Camping in Yellowstone is a budget-friendly alternative to hotels, and also a whole lot of fun. It’s a terrific way to unplug, experience the park’s natural environment, and enjoy simple pleasures like cooking and eating around the campfire. Ready to plan your trip? Read on for answers to the most frequently asked questions about staying in a Yellowstone campground.
How many campgrounds are there in Yellowstone?
There are 12 developed, “front country” campgrounds, with a total of more than 2,150 campsites that can be accessed by automobile. NOTE: Three of these Yellowstone campgrounds will be closed for the 2023 season: Norris, Tower, Pebble Creek. These campgrounds are either due for repairs or were heavily impacted by the historic floods in June .
How do I choose a Yellowstone campground?
You’ll want to select a campground based on several factors including seasonal opening and closing dates, what parts of the park you would most like to see, and number and size of campsites
If you are unfamiliar with the park’s campgrounds, start by viewing the many campground details available on the Yellowstone National Park Service website, including photographs, maps, and schedules.
How much will it cost to camp in Yellowstone?
Campsites cost as little as at $20 per night, per site. Most campgrounds with more amenities such as flush toilets and nearby laundry facilities range from $30 to $40 per night.
Can I reserve a campsite in advance?
Seven campgrounds are operated by the National Park Service and include: the Mammoth (dates TBD) and Indian Creek Campgrounds near Mammoth Hot Springs, the Lewis Lake Yes! Campground near the South Entrance, the centrally located Norris Campground (closed in 2023), and the Pebble Creek (closed in 2023), Slough Creek, and Tower Fall (closed in 2023) Campgrounds in the northeast area of the park. NPS campsites can be reserved through recreation.gov.
The other five campgrounds are operated by lodging concessioner Yellowstone National Park Lodges, and these sites can be reserved in advance online or by calling 866-GEYSERLAND (866-439-7375). These include the Bridge Bay and Grant Campgrounds near Yellowstone Lake, the Canyon Campground near the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River, and the Madison Campground near West Yellowstone.
There is also ana newly renovated RV Park, with 310 sites for hard-sided RVs only, at Fishing Bridge near Yellowstone Lake. The renovation includes new and larger sites, a larger parking lot, new dump station and recycling area, and an expanded registration building with more showers and laundry facilities.
Most campsites are reserved far in advance, so it is recommended that you make reservations as early as you can. Opening and closing dates are subject to change.
Are the RV campsites in all Yellowstone campgrounds?
While all sites can accommodate RVs, many have length limits (measured from the front bumper of your vehicle to the rear bumper of your RV or camper), some have limited availability, and there are seasonal considerations (dump stations may not be available early and late season due to freezing temperatures). Check each National Park Service and Yellowstone National Park Lodges campsite for full details. While the Fishing Bridge RV Park is the only campground with full hook-ups.
What is there to do in the evenings at campgrounds?
Yellowstone offers a wide variety of evening programs in and nearby campgrounds, especially during the peak season of June through August. Join in a ranger-led “campfire program” on a topic of interest such as wolves, geothermal wonders, and stories from the park’s colorful history. Some campgrounds even have amphitheaters that offer ample seating and good acoustics for larger programs. Amateur astronomers of all ages will enjoy the scheduled telescope programs for viewing Yellowstone’s spectacular starry sky. Check out the online program schedules on the park’s website for details.
How do we plan ahead for bear safety in a Yellowstone campground?
Proper food storage is the most important precaution you can take to avoid a bear encounter in a Yellowstone campground. Be sure to store any food in a locked vehicle or in a provided Bear Box. Through Yellowstone Forever’s Sponsor a Bear Box campaign, the park has successfully installed more than 185 bear-proof food storage boxes at individual campsites. Especially if you plan to go hiking, take time in advance of your trip to learn more about bear safety in Yellowstone.
Can I camp in Yellowstone in the winter?
There are currently no campgrounds open for the winter.
What about backcountry camping?
For those who crave solitude—and are able to carry everything they need on their back—there is the option of camping in Yellowstone’s backcountry. There are nearly 300 backcountry campsites in the park, some of which are available through advance reservations. Backcountry camping permits may be obtained only in person, and no more than 3 days s in advance of your trip, at one of the park’s backcountry offices. Permits are required for all overnight stays. Not ready to go out on your own? The Yellowstone Forever Institute offers a backcountry skills Field Seminar where you’ll learn the skills and gear you’ll need for an unforgettable, and safe, adventure. Learn more about backcountry hiking and camping.
Photos: Courtesy of NPS