Spilling across the states of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, Yellowstone National Park is alive with abundant forests, bubbling geysers, and crystal-blue lakes. Every year, millions of visitors travel to this vast expanse of wilderness.
Luckily, there are several campgrounds within the park, each boasting unique opportunities for wildlife viewing, hiking, and access to famous natural landmarks.
While deciding upon the right campground can be tough, knowing the strengths of each can help you to figure out which site is right for you. And to help, we’ve put together a list of the top 10 best campgrounds in Yellowstone. Check it out below!
The 10 Best Campgrounds in Yellowstone
- Madison Campground
- Canyon Campground
- Slough Creek Campground
- Bridge Bay Campground
- Indian Creek Campground
- Grant Village Campground
- Lewis Lake Campground
- Mammoth Hot Springs Campground
- Pebble Creek Campground
- Norris Campground
1. Madison Campground
It may boast more than 270 campsites, but Madison Campground fills up quickly. One of the most popular campgrounds in Yellowstone due to its easy access and central location 14 miles east from West Yellowstone town, Madison is nestled in a mountainous setting with both shaded and sunny areas of wild-flower-carpeted woodland to enjoy. It is open from May to October and can host both RVs and tents, as well as campsites for hikers and cyclists.
There are numerous hiking trails and short walks that begin at the campgrounds and reward those who follow them with sublime views of the prairies below. You can also expect to see lots of natural wildlife here, from roaming bison to glunking elk.
One of the major drawing points of Madison is that it gives you easy access to the Upper, Midway, and Lower geyser basins, as well as Old Faithful and the Firehold Canyon Drive, home to the famous Firehole Falls. It’s also reasonably close to Yellowstone Lake, one of the primary places of interest in the park. You can reserve a campsite in advance, and those that aren’t pre-booked are usually taken swiftly on a first-come-first-served basis.
2. Canyon Campground
At an elevation of 7,900 feet, the Canyon Campground is a camping getaway that feels both isolated and still in touch with civilization. The 273 campsites are situated in the idyllic pine forest within the Canyon Village complex, giving visitors close access to the restaurants, shops, lodgings, and other amenities of the village.
While Canyon Village is only a short walk away from the campgrounds, the campgrounds are not located on the main road and therefore offer a quiet refuge. The campsites themselves are complete with picnic tables, fire rings, and a food storage locker.
Canyon Campground is home to some of Yellowstone’s most coveted hikes, including Cascade Lake, Mount Washburn, and the Canyon Rim trails which boast mesmerizing vistas of the falls below. Open from May through September, the campground is also less than a mile from arguably the park’s most beloved landmark, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.
3. Slough Creek Campground
If you’re out to observe some majestic wildlife, Slough Creek Campground is one of your best options. This is the premium spot in the park to try and see a wolf as there’s a den located in the vicinity, but you also might spy pronghorn, elk, bison, and bears, among other prey and predators.
The campground itself is situated at the end of a dirt road, so it has a rough and rugged feel, perfectly suited to campers who are looking for an escape from society. The sage meadow scenery is a treat for the senses and also makes Slough Creek one of the most charming places for primitive camping with tents and RVs.
Located nearby the Lamar River on the park’s Northern Range, Slough Creek is also a great spot for hiking. The Slough Creek Trail passes through quaint meadows where you might spot moose or bears. It stretches all the way beyond Yellowstone to the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness, following a renowned wagon trail dating back centuries.
4. Bridge Bay Campground
For campers with their boats in tow, the Bridge Bay Campground borders Yellowstone Lake and provides fast access to the local marina. Even for those who haven’t scheduled boating, fishing, or other water activities, Bridge Bay is a great choice simply for the amazing views of the lake and the horizon marked by the Absaroka Ranges.
There are 432 campgrounds available at Bridge Bay, which is typically open from June to September, making it the largest campground in Yellowstone. Plus, it’s only a short drive to the complexes of Lake Village and Grant Village. Here, you can return to civilization to buy groceries or dine at a restaurant before immersing yourself back in the wilderness.
Bridge Bay also offers campers the chance to spot roving bison that sometimes wander around the campgrounds. Elk sometimes visit the site too, so it’s another great choice for wildlife-watchers and animal-enthusiasts.
5. Indian Creek Campground
The early bird catches the worm at the Indian Creek Campground–or catches the campsite, as there are no reservations available for the 70 sites housed in this picturesque complex, which is exclusively open in the summer. This is one of the more rugged campgrounds, situated a distance away from the noisy sounds of the main road.
Fishing here is available from the Gardiner River, located within a mile of the campground, as well as in several of the nearby creeks. The local waters boast schools of cutthroat trout while the many trees of the area are home to birdlife and squirrels.
Within walking distance, you’ll find multiple hiking trails that will allow you to discover the beauty of the landscape up close. Enjoy views of Electric Peak, the tallest mountain in the Gallatin Ranges, and Sheepeater Cliff, which is only a short drive from the campsite.
6. Grant Village Campground
Based just to the south of Yellowstone Lake, Grant Village Campground is one of the park’s bigger campgrounds. Perfect for those who want to maintain access to creature comforts, the campsites are walking distance to Grant Village, which hosts a visitor center, grocery store, and restaurant.
The campsite’s proximity to the lake means it offers the opportunity for boating and fishing, as well as the phenomenal views of the lake. Grant Village is easy to access from Grand Loop Road and offers many prime camping spots close to the lake.
Grant Village is also only a few miles from the West Thumb Geyser Basin and a little over 40 from Colter Bay. West Thumb boasts fascinating hot springs and thermal points of interest which you can view from the user-friendly boardwalk and trail system.
7. Lewis Lake Campground
Set in the faraway forest between Yellowstone Lake and Grand Teton National Park, Lewis Lake Campground is one of the most remote in the park. The far-off location and lack of buzzing generators make this campground a quiet oasis, ideal for serene getaways. Here you’ll find an off-the-beaten-track vibe against a backdrop of atmospheric pine forest.
Easily accessible from the 85 campsites, Lewis Lake is perfect for canoeing, kayaking, and motor boats. As it’s a distance away from most of the major points of interest in Yellowstone, the first-come-first-served campsites are slow to fill up, so Lewis Lake is a smart option for those who want to avoid the crowds in peak season.
Generally, Lewis Lake remains open into early November, ideal for campers planning a fall trip. The heavy forest seems just like a postcard when painted with the vibrant colors of autumn leaves.
8. Mammoth Hot Springs Campground
With ample fishing, hiking, and wildlife-viewing opportunities available, Mammoth Hot Springs is the only campground in Yellowstone that is open right around the year. Based in the northern part of the park, Mammoth Hot Springs is close to Gardiner, where you’ll find dining establishments and stores in addition to the pristine natural landscape. You can also visit the unique town of Mammoth, home to its quaint country chapel.
Of course, the main drawing point of the camp is the Mammoth Hot Springs, a famous limestone landmark that is known for looking like an inside-out cave. There are around 50 hot springs to explore via the two terraced boardwalks.
The Gardiner River sits across from the campsite, on the other side of which lies the spectacular Mt. Everts. This is one of the most popular areas among the local elk population and the breeze usually carries sounds of their bugling.
9. Pebble Creek Campground
Situated near the northeast entrance of Yellowstone, the Pebble Creek Campground boasts glorious views of the Absaroka Mountains. One of the more rustic camping experiences available in the park, Pebble Creek will make campers feel like they’ve well and truly arrived in the wilderness. At an elevation of 6,900 feet, Pebble Creek is the essence of mountain camping.
You can’t reserve a site here, so most campers must be ready early in the hopes of securing a position. The area is often flooded with visitors seeking the wildlife-viewing opportunities of the Lamar Valley, and the campground is often one of the last to open in June.
Bison, moose, wolves, and bears are some of the species campers are likely to catch a glimpse of in the area. The creek flowing through the 27 campsites itself makes up part of the scenic landscape, but fishers also flock to nearby Soda Butte Creek.
10. Norris Campground
Although it’s closed for the entirety of 2021, the 112 sites of the Norris Campground is one of the best from which to base yourself for a central Yellowstone experience. Most attractions are less than an hour away via car, and one trail that leaves from the campgrounds even leads directly to the Norris Geyser Basin.
Set along the banks of the gentle Gibbon River and its surrounding meadows, the Norris Campground boasts an idyllic ambiance despite being so centralized. Every night from June through early September, the campgrounds host evening campfire programs, as well as guided ranger walks to the surrounding landmarks.
For history-lovers, the Museum of the National Park Ranger is located in the campgrounds. And for those who are dying to spot some local wildlife, giant Yellowstone elk tend to appear in the misty meadows at dawn and dusk in the summer.