Yellowstone National Park
Guide

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Introduction

Bustling with over 2 million acres of gorgeous waterfalls, bursting geysers, and enchanting hot springs, Yellowstone National Park captures the majesty and wonder of America’s great outdoors. Famous for being the world’s first national park, it is so vast it sprawls across three states: Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. Yellowstone is the ultimate RV adventure since its home to some of the most famous natural wonders like Old Faithful, a spectacular geyser that explodes every hour, and the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, a color canyon that towers above the Yellowstone River.

You’ll be in store for a world of limitless adventure during your RV trip to Yellowstone, from hiking and horseback riding to snowmachining and cross-country skiing. You can boat or fish in the largest lake in the park, Lake Yellowstone. There’s no shortage of great spots for photography and wildlife viewing like Artists Point or Lamar Valley. You can even walk amongst magical hot springs and geysers that delight with color at Mammoth Hot Springs or the Norris Geyser Basin. You’ll want to bring your binoculars—you’ll be greeted by roaming wildlife from bison and bears to elk and moose.

The summer is the peak season for RVers and other visitors since the temperature typically reaches a pleasant 70 to 80 degrees. The late spring and early fall is a nice time of year to visit too, with mild temperatures and less crowded roads. In the colder months, Yellowstone turns into a winter wonderland. While heavy snowfall closes most roads, there are still many ways to explore this breathtaking setting in the winter from snowcoach tours to snowshoeing. No matter what time of year you take your RV road trip to Yellowstone, you will be in for an once-in-a-lifetime adventure you will never forget.

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RV Rentals in Yellowstone National Park

Transportation in Yellowstone National Park

Driving

You can access Yellowstone through five entrances, which are all doable for RVs. However, the East and Northeast entrances are the most mountainous routes and might be difficult with some RVs due to the Bighorn and Beartooth mountains. From November to April, driving in Yellowstone is difficult or impossible since many roads are closed due to harsh winter conditions. Most of the roads are suited for RVs inside Yellowstone, although some, such as the route from Tower Falls and Canyon, may be difficult for large vehicles due to winding and narrow road conditions. The maximum length of RVs allowed on these roads is 75 feet.

Parking

You can park your RV or vehicle at campgrounds and parking lots at the park’s visitor centers and major attractions, such as Old Faithful, Norris Geyser Basin, or Grand Prismatic Spring. Parking may be more limited for RVs during the peak season in the summer. In the winter, you may have to find parking outside of the park as many of the roads inside the park are closed.

Public Transport

Although public transportation is not offered inside the park, it is possible to get bus service to the nearby towns of West Yellowstone, MT, Gardiner, MT, and Jackson, WY. Once inside the park, alternate ways to get around include biking, horseback riding, and on foot. There are a number of private companies that offer tour and shuttle services in the park. During the winter, you can even hire a private company to take a snowcoach tour.

Campgrounds and parking in Yellowstone National Park

Campsites in Yellowstone National Park

Reservations camping

Grant Village

Grant Village is open from June to September with 430 sites available for tents and RVs or trailers up to 40 feet in length. This campground is in a beautiful forest location within a few miles of West Thumb Geyser Basin. Amenities include restrooms and dishwashing stations. Plus, this campground is just a mile from a camp store and gas station.

Bridge Bay

You can enjoy scenic lakefront views of Yellowstone Lake and the Absaroka Mountains at Bridge Bay. Amenities include a store, marina, boat rentals, picnic tables, and a dump station. Open from May to September, Bridge Bay has 432 sites for RVs and tents. This campground can accommodate RVs and trailers in pull-through and back-in sites up to 40 feet long.

Canyon

Open from May to September, Canyon Campground offers 273 sites open to tents and RVs or trailers up to 40 feet long. This campground features back-in and pull-through sites, restrooms, pay showers, laundry facilities, a camp store, and restaurants on site. Canyon is a popular campground since it’s located just a mile from the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.

Yellowstone Park / Mountainside KOA

When it comes to majestic views and amazing vacations, you can’t find much that compares to a visit to Yellowstone Park. Stay at Yellowstone Park/Mountainside KOA and you’ll be just 7.5 miles from one of the most gorgeous national parks in the United States. After days packed with Yellowstone adventures, return to Yellowstone Park/Mountainside KOA and enjoy amenities like Wi-Fi, cable TV, fishing, a snack bar, a tour shuttle, and more. Scenic campsites can accommodate rigs up to 110 feet long, offer hookups with 50-amp service.

Red Lodge KOA

The award-winning Red Lodge KOA campground is situated near the mouth of the Beartooth Highway, which Charles Kuralt recognized as "the most beautiful drive in America." Golf, trout fishing, hiking, horseback riding, and river rafting are also all available nearby. Guests can rent banana bikes and fun cycles or arrange tours on-site. The family-friendly campground also features restrooms and showers, laundry facilities, a heated pool, fishing, sports and recreation, a snack bar, a pavilion, a dumpster and dump station, planned activities and all-you-can-eat Sunday pancake breakfasts.

Yellowstone Park / West Gate KOA

Home to one of the most popular entry points into Yellowstone, West Yellowstone, Montana is also one of the most popular locations to set up your base camp when visiting the region. Yellowstone Park / West Gate KOA is nestled among high pines that provide shade and keep you surrounded with 360-degree views of the Rockies. Just six miles from the campground is the West Gate of Yellowstone National Park where you can take in some of the best natural landscapes America has to offer. Other local activities include classic car shows, horseback riding, whitewater rafting, and reenactments of the 1830s Mountain Man Rendezvous. There is no shortage of amenities at the campground either. Soak in the indoor pool or rent a bike for a sunset ride to remember. Breakfast and dinner, including Almost Famous ribs, are served daily during the summer months. RV sites vary, with most offering full hookups, cable TV, and Wi-Fi. Fifty-amp max electric service along with large max pull-through sites of 90 feet make this location perfect for even the largest of rigs and travel trailers. The campground conveniently keeps propane and firewood on-site for purchase, or pick up some last-minute snacks at the snack bar.

Fishing Bridge RV Park

Open from May to September, Canyon Campground offers 273 sites open to tents and RVs or trailers up to 40 feet long. This campground features back-in and pull-through sites, restrooms, pay showers, laundry facilities, a camp store, and restaurants on site. Canyon is a popular campground since it’s located just a mile from the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.

Madison

Madison offers 278 sites for tents and RVs or trailers up to 40 feet long. Open from April to October, this campground is in a beautiful location near wildflowers and bison, close to Old Faithful and West Yellowstone. Amenities include restrooms, dishwashing stations, picnic tables, and fire grates.

First-come first-served

Mammoth Hot Springs

Open year-round, Mammoth Hot Springs Campground offers 85 sites for tents and RVs or trailers up to 30 feet long. You’ll have easy access to the landmark Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces and great fishing and hiking spots. Amenities include bathrooms, picnic tables, and fire grates.

Tower Fall

Open from May to September, Tower Fall Campground has 31 sites open to tents and RVs up to 30 feet in length. This campground is known for its close access to the beautiful Lamar Valley. Amenities include restrooms, picnic tables, and fire pits.

Norris

Open from May to September, Norris has 5 sites open to RVs up to 30 feet long and 2 sites open to RVs up to 50 feet long. Generator use is permitted from 8:00am to 8:00pm. This campground is centrally located near the majestic Norris Geyser Basin and offers restrooms, picnic tables, and fire pits.

Lewis Lake

This campground is open from June to November with 85 sites open to tents and RVs up to 25 feet long. Located in a shady forest, you’ll be close to fishing, boating, and beautiful views of Lewis Lake. You’ll have access to restrooms, picnic tables, fire pits, and food storage lockers.

Slough Creek

Slough Creek is open from June to October with 14 sites open to RVs up to 30 feet long. Located in a grassy meadow surrounded by lush forest and mountain views, this campground offers picnic tables, restrooms, and fire pits. You’ll have access to great fishing and hiking spots.

Pebble Creek

Pebble Creek is open from June to September, offering 27 sites for tents, some of which provide pull-through access for RVs. This is a serene, quiet campground featuring beautiful views of the Absaroka Mountains. Amenities include fire pits and picnic tables.

Indian Creek

Open from June to September, this campgrounds offer 10 sites that are available to RVs up to 35 feet long and 35 sites for RVs up to 30 feet long. This is a quiet, beautiful campground close to Mammoth Hot Springs with scenic views of the Gallatin Mountains. This campground has restrooms and water, plus it’s close to great fishing and hiking spots.

Alternate camping

Private Campgrounds

If you prefer to stay outside of the park there are plenty of private campgrounds in nearby towns such as West Yellowstone to the west, Jackson to the south, and Gardiner to the north. These private campgrounds and RV Parks may offer a range of modern amenities from wireless internet and cable TV to swimming pools and rec rooms.

Backcountry Camping

If you’re up for an adventure, Yellowstone offers a great opportunity to go backcountry camping. You can explore the over 2 million acres of rugged wilderness and stay at over 300 backcountry campsites dotted around the park. Permits are required for overnight stays, at least 48 hours in advance.

Seasonal activities in Yellowstone National Park

Spring

Geysers & Hot Springs

Yellowstone is filled with spectacular geysers and hot springs that are must-see during your RV trip. While Old Faithful is a top hit, there are loads of other stunning geysers and hot spring attractions that are great to explore during the less crowded season. The Grand Prismatic Spring, which is the largest hot spring in the country, is a wondrous sight filled with rainbow colors. The Norris Geyser Basin is another beautiful natural landmark where you can walk on boardwalks over rare acid geysers and geothermal hot spots.

Guided Hiking Tours

The spring is a great time of year to hire a private company to take a guided hiking tour due to the harsher weather conditions until the weather warms up. Whether you want to take a half-day or multi-day hike you can be led by experts while you wander by gorgeous waterfalls, geysers, lakes, rivers, and wildflower meadows. If you want to get out of your camper and into the wild during the spring, a guided hiking tour is one of the best ways to explore this breathtaking setting.

Scenic Flight Tour

One of the most unique ways to see the vast majesty of Yellowstone is from the sky. Since the harsh spring climate can make it a difficult time to drive an RV around Yellowstone, why not take a plane or helicopter tour? You can hire a private company to get a bird’s eye view of the jaw-dropping peaks of the Grand Tetons and the natural wonder of Yellowstone’s waterfalls, geysers, and hot springs.

Wildlife & Bird Watching

A spring RV getaway to Yellowstone is an incredible time for wildlife viewing, when bears come out of hibernation and snow melts into blooming wildflower meadows. If you get your binoculars out of the trailer you can spot moose, pronghorns, bison, and wolves in Lamar Valley or Elk at Mammoth Hot Springs. The spring is also a great time to spot bird migrations from raptors to waterfowl.

Biking

If you want to explore areas of the park closed to RVs and vehicles in the spring, hop on your bike. Starting April you can enjoy scenic cycling on open roads such as near Mammoth Hot Springs, the east side of Sylvan Pass, and the South Entrance to West Thumb. Biking to Mammoth Hot Springs would be a highlight of your trip to Yellowstone, where you will see majestic, colorful hot springs bubbling on a hill of travertine.

Summer

Aquatic Activities

The summer is the best time of year to beat the heat by getting out onto the water at Yellowstone. With beautiful rivers and lakes that abound, Yellowstone offers limitless opportunities for aquatic activities including boating, canoeing, and kayaking. Yellowstone Lake is one of the best places for fun on the water since it’s the largest lake in the park. If you’re up for an incredible adventure during your RV vacation to Yellowstone, you can hire a private company to take a guided rafting or paddling tour.

Hiking

With over 2 million acres of raw wilderness and 900 miles of hiking trails to explore, Yellowstone is a hiker’s haven during the summer. You can experience it all, from towering snow-capped mountains to enchanting hot springs. If you want to see some amazing lakefront views of majestic peaks and wildflower prairies, you would enjoy the 5-mile Riddle Lake Trail. Another amazing adventure is the 10-mile hike along the rim of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone called the Seven Mile Hole Trail, where you can get a bird’s eye views of the cascading river and rugged, tree-lined canyon walls.

Horseback Riding

Horseback riding offers a one-of-a-kind way to experience the splendor of Yellowstone. You can hire a private company to take a guided horseback riding tour through wildflower meadows and enchanting forests. These guided tours can last anywhere from two hours to several days. If you’re ready to get out of the camper and saddle up, Yellowstone is a prime destination to enjoy a horseback ride in one of the country’s most picturesque landscapes.

Astronomy Programs

Your RV road trip to Yellowstone National Park offers a rare chance to see the most incredible starry night sky. You can experience the wonder of the Milky Way, star clusters, and planets above by taking advantage of the astronomy programs held during the summer. These ranger-led programs allow you to stargaze with telescopes, find constellations, and learn about the thrilling night sky above you.

Fishing

Whether you’re a novice or seasoned angler, Yellowstone is a top fishing destination. The summer is a perfect time of year to get your fishing gear out and bait your hook. You can catch native species such as trout, Arctic grayling, and mountain whitefish. Yellowstone Lake, Yellowstone River, and Madison River are popular fishing spots. The Firehole River is a hidden gem for fishing since is flows through three of the biggest geyser basins in the world. If you’re looking for a serene, quiet spot to fish Heart Lake is a perfect location in the backcountry.

Fall

Photography

Every inch of Yellowstone National Park is filled with spectacular natural beauty to photograph, but the fall is one of the most picturesque times of year as the trees and grasses burst into color. If you pack your camera in your motorhome there are some key spots to take unforgettable photos. Lamar Valley is a beautiful spot for autumn photos since the tall grasses turn into fields of gold. Pictures of the Lewis River will capture the authentic serenity of a flowing river, ancient evergreens, and bustling geysers.

Ranger-Led Walks

Offered throughout the autumn season, ranger-led walks are a perfect way to get out of the camper and learn about the incredible natural history of Yellowstone amid a picturesque backdrop. You can take a guided stroll of ancient hot springs at Mammoth Hot Springs or learn about the magical secrets of Norris Geyser Basin.

Ranger-Led Boat Tour

In the early fall you can hop out of your RV and take a ranger-led boat tour on the tranquil waters of Lake Yellowstone. On this relaxing lake cruise you can soak in enchanting views of the Absaroka Mountains and lush pine forests. During this one-hour cruise you’ll learn about the natural history and wildlife of the country’s oldest national park.

Old Faithful

If you want to check an item off your bucket list during your RV vacation to Yellowstone, a visit to Old Faithful is a must! As the most famous of the park’s 500 geysers, Old Faithful erupts every one to two hours, shooting as much as 8,400 gallons of water up to 185 feet in the air. The fall is a perfect time of year to see this incredible spectacle with your own eyes when the park is less crowded.

Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

You won’t want to miss the chance to explore the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone during your fall RV trip to the nation’s oldest national park. The canyon is an fantastic sight as the Yellowstone river rushes through the colorful jagged rocks of the canyon walls. You can take a scenic auto tour by driving along the North or South Rim. You can also explore this amazing canyon on foot at several different scenic hikes on the North and South Rim.

Winter

Ranger-Led Evening Programs

If you want to learn about the magical natural wonders and cultural history of Yellowstone you can attend one of the park’s ranger-led evening programs. Regularly scheduled during the winter, you can hear exciting tales of adventure and fascinating facts about Yellowstone from the experts. You can park your trailer and head to the Yellowstone Forever building or the visitor center at Old Faithful to get the inside scoop from the rangers.

Snowshoeing

Another great way to explore the serenity of nature during your winter RV trip to Yellowstone is by snowshoeing. You can snowshoe along groomed trails or the untamed backcountry. If you want to snowshoe amidst scenic views of frozen rivers and forest-lined hills, you might enjoy the 8-mile Garnet Hill Loop. If you’re looking for an easy, short snowshoe hike you’ll love Indian Creek Loop Ski Trail near Mammoth Hot Springs. For those looking for a challenge, Avalanche Peak Trail is a strenuous trek, which features stunning panoramic views on the summit.

Snowcoach Tours

If you want to explore Yellowstone during the winter in the comfort of a heated vehicle you can hire a private company to take a snowcoach tour. These high-powered buses with special snow tires can take you all over Yellowstone, whether you want to see Old Faithful or explore Yellowstone’s Grand Canyon. This is a great way to experience magic of winter during your RV escape to Yellowstone National Park.

Snowmobiling

One of the best modes of transportation during the winter at Yellowstone is on a snowmobile. In fact, the only way to visit Old Faithful and the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone during the winter when the roads are closed is by snowmobile. You can bring your own machine, rent one from a private company, or take a guided tour. Once you park your camper and hit the trail you’ll cruise around this winter wonderland with ease.

Cross-Country Skiing

One of the best ways to explore the winter wonderland at Yellowstone is to grab your skis out of your camper. Whether you want to head out on your own or hire a private company for a guided tour, cross-country skiing allows you to glide across freshly fallen snow amidst frozen lakes and snow-capped mountains. Popular trails include the Roller Coast Ski Trails, Fern Cascades Trail, and Yellowstone Canyon Rim Trail. You’re welcome to ski along groomed trails and unplowed roads and trails in the backcountry.

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