Description: Charles Waters Campground is located in the beautiful Bitterroot Valley is part of a watchable wildlife-viewing triangle that also includes the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge. At the Willoughby Environmental Education Area, sagebrush grassland communities are interspersed with ponderosa pine forests and a small creek. A 1-mile interpretive trail begins at the parking area. Look for red-tailed hawks spring through fall and rough-legged hawks in winter, soaring above the open the open shrub lands. Also common are western meadowlarks, mountain bluebirds, and savannah and vesper sparrows. Year-round residents include white-tailed deer, pine squirrels, great horned owls, and mountain and black-capped chickadees.
The Charles Water Nature Trail is 18 miles northeast off US Highway 93. The 0.5-mile trail traverses 2 dramatically different habitats that exist side by side. The trail begins in a dry ponderosa pine forest and quickly makes the transition to a cool, moist river bottom forest along Bass Creek. White-tailed deer are common, and elk, mule deer, and black bears are occasional visitors. Look for nuthatches, golden-crowned kinglets, dark-eyed juncos, and red cross-bills year-round. Migratory bird species that are relatively common include ruby-crowned kinglets, warbling vireos, and western wood pewees. There is also a 2.5 mile fire ecology trail in the same area.
The campground offers 22 designated campsites. There is a maximum trailer length of 35 feet. There is a 14 day stay limit and a small fee. Water, garbage removal and disabled access available.
Directions: To reach the Charles Water Campground, take US Highway 93 south 25 miles from Missoula and turn west on Bass Creek Road. Go west for 2 miles, and park at the parking area on Forest road 1316.