Camping in Yellowstone

Camping in Yellowstone

[music] Camping gives you the opportunity to experience a different facet of Yellowstone National Park. Gather around a campfire and share stories of your adventures in the park. If you’re camping in one of the larger campgrounds, head over to the amphitheater to enjoy an evening ranger program. Clear night? Bundle up and peer into the dark sky filled with a seemingly infinite number of stars. Early-riser? Take a stroll to watch the sun rise. Turn off your phone and listen to the local wildlife start their mornings, protect their territories, or communicate with each other. Sometimes, the best experiences are the unexpected ones. Camping in Yellowstone gives you a chance to experience the unexpected. So you’ve decided to camp in Yellowstone—wonderful! What type of camper are you? Do you like to backpack into a campsite miles from any development? How about tent camping in a campground? Or do you prefer to camp in a camper or RV? Camping in a national park is a memorable experience. In Yellowstone, there are more than 2,000 campsites found in the 12 campgrounds scattered throughout the park, as well as more than 300 backcountry campsites along the park’s nearly 1,000 miles of trails. Campgrounds range in size from 16 to 432 sites. Meanwhile, backcountry camping occurs at single, designated campsites that require a permit. These backcountry campsites can be less than a mile from the trailhead or many miles down the trail. Yellowstone’s campsites are in a variety of settings—along streams, near lakes, among stands of conifer trees, and in fields of wildflowers. The five largest campgrounds take reservations. The other seven campgrounds are strictly first come, first served. For more information on backcountry camping, check the backcountry camping page online or stop by a backcountry office. Plan early to get a campsite. Either reserve a site ahead of time or show up early at a first come, first served campground. Be sure to have a back-up plan if you don’t have a reservation. Campgrounds fill up early in the day during the summer months. The only campground open year-round is the Mammoth Campground, located north of the Mammoth Hot Springs. All other campgrounds open and close seasonally. Check availability at park entrances, in visitor centers, online, or within the park app. Please be aware that due to its location in prime bear habitat, Fishing Bridge RV Park allows only hard-sided RV camping. The smaller campgrounds have basic services: water, vault toilets, campfire rings, tent pads, picnic tables, a parking space, and food storage boxes. The larger campgrounds have more services, such as laundry facilities, showers, flush toilets, firewood kiosks, recycling bins, RV hookups, and dump stations. For those pulling an RV, note that no campgrounds can accommodate overly large vehicles. Check online or in the app for details on amenities and RV length limitations. Check the campground amenities to know the type of camping allowed and the services you can expect. Bring clothing for any weather. Even in summer, the weather can turn cold and wet. There is always the possibility that bears or other wildlife will wander into campsites. Always keep your campsite clean. You must store all food, coolers, and food containers in the metal bear- proof boxes provided and dispose of waste in approved trash dumpsters. These measures help keep wildlife wild, and you and future campers safe. Please be respectful of other campers so they, too, can have a memorable experience. This includes observing quiet hours. Fires are allowed only in designated fire rings. All campfires must be cold to the touch before abandoning. Use the soak, stir, and feel method to extinguish and check that the fire is indeed out. Do your part to prevent any human-caused wildfires from starting. Camping with kids? Let them help set up the campsite, cook the food, and clean up after each meal. Bring along some board games or art supplies. Participate in the Junior Ranger program. Take turns sharing stories of your adventures. Camping in Yellowstone is a great way to immerse yourself in the park and experience it in a whole new way. We hope you enjoy your stay. [music]

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About the Author: Sam Caldwell


  1. Perfect overview summary, sorely needed when looking at the overall depth and breadth of Yellowstone. Said from a person who desires to catch up on what I have overly worked for after many years of not going. Enough said of a huge park.

    I can't wait to visit. I've noticed from the specific locales of other National Parks, the outlines differ greatly, even though the web front end is the same. Some will provide long detailed summaries in PDF form, I prefer a video like above. 

    I love the alerts, general information warnings, those are great. And I love the personal blogs of experiences that all share as unique. Even interviews as if a Ranger from the old days was there from the past, standing in one of the old amphitheaters from the past telling stories of indigenous Americans, wildlife and the geology of the park, even the flow of the rivers. I remember those stories of folklore and over time the myths created in mind have grown. Almost like a Louie D'amour tall tale, those gritty rangers from the past would share, the legends, myths, and first hand stories of the past. Even a ghost story or two.

    So it seems there is a need for a consistent outline from one park to another – such as this "high-level". This really satisfys the big picture, and I know Yellowstone is huge. Since I'll be backpacking in camping in those wilderness areas within the boundaries of the trails, this simple video answered some questions right away. 

    I may seem unprepared but I am not, of course that is subjective. I have studied from the South West of the park to the North East, and printed various trail maps out. Heard stories from older Rangers the stories of when the best photographic and animal migrations occur, the geysers, grazing pastures most ignore, and to the east Pryor and Wild horses. To me the horses are a must to photograph.  

    I've looked at the Wapti Wilderness trail, learned to take seriously bears, understand the scale, of the depth and the length, the lakes, and the small grand canyon, I will print my dad's picture from after his return from the war. Pondered what it would be like to float down from North Montana from the upper Flathead river and somehow find myself in Yellowstone (I know that would be far too long).

    Into days, world we need a consistent simple outline for the initial search for the constraints, Then maybe a low-level detail summary as it appears things are now, and then the indepth personal experiences of each, experiences, and indepth planning required, can vary as much as one could wander.

  2. Getting ready for my annual camping trip to Yellowstone. Can’t wait! No matter how often I visit, Yellowstone keeps me coming back for more.

    Thanks for this informational video. And thank you to the park staff for your efforts to help and inspire visitors while laboring to preserve this magnificent park.

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