03 Nov Your Guide to Camping at Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park is one of the oldest and best destinations in the world to visit to enjoy natural wonders. It was one of the first UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and the sights it offers continue to make it the most-visited national park in the United States.
During the busy season in the late spring to early fall, thousands of people go to Yellowstone National Park to camp. A total of 12 campgrounds are available within its borders, which means understanding the local system, and the characteristic of each site can help you to have an optimal experience.
Location Must Be Your Top Priority
Yellowstone is so massive that it takes two hours to drive from one side of it to the other. That means you should select a campground based on what you hope to see during your stay.
If seeing the bears, wolves, and bison of Yellowstone National Park is your goal, then staying near the Lamar Valley is your best option. You’ll want to find a spot at Pebble Creek, Tower Falls, or Slough Creek during your stay.
A lot of people come to Yellowstone to see the geyser basins in the park. It is the most popular feature, which means the campgrounds that serve the area offer the most sites. Norris and Madison are the options to consider – or you can stay in the hotel that puts you right next to Old Faithful if you prefer.
When your priority is to visit Yellowstone Lake or the canyon areas of the park, then Bridge Bay, Canyon, and Grand Village have campgrounds that can facilitate your needs. If you come in an RV, then Fishing Bridge has a place for you to get things set up for exploration.
How to Get a Site at Yellowstone’s Campgrounds
The five largest campgrounds at Yellowstone National Park operate on a reservation system. Most people book a reservation for their vacation several months in advance. If you want to visit during the months of June, July, or August, then you need to get your site 6-9 months in advance – and that might not be far enough ahead in some years.
Some people cancel sites each day, which means there can be limited availability that gets distributed on a first come, first-served basis. You can check the park’s website to get an up-to-date report on what is available.
The smaller campgrounds all operate on a first-come, first-served basis. You typically need to arrive at the place where you hope to camp before 8 AM to make sure that you can get a site for the night.
If you don’t mind staying outside of the park, Baker’s Hole Campground is a site operated by the Forest Service near the west entrance. It is also a first-come, first-served destination.
A visit to Yellowstone National Park is an incredible experience that everyone should have at least once. When you plan to go camping here, then it can be a relaxing time that lets you enjoy nature at its best.