Guide to Camping in Yellowstone National Park

Guide to Camping in Yellowstone National Park

With its spectacular scenery and unprecedented access to such wildlife as wolves, bears, elk, bison, and mountain goats, Yellowstone National Park is a one of a kind place. One of the best ways of experiencing the park is by immersing yourself in it by staying at one of the park’s campgrounds.

In addition to backwoods camping, Yellowstone offers 12 managed campgrounds within the park’s boundaries. These campgrounds range from large facilities with more than 400 campsites to more intimate settings with fewer than 20. Most campgrounds are open for tent and RV camping.

The park’s campgrounds are sprinkled throughout the park, providing camping options in close proximity to many of the park’s most popular attractions. While some offer reservations, others are available on a first-come-first-serve basis only. For those looking for free campgrounds, there are many more outside of the national park’s boundaries.

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Here are the best campgrounds in Yellowstone National Park for you to plan for your next camping trip.

Campgrounds in Yellowstone National Park

Norris Campground

  • Type : RV / Tent
  • Open : May to October
  • Cost : $20 per night
  • Reservation : No

With its location near the North Geyser Basin in the central part of the park, Norris Campground is one of the more popular camping destinations Yellowstone National park has to offer.

The campground offers nearby access to some of the park’s most popular fishing locations and hiking trails. But, what makes it so popular is its access to Norris Geyser Basin, which is just a 10-minute walk from the campground. Norris Geyser features one of the tallest active geysers as well as some very colorful hot springs.

Norris Campground is open from May to September. It sits at an elevation of 7,500 feet, so plan for cool weather year-round. It features 100 sites with seven available RV sites. There are no dumpsites or hookups available at this campsite. Flush toilet facilities are available; however, there are no showers. 

You’ll need to bring your own portable showers.

Madison Campground

  • Type : RV / Tent
  • Open : May to October
  • Cost : $27 per night
  • Reservation : Yes

Madison Campground, located about 14 miles east of West Yellowstone, is situated in a perfect location for visiting some of Yellowstone’s most popular attractions. The campground is named for the Madison River, which runs near the campground. It’s located about 16 miles north of Old Faithful and in close proximity to Upper, Midway, and Lower Geyser Basins.

The campground also sits adjacent to meadows that serve as grazing grounds for herds of bison in the early summer and elk in the fall.

The campground features 278 sites with 62 tent-only sites. RVs with a maximum length of 30 feet are allowed at the campground. There are no hookups at this campground.

Some sites may not be level, so plan accordingly. Flush toilets and potable water are available at the campground. There are no showers.

Grant Village Campground

  • Type : RV / Tent
  • Open : June to September
  • Cost : $32 per night
  • Reservation : Yes

With its close access to West Thumb Geyser Basin, Grant Village is a popular destination for campers visiting Yellowstone. The basin is located just a few miles from the basin in a lodgepole pine forest.

Grant Village features more than 400 sites including tent, RV, and combination tent/RV sites. There are also specially designated campsites for hikers and cyclists. Be sure to research the sites ahead of time, as some are shaded while others are in full sun. Flush bathrooms, potable water, and showers are available at the campsite.

Grant Village will accommodate RVs of 40 feet but sites are limited, so book early. There are no hookups available at the campground.

Since the campground is located at 7,800 feet, expect cooler temperatures even in mid-summer, so make sure to pack accordingly. Bring extra blankets if you’re afraid of cold!

Mammoth Hot Springs Campground

  • Type : RV / Tent
  • Open : Year-round
  • Cost : $20 per night
  • Reservation : Yes

Mammoth is the only campground at Yellowstone that is open year-round. Located near the north entrance to the park, Mammoth is located five miles south of Gardiner, Montana. It features a picturesque camping experience situated among pines and high sagebrush in an unforested grassland section of the park.

The campground is situated in close proximity to fishing, hiking, and, of course, Mammoth Hot Springs. It’s also a popular campground for viewing wildlife with bison and elk making periodic visits to the campground.

Mammoth features 85 campsites and allows both tents and RVs. There are no hookups or dump sites available at this campground. Flush toilets and potable water are available.

Canyon Campground

  • Type : RV / Tent
  • Open : June-September
  • Cost : $32 per night
  • Reservation : Yes

With its close proximity to one of Yellowstone’s most popular attractions, reservations to Canyon campground are some of the most sought-after in the park. The campground is located less than a mile from the spectacular Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River.

It’s also part of Canyon Village, giving campers access to the village’s collection of stores and restaurants. Canyon Campground also offers access to several popular nearby hikes, including the Canyon Rim trails, Cascade Lake, and Mount Washburn.

Canyon offers 270 tents, RV, and combination tent/RV sites. Flush toilets and cold running water are available. There are no hookups available at the campground; however, an onsite dumpsite is available. RVers should call to reserve as some sites are not level or may not be long enough to accommodate longer RVs.

Indian Creek

  • Type : RV / Tent
  • Open : June-September
  • Cost : $15 per night
  • Reservation : No

Nestled near the base of the Gallatin Mountains, Indian Creek campground offers spectacular views of the surrounding peaks including nearby Electric Mountain. Indian Creek is located near Gardiner, Montana, just south of the North Entrance.

Nearby attractions include Mammoth Hot Springs, which is just 8 miles away. The campground is also close to Gardiner River, which is a great fishing location, as well as several hiking trails.

Indian Creek doesn’t take reservations and is available only on a first come first serve basis, so make sure you get there early to claim your spot. Of its 75 sites, there are 45 pull-through sites for RVs up to 40-foot long. The campground has limited facilities with potable water but no vault toilet facilities only.

Tower Fall Campground

  • Type : RV / Tent
  • Open : June-September
  • Cost : $15 per night
  • Reservation : No

With its close proximity to Tower General Store, Tower Fall Campground offers access to amenities, allowing you to resupply while staying at the campground. Tower fall Campground is located on the north side of the road to Dunraven Pass near Tower fall, a 130-foot waterfall that drops into the Yellowstone River.

Other nearby attractions include a six-mile trail to the summit of Mt. Washburn, and Roosevelt Lodge, which offers horseback riding and a restaurant. Lamar Valley, which offers numerous wildlife viewing and hiking opportunities, is also a short drive away.

This is a small campground with just 31 sites, which are available only on a first-come first-serve basis. There are no hookups for RVs and only vault toilets are available at the campground. Tower Fall does have potable water.

Slough Creek Campground

  • Type : RV / Tent
  • Open : June-September
  • Cost : $15 per night
  • Reservation : No

Located in the Lamar Valley, Slough Creek Campground offers incredible opportunities to see the park’s wildlife. This is a smaller campground located down a dirt road, making it a good option for tents and small RVs.

Hiking opportunities abound in this area, including the nearby Slough Creek Trail. Be prepared to encounter wildlife at this campground as bison and bears are known to visit Slough Creek. At night you’ll hear the sounds of wolves baying.

If you’re looking for a quiet campground, Slough Creek is a great pick. It offers just 16 campsites located in a meadow surrounded by tall pine trees. Make sure you arrive early because Slough Creek is a first come first serve campground. It offers potable water and vault toilets. There are no hookups for RVs at this campground.

Bridge Bay Campground

  • Type : RV / Tent
  • Open : June-September
  • Cost : $27 per night
  • Reservation : Yes

If you don’t mind sharing your campsite with the occasional grazing 1,500-pound bison, then Bridge Bay Campground is an excellent option. This high-elevation campground, it sits at 7,800 feet, offers views of nearby Yellowstone Lake and the Absaroka mountain range. With its close proximity to Bridge Bay Marina, this is a popular campground for fishermen and boaters.

Bridge Bay features 432 reservable campsites for both tents and RVs. Campground amenities include a camp store, food storage lockers, a dump station, access to potable water, and bathrooms with flush toilets and cold running water. There are no RV utility hookups.

Be sure to scout out the campsite locations when reserving. The upper loops are in wooded locations while the lower loop campsites are more open.

Lewis Lake Campground

  • Type : RV / Tent
  • Open : June-November
  • Cost : $15 per night
  • Reservation : No

Lewis Lake Campground sits just eight miles from the south entrance of the park on the banks of Lewis Lake’s southeastern shore. With its close proximity to the lake and a boat launch site nearby, Lewis Lake is a popular campground for fishermen and recreational boaters. Several excellent hiking trails and popular attraction Old Faithful are also just a short drive away.

Grant Village, which features restaurants, a gas station, and camper services is just six miles north of Lewis Lake.

Lewis Lake features 85 first-come-first-serve campsites for both tents and small RVs of up to 25 feet. There are no RV utility hookups or dump stations on site. Lewis Lake offers potable water and vault-style toilets.

Camping Tips for Yellowstone National Park

  1. The evenings can get cold, even in the summertime. With many campgrounds at elevations between 6,000 and 8,000 feet, temperatures can easily dip into the 40s in mid-summer. With that in mind, make sure to come prepared with the proper clothing, sleeping bags, and other camping gear.
  2. Bring mosquito repellent. Mosquitos are notoriously bad in the spring and summer. As you’ll be spending nearly all of your time outdoors, make sure you have plenty of bug spray to keep mosquitos at bay.
  3. Research campsite ahead of time especially if you have an RV. Although campgrounds advertise sites that serve both RVs and tents, some sites do not have level driveways. Rather than be surprised when you arrive, call ahead to make sure the site you are reserving is level. It’s also important to check which sites feature cover and which see a lot of sun exposure.
  4. Be wary of bears. Although seeing a bear might be the highlight of a camping trip, encounters with bears can be dangerous. Although attacks are rare, it’s still important to take precautions. Make sure to properly store food so as not to attract bears and keep bear spray handy as a precaution.
  5. Make reservations early. Yellowstone is one of the most popular national parks in the world. It sees millions of visitors each year. In order to land a campsite, reserve early. This is especially true in light of the recent COVID-19 outbreak, which has prompted a surge in the popularity of camping, which offers a safe means for travel. For first-come-first-serve campgrounds, get there early to reserve a site.
  6. If you are an RVer, be prepared to dry camp. None of the campgrounds in Yellowstone offer utility hookups and many do not allow the use of portable generators, so you’ll need to be prepared to go without electricity. Alternatively, bring solar panels or battery packs. Although most campgrounds do not have dumpsites, many are available in the towns surrounding the park. Campgrounds with dumpsites include Madison, Canyon Village, Bridge Bay, Fishing Bridge and Grant Village.
  7. Bring a map. Many of us are so used to using our smartphones for navigation that we no longer take maps with us. Many locations in the park have little or no cell phone service, meaning you won’t be able to navigate using your phone. Alternatively, you can bring walkie talkies. Bring a map along as a backup.

Andrew Dodson

Andrew Dodson is an avid camper who enjoys the great outdoors with his wife and two-year-old son. He resides in Colorado, where you can often find him enjoying hikes with a toddler strapped to his back and mini goldendoodle Percy nearby.