8 RV Tips for Yellowstone National Park

Bring your home where the buffalo roam, but avoid mountain roads, know where to dump, and store your food away from bears.
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RV at Yellowstone's Madison Campground. Photo by NPS

RV at Yellowstone's Madison Campground. Photo by NPS

Bring your home where the buffalo roam.

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, avoid the Bighorn Mountains east of Cody, Wyoming, which is the closest town to the park’s East Entrance. Also, 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. 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 oversize 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 Park

RVs are welcome at all campgrounds within Yellowstone (size restrictions may apply). Five campgrounds in Yellowstone National Park require reservations. They include Bridge Bay, Canyon, Fishing Ridge RV, Grant, and Madison. Reserve these campsites through Xanterra Parks & Resorts.

Fishing BridgeClosed summer 2020; possibly opening early September 2020
RVs up to 40 feet or less and a towed/towing vehicle of 25-feet or less. No tents. All sites are double vehicle width wide. No picnic tables or fire grates. 

Bridge Bay - RV + Vehicle up to 40 feet or less and a tent. No hookups.

Canyon - RV + Vehicle up to 40 feet or less and a tent. Also RV-only sites. No hookups.

Grant - RV + Vehicle up to 40 feet or less and a tent. No hookups.

Madison - RV + Vehicle up to 40 feet or less and a tent. No hookups.

Advance reservations: 307-344-7311
Same-day reservations: 307-344-7901
TDD: 307-344-5395


4. Full-Service for RVs are at Fishing Bridge

RV checking into Yellowstone's Fishing Bridge Campground. Photo by NPS Diane Renkin

RV checking into Yellowstone's Fishing Bridge Campground. Photo by NPS Diane Renkin

Closed summer 2020; possibly opening early September 2020

Fishing Bridge Campground is the only park campground with full hook-ups and a dump station. It’s easily accessible from the East Entrance, a 53-mile drive from Cody, Wyoming. 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 (although Bridge Bay and Grant will have construction on their dump stations in summer 2016- no specific dates released yet), 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, Montana, at the park’s West Entrance, and Gardiner, Montana at the North Entrance, are home to a variety of full-service, privately owned RV parks.

7. Other Gateway Options

There are more than 60 private RV Parks and public campgrounds in the eastern region of Idaho that give you quick access to Yellowstone's West Entrance. Visit rvidaho.org or call (800) RV-IDAHO for your free Idaho campground guide.

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. 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, Wyo. 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.

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