8 RV Tips for Yellowstone National Park
Bring your RV home where the buffalo roam, but follow these tips and tricks.
Yellowstone is great for RV camping, but RVers should avoid mountain roads, know where to dump and store food away from bears. Follow these eight tips to RV camping in Yellowstone.
1. Routes To Avoid
Driving an RV can feel like riding on the back of an enormous dinosaur when you are traveling on narrow mountainous roads. That’s why it’s important to research your route to and from Yellowstone National Park to avoid driving stressful steep grades and harrowing hairpin turns. For starters, you may want to avoid the Bighorn Mountains east of Cody, Wyo., which is the closest town to the park’s East Entrance. Also, if you’re wanting to be cautious, you may avoid the Beartooth Highway that links Red Lodge, Montana to the park’s Northeast Entrance. There are safer, alternate roads to get you where you need to go.
However, reader Kim Gipple had this to say about driving an RV over Beartooth, “We wondered how hard it would be to navigate an RV on this road. The road was smooth and well maintained and there are guardrails where needed. Curves and pull-offs are well marked. Speed limits, including those around curves, are appropriate even for an RV.”
“Other drivers and cyclists were cautious and respectful,” Gipple says. “Overall, this was a piece of cake!” Read the full story about her 31-day national park RV adventure.
2. RV Size Really Matters
To make a Yellowstone site reservation, you need to give the combined length of your RV and any other vehicles or towed vehicles. Know the length of your truck in addition to the length of your trailer when fully open. Sites accommodating a maximum combined length of 40 feet or more are limited. Most campsites in Yellowstone will not accommodate oversized units. If you arrive at the campground/RV Park with equipment that differs from your reservation specs, campground staff will not be able to accommodate you.
3. Know the RV Campgrounds Inside Yellowstone
RVs are welcome at all campgrounds within Yellowstone, but the following seven are the most RV-friendly. All campgrounds require reservations, with the exception of Mammoth Campground Oct. 15-Apr. 1.
Fishing Bridge– The Upper Loop of the RV park has 172 renovated and paved sites ranging from 40-feet to 95-feet in length. The 40-foot sites are double-wide and back-in. Most of the new sites include pull-through drives, and all of the Upper Loop has upgraded 50 amp/30 amp and 110-volt electrical service and picnic tables. (All other sites/loops were not renovated. There are 30- to 35-foot double-wide, back-in sites in other loops and 30-foot single-wide back-in sites. Some RV sites are single-wide and will not accommodate side-by-side parking of RV and a tow-vehicle. Reserve at www.yellowstonenationalparklodges.com/lodging/camping/
Bridge Bay – Bridge Bay has RV, tent and combination RV/tent sites. RVs up to 40 feet long can fit into pull-through and back-in sites. The sites may not be level, so plan accordingly. There are no utility hookups, but an RV dump station is just outside the campground entrance near the Bridge Bay Marina and Fishing Bridge RV Park. Whether the dump station is open is dependent on weather and may not be available early summer and late fall because of freezing temperatures. Reserve at www.yellowstonenationalparklodges.com/lodging/camping/
Canyon – Canyon Campground offers RV, tent and combination RV/tent sites. There are no hookups. RVs up to 40 feet long can use pull-through and back-in sites. Sites may not be level. There is an RV dump station in the campground. The availability of the dump station is dependent on weather and will be closed with freezing temperatures. Pay showers and coin laundry are available. Reserve at www.yellowstonenationalparklodges.com/lodging/camping/
Grant Village – Grant Village has more than 400 sites that are a mix of tent, RV and combination tent/RV sites. It can accommodate RVs up to 40 feet in certain sites. The sites may be back-in or pull through. Sites may not be level. There are no hook-ups, but there is an RV dump station, which is open, pending whether freezing temperatures close it temporarily. Reserve at www.yellowstonenationalparklodges.com/lodging/camping/
Madison – This campground accommodates RVs up to 40 feet long may be accommodated in pull-through and back-in sites. There are more than 270 individual sites and three group sites. The campground can accommodate RVs and tents. There is a dump station. Reserve at www.yellowstonenationalparklodges.com/lodging/camping/
Mammoth – You’ll find sites that can accommodate rigs up to 30 feet in length at this campground and generator use is allowed. There are 82 sites available, some sites year-round on a first-come, first-served basis. Reserve at www.recreation.gov.
Norris – Norris Campground’s 111 sites include those that can fit an RV up to 50 feet in length. The campground has flush toilets and generator use is allowed. Reserve at www.recreation.gov.
4. Full-Service for RVs Is at Fishing Bridge
Fishing Bridge Campground is the only park campground with full hook-ups and a dump station. It underwent renovations in 2022 which include new and larger sites. Four comfort stations were renovated to current ADA (accessibility) standards.
It’s easily accessible from the East Entrance, a 53-mile drive from Cody, Wyo. RV sites here accommodate a tow unit and towed unit side by side. A 35-foot site will accommodate an 18-foot truck and a 35-foot unhooked trailer side by side in the site. Adjust for slide outs.
Be aware that grizzly bears frequent this area north of Yellowstone Lake. For this reason, Fishing Bridge RV Park is for hard-sided campers only. No tents or tent campers are allowed.
5. Leveling with You
Yellowstone’s RV sites at Bridge Bay, Canyon, Grant Village and Madison campgrounds have dumping stations and are either pull-through or back-in with limited width for slide-outs and may not be level. Mammoth is the only park campground open year-round and can accommodate RVs up to 75-feet-long. There are no hook-ups or dump station.
6. Best Yellowstone Entrances to Park Your RV
The West and North Entrances give you the quickest access to iconic park attractions such as Mammoth Hot Springs and Old Faithful with the least amount of driving and hill climbing. You’ll be able to spend more time outdoors, enjoying Yellowstone’s incredible sights.
Both West Yellowstone, Mont., at the park’s West Entrance, and Gardiner, Mont., at the North Entrance, are home to a variety of full-service, privately owned RV parks.
7. Other Gateway Options
From Yellowstone’s South Entrance, you can drive two miles to Headwaters Campground, which has an RV park with hook-ups, pull-through sites and a dump station. It’s also close to Grand Teton National Park.
Near the Northeast Entrance, there is Soda Butte Campground with 20 RV spaces, 1 mile from Cooke City along US-212. This campground has no hookups.
From the East Entrance, drive 29 miles to Green Creek Inn and RV Park, which is approximately half way between Yellowstone and Cody, Wyoming. Green Creek offers pull-through and back-in sites, as well as water, electricity and sewer.
8. Keep Your Food Away From Bears
Bears have incredibly strong sense of smell, so avoid a run-in with them by storing all your food-related items from forks and trash to grills and coolers in a hard-sided vehicle or in your campground’s shared food storage box.
Pssst. Want to receive a printed insider’s guide to Yellowstone, where to stay and what to do? Order our free stunning Yellowstone Trip Planner filled with an inspiring itinerary, gorgeous photographs and everything you need to plan your dream vacation.