skip to Main Content
Yellowstone Camping: Your Complete Guide To A Perfect Spot

Yellowstone Camping: Your Complete Guide To A Perfect Spot

This post may contain affiliate links.

Now-a-days camping means a lot of things. If you ask my dad, it means canvas tent and cooking over the campfire. For others it means the plush comforts of an RV. Yellowstone camping is no different. Whether you are looking for backcountry camping in the woods or a nice RV park, you can find it all both in Yellowstone and just outside it.

Inside the park there are 12 campgrounds total. That’s a mix of RV and tent accessible sites as well as campgrounds you can make reservations for vs. first come first serve. I know that can be key when planning a vacation.

Outside the park there are quite a few more choices, but I would definitely recommend staying inside the park boundaries. We’ve stayed in Yellowstone for over 7 weeks and couldn’t imagine having to drive into the park every day to explore. It’s a HUGE park and that drive in, while it is a beautiful drive, is also time that could be spent out on a hiking trail or soaking in some of that sweet sulfur smell. It’s definitely a different experience when you stay in the park. Heck, one time my in-laws had bear prints all over their car one morning!

Also, be sure to check out all the great product recommendations below for your Yellowstone camping trip!

Yellowstone Camping Map

Here’s an interactive map of Yellowstone camping locations.

Reservable Campgrounds

Let’s break this down into places you can reserve and places you can’t. Most likely you’re planning an upcoming vacation and don’t want to waltz into Yellowstone after driving across the country hoping they have a campsite for you because if they don’t, you’ll be driving several hours to find something. Let’s not go National Lampoons here, ok.

The following table has the campgrounds that can be reserved online. Use this to determine what suits you best. Costs are accurate as of this posting.

CampgroundDatesNightly FeeSitesElevation (ft)FeaturesRV Sites**
Bridge Bay05/19-09/11$24.25*4327800A,F,NS,DS,GCheck Xanterra Parks and Resorts for details & reservations
Canyon05/26-09/24$29*2737900A,F,S/L,2S,DS,G
Fishing Bridge RV Park05/05-09/17$47.75*>3257800F,S/L,2S,DS,G,H (hard-sided only)
Grant Village06/09-09/17$29*4307800A,F,S/L,2S,DS,G
Madison04/28-10/15$24.25*2786800A,F,NS,DS,G

* – Rate does not include tax or utility pass-through
** – Sizes are for total length of vehicle and towed equipment
A – Accessible sites available
F – Flush toilets
H – Full hookups
V – Vault toilet
S/L – Pay showers/laundry onsite
NS – Showers not included
2S – Two showers included each night
DS – Dump station (may close when temperatures are below freezing)
G – Generators OK 8 am to 8pm (60db limit)

Bridge Bay

Bridge Bay is on the eastern end of the park and near Yellowstone Lake. It is one of the largest campgrounds in the park with over 430 campsites available. You can make reservations at this campground.

Near this campground there is the Bridge Bay Marina where you can rent a boat or take a tour out on Lake Yellowstone. There is also a fantastic view of the Absoraka Mountains towards the east where you’ll be able to see a “reverse sunset”. That’s when you see the shadows fall over the mountains while the sun sets behind you. It’s spectacular!

Canyon

The Canyon campground lies pretty central to the park, so it may make for a nice base camp. There is also Canyon Village right there, so you have access to a Visitor Center, store and restaurant.

You’ll have everything you need at Canyon, including a reservable campground. Nearby you’ll be able to explore the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, Artist Point and if you’re really feeling up to it, hike the 6-mile round trip up Mount Washburn. The views are fantastic!

Fishing Bridge RV Park

This is the only designated “RV Park” in Yellowstone. The reason is that Grizzly Bears like to hang out in this area, so tents are not allowed, only hard-sided trailers or motorhomes.

This campground is on the eastern part of the park as well, not far from Lake Area and Bridge Bay campground. There is also a decent sized store in Fishing Bridge Village as well as a Visitor Center and gas station.

This side of the park is definitely quieter than the western side of the park where people come in drove to see Old Faithful. Take my advice and try to stay over here instead!

Grant Village

Grant Village is in the southern part of the park. You are still on Yellowstone Lake and this would make a perfect location to take a day trip to the Grand Tetons just outside of Yellowstone National Park.

There is also a General Store in Grant Village as well as other amenities. There are no hookups for RV’s at the campground, so be prepared.

Madison

Madison is on the western end of the park with easy access to West Yellowstone, Old Faithful and the Grand Prismatic.

The campground has very nice amenities including picnic tables and firepits at each site as well as flush toilets in the restrooms. It’s the little things in life.

You’re also close to the intersection of the Gibbon and Firehole rivers which offer some of the best fly fishing in the world.

We also had a great time taking a dip in the Firehole swimmin’ hole which can be found in our 10 Unique Adventures in Yellowstone Guide!

Yellowstone camping in the snow!

First Come First Serve Campgrounds

If you’re the more adventurous type or if you just haven’t had enough Yellowstone camping, this may be the route for you. You have 7 campgrounds to choose from here. There are definitely more restrictions when it comes to RV sites with these campgrounds, so make sure to pay attention to that and call if you have any questions.

CampgroundDatesNightly FeeSitesElevation (ft)FeaturesRV Sites**
Indian Creek06/09-09/1115707300A, V10@ 35'; 35@30'
Lewis Lake06/15-11/0515857800V25' or less
MammothAll year20856200A,F,GIn the winter season, there is a very tight turn - 30' total length limit for RVs or vehicle/trailer combinations
Norris05/19-09/25201117500A,F,G2 @ 50' (signed); 5 @30'
Pebble Creek06/15-09/2515276900VSome long pull-throughs
Slough Creek06/15-10/0715236250V14 @ 30' (walk through first to assess)
Tower Fall05/26-09/2515316600V30' or less (loop has hairpin curve)

* – Rate does not include tax or utility pass-through
** – Sizes are for total length of vehicle and towed equipment
A – Accessible sites available
F – Flush toilets
H – Full hookups
V – Vault toilet
S/L – Pay showers/laundry onsite
NS – Showers not included
2S – Two showers included each night
DS – Dump station (may close when temperatures are below freezing)
G – Generators OK 8 am to 8pm (60db limit)

Indian Creek

This quiet campground just south of Mammoth Hot Springs is a great place to stay in Yellowstone National Park an avoid the hustle and bustle of the villages since it is a bit off the main road. RV’s are also welcome, that is if you are under 35′. Out of the 70 sites, 10 allow RV’s up to 35′ and 35 sites can fit an RV up to 30′. This is total length if you are towing anything.

Lewis Lake

Lewis Lake is at the southern tip of the park being just a few miles north of the south entrance. This campground offers a good spot to get out on Yellowstone Lake.

Mammoth

While being one of the most popular villages in Yellowstone, Mammoth Hot Springs also has an 85 site campground. Interestingly, it is still first-come first-served. The campground is within walking distance of the village where you can stop at the Visitor Center, Hot Springs, and even venture north towards Gardiner and stop at one of our 10 Unique Adventures in Yellowstone!

Camping in Mammoth means there are longer RV sites available. There are several pull-through sites, some even up to 75′ in max length. That’s a lot of space! On the downside, there aren’t any hookups here, but generators are allowed 8am until 8pm.

Norris

Norris is another great place to set up a base camp since it is also very central to the park. If you think of the roads in Yellowstone as a figure 8, Madison and Canyon are right in the midsection of the 8 with Madison being further west and Canyon further east.

This campground has 100 sites, which are mostly for tents (only 7 RV sites in total). It also offers some great information on the park with campfire talks with a Ranger during the summer, Ranger-led walks and a small museum near the basin.

Pebble Creek

Near the northeast entrance of the park, you’ll find the Pebble Creek Campground. With the beautiful Absaroka Mountains as the backdrop, you’ll find beauty and peace at this camp. Suitable for tents and even some larger RV’s or trailers.

Excellent hiking is accessible from the campground along with some of the best wildlife viewing in the nearby Lamar Valley. You may even be able to spot some wolves in this area!

Slough Creek

Slough Creek is a small campground on the northwest end of the park. It’s close to Lamar Valley, so another excellent chance to go wildlife spotting.

This campground is best for tents and maybe small RV’s. They provide picnic tables and fire pits at each site as well as community food storage boxes to keep the bears at bay.

From Slough Creek, you can make a great day trip to the Beartooth mountains out of the northeast entrance. That’s a beautiful scenic drive!

Tower Fall

Tower Fall campground is again on the northeastern end of the park, just a bit south of Roosevelt Lodge.

This is another campground that accommodates only small setups. If you’re planning on bringing an RV or trailer up this way, I suggest doing a bit of research to be sure you’re aware of the road to get there. Coming from the south, you have to go through Dunraven Pass which has steep and winding roads. Even the campground itself has a very tight turn which may be difficult to navigate with a larger RV or trailer.

Yellowstone National Park

Backcountry Camping

Of course you could go totally off the beaten path and go back country camping! I only recommend this if you have camped before and have a general familiarness with Yellowstone and wilderness in general. Also you should have been a Boy Scout, yeah definitely that. This is no joke people. There have been people who have gotten lost in the wild, I’m looking at you Reese Witherspoon.

Now, I have never backcountry camped, so I can’t really speak to what it is like from firsthand experience. However, my brother-in-law has. He worked in Yellowstone for a full season and helped close Lake Hotel a second season.

He went out with a group of very experienced backcountry campers for a weekend long trip. They hiked almost 30 miles total for the trip and even had a close encounter with a grizzly bear! Luckily my brother-in-law had his bear spray on him, but none of the others did. After asking them why, they all said they were standing right behind Jake (my brother-in-law) since he had it under control! The biggest of the group said he planned on punching the grizzly square in the nose if it decided to rush them.

Despite that close encounter, he said back country camping in Yellowstone was an amazing experience.

There are over 300 backcountry camping spots around the park and you do need a permit to camp at them. It requires a small fee, but I think it’s more so the rangers know who is out in the backcountry and when to expect them back.

For more information on backcountry camping in Yellowstone, check out https://www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/backcountryhiking.htm.

Yellowstone Camping Rules

For the most part, Yellowstone camping is pretty laid back. You’re in probably the most famous National Park in the country, if not the world, so most people are very respectful of the park and its surroundings.

However, there are a few rules that are in place, firstly for the safety of you and your family and secondly to keep the park beautiful and the wildlife safe as well.

Hard Sided Vehicles and Food Storage Boxes

Fishing Bridge RV Park is the only campground in Yellowstone that requires a hard sided vehicle to camp. This means an RV, trailer, van or car. No tents are allowed.

Also, most campgrounds will have food storage boxes available. This is to store food while you are away from your campsite or at night when you are sleeping.

Bears can smell food from miles away and will come rummaging around for it. If they find some, they are most likely to come back for more and when they don’t find more, things can turn ugly. This is why food storage boxes are so important. You definitely don’t want any food in or around your tent or camper for your safety and you don’t want bears to get too keen on human food as it’s not good for their safety either. Use the food storage boxes, they’re there for a reason.

Generators

As most campgrounds in Yellowstone offer no kinds of hookups, electricity can be a problem. Whether you need to charge your camera battery, phone or want to have some lights, you have to be very frugal when it comes to energy usage.

7 parks allow the use of generators from 8am until 8pm. There is a noise limit of 60 decibels, which if you think your generator is too loud, it most likely is.

Here are the campgrounds that allow generator usage.

Bay Bridge
Canyon
Fishing Bridge
Grant Village
Madison
Mammoth
Norris

Pets

The rule on pets applies to the entire park and not just the campgrounds, but I wanted to add it here because if you are coming to camp in Yellowstone, you may be wondering if you can bring your pet with.

Pets are allowed in the park, but there are some pretty strict rules about what they can and can’t do.

Pets are allowed within 100 feet of any developed area of the park. This includes roads, parking areas and campgrounds. Your pet must be on a leash at all times and the leash cannot be longer than 6 feet.

Pets are not allowed on trails, boardwalks, anywhere in the back country or near thermal areas.

You cannot leave pets alone or tied to something like a tree or bike rack.

Pets can be left in the car, but the sun in Yellowstone can get extremely hot, so vehicles will heat up fast! That’s very dangerous for a pet in the car.

Pets cannot be left alone in a tent if you plan to take a day trip or hike while camping and since most campgrounds do not have electricity hookups, pets left in an RV face the same dangers as pets left in a car.

So Yellowstone may not be the best place to plan on bringing your dog when you go camping, it may be safer and more comfortable for your pet to find someone to take care of them back at home.

Yellowstone Camping Gear

To make sure you have a comfortable and enjoyable camping trip to Yellowstone, check out the products below.

Also be sure to check out these other things to pack for Yellowstone!

If you are an outdoor enthusiast, there is no better place than Yellowstone National Park and no better experience than Yellowstone camping! Hopefully this will give you the information you need to plan your next Yellowstone visit!

This Post Has 3 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

73 Shares
Pin60
Share5
+1
Tweet8
Stumble
Share
Back To Top