhouse room.
Reservations are recommended so that you can guarantee your stay and they can be made online or by calling the park.
Another great camping option for those wanting to stay at the lakes is to reserve the Axolotl Cabin. Operated by the BLM, this single accommodation building is perfect for larger groups as it can sleep up to seven people. Amenities within the cabin include a kitchen, electrical hookups, multiple beds, and a large covered deck. You will have to bring your own bedding to the cabin and be mindful of electricity use since it is all solar.
Axolotl Cabin is open from mid-May to mid-October every year, so if you want to stay here you will have to visit during the warmer months. Reservations can be made online on the 1st of March each year.
If you are visiting Axolotl Lakes during the glorious summer months you must brave the cold water and jump into one of the 10 nearby lakes. None of the lakes have any manmade facilities (such as bathhouses, change rooms, or snack bars), but you will be able to enjoy a swim in an area that is surrounded by tranquility. While your swim might not be long since the water will be cold, we recommend mustering up the courage and checking it out for yourself.
The 40-acre recreation area within Axolotl Lakes is perfect for RV lovers wanting to have a good old fashioned picnic. There are no designed picnic areas, but there is plenty of room for you to throw out a blanket and enjoy the majestic surroundings. Since this is a wilderness area don't expect any trash collection bins, so remember to take out everything that you bring in so nothing is left behind.
Throwing out a line and trying to catch a big one is one of the most popular activities for visitors to Axolotl Lakes. All of the lakes are open for anglers to enjoy, including one that is a major egg source for the brook trout population in the area. Fishing can be done either via watercraft or from the banks of the lakes during the summer months before the lakes freeze over. For any type of fishing in Montana you need a state fishing license, so make sure you have one before your fishing adventures.
Fancy exploring whats on top of the lake instead of what's underneath? Boating is permitted in all of the Axolotl Lakes, but please note that there are no boat launch facilities or motorboats allowed out on the water. For this reason, the most common watercraft to see are kayaks or canoes, which are often accompanied by a fishing pole. There are no boat rentals available, so you will have to bring your own or rent one privately from a town close by.
Although you will have trouble reaching Axolotl Lakes in your rig during the winter, if you are in the area there are plenty of great places for you to enjoy some winter recreation. You are free to snowshoe or ski into the recreation area, or you could always build a snowman and have a snowball fight.
If you would like to enjoy some trail activities you can head to the surrounding mountains, including Big Sky, which is a close community popular for winter recreation.
The varied terrain that exists within Axolotl Lakes (including forests, meadows, and grasslands) provides visitors with many different nature viewing opportunities during their visit. Numerous mammals, fish, and birds all call the park home, but one of the most fascinating yet fearful creatures to come across is the grizzly bear, which is known to hang out in the area. Remember to pack your bear spray and secure all food in case you have an unplanned run-in.