Yellowstone National Park Stories and Tips

Camping in Yellowstone Nat'l Park

Camping in Yellowstone Nat'l Park Photo, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Yellowstone is the premier US destination for those interested in camping, whether in a mega RV or the simplest of tents or something in between. Even those who like to camp via van or station wagon can find comfort in knowing just how easy it can be to camp and commune with nature.

Yellowstone National Park has a number of campgrounds (CG) that accept advance reservations. These are generally located at the "village" areas throughout the park and have spaces that can accommodate cars, tents and many RVs. They are currently priced at $25 (plus tax). In addition to knowing where you will be sleeping on any given night, these CGs feature flush toilets and complimentary showers to those who stay there. Laundry facilities are also available at the buildings where the showers are located.

For those with larger rigs, the Fishing Bridge RV Park may be your best option, as they provide hookups that many require to "rough it" in the woods. Expect to pay a hefty $45 to set up at this very popular CG.

There are also a number of "first come - first served" CGs throughout the park that are offered at the reasonable price of just $12 to $14/night. While they all have vault toilet facilities, they do not offer have showers.

All campgrounds provide a picnic table and fire pit. Many of them are well shaded and provide flat surfaces for vehicles and/or tents.

For my time in Yellowstone, I had reservations at Grant CG, Canyon CG and the Roosevelt Roughriders Cabins. OK, while a "cabin" may not generally qualify as camping, the fact that they are smaller dry cabins with shared bathrooms and showers makes it pretty close to camping in my book. I thoroughly enjoyed my two nights in the cabin I shared with my friend Nancy.

The cabin we had was able to house six people and was a reasonable $69 (plus tax) for two people. Additional people could be added to the maximum occupancy of six for $11/person. In my opinion, this is the best housing option available in the park. The next time I go, I will definitely stay there for some amount of my time especially given its location in close proximity to some of the best wildlife viewing areas including Lamar Valley.

Reservations for camping (and lodging) inside the park is handled exclusively by Xanterra. They have a very efficient online reservation system. Many CGs and lodges are booked up months in advance. They do have a very generous cancellation policy, whereby if your plans change and you cancel at least 48 hours before check-in you are not charged any fee.

This is especially important to know as you may find your desired location booked only to learn it has opened up closer to the time of your visit due to cancellations. That is what happened in the case of my Roughriders Cabin reservation, allowing me to upgrade from a single bed cabin to one with three beds . . . and then days later, to add a second subsequent night in the same cabin. I found Xanterra to be very friendly and helpful when I had to call them directly to make additional changes to my reservations!

If you are planning to get a campsite upon arrival to Yellowstone, most of the park entrances have a board indicating which ones have openings and which are full. I've been told that many will be full by noontime, so having a plan and getting a site as early as possible in the day is important especially if you are hoping to stay in a central area of the park.

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