A visit to Yellowstone National Park is not complete without at least one overnight stay. A great injustice was served upon the many features of the park by calling it a park in the first place. A park is viewed by many as a place that can be seen in a casual afternoon stroll. Yellowstone is big, 3,472 square miles big, so plan on spending a couple of nights in order to take in just some of what the park has to offer. Yellowstone is no place to escape the crowds, it is a favorite due to the thermal features, waterfalls, historic landmarks and photographic opportunities that animals accustomed to people provide. You can get some great photographs in the park that are unattainable outside of the park simply because the protection of the animals is taken seriously and they are accustomed to having us around. So, don’t rush, take it all in.
There are 12 campgrounds in Yellowstone offering over 2,100 campsites. It may sound like a lot, but with over 4 million visitors a year, they more than fill up fast, in many cases they require a reservation which should add to the fun factor of planning your getaway. For an overview of the campgrounds in Yellowstone and reservations visit Yellowstone National Park Lodges .
I call Yellowstone my backyard and here are my favorite campgrounds in Yellowstone. But, where you stay all depends on what you want to see and how much time you have. While Old Faithful is the park’s iconic feature, my favorite is the less crowded Artist Paint Pots and Mud Volcano on the east side, the Lake area and the scenic Lamar Valley where the wolf reintroduction began in the 1990’s.
Bridge Bay Campground is a tent and RV campground located at Bridge Bay Marina on Yellowstone Lake. I like this campground because of its proximity to the lake and marina. It doesn’t have electricity, sewage or water hookups like nearby Fishing Bridge Campground, but for me that only adds to the character of Bridge Bay. The marina is just across the parking lot and is a nice place for an evening stroll or picnic. This is a great bivouac for boating or sight-seeing along the eastern corridor of the park.
The Pebble Creek Campground offers 27 sites on a first-come, first-served basis. Pebble Creek Campground lies against the dramatic backdrop of the Absaroka Mountains near the park’s Northeast Entrance and offers a more isolated camping experience. Sites can accommodate a few RVs, including longer RVs or vehicle/trailer combinations in pull-through sites. Each site has a picnic table and fire pit with grate. View wildlife and the dramatic landscape of the Lamar Valley, Hike along Soda Butte Creek or take advantage of the great fishing the area has to offer. Nearby Slough Creek, Soda Butte Creek, Lamar River and the Yellowstone River offer legendary fishing. The Knotty Fly Yellowstone Guide Service offers guided catch and release fly fishing in this area of the park. Learn to fly fish and catch native Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout.
Slough Creek Campground is also located in Lamar Valley. Located at the end of a two mile graded dirt road, this campground is best suited for tents and small RVs. Each site has a picnic table and fire pit with grate. Some sites are located in the trees, some in an open meadow, and some along the banks of Slough Creek. Sites often fill by 8 am from opening day June through September.
Slough Creek is a very popular stream for fishing. The famous, scenic Beartooth Pass is a short drive away. There are plenty of hiking opportunities nearby, including the Slough Creek Trail. Nighttime offers a quiet, unimpeded view of the stars and the possibility of hearing wolves howl. The first wolves in the Yellowstone wolf reintroduction were released just across the valley from here. Check out the National Park Service for more information on Yellowstone’s campgrounds.
Lewis Lake Campground is first come first serve located about eight miles from the South Entrance and a short walk from the southeast shore of Lewis Lake. Densely forested by lodgepole pine, the campground offers 85 sites. Reservations can be made at Grant Village Campground located further north at Lake Yellowstone’s south border, but it’s a busy place. Grant Village has 430 camp sites for tents and RV’s.
If you are going to spend the night in park lodging, Lake Hotel is beautiful and its history was not lost in the recent remodel. Take time to sip a glass of wine in the lobby overlooking Yellowstone Lake. Also, any of the five new buildings at Canyon Lodge are very nice places to get a hot shower and soft bed. Great trails and views of Yellowstone Canyon await.
After playing in the park for many years, these are my favorites. I hope you get to travel to Yellowstone and find a favorite campground of your own.