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Experience Yellowstone: the Complete Guide to Yellowstone RV Camping

As lovers and custodians of the natural world, you’re likely familiar with the itch to get out there and explore! Maybe you’ve got cabin fever, and you’re vying for an adventure. You’re ready to hop in your RV and hit the road. Luckily, Yellowstone National Park boasts its natural wonders to the world year-round and is a great destination for a getaway!

If you want to tackle a Yellowstone RV camping trip yourself but don’t know where to start, you’ve come to the right place. For the complete guide to Yellowstone RV camping, keep reading!

yellowstone rv camping

All About Yellowstone National Park

History of Yellowstone

When you RV camp at Yellowstone National Park, you’re lucky enough to be a temporary resident of the oldest national park in the United States.

In 1872, Yellowstone became the nation’s first national park. In 1976, it was named a UNESCO biosphere reserve and World Heritage site the following year.

Many naturalists also believe it to be one of the oldest national parks in the world.

Archaeological evidence suggests that there has been human habitation of some form as far back as 14,000 years ago.

The history of the park is rich and storied, ready for you to explore on your Yellowstone RV camping trip!

What Makes Yellowstone Unique

There is a grocery list of beautiful quirks that make Yellowstone RV camping a completely unique experience.

But, the concentration of thermal features really set Yellowstone apart from some of the other incredible national parks in the United States.

More than half the world’s geysers can be found within the boundary of the park, and it’s home to one of the world’s largest calderas.

The park itself, split between Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, encompasses more than 2.2 million acres of rolling plains, snow-capped mountains, and stunning canyons – larger than the area of Delaware!

Yellowstone RV Camping

Yellowstone National Park boasts 12 established campgrounds with more than 2,000 campsites throughout the park, including 300 dispersed sites accessible by way of the park’s 1,000 miles worth of trail.

During the summer, the park’s busiest season, a spot at one of the dozen campgrounds requires a reservation, with the exception of the seasonally first come, first served Mammoth Campground.

Yellowstone RV camping is a bucket list item for adventurers around the world, so reservations can go quickly! To make a reservation, go to the Yellowstone National Park Lodges website or

Thankfully, RV camping is permitted at all 12 of the established sites. However, that doesn’t mean every site has electric hookups. In fact, only Fishing Bridge RV Park has full electrical hookups available.But that doesn’t have to stop you from exploring all the park has to offer and making the most of your Yellowstone RV camping trip!

Another thing to keep in mind is that most amenities at these sites are seasonal, and the dates are subject to change.

Bad weather or natural disasters often cause campground closures, especially if the roads through the park are rendered inaccessible.

Things like trash, laundry, water, and on-site staff are not available in the winter at any site aside from Mammoth Campground.

yellowstone rv camping

Available Yellowstone RV Camping Sites

Fishing Bridge RV Park

Fishing Bridge is the only fully designated Yellowstone RV camping park, with no tent camping available. It has 310 RV-specific sites, all with full hookups.

It also has cell reception, trash and recycling facilities, laundry, potable water, a dump site, and staff on site.

Bridge Bay Campsite

Just a hike away from Yellowstone Lake and the Absaroka Range, Bridge Bay Campsite is the largest in the whole park, with 432 sites open to both RV and tent camping.

Seasonal amenities are all available here, as well as ice and firewood for sale and a camp store.

Canyon Campground

The appropriately named Canyon Campground is tucked away in a pine forest by the stunning Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River.

Another one of the larger camping sites at Yellowstone, Canyon Campground, has 273 sites available for tents and RVs, though no electrical hookups.

Grant Village Campground

Second in size only to Bridge Bay, the Grant Village Campground boasts 430 sites, with seasonal amenities and the additional perk of nearby boat ramps and a visitor’s center.

Mammoth Campground

For off-season travelers seeking out snow-dusted Yellowstone views, Mammoth is the only campsite open and maintained year-round.

It’s small compared to other locations, with only 85 sites and no electric hookups, so be ready to cozy in and bundle up if you’re in for a wintery Yellowstone RV camping trip.

Dispersed Camping Sites

For a more primitive, off-the-grid camping experience, check out the MadisonNorrisTower FallsSlough CreekIndian CreekPebble Creek, or Lewis Lake campgrounds.

These sites are more off the beaten path, with no cell service and limited amenities. When planning your Yellowstone RV camping trip, keep in mind that of Madison’s 276 sites, 117 are tent-only.

However, with the remoteness of this camping experience comes some pretty special views and experiences. You’ll be tucked in amongst the mountains, meadows, geysers, canyons, and forests that make up the Yellowstone grounds.

If you want a chance to observe wildlife from the comfort of your RV or tent, camping in these secluded areas is more conducive to wildlife viewing than the large, more popular sites with heavy foot traffic. Your best bet to get eyes on (or hear the howls of) the rare Gray wolf that calls Yellowstone National Forest home is at Slough Creek Campground and the surrounding area.

For thru-hikers and day hikers who have planned your Yellowstone RV camping trip around the trails, these campsites typically have more access.

All in all, the Yellowstone RV camping facilities available to you are plentiful, well-maintained, and well-equipped.

Things To Do on Your Yellowstone RV Camping Trip

Sightseeing and Natural Wonders

The Museum of the National Park Ranger

First built in 1886, the Museum of the National Park Ranger is located just outside of Norris Campground.

It was first used as an Army outpost, then repurposed as a ranger station.

Nowadays, the building is an excellent visitor’s center that celebrates the history of park rangers. The museum is staffed entirely by volunteer retired rangers who really know their stuff.

Old Faithful

Yellowstone National Park is full of natural wonders, namely its hydrothermal activity.

But one natural wonder, in particular, is so famous that it’s practically synonymous with the park itself.

Old Faithful earned its name and its fame through its frequent and reliable eruptions, roughly every hour and a half.

Located in the southwest region of the park, Old Faithful has been right on schedule since 1870. The Old Faithful Inn is just around the corner and is thought to be the largest log structure in the world.

yellowstone rv camping

Grand Prismatic Spring

Speaking of hydrothermal features, another remarkable natural wonder to see on your Yellowstone RV camping trip is the Grand Prismatic Spring.

It’s the largest hot spring in the United States and the third largest in the world. While that’s impressive, what makes the Grand Prismatic Spring really cool is its changing colors!

Due to different microbes and extremophiles interacting with the mineral-rich water, the spring looks like a rainbow.

The same anomaly can be found in the Morning Glory Pool and other hot springs around the park.

yellowstone rv camping

The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone River

If you aren’t convinced of Yellowstone’s penchant for the theatrical yet, then be sure to pay a visit to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone River.

Being the oldest and most popular national park in the United States wasn’t enough – it needed its own Grand Canyon, too!

The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone River is 24 miles long with a rise of over 1,000 feet, tracing the northbound course of the Yellowstone River through the park.

yellowstone rv camping

Yellowstone Lake

Another must-see is Yellowstone Lake, which is the largest high-altitude lake in North America.

Long story short, there’s no way you’ll be bored on your Yellowstone RV camping trip with all that the park has to offer!

yellowstone rv camping

Activities in the Park

Between hot springs and geyser visits, you’ll probably want to kill some time with fun activities on your Yellowstone RV camping trip.


Yellowstone National Park has over 92 trailheads and nearly 1,000 miles worth of trails. There is truly a hiking opportunity for every person of any skill level located within the park.

Some fan-favorite trails include Mount WashburnNorth Rim TrailAvalanche PeakFairy Falls, and the Storm Point Nature Trail.

Scenic Drives

If you want to cover some ground but aren’t too keen on hiking, over 400 miles of road weave their way through the park. There is no shortage of scenic drives to be had!

This is also a great way to view some of the larger wildlife in the park safely.

Wildlife Viewing

For even more wildlife viewing opportunities, the biodiversity of the Lamar Valley is abundant, earning it the nickname “Yellowstone’s Serengeti.”

It features beautiful rolling meadows where bison, moose, and elk graze. If you time it right, you may even be lucky enough to catch a bear or wolf!

Horseback Riding

Yellowstone is also an excellent park for horseback riding. You can bring your own animals upon receiving clearance or opt for a guided tour led by a trained professional.

Either way, observing Yellowstone horseback is an unmatched experience.


Fishing is also a popular pastime on a Yellowstone RV camping trip, but make sure you have your fishing license and have read up on the latest fishing regulations.

Yellowstone’s aquatic ecosystems are quite fragile, so it’s crucial to follow the rules closely to ensure that we interfere with the balance as little as possible.

Yellowstone National Park Wilderness

Geography and Geology

Unique, seismically-active geology is Yellowstone’s claim to fame and one of the greatest draws to the park.

Some of the calderas and other volcanic features have existed for tens of millions of years. These ancient geological contours underlie the stunning and vast relief of Yellowstone.

To this day, the fault lines that lie underneath Yellowstone National Park’s landscape are extremely active, causing tons of small, typically undetectable earthquakes every year.

Yellowstone’s mountain ranges, the Gallatin, Absaroka, and Teton, are also thanks to the drifting tectonic plates.


Yellowstone has claimed many “best” and “biggest” titles, and the wildlife within the park is no exception.

Yellowstone National Park is home to the largest and most varied population of mammals in the continental United States.


Thanks to the conservation efforts of the park, bison were rescued from the brink of extinction and now roam the park in numbers.

Alongside the bison in the mammal menagerie are grizzly bears, black bears, elk, coyotes, foxes, bighorn sheep, moose, mountain goats, bobcats, otters, bats, wolves, and mountain lions.

Like the bison, wolves, and, more specifically, Gray wolves, saw a huge decline in population as humans moved into and settled more and more into the area.

But wolves were successfully reintroduced in 1995 and have been flourishing in numbers ever since.

Though all magnificent to behold, it’s likely the mention of a few of those animals struck some fear in your heart. Bears, mountain lions, and even bighorn sheep are no laughing matter!

Wildlife Safety

As such, it is incredibly important to understand how to view the wildlife of the park safely during your Yellowstone RV camping trip.

There isn’t an inch of Yellowstone that isn’t bear territory, so it’s crucial to know how to use bear spray and how to keep bears away from your campsite.

More generally, it’s best to stay at least 100 meters away from any and all large or potentially dangerous animals within the park. If the animal senses or reacts to your presence, you’re too close!

Camera flashes, shutter sounds, and footsteps are enough to spook an animal into action, whether that be running away or getting defensive. The best practice is to view these animals from the safety of your car with a pair of binoculars.

Other Wildlife

Aside from the large mammals that call Yellowstone home, there are also 322 species of birds (both year-round and migratory) and 16 species of fish in the park.

Due to the stocking of non-native sport fish, the balance between native fish species and invasive species is precarious at best.

As such, many of the native fish have a strict catch and release policy, including cutthroat trout, Arctic grayling, and Rocky Mountain whitefish.

Amphibians and reptiles aren’t particularly common throughout the park, likely due to the cool, dry climate.

But if you’re lucky, you might sneak a glimpse of some salamanders, frogs, and snakes around the non-hydrothermal bodies of water.

Tiny but mighty, more than 400 different species of thermophiles grow deep within the hydrothermal vents of Yellowstone.

You can thank the thermophiles for the gorgeous colors of the Grand Prismatic Spring!


The vast majority of Yellowstone National Park is forested with pines, firs, willows, cottonwoods, and aspens.

Over 1,000 native plant species grow and thrive throughout Yellowstone’s varied ecosystems, as well as over 200 invasive species.

Hundreds of types of wildflowers, including phlox, lupines, cinquefoils, larkspurs, and Indian paintbrushes, can be found throughout the rolling valleys and plains of Yellowstone National Park.

Depending on where your campground is, you might find yourself sleeping, lounging, and dining amongst the wildflower fields on your Yellowstone RV camping adventure.

yellowstone rv camping

Yellowstone RV Camping: FAQ

Do I need to make a reservation to camp in Yellowstone National Park?

If you’re hoping to snag a spot in one of the 12 established campgrounds for your Yellowstone RV camping trip, then you definitely need to make a reservation.

There are first come, first serve dispersed sites, but they are typically tent-only.

Is Yellowstone National Park open year-round?

Yes, Yellowstone is open year-round. However, many of the services and visitor centers in the park are not. The only functional campground in the winter is Mammoth.

Depending on your skill level and familiarity with RV camping, you may opt for an in-season trip.

But, if you’re ready to take the great outdoors head-on, then the off-season can be a peaceful time of year to visit Yellowstone National Park.

Is Yellowstone National Park unsafe?

Yellowstone National Park is as safe and as unsafe as any other national park. Yellowstone is prone to natural disasters, dangerous weather, and unfriendly critters like any large, wild territory.

The abundance of bear territory and fault lines certainly make the park unique but not inherently more unsafe than other parks.

The most important thing you can do to ensure your safety is to closely follow the rules of the park regarding wildlife, weather, and camping.

Time to Plan Your Yellowstone RV Camping Trip

With all that Yellowstone National Park has to offer, it comes as no surprise that the park sees over 4 million visitors per year.

Now that you’ve made your way through our complete guide to Yellowstone RV camping, you’re ready to pack up the RV and join the horde!

For even more information about Yellowstone RV camping, check out the best camping in Yellowstone National Park!