All About Camping in Yellowstone National Park

All About Camping in Yellowstone National Park

Camping in Yellowstone National Park provides an experience unlike anywhere else.  What could be better than sleeping under the stars and hearing the crunch of branches from a buffalo wandering through your camp, the rush of a nearby waterfall, or wolves howling in the distance?  The air might have a faint “rotten egg” smell from the nearby thermal features!

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Every year, millions of people from all over the world travel to Yellowstone expecting to have a magical trip.  Proper research and planning are CRITICAL to successfully navigating the crowds of Yellowstone and having a great experience.  

This camping guide is designed to give you all of the information that you need to choose the perfect front-country campground confidently.

What You Need to Know About Camping in Yellowstone

  • Season dates may vary by year.  Be sure to check the website for information on opening and closing dates while you are planning your trip.
  • If you want to make a reservation for the summer, be sure to do it 13 months in advance.  Campgrounds that accept reservations often fill many months in advance.
  • Many of the first-come, first-served sites should be claimed by 7 a.m. during summer months!  Plan your trip so that you can get to the campsite early before it fills.
  • Hookups are only provided in the Fishing Bridge Campground.
  • Dump Stations are available in Madison, Canyon Village, Bridge Bay, Fishing Bridge, and Grant Village.
  • Each standard campsite only accommodates six people.  If you have a larger group, you will need to book two campsites or look for a campground that offers double or group campsites.
  • You cannot reserve a tent-only site if you will not be sleeping in a tent, even if your truck camper or van fits in that site.
  • Yellowstone is bear country!  Each campsite provides a bear box for you to store your food and other scented items in, but be sure to educate yourself on proper food storage practices before you go.

This article contains information on the frontcountry camping experiences that are available within Yellowstone National Park.  In other words, it covers places you can get to with your car!  If you’re interested in hike-in backcountry camping options, click here.

Getting to the Campgrounds in Yellowstone

How to Get a Campsite in Yellowstone

Many campgrounds in the park accept reservations.  If you’re hoping to reserve something, you’ll find two different ways to make your reservation.

If you want to reserve something in Bridge Bay, Canyon, Fishing Bridge, Grant Village, or Madison, click over to Yellowstone National Park Lodges to find a site.  Reservations open up on the 5th of the month 13 months in advance {yes, that means you will need to make reservations on July 5, 2023, for reservations in July of 2024}!  You’ll want to sign in and pick out your site in advance so that you can be ready to hit reserve as soon as midnight hits.

If you want to reserve something in Mammoth, Indian Creek, Lewis Lake, Slough Creek, or Pebble Creek, you’ll use Recreation.gov to find a site. Reservations open up 6 months in advance of the exact date you want to begin camping. Create an account and pick a site in advance so that you can be ready to hit reserve as soon as they open up at 8 a.m. MST. 20% of the campsites in these campgrounds are released 2 weeks in advance to provide for some last-minute options.

Yellowstone campgrounds that are first-come, first-served fill in the early morning hours.  If you’re traveling during the main summer season, when you arrive you will likely have to wait in line at the entrance kiosk until the campground host can assign you an empty spot.  Snagging a first-come, first-served site in Yellowstone requires early mornings and a lot of patience!

To choose your ideal campground, take a look at the in-park options below:

Camping Near the West Entrance of Yellowstone (West Yellowstone)

Madison Campground

This campground is located next to the Madison River, a world-class fly fishing destination.  Although Madison is large and popular, the sites are well-spaced and shaded.  This campground has three group sites and a dump station and is a great choice if you want to be close to Old Faithful or the Norris Geyser Basin.

Open Season:  Beginning of May to the middle of October
Max RV Length:  Limited sites available for RVs greater than 40 feet
Hookups:  No
Dump Station: Yes
Generators:  Ok from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Reservations Required:  Yes, click here to check availability
Fee:  $26 not including taxes
Number of Sites:  
278
Pets Allowed:  Yes, but please review Yellowstone’s Pet Policy
Restrooms:  Flush toilets with running water
Wheelchair Accessibility:  Yes

Norris Campground

Norris Campground is tucked into a beautiful forest of lodgepole pines and is nicely shaded.  It opens out into a beautiful meadow that is frequented by roaming buffalo.  Its close proximity to the Norris Geyser Basin, Mammoth Hot Springs, and the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone makes it a fantastic home base for exploring what Yellowstone has to offer.

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Open Season:  Middle of May to the end of September
Max RV Length:  50 ft (limited)
Hookups:  No
Dump Station:  No
Generator:  Ok from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Reservations Required:  No.  First-come, first-served only
Fee:  $20
Number of Sites:  
100
Pets Allowed:  Yes, but please review Yellowstone’s Pet Policy
Restrooms:  Flush toilets with running water
Wheelchair Accessibility:  Yes

Camping Near the North Entrance of Yellowstone (Gardiner)

Mammoth Campground

This campground is a popular area for RVers because of the large pull-through spots it provides.  It does not have many trees for shade and is located right next to the highway leading to Gardiner.  The Hot Springs are nearby, as well as access to the Lamar Valley for world-class wildlife viewing.

Open Season:  All Year
Max RV Length:  65 ft
Hookups:  No
Dump Station: No
Generators:  Ok from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Reservations Required:  Yes, click here to check availability
Fee:  $20
Number of Sites:  
85
Pets Allowed:  Yes, but please review Yellowstone’s Pet Policy
Restrooms:  Flush toilets with running water
Wheelchair Accessibility:  Yes

Indian Creek Campground

One of the more primitive campgrounds in the park, Indian Creek provides a quiet experience with beautiful views of the mountains.  This area is popular among fishermen and hikers and also provides some great wildlife viewing opportunities.

Open Season:  Middle of June to the middle of September
Max RV Length:  35 ft
Hookups:  No
Dump Station:  No
Generators:  No
Reservations Required:  Yes, click here to check availability
Fee:  $15
Number of Sites:  
70
Pets Allowed:  Yes, but please review Yellowstone’s Pet Policy
Restrooms:  Vault toilets but running water is available
Wheelchair Accessibility:  Yes

Camping Near the Northeast Entrance of Yellowstone (Cooke City)

Pebble Creek Campground

This small campground near the Lamar Valley is isolated and provides a true wilderness experience.

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Open Season:  Middle of June to the end of September
Max RV Length:  Varies but has some long pull-throughs
Hookups:  No
Dump Station:  No
Generators:  No
Reservations Required:  Yes, click here to check availability
Fee:  $15
Number of Sites:  
27
Pets Allowed:  Yes, but please review Yellowstone’s Pet Policy
Restrooms:  Vault toilets but running water is available
Wheelchair Accessibility:  No

Slough Creek Campground

Slough Creek is a very popular campground in one of the best wildlife viewing areas in the park.  It is located down a dirt road, providing a serene and peaceful experience.

Open Season:  Middle of June to the middle of October
Max RV Length:  30 ft
Hookups:  No
Dump Station:  No
Generators:  No
Reservations Required:  Yes, click here to check availability
Fee:  $15
Number of Sites:  
23
Pets Allowed:  Yes, but please review Yellowstone’s Pet Policy
Restrooms:  Vault toilets but running water is available
Wheelchair Accessibility:  No

Tower Fall Campground

The Tower Fall Campground is a small campground located among some of the best hiking and views that Yellowstone has to offer.  Centrally located near the 130-foot Tower Fall waterfall, Mount Washburn, and the Lamar Valley, this campground is a great starting point for exploring the north section of Yellowstone.

Open Season:  Middle of May to the end of September
Max RV Length:  30 ft
Hookups:  No
Dump Station:  No
Generators:  No
Reservations Required:  No.  First-come, first-served only
Fee:  $15
Number of Sites:  
31
Pets Allowed:  Yes, but please review Yellowstone’s Pet Policy
Restrooms:  Vault toilets but running water is available
Wheelchair Accessibility:  No

Camping Near the East Entrance of Yellowstone (Cody)

Canyon Village Campground

This campground is located in one of the most popular areas of the park and is ideally situated for exploring the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.  The Canyon area is bustling, but this campground is surprisingly secluded among the trees.  Two showers per night are included in the rate, and a dump station is available.

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Open Season:  End of May to the middle of September
Max RV Length:  40 ft
Hookups:  No
Dump Station:  Yes 
Generators:  Ok from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Reservations Required:  Yes, click here to check availability
Fee:  $31
Number of Sites:  
273
Pets Allowed:  Yes, but please review Yellowstone’s Pet Policy
Restrooms:  Flush toilets with running water
Wheelchair Accessibility:  Yes

Fishing Bridge Campground

This campground is located in the heart of grizzly bear country and is only for hard-sided RVs (no tent trailers).  No picnic tables or fire pits are provided, but this campground has the only hookups you can find in Yellowstone.  Two showers are included in the rate, and a dump station is available.

Open Season:  Beginning of May to the middle of September
Max RV Length:  40 ft
Hookups:  Yes
Dump Station:  Yes
Generators:  Ok from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Reservations Required:  Yes, click here to check availability
Fee:  $47.75
Number of Sites:  
340
Pets Allowed:  Yes, but please review Yellowstone’s Pet Policy
Restrooms:  Flush toilets with running water
Wheelchair Accessibility:  No

Bridge Bay Campground

Out of all the campgrounds in Yellowstone, this one feels the most like a parking lot to me, but it still isn’t too bad.  It is more open than other campgrounds so you can see your neighbors, but some sites in the trees are available.  This area is very popular for boating and fishing enthusiasts because of its convenient location near the Bridge Bay Marina.  Group sites and a dump station are available.

Open Season:  Middle of May to the beginning of September
Max RV Length:  40 ft
Hookups:  No
Dump Station:  Yes
Generators:  Ok from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Reservations Required:  Yes, click here to check availability
Fee:  $26
Number of Sites:  
400
Pets Allowed:  Yes, but please review Yellowstone’s Pet Policy
Restrooms:  Flush toilets with running water
Wheelchair Accessibility:  Yes

Camping Near the South Entrance of Yellowstone (Grand Teton)

Grant Village Campground

This campground is located on the south end of Yellowstone Lake and is conveniently close to the West Thumb Geyser Basin and Old Faithful.  Although this is a large campground, trees provide some privacy and lake views are also possible from your campsite.  Two showers are included in the nightly rate, and a dump station and group sites are available.

Open Season:  Middle of June to the middle of September
Max RV Length:  40 ft
Hookups:  No
Dump Station:  Yes
Generators:  Ok from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Reservations Required:  Yes, click here to check availability
Fee:  $31
Number of Sites:  
430
Pets Allowed:  Yes, but please review Yellowstone’s Pet Policy
Restrooms:  Flush toilets with running water
Wheelchair Accessibility:  Yes

Lewis Lake Campground

Bring your canoe, kayak, or motorboat and camp on Lewis Lake.  Most sites are just a short walk to the lake, and a boat ramp is located near the campground for your convenience.

Open Season:  Beginning of June to the beginning of November
Max RV Length:  25 feet {total truck/trailer combinations cannot be longer than 25 feet — strictly enforced}
Hookups:  No
Dump Station:  No
Generators:  No
Reservations Required:  Yes, click here to check availability
Fee:  $15
Number of Sites:  
85
Pets Allowed:  Yes, but please review Yellowstone’s Pet Policy
Restrooms:  Vault toilets but running water available until the beginning of October
Wheelchair Accessibility:  Yes

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