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  • Writer's pictureBasecamp Outdoor Gear Team

Where to camp in and around Yellowstone National Park

Planning a camping trip to Yellowstone National Park? First and foremost, decide where you want to go. This park is HUGE and has several entrances that take hours of driving to connect to one another! Not to mention the park's proximity to Grand Teton National Park and to quaint western towns that offer a million other amazing things to do and explore. Check out our post about visiting Yellowstone to learn more. Then, refer to the below list for our favorite places to camp in and near Yellowstone National Park.

If you start your trip in Las Vegas, remember to reserve your camping gear with us. You can make special arrangements to ship it back to us so you don't have to drive all the way back south.

steam erupting in middle of plains
Yellowstone National Park

Camping within Yellowstone National Park boundaries

According to national park rules and regulations, you can only stay in established campgrounds within the national park boundaries. Luckily, you have many choices.

There are 12 campgrounds in Yellowstone National Park. Here's a great summary and map of the campgrounds. Unfortunately, they all require advance reservations, they could be far from some of the destinations on your list, and most of them only open in summer.

Need to know: Five of these campgrounds are privately managed by the park concessionaire Yellowstone National Park Lodges (aka Xanterra) while the National Park Service (NPS) runs the other seven. You won't notice a difference between the two companies when you're there, but you need to know that they run on separate reservations systems.

Hint: If you do not get reservations in advance, you might still score a campsite last-minute by checking for cancellations. There are over 2000 campsites in the park, and people who reserved their sites months prior may have modified their plans. Log in to the reservations system on a daily basis to check for new openings and grab a site as soon as it becomes available.


Mammoth Campground

The only exception to the above description is Mammoth Campground. It is open year-round and becomes first-come first-serve during the winter months. In summer, you must reserve a site prior to your arrival. There's good cell phone service here, potable water, flush toilets. No showers. Most sites have picnic tables and bear boxes.

Our thoughts about this campground: It's a great campground, a walk away from hikes and amenities in Mammoth Hot Springs area. But it's in the northwest corner of the park and therefore very far from all other Yellowstone destinations. Stay here for Mammoth hikes and then move or prepare for lots of driving in the park.

Reservations: Required. Book here.


Indian Creek Campground

A smaller more primitive campground about 8 miles south of Mammoth Hot Springs. You can find potable water here, but only vault toilets and no cell phone service. Most sites have picnic tables and bear boxes.

Our thoughts about this campground: Nice and quiet. A great place to get away from technology and crowds. Close to Mammoth but a bit of a drive from all other park destinations.

Reservations: Required. Book here


Canyon Campground

A large campground at Canyon Village. There's fair cell phone service here, potable water, flush toilets, and hot showers. Very close to visitor center, restaurant, convenience store. Most sites have picnic tables and bear boxes.

Our thoughts about this campground: Nice and spacious and one of the more central campgrounds in Yellowstone National Park.

Reservations: Required. Book here


Bridge Bay Campground

A large campground near Yellowstone Lake. There's fair cell phone service here, potable water, flush toilets. No showers. Most sites have picnic tables and bear boxes.

Our thoughts about this campground: Expensive just to pitch a tent, a bit out of the way of just about anything, but you don't have many options. Good location if your primary activity is boating on the lake.

Reservations: Required. Book here


Grant Village Campground

A large campground near West Thumb Basin. There's fair cell phone service here, potable water, flush toilets, paid showers. Most sites have picnic tables and bear boxes.

Our thoughts about this campground: Nice and spacious, not terribly far from Old Faithful. Good location if one of your interests is boating on the lake.

Reservations: Required. Book here


island in calm river with grass on one side and pine trees on the other
River near Madison Junction in Yellowstone National Park

Lewis Lake Campground

A smaller more primitive campground about 8 miles from the South Entrance. You can find potable water here, but only vault toilets and no cell phone service. Most sites have picnic tables and bear boxes.

Our thoughts about this campground: Nice and quiet. A great place to get away from technology and crowds. Location-wise, it's far from any park destination so I'm not sure why one would stay here other than to simply disconnect.

Reservations: Required. Book here


Tower Fall, Pebble Creek, and Slough Creek Campgrounds

Very small and isolated campgrounds toward the Northeast Entrance. You can find potable water here, but only vault toilets and no cell phone service. Most sites have picnic tables and bear boxes.

Our thoughts about these campgrounds: Nice and quiet. Great places to get away from technology and crowds. Location-wise, they are far from any park destination so I'm not sure why one would stay here other than to simply disconnect.


Norris Campground

A smaller yet less primitive campground near Norris Geyser Basin. You can find potable water here and flush toilets, but no showers and no cell phone service. Most sites have picnic tables and bear boxes.

Our thoughts about this campground: Nice and quiet. A great place to get away from technology, but still feel close to amenities. Location-wise, it may be the most central campground in the park.

Reservations: Required. Book here


Madison Campground

A large campground inside the park and somewhat near West Yellowstone, MT. There's no cell phone service here and no showers, but there is potable water and flush toilets. Most sites have picnic tables and bear boxes.

Our thoughts about this campground: A great place to get away from technology and crowds. Fairly close to Old Faithful and Norris, but a bit of a drive from other park destinations.

Reservations: Required. Book here


Fishing Bridge RV Park

Sleep in your car only campground! Because grizzly bears frequent the area, no tents or tent campers are allowed. There's fair cell phone service here, potable water, flush toilets, paid showers.

Our thoughts about this campground: Fair campground if you need electric hookup. Otherwise, even if sleeping in the car, you should probably opt for a site somewhere else that's closer to park attractions.

Reservations: Required. Book here


elk in the woods with big antlers
Elk in Yellowstone National Park

Campgrounds outside of Yellowstone National Park

You have better chances of reserving a campsite outside of Yellowstone National Park, but it will certainly be more expensive and you'll have to drive a whole lot more to get to destinations in the park.


Campgrounds south of Yellowstone National Park

Check out these suggestions for Grand Teton National Park, since it is is directly south of Yellowstone. The best of both worlds would be to stay along Rockefeller Hwy that connects the two parks, namely Flagg Ranch or Grassy Lake Road, but there are very limited options here and they go fast.


Campgrounds west of Yellowstone National Park

A quick Google search will unveil a handful big private expensive campgrounds in the town of West Yellowstone, MT. All of your options are basically expensive RV parks that also have a few patches for tent camping. If you're traveling in a campervan and need electric hookups, this might be worth it for you. This is a good location for a night if you're entering the park this way, but I woud avoid staying here otherwise because of all the driving.


Campgrounds east and northeast of Yellowstone National Park

You could go as far as Cody or Cooke City for a campground, but then you're driving way too much to get to park destinations. Specifically on Hwy 14, on the road to Cody, there are a few wonderful Forest Service campgrounds, but you must sleep in your car. Soft-sided tents/popups are too dangerous due to bear activity in this area. However you look at it, tent camping options are just too far in these directions.


Campgrounds northwest of Yellowstone National Park

Gardiner area is a good alternative to Mammoth Hot Springs. Though still far from many park destinations, you'll be somewhat close to places in the northern half of the park. There's an expensive RV Park in town, but if you're traveling with a tent and want to rough it, check out Canyon Campground or Eagle Creek Campground. The Forest Service runs these small first-come first-serve campgrounds. You'll find vault toilets and picnic tables but no running water.


bison near a bubbling steaming natural pool
Bison near a hot spring in Yellowstone National Park

Summary of all campgrounds in and around Yellowstone National Park

Here's a map of all the campgrounds mentioned above. If you start your trip in Las Vegas, remember to reserve your camping gear with us. You can make special arrangements to ship it back to us so you don't have to drive all the way back south.


If you need more information regarding any of the campgrounds mentioned above please don’t hesitate to contact us!

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