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Yellowstone Lodging - Yellowstone National Park - Camping

Camping in Yellowstone National Park is a great way to spend your trip with family and friends. It is much cheaper than lodging and has the great advantage of a base camp near your favorite activity. Like lodging, we recommend you plan your camping location well in advance by first determining your activities. These campgrounds are miles apart and geographically located to the specific attractions in that area. If your chosen campsite is full, don't get discouraged because just outside of the park are many more excellent campgrounds in or near one of the gateway communities.

The key to reserving a good campsite is EARLY. In the interior of Yellowstone National Park are 12 maintained campgrounds (Maps Directory). They are operated by either the National Park Service or Xanterra Parks and Resorts. These campgrounds are divided by the following:

National Park Service - First Come First Served (Fees in Chart)
- Mammoth Campground
- Tower Fall Campground
- Slough Creek Campground
- Pebble Creek Campground
- Indian Creek
- Norris Campground
- Lewis Lake Campground

Xanterra Parks & Resorts

- Bridge Bay Campground
- Canyon Campground
- Grant Campground
- Madison Campground
Future Reservations (307) 344-7311, (866) 439-7375
Same Day Reservations (307) 344- 7901

Campground Sites Dates Fee Elev (ft) Toilet Showers/
Laundry Nearby
Dump Station Generators Permitted (8AM - 8 PM) RV Sites
Bridge Bay* 432 5/24-9/2 $20** 7,800 Flush   X X  
Canyon* 273 5/31-9/8 $25** 8,000 Flush X X X  
Grant* 430 6/21-9/22 $25** 7,800 Flush X X X  
Madison* >278 5/3-10/20 $20** 6,800 Flush   X X  
Mammoth 85 All Year $14 6,200 Flush     X Pull-through
Norris >100 5/17-9/30 $14 7,500 Flush     X 2 @ 50’ (signed); 5 @ 30’
Indian Creek 75 6/14-9/9 $12 7,300 Vault       10@ 40; 35
@ 30; pull-through
Lewis Lake 85 6/15-11/3 $12 7,800 Vault       25'
Pebble Creek >27 6/15-9/30 $12 6,900 Vault        
Slough Creek 29 6/15-10/31 $12 6,250 Vault       14 @ 30’, walk through first to assess sites beyond #16
Tower Fall 32 5/24-9/30 $12 6,600 Vault       all @ 30’ or less; has hairpin curve
Fishing Bridge RV* 325 5/10-9/22 $45**+ 7,800 Flush X Sewer X Call for availability & 
* Reserve through Xanterra Parks & Resorts
**Plus sales tax
+ 1-4 people
Dates are approximate and may change due to weather or resource management concerns.
Bridge Bay, Canyon, Grant Village, and Madison campgrounds all contain accessible sites.

Wood and charcoal fires are permitted only in locations with fire rings. Special fire restrictions are occasionally put in place when the danger of wild land fires is great. If you plan to light a fire in the park, please ask about current fire restrictions at the entrance station when you arrive.

Since food and odors attract bears, items such as cooking stoves, utensils, coolers, trash bags, food, and toiletries may not be left outside or in tents or tent trailers, unless they are in immediate use.

Yellowstone Backcountry Camping
Backcountry camping in Yellowstone National Park requires careful planning and permits. It doesn't take much effort to find seclusion from the summer masses. With 2.2 million acres to explore, even a quarter mile hike will bring you solitude.

The following requirements are from the National Park Service on backcountry regulations:
Yellowstone has a designated backcountry campsite system, and a Backcountry Use Permit is required for all overnight stays. Each designated campsite has a maximum limit for the number of people and stock allowed per night. The maximum stay per campsite varies from 1 to 3 nights per trip. Campfires are permitted only in established fire pits. Wood fires are not allowed in some backcountry campsites. A food storage pole is provided at most designated campsites so that food and attractants may be secured from bears.

Permits may be obtained only in person and no more than 48 hours in advance of your trip. Permits are available from most ranger stations and visitor centers. In order to obtain the best information on trail conditions, permits should be obtained from the ranger station or visitor center nearest to the area where your trip is to begin. The Backcountry Use Permit is valid only for the itinerary and dates specified. Backcountry travelers must have their permits in possession while in the backcountry.

Advance Reservations for Backcountry Campsites
Although permits must be obtained in person no more than 48 hours in advance, backcountry campsites may be reserved in advance. Requests for reservations must be submitted by mail or in person. They cannot be made over the phone or by fax. Reservations are booked on a first come, first served basis. A confirmation notice, not a permit, is given or mailed to the camper. This confirmation notice must then be converted to the actual permit not more than 48 hours in advance of the first camping date. Details are provided on the confirmation notice. The reservation fee is $ 20.00 regardless of the number of nights out or the number of people involved. The fee is not refundable. Forms for making an advance reservation are available to download online as a Backcountry Trip Planner, or by writing to:

Backcountry Office
P.O. Box 168
Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190

Permits and Reservations Made Less Than 48 Hours in Advance. Because only a portion of the approximately 300 backcountry campsites are available for advance reservations, you may choose to wait until you arrive in the park to reserve your site(s) and obtain your permit. The $ 20.00 fee applies only to reservations made more than 48 hours in advance of the start of your trip.

Where to Get Your Permit
During the summer season (June - August), permits are available 7 days a week between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. at the following locations:

  • Bechler Ranger Station
  • Canyon Visitor Center
  • Grant Village Visitor Center 
  • Bridge Bay Ranger Station
  • Mammoth Visitor Center
  • Old Faithful Ranger Station
  • South Entrance Ranger Station
  • Tower Ranger Station
  • West Yellowstone Visitor Information Center 

In addition, permits may sometimes be obtained from rangers on duty at the East Entrance. However, these rangers have other duties and may not be available to provide assistance at all times.

During the spring, fall, and winter seasons, ranger stations and visitor centers do not have set hours. To obtain a Backcountry Use Permit during these seasons, check the office hours posted at the nearest ranger station or visitor center. Several commercial businesses are permitted to offer guided overnight (Backpacking) trips into Yellowstone's backcountry. These businesses would obtain the Backcountry Use Permits for trips that they provide.

- Campgrounds in Yellowstone National Park




Safety in Bear Country
Hiking and camping restrictions are occasionally in effect as a result of bear activity. Never camp in an area that has obvious evidence of bear activity such as digging, tracks, or scat. Odors attract bears, so avoid carrying or cooking odorous foods. Keep a clean camp; do not cook or store food in your tent. All food, garbage, or other odorous items used for preparing or cooking food must be secured from bears. Most backcountry campsites have food poles from which all food, cooking gear, and scented articles must be suspended when not being used. Treat all odorous products such as soap, deodorant, or other toiletries in the same manner as food. Do not leave packs containing food unattended, even for a few minutes. Allowing a bear to obtain human food even once often results in the bear becoming aggressive about obtaining such food in the future. Aggressive bears present a threat to human safety and eventually must be destroyed or removed from the park. Please obey the law and do not allow bears or other wildlife to obtain human food.

Sleep a minimum of 100 yards (91 meters) from where you hang, cook, and eat your food. Keep your sleeping gear clean and free of food odor. Don't sleep in the same clothes worn while cooking and eating; hang clothing worn while cooking and eating in plastic bags.

Considering bears' highly developed sense of smell, it may seem logical that they could be attracted to odors associated with menstruation. Studies on this subject are few and inconclusive. If a woman chooses to hike or camp in bear country during menstruation, a basic precaution should be to wear internal tampons, not external pads. Used tampons should be double-bagged in a zip-lock type bag and stored the same as garbage.

If you are involved in a conflict with a bear, regardless of how minor, report it to a park ranger as soon as possible. Another's safety may depend on it. Exceptional combinations of food, shelter, and space draw grizzlies to some parts of Yellowstone more than others. In these Bear Management Areas, human access is restricted to reduce impacts on the bears and their habitat. Ask at ranger stations or visitor centers for more information.

Handling Refuse

All refuse must be carried out of the backcountry. Human waste must be buried 6 to 8 inches (15 - 20 centimeters) below the ground and a minimum of 100 feet (30 meters) from a watercourse. Waste water should be disposed of at least 100 feet (30 meters) from a watercourse or campsite. Do not pollute lakes, ponds, rivers, or streams by washing yourself, clothing, or dishes in them.

General Safety Concerns

Should you drink the water? Intestinal infections from drinking untreated water are increasingly common. Waters may be polluted by animal and/or human wastes. When possible, carry a supply of water from a domestic source. If you drink water from lakes and streams, bring it to a boil to reduce the chance of infection.

Don't take chances in backcountry thermal areas. Scalding water underlies thin, breakable crusts; pools are near or above boiling temperatures. Each year, visitors traveling off trail have been seriously burned, and people have died from the scalding water. No swimming or bathing is allowed in thermal pools.

Removing, defacing or destroying any plant, animal, or mineral is prohibited. Leave historical and archeological items in place.