Review of 10 Yellowstone National Park camping spots: from RV sites to rustic backcountry. Expert tips to pitch your tent and explore the park.
Yellowstone National Park is a true American treasure, and camping in the park is an excellent way to explore it. But with more than 2 million acres to discover, figuring out where to camp can be daunting.
We’re here to help! From family-friendly RV options to rustic cabins and backcountry sites accessible only by foot, we’ll guide you through the best places to pitch your tent or park your rig.
Yellowstone National Park Camping Is Difficult to Reserve
Reservations are made through the National Park Service website, at 877-444-6777, or by calling a local ranger station’s reservation line (the number will vary depending on the park). Reservation requests are accepted up to 11 months in advance of your planned trip date. For example, if you’re planning on going camping in Yellowstone in July 2016 for two nights, you can submit your reservation request as early as October 2015 (if you want to make sure that you get the campsite that you want).
The process of reserving a campsite varies from park to park. In some parks—like Yosemite—you have to fill out an application and mail it along with payment; others require only paying online once your request has been approved; while still other parks provide reservations free of charge but do not allow them until after certain dates each year.
Tower Fall Campground, Yellowstone National Park
If you’re looking for a great view, Tower Fall Campground is the place to be. Located in the south end of the park, this campground provides access to two major attractions: Tower Fall and Snake River. Tower Fall itself is an impressive 200 ft waterfall that flows into the Snake River (hence its name). Also nearby are many other features such as Sulphur Caldron and Heart Lake. What’s more? There’s an excellent chance you’ll see a variety of wildlife while here—from elk and bison to bears and wolves!
Another Visitor, William Keen says, “Host was very polite and helpful for finding local wildlife. It’s a fairly basic campground with just vault toilets and potable water taps. Didn’t have any problems with other campers or wildlife. I was told the campground is frequented by black bears so they are very strict when it comes to food/scented items. I would recommend to others.”
Bridge Bay Campground, Yellowstone National Park
Located on the west side of Yellowstone Lake (just outside of West Yellowstone), Bridge Bay Campground has 40 campsites, most without hookups. The campground offers a beach, swimming area and boat launch for those who want to spend their days exploring nearby fishing holes or hiking trails. It’s also near the west entrance to Yellowstone National Park—which means you’ll have quick access to all of the park’s most popular attractions: Old Faithful Geyser, Mammoth Hot Springs and more!
Amy Reviews Bridge Bay on Google Saying, “We camped at Bridge Bay for 4 nights and LOVED it!! We were given site 241 in Loop E and it was a really great spot. We had plenty of room to spread out and had our own bear box. They are working on getting a box at every site which is awesome. It was a short walk to see Yellowstone Lake and the views are spectacular.
The bathrooms were really clean and well stocked every day. We saw rangers patrolling the campground often which was nice. A bison and elk visited our campsite every day which was super cool!! There is also a marina at this campground which has a store for ice if you need it. You can buy firewood when you check in for $10 a box.
If you are looking for a hike you don’t have to drive to, you can walk to the Natural Bridge of Yellowstone. It’s a really nice walk to get to, but if you want to go to the top, it’s a moderate hike up the mountainside. Overall we really enjoyed our time here at Yellowstone camping here and would definitely come back!”
Grant Village Campground, Yellowstone National Park
If you’re looking for the best place to stay in Yellowstone, Grant Village Campground is your spot.
This campground is located just outside of Gardiner, Montana and offers great views of both the park’s bustling town and its majestic mountains. You’ll be able to see both from your campsite or from inside your tent at night as most sites are fairly close together.
Camping at Grant Village means that you can easily access Yellowstone National Park’s famous attractions without having to drive too far out of the way each day (and there’s even an excellent shuttle service). There are two visitor centers within walking distance: Old Faithful Visitor Education Center and Mammoth Hot Springs Geological Area. Both provide information about how these locations formed—the former explains how Old Faithful works while the latter provides insight into hot spring formation—as well as maps so you know where else in the park you want to go next!
A visitor Shannon Adams says, “A very well managed campground central to the south of the Yellowstone Grand Loop. Sites are easy to access, pretty(and work for RVs and tent campers due to quiet hours for generators 8pm to 8am.) Only downside is the distance to the shower block and limit to 2 free showers per site per day.”
Madison Campground, Yellowstone National Park
Madison Campground is located in the southeastern part of Yellowstone National Park. It is a great place to stay if you want to see the wildlife, like bison and elk. If you are looking for a place where you can enjoy some peace and quiet, this may not be it because Madison has a lot of traffic during summer months. However, if you don’t mind having lots of tourists around then this would be an excellent campground for your next trip!
The Madison River flows through Madison’s boundaries and meanders along Firehole River into Firehole Lake before passing through Lava Creek Canyon (a spectacular canyon) and finally ending up at Yellowstone Lake after passing under Inspiration Point Bridge (you will have amazing views). There are many hiking trails in this area including one hike that takes hikers over cascading falls; another trail leads hikers past volcanic rock formations while yet another leads visitors through lush forests where they can spot moose or other animals roaming free in their natural habitat!
Olga reviews on Google saying, “We stayed here 2 nights while visiting Yellowstone in the middle of May. The location is perfect, just a stone’s throw from the main attractions.
We arrived around 1 a.m. and found an envelope with our name on the registration desk. Next morning a friendly and smiling lady completed our check-in and provided current information about everything we would like to know.
To be honest, our spot was not very convenient – near the inner road, on a hill, with a slope. We slept in the car and had to put firewood under the rear wheels so as not to slide down. The WC was spotless and warm, plus there were no crowds in the morning.
The campground was fully booked, despite the early season and freezing weather.
We used showers in Old Faithful Lodge, just ask at the reception desk.
Wi-fi is available near the Old Faithful information center, you need to connect Xanterra and choose Madison campground and your camp spot number.”
Lewis Lake Campground, Yellowstone National Park
If you are interested in tent camping, car camping or RV camping and want to experience a wide array of activities like fishing, swimming, hiking and wildlife viewing then this campground is for you. The Lewis Lake Campground is located on the southeastern edge of Yellowstone National Park near Cody Wyoming. This campground has 143 sites which include 12 large sites where RVs can be parked with electricity hookups so they can stay there all week if they wish. There are also 58 tent sites available as well as group camping areas that hold up to 50 people each.
The Lewis Lake Campground also has easy access to many different areas within Yellowstone National Park such as Fishing Bridge and Bighorn Flats where you can go boating or water skiing during the summer months and snowmobiling during winter months; making it an excellent choice for those who like variety when it comes to their outdoor recreation options!
Shaina Stamper reviews her visit as, “Cute campground, awesome that it is by the lake. Definitely worth trying. We got really lucky with our FF spot, some of the spots look not as great. Lots of shade, spots are mostly far away from each other. Also tents and trailers are separate, which I am always happy to see. Park rangers were super nice, as always.”
Fishing Bridge RV Park, Yellowstone National Park
Fishing Bridge RV Park is a great option for those who want to be close to the park, with access to fishing and hiking. It’s also near some of Yellowstone’s best restaurants, and it has a playground (for kids) and an on-site store.
This campground has great amenities, including laundry facilities and WiFi. There are also ranger-led programs available at this park.
The Fishing Bridge RV Park is located on the west side of Yellowstone Lake near West Thumb Geyser Basin, Canyon Village Area Museum, Grant Village Area Museum/Lake Yellowstone Hotel & Cabins (the oldest resort hotel in the National Park System), restaurants/bars; boat launch area; game room; recreation hall (with fireplace); meeting space; swimming beach with bathhouse (seasonal).
Kitty Kai leaves a review on google saying, “Awesome location. The only site with full hook ups inside Yellowstone! We initially booked two nights but kept checking for availability and was able to stay for 5 nights in a row, just had to move once. Half the spots are in a parking lot type of area and half the spots are in a more wooded area. Large laundry site and brand new! Close to gas station, general store and souvenir shop. Would definitely stay again!”
Mammoth Hot Springs Campground, Yellowstone National Park
Located in the northern section of Yellowstone National Park, Mammoth Hot Springs Campground is a great choice for those who want to get away from it all. While many campsites in Yellowstone are backcountry sites accessible only by hiking (and sometimes horseback riding), this campground has full service amenities such as showers and laundry facilities. There’s also plenty of space between campsites so you don’t have to worry about being too close to your neighbors.
If you’re looking for a little adventure while visiting Mammoth Hot Springs Campground, there are few better options than going on an evening hike at nearby Canyon Village or hiking to Artists Paint Pots during the day. You can also check out one of many geothermal features around the area—just don’t forget your camera!
Kelly Meadows reviews on Google saying, “Great location! So convenient to Mammoth and Lamar Valley. Camp hosts were so friendly and helpful. Sites are very large (we have a 34ft 5th wheel) offering good privacy. Plenty of places to fill up with water. So beware: there is road construction in the area and construction vehicles are super noisy traveling past the campground. Would suggest earplugs if tent camping. Lots of wildlife wander through this campground. Be aware and give them some space!”
The Canyon Campground is located on the north side of Yellowstone Lake and is one of the most popular sites in the park. It is open from late May through early September, with a maximum stay of 14 days.
The campground is accessed by boat or by foot via the trail that leads from Fishing Bridge (the northernmost point of Yellowstone Lake). The walk from Fishing Bridge to Canyon Campground takes about 45 minutes each way, so you might want to consider leaving your vehicle parked at Fishing Bridge and taking the boat over to Canyon Campground.
Canyon Campground has two loop trails that start at the picnic area near the entrance to the campground. The shorter trail is a half mile long, while the longer trail is 2 miles long and takes hikers past some interesting rock formations including one called The Sphinx.
Eric Anderson gives great advice on Google saying,, “This is a great location between the upper and lower loop in Yellowstone. Large laundry and showers very close by. This may be the biggest campground in the park. Use the bear boxes as there are big bears in the park. Bear spray is sold in the camp stores. Cheap life insurance policy if you tent camp or hike.”
Norris Campground, Yellowstone National Park
Norris Campground is open from May through October. It is a first-come, first-served campground located just north of Norris Geyser Basin and has a maximum length of stay of 7 days. If your visit to Yellowstone extends beyond 7 days, you will have to move to another camping area. While there are some longer term campsites available at other locations in the park, such as Colter Bay (14 day maximum stay) and Madison Campground (21 day maximum stay), these sites often fill up quickly during peak travel seasons.
To camp at this location you must register with the park rangers at Mammoth Hot Springs Visitor Center or Grant Village Visitor Center prior to arrival so they know where you plan on staying throughout your visit. If you arrive without making prior reservations or without proper permission from park officials beforehand then they may not let you enter their campsites even if space becomes available later on in the evening or early morning hours when most visitors come back after exploring Yellowstone Lake for example!
Benedikt reviews saying, “Great place to stay for visiting northern yellowstone. First come first serve – so if you want to be sure, come at 5 am. (We started driving up from Grand Teton in the middle of the night) Also bison visit the grounds so make sure not to leave any tents with lines in the open. All in all a very authentic place…”
Pebble Creek Campground, Yellowstone National Park
Pebble Creek Campground is located in the southeast corner of Yellowstone National Park. The campground has 28 campsites, is open all year and has a free dump station. The sites are electric and most can accommodate large rigs. This campground is only accessible by road, so if you’re looking for something more remote, this might not be your best option.
A brilliantly articulated review by Marchelle Mosley says,”We’ve decided that Pebble Creek is our favorite campground ever. We car camped for 2 nights in Aug 2021. Currently, sites 1-16 are reservation only, and sites 17-27 are FCFS. If you can’t get a reservation, watch the park website where they list the times each campground filled up the day before and try your hardest to get there early and get a spot. You will not be disappointed! We lucked out and arrived on a rainy 50* day, so there were a few sites available. We got site 11 our first night. It’s tucked into the center of the campground under a canopy of trees, complete with a tent pad, picnic table and bear box. The next morning we were able to secure the site we were really after, site 26, which has the best views in our opinion! Pebble Creek runs down from the mountains directly across the campground road, and you have an unobstructed view of the mountains.
This campground is the perfect home-base for exploring Lamar Valley, or for visiting the towns of Silver Gate and Cooke City at the NE entrance. We spent one day driving through Lamar Valley to the North entrance and ate lunch in Gardiner, then explored the Mammoth Hot Springs area.
The camp hosts were awesome. Very friendly and helpful! The bathrooms (pit toilets and no running water) were very clean as far as pit toilets go. There is a hand-pump water spigot on the edge of site 26 for all to use, as well as one in the center of the campground.
There is no cell service. The closest is Silver Gate or Cooke City to the east, and there is also a pocket of cell service at the entrance road to Slough Creek Campground to the west. Pebble Creek Campground is situated right in the middle of these 2 locations. If you find yourself in need of cell service, just drive a half hour in either direction and you’ll be good!“
Plan early to find a good camping spot in the park.
Many of the most popular campgrounds fill up months in advance. To avoid disappointment, book your campsite as early as possible. It’s also a good idea to plan ahead if you plan on camping during a busy time of year (like Memorial Day).
To find out about specific amenities and restrictions for each campground, visit the National Park Service website or call them directly at 307-344-2117.
It’s important to remember that camping in Yellowstone National Park is a privilege, not a right. The park protects natural resources that are treasured by millions of people around the world. In addition, there are countless other users who want to camp at Yellowstone and make it possible for the park to remain open year-round so they can explore its wonders. With this in mind, if you plan on visiting the national park before June or after September, we strongly encourage you not to camp overnight in any of these locations.
Instead, opt for one of the many more accessible places nearby where you can still enjoy all that the area has to offer without having to worry about making reservations months in advance or dealing with crowded campgrounds during peak season!