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How to Plan an Epic RV Trip to Yellowstone

How to Plan an Epic RV Trip to Yellowstone

Do you want to take an RV trip to Yellowstone National Park? Don’t head out without reading this! There are some important things you need to know about Yellowstone Campgrounds and camping in the park. You can’t just show up without a plan. Here’s what you need to know about Yellowstone National Park camping: 

About Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park is a 3,500 square mile wilderness, sitting on a volcanic hot spot. This makes it larger than the state of Rhode Island! The park is located mostly in Wyoming, but it does enter Montana and Idaho, as well. 

Yellowstone National Park is one of the most popular National Parks in the United States. This is largely due to its unique geothermal features, like colorful springs, roiling geysers, and mud pots, not to mention its rivers, waterfalls, mountains, and famous wildlife. Yellowstone is like another planet! 

porcelain geyser basin

Because Yellowstone is so popular and sees so many visitors during its peak season, you’ll need to do some research and planning if you want to take an RV trip to this area. 

Choosing an Entrance to Yellowstone

Because of its huge size, there is more than one way to enter the park. There are actually 5 entrances to Yellowstone:

  1. North Entrance – thru Gardiner, Montana. This is the original entrance to the park and has the Roosevelt Arch entryway.
  2. Northeast Entrance – thru the Beartooth Mountains.
  3. East Entrance – thru Cody, Wyoming.
  4. South Entrance – thru Grand Teton National Park via the John Rockfeller Memorial Highway.
  5. West Entrance – thru the town of West Yellowstone, Montana.
yellowstone map

These entrances vary in their distances to different attractions within the park and how mountainous they are. For help choosing which entrance you should enter from, check out our article on Getting To Yellowstone – Which Entrance Should I Take?

Yellowstone National Park Camping

Camping in Yellowstone is a truly unique experience. There is nowhere like this place on earth! We’ve put together some details that you need to know about Yellowstone National Park Camping. 

Yellowstone has 12 campgrounds with over 2,000 campsites. But, only 5 of these campgrounds are reservable. The other 7 campgrounds are first-come, first-served. First-come, first-served means that whoever shows up first gets the spot. Early bird gets the worm! 

Reservable campsites in Yellowstone fill up months in advance. Reservations open up to a year ahead, so it requires careful planning. 

First-come, first-served campsites are known to fill up early in the morning. At the more popular sites, they can fill up as early as 5:30 am! Read on to learn how to snag one of these sites.

Yellowstone Campgrounds

Here is a breakdown of the 12 campgrounds in Yellowstone National Park: 

Reservable Campgrounds in Yellowstone National Park 

Bridge Bay: The nightly fee at Bridge Bay campground is $27. This campground has flush toilets and a dump station. There are 432 campsites at Bridge Bay, and it’s located near Yellowstone lake. 

Canyon: Canyon Campground has 273 sites and is located in a lodgepole pine forest near Canyon Village. This campground has flush toilets, showers and laundry facilities, and an RV dump station. Camping at Canyon campground is $32 per night. 

Fishing Bridge RV Park: Fishing Bridge RV Park is the only campground in Yellowstone to offer full hook-up sites for RVers. This campground is near where the Yellowstone River enters Yellowstone Lake. Because grizzly bears frequent this area, only hard-sided RVs are allowed in the campground. Prices are currently unavailable as the RV park is closed and undergoing renovations. It is due to re-open in September 2021. 

grizzly bear

Grant Village: Grant Village campground is $32 per night. Additionally, this campground has flush toilets, a dump station, and shower and laundry facilities. Grant Village is at the south end of Yellowstone Lake. 

Madison: Madison campground is $27 per night. This campground has flush toilets and an RV dump station. This is one of the most popular campgrounds in the National Park, and it fills up quickly! 

First-Come, First-Served Yellowstone Campgrounds 

Indian Creek: Indian Creek campground is $15 per night and has no amenities. There is a vault toilet at this campground. This park has 10 sites for RVs that are 35 feet long and 35 sites for RVs that are 30 feet long or shorter. 

Lewis Lake: Lewis Lake campground is $15 per night and has a vault toilet on site. This campground can only accommodate RVs that are 25’ long or shorter. This campground is about 8 miles from the South Entrance and has 84 campsites. 

Mammoth: Mammoth campground is $20 per night and is open year-round. This campground can accommodate RVs that are 30’ long or shorter. This campground has 85 sites and is in a great location, near the Mammoth Hot Spring terraces. As such, it’s very popular! Mammoth also has flush toilets. 

mammoth hot springs
Mammoth Hot Springs

Norris: Located near Norris Geyser Basin, Norris campground has 111 sites. Of these campsites, 5 can accommodate RVs up to 50’ long, and 5 campsites for RVs up to 30’ long. Norris campground has flush toilets available in the campground. 

Pebble Creek: Pebble Creek is $15 and is a more isolated camping experience. Some long pull-throughs can accommodate larger RVs. This campground only has 27 sites and has vault toilets. 

Slough Creek: Slough Creek has 16 campsites and 14 of those can accommodate RVs 30’ long or shorter. It is recommended that you walk through and assess the sites first. This campground is said to have some of the best wildlife viewing opportunities in the park. 

Tower Fall: Tower Fall has 31 campsites and can accommodate RVs 30’ long or shorter due to a hairpin curve. This campground has vault toilets and isn’t too far from the Tower General Store. 

Tips for Snagging a First-Come, First-Served Campsite in Yellowstone

If you didn’t get a reservation and you need to get a first-come, first-served site, you still need to do some special planning to get one! 

First, know which campgrounds fill up first. The park publishes this information daily on their website here. Most campsites will be claimed by 7 am. But, at the more popular campgrounds, they can fill up as early as 5:30 am. So, there will be a lot of standing in line and waiting! 

campground in Yellowstone

It’s easier to get a site during the week than on the weekend, but it’s still difficult in the summer season. If at all possible, have a back-up campground selected! This will mean 2 people waiting in line for a few hours in the morning at 2 different campgrounds. Cell phones will not work, so plan on having a backup communication method to know if either party has snagged a spot. 

The campgrounds only accept cash and nothing bigger than a $20 bill. So, be sure you have cash handy! 

Then, with all this information in hand, get to your desired campground as early as possible and get in line. As campers begin to check out, the sites will be rented to the next person in line. Campers have the option of extending their stay, so the campground won’t fully clear out each morning. This is why it can be good to have a backup plan! 

yellowstone campgrounds sign
Sign at park entrance of all campgrounds and distances – and if they are full.

Making Yellowstone Camping Reservations

The campgrounds in Yellowstone are run by a company called Xanterra, who also run the Yellowstone National Park Lodges. 

Reservable campsites are typically booked out several months in advance, so you’ll need to plan very far ahead! You can book your Yellowstone National Park Campsite as early as 1 year before your planned trip. Booking this early out will help you get your desired spot and campground. 

You can make reservations here on the Yellowstone National Park Lodges website. 

The process for making Yellowstone camping reservations is pretty straightforward. Keep in mind that some of the campgrounds are closed for renovation or due to the pandemic, but plan to re-open soon!

RV Road Tripping to Yellowstone Requires Planning

Yellowstone is a premier destination, not only for people all over the US but all over the world! Taking an RV trip to Yellowstone is an unforgettable experience. To have the most epic trip possible, do your part ahead of time!

Spend your time researching the campgrounds and planning so when you arrive you can focus on enjoying yourself – not scrambling for a place to spend the night. 

Top 10 Tips for Visiting Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks in the Summer

Your road trip getting to Yellowstone requires some planning, too. We recommend checking out RV Trip Wizard to help you plan your rest stops, fuel stops, overnight stays, and routes, so you arrive in Yellowstone ready for adventure!

Simply plug in your RV type, your fuel capacity, and your driving preferences, and let RV Trip Wizard do the work. Try it out today for free to see what we mean!

RV Trip Wizard

Happy road-tripping!

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Tammy Knowles Woodcock

Thursday 8th of July 2021

Any helpful info you can provide about battery life in an RV? We are a pop up camper family and this is our first RV trip staying in campgrounds with no electric , going in September so expecting cold nights. We have propane heater but requires electricity for the fan portion. We do have a generator also but I believe “quiet time” starts early in the campgrounds.

Mortons on the Move

Sunday 11th of July 2021

Its going to vary drastically based on load. Usually, for small furnaces, a battery in good health will last the night just fine, but if it gets too cold it will not last as long. If you get an amp clamp you can check the draw and estimate runtime.

Don Rimel

Tuesday 2nd of February 2021

This information is very helpful for the planning we are doing now for later this year. Thank you for this informaiton.

Edna Wilson

Wednesday 20th of January 2021

Great article on Yellowstone! I've been there several times, flyfishing and hiking. We stayed outside the park at a B&B in September. We haven't tried to camp or take an RV there yet. We did come face to face with a buffalo while we were flyfishing in her/his stream but eventually after a start down, the buffalo decided to leave!

Mortons on the Move

Thursday 21st of January 2021

We're glad you enjoyed the article and glad the buffalo decided to leave! ;)

BoatGuyBill

Wednesday 30th of December 2020

Top tips from my two favorite campers! I worked there three summers and still learned a bit from your article. Thanks!

Mortons on the Move

Thursday 31st of December 2020

Glad you enjoyed the information! :)

Chris R Cornish

Wednesday 30th of December 2020

We RV'd Yellowstone last year and we explored the park with 3-passes through to destinations outside of the park. Cody's Ponderosa RV park was a good facility and walking distance to most spots in Cody...especially Museum of the West. But staying in the Park was nearly impossible with Covid. When visiting Y-stone, start early and end early. The crowds build by about 1 and then there are too many folks. Thanks!

Mortons on the Move

Wednesday 30th of December 2020

Thank you for sharing these great recommendations, Chris!

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