Guide to Planning Your Summer Camping Trip to Yellowstone Country

Night skies, Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness Seth Royal Kroft Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness, Photo by Seth Royal Kroft

Montana’s Yellowstone Country is a camper’s mecca. A variety of options exist at every juncture, camping in Yellowstone National Park, or one of our state parks, National Forests, BLM lands, and privately owned campgrounds.  There are options for every type of camper, from full RV hookups to backpacking deep into the heart of YC.


Plan Early

If you’re considering a camping trip to Montana’s Yellowstone Country, it’s a good idea to start planning now. Camping spots still fill up quickly, particularly in Yellowstone National Park. In addition to the RV and tent sites, Yellowstone has 293 designated backcountry sites with food storage poles or boxes located at each site. You’ll need a reservation and a backcountry permit for all overnight stays, so be sure to plan ahead.

Start your planning by deciding what you would like to do: hiking, fishing, biking or all the above. If you like the water, those are some of the first to be reserved, but if you prefer to be off the beaten path, there are plenty of options! is where you can reserve most campsites, as well as For Yellowstone National Park, some campgrounds are managed by Remember, most spots within Yellowstone cannot accommodate oversized vehicles, so if your RV is over 40 feet, you will likely need to stay in one of the adjacent towns, which are also lovely!


Camping Gear

As for gear, this can be a bit of a hang-up for those who live in urban areas and don’t camp often. Fortunately, it’s not out of the question! Explore Rentals, located near the Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport, rents four-wheel drive autos (Subarus, 4x4 trucks, Suburbans and Sprinter Vans), and they also rent all the camping gear you would need, including bear spray! Big Boys Toys near Four Corners also rents camping gear, and while they don’t rent automobiles, they do rent watercraft and ATVs.

Beartooth Highway Andy Austin, Fishing Image Beartooth Highway, Photo by Andy Austin

Be Bear Safe

Speaking of bears, the National Park Service (NPS) has some great information about bear safety, but remember, you can encounter bears anywhere across the region. Keep all food and drinks stored safely in your automobile, or if you are backpacking, hung in a bear-safe container from a tree. Never bring food into a tent with you. Carry bear spray and know how to use it. Take this bear safety quiz to test your skills!


Meal Planning

And, of course, you’ll need a meal plan. If you’re not interested in doing a lot of cooking on your trip, you can generally find a good meal in short order, but you will want to be sure to bring enough water, snacks and beverages for in-between times. If you’re enthusiastic about cooking in the great outdoors, there are some fabulous places to stock up. Daniels Gourmet Meats in Bozeman or Matt’s Old Fashioned Butcher Shop and Deli in Livingston have fresh, frozen, and cured meats. Primal in Four Corners has a fantastic meat and fish counter along with some delicious ready-made salads, and White’s Market Place is a local grocer in West Yellowstone with a nice selection of supplies. Watch for local farmers markets for fresh veggies, baked goods, and preserves.

RV at Mallards Rest, Paradise Valley, Sarah Hubbart Mallards Rest, Paradise Valley, Photo by Sarah Hubbart


Finally, for those who want to enjoy the outdoor experience but with a few more creature comforts, there are several glamping (glamorous camping) options. In Gardiner, Yellowstone Tipis, and Dreamcatcher Tipis at Yellowstone are great options close to the Park and other great adventures like whitewater rafting, eBiking, hiking and soaking in hot springs. Bodhi Farms, just outside Bozeman, has luxury tipis, an onsite restaurant, a sauna and a creekside tipi spa! Under Canvas has beautiful wall tents with locations in both West Yellowstone and Gardiner, which is another excellent option for exploring Yellowstone.

However you choose to experience your camping excursion, one thing is certain: the starry nights, fresh air and wide open spaces are sure to comfort you.

We hope to see you soon!