Winter Camping in Montana's Yellowstone Country!
For most, camping season ends when the snow flies. But if you're up for a unique adventure, expand your experiences into winter camping. In Montanan’s Yellowstone Country, the options run the gamut — and many of the areas in our region get less snowfall, providing plenty of camping options year round.
There are many benefits to getting out this time of year; the solitude, night skies, and winter adventures such as skiing, snowshoeing or snowmobiling are unlike what most people experience. Of course, there are a few things to remember when planning. Going during the nearly full or full moon provides you plenty of light. Night skies in Montana are unlike more densely populated places — it gets very dark when you are outside of a town, and the stars will blow your mind!
A standard tent warm to 15 degrees should be sufficient, but they make winter-specific tents if you are inclined. Sleeping bag temperatures vary depending on your sleeping style, but a good rule of thumb is to bring one that is warm to a little lower than the nighttime temps. Be sure to get at least one, if not two, sleeping pads to keep you warm underneath. You’ll also want a fire starter, an ax for chopping firewood, a backpacking stove (be sure to keep your canisters warm) and an insulated container to keep your water from freezing.
As for where to go, there are several lovely options in Yellowstone Country. To get out of the fray, Half Moon Campground at the base of the Crazy Mountain Range is open year-round. It’s 24 miles Northwest of Big Timber and has vault toilets and picnic tables. If you’re visiting Yellowstone National Park, Canyon Campground in Yankee Jim Canyon near Gardiner is 19 miles from the North Entrance to the Park. Chisolm Campground in Hyalite Canyon is another excellent recreational base, with miles and miles of Nordic ski trails, snowshoeing and backcountry skiing opportunities.
If you’re looking for less-snowy areas to explore, there are several year-round campgrounds near Big Timber, Fishtail and Nye, as well as the Greycliff campground in Three Forks. Or, if you have a camper or RV, we suggest the Bozeman Hot Springs Campground. It’s a great place to set up camp — you can explore activities around Bozeman by day and come home to a warm soak in the hot springs at night.
Of course, winter camping isn’t for everyone, and please be sure to do your due diligence before setting out on this type of excursion. If you’re curious but not yet ready to venture out, there are plenty of forest service cabins to rent! You can learn more about some of them on our blog.
For those inclined to give winter camping a try, enjoy!