5 Yellowstone Camping Hacks for 2021

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5 Yellowstone Camping Hacks for 2021

Yellowstone is the most visited national park west of the Mississippi and the second most visited overall. And camping at Yellowstone provides plenty of time to explore and relax.

Almost four million people visited the park in 2020. With its incredible geysers and abundant wildlife, it’s easy to see why so many people make the trip to Yellowstone.

As you can imagine, Yellowstone camping can be challenging to find. Thankfully we’ve got a few tips to help you snag a spot. 

Let’s go!

1. Book Your Yellowstone Campground Ahead of Time

The odds of rolling up to Yellowstone and finding a full hook-up site at a reasonable price are close to none. You could get lucky and snag a last-minute cancellation, but you’re much more likely to get turned away.

If you have your heart set on a specific campground, it’s best to book as early as you can. Many campgrounds allow you to book up to a year in advance. 

Yellowstone national park entrance for camping.
Book early when camping in Yellowstone National Park so you don’t get stuck searching for a place to stay.

2. No Reservation? Get to the Park Early (We Mean Early)

If the campground you’d like to stay at is a first-come, first-served campground, you need to be there early to score a site. By early, we mean you should arrive at the same time the sun does. You should be in line no later than 7 a.m. for your best shot at a Yellowstone camping site. Be ready to wait in line for a while.

Campground hosts generally arrive around 8 a.m., and those checking out have until 10 a.m. to vacate their site. 

It’s possible to wait in line and not receive a spot, so be sure you have a backup plan. 

Pro Tip: After finding the perfect camp site you’ll be ready to get out exploring. Read more about How to Spend a Day in Yellowstone National Park.

3. Check Yellowstone Campground Availability

If you want to keep an eye on how quickly the campgrounds are filling before your visit, you can do so at the Yellowstone National Park Service website.

You can check the campground’s status in real-time and see when it reached capacity the previous day. This tool provides great information for both the research stage as well as the day of arrival. 

Girls camping in Yellowstone National Park.
Boondocking in Yellowstone National Park provides stunning views, more space and fun wildlife sighting opportunities.

4. Be Prepared to Dry Camp

Those in a position to dry camp will have many more options than those reliant on electric and water hookups. Many dry camping campgrounds have more availability than campgrounds with hookups. 

There’s a lot of public lands nearby that you can boondock on if you can do so. Boondocking often gives you great views, fewer neighbors, and excellent wildlife viewing opportunities. Not only will dry camping open up more campsite options, but it will also save you money on campsite fees as well. 

Pro Tip: Boondocking can seem challenging, but with good preparation it can make camping a great experience. Don’t get stuck unprepared. We broke down the 9 Boondocking Myths You Need to Know.

5. Look into Campgrounds Outside of Yellowstone

There’s no denying that camping inside Yellowstone National Park has many benefits. However, don’t write off camping outside the park!

Many great parks may be easier to snag a site in. Take a look at a few great places for Yellowstone camping that we think you’ll love. 

Group camping in Yellowstone National Park. Eagle creek campground. rainbow point campground. colter bay campground.
Camping in Yellowstone is convenient, but camping outside of the park might be an easier option.

Eagle Creek Campground

Eagle Creek Campground is a first-come, first-served campground located in Gardiner, Mont. Located less than 20 minutes from the north entrance of Yellowstone National Park, it’s the perfect place to call home base as you explore the area.

The campground is suitable for larger rigs as they state the access road is accessible for vehicles up to 48-feet in length. 

There’s a $12 fee for this Yellowstone camping location. There are no electrical or water hookups available, so be prepared to dry camp. There’s a toilet available for those who wish to use it.

No trash service is available, so be sure to pack in, pack out. There are 16 campsites available at Eagle Creek Campground. 

Stunning view of Yellowstone National Park. Camp in Yellowstone.
Take in the views of Yellowstone during the day and enjoy camping outside of the park at night.

Rainbow Point Campground

Rainbow Point is perfect for those who aren’t interested in boondocking on public land but don’t want to pay the pricey fees that come with many of the Yellowstone camping spots. This campground is only 30 minutes from the west entrance, putting you close enough for easy day trips. The campground has sites up to 40 feet long. 

There are dry camping sites available for $20 a night and electric sites for $28 a night, making this a very affordable option. You’ll find easy access to water, trash, and on-site toilets. There are 83 sites total, with 46 providing electricity. 

Colter Bay Campground

Colter Bay Campground is the perfect landing spot for those wanting to see both Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park in one trip. Colter Bay is within the Grand Teton park boundaries but only a short 25-minute drive to the south entrance of Yellowstone. Even better, you’re within walking distance to an abundance of water recreation.

Colter Bay campground sits on beautiful Jackson Lake. Imagine waking up and looking across the lake to the famous Teton Mountains. Each site features a picnic table, fire pit, and bear-proof box. Laundry is available on location.

Dry camping is provided for both tent campers and RVs for $42.18 a night. Those looking for an electrical hook-up site will pay $66.60 a night. 

Keep in Mind: Colter Bay Campground is one of the most popular in Yellowstone and it requires reservations. Plan your visit far in advance.

group camping in Yellowstone National Park.
Camping in Yellowstone National Park is sure to be an unforgettable experience.

Is Camping at Yellowstone Worth It?

Yellowstone is a great place to spend time exploring regardless of where you choose to stay. Yellowstone camping can take a bit of work to find, but it’s worth it. To make the experience more enjoyable, be sure to book your site well in advance.

If planning isn’t your thing, be prepared to line up early for a spot. For a less crowded experience, visit Yellowstone in the off-season. 

You won’t soon forget your time spent exploring Yellowstone. Camping in this amazing national park makes for even more unforgettable memories. Have you found a great campground that you highly suggest?

What are your best tips for camping near Yellowstone National Park?

Discover the Best Free Camping Across the USA

To be honest with you, we hate paying for camping. There are so many free campsites in America (with complete privacy).

You should give it a try!

As a matter of fact, these free campsites are yours. Every time you pay federal taxes, you’re contributing to these lands.

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