Backcountry Campsites

Yellowstone has a designated backcountry campsite system, and a Backcountry Use Permit is required for all overnight stays. Each designated campsite has a maximum limit for the number of people and stock allowed per night. The maximum stay per campsite varies from 1 to 3 nights per trip. Campfires are permitted only in established fire pits. Wood fires are not allowed in some backcountry campsites. A food storage pole is provided at most designated campsites so that food and attractants may be secured from bears.

A new “firearms in parks” law is in effect as of Feb. 22, 2010. See Yellowstone’s Laws and Policies page for specific information.

Permits may be obtained only in person and no more than 48 hours in advance of your trip. Permits are available from most ranger stations and visitor centers. In order to obtain the best information on trail conditions, permits should be obtained from the ranger station or visitor center nearest to the area where your trip is to begin.

The Backcountry Use Permit is valid only for the itinerary and dates specified. Backcountry travelers must have their permits in possession while in the backcountry. Advance Reservations for Backcountry Campsites Although permits must be obtained in person no more than 48 hours in advance, backcountry campsites may be reserved in advance. Requests for reservations must be submitted by mail or in person. They cannot be made over the phone or by fax. Reservations are booked on a first come, first served basis. A confirmation notice, not a permit, is given or mailed to the camper. This confirmation notice must then be converted to the actual permit not more than 48 hours in advance of the first camping date. Details are provided on the confirmation notice. The reservation fee is $ 20.00 regardless of the number of nights out or the number of people involved. The fee is not refundable.

Forms for making an advance reservation are available at Yellowstone’s Backcountry Trip Planner, or by writing to:

Backcountry Office
P.O. Box 168
Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190
Or call: 307-344-2160.

Permits and Reservations Made Less Than 48 Hours in Advance

Because only a portion of the approximately 300 backcountry campsites are available for advance reservations, you may choose to wait until you arrive in the park to reserve your site(s) and obtain your permit. The $ 20.00 fee applies only to reservations made more than 48 hours in advance of the start of your trip.

Where to Get Your Permit

During the summer season (June – August), permits are available 7 days a week between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. at the following locations:

  • Bechler Ranger Station
  • Canyon Visitor Center
  • Grant Village Visitor Center
  • Bridge Bay Ranger Station
  • Mammoth Visitor Center
  • Old Faithful Ranger Station
  • South Entrance Ranger Station
  • Tower Ranger Station
  • West Yellowstone Visitor Information Center

Additionally, permits may sometimes be obtained from rangers on duty at the East Entrance. However, these rangers have other duties and may not be available to provide assistance at all times.

During the spring, fall, and winter seasons, ranger stations and visitor centers do not have set hours. To obtain a Backcountry Use Permit during these seasons, check the office hours posted at the nearest ranger station or visitor center.

Backcountry Camp Site Maps

This information is believed to be accurate, but you should check with the Backcountry Office before departing for a specific site.

  • Gallatin/Mammoth Area Campsites
  • Yellowstone River – Hellroaring Creek Area Campsites
  • Lamar Valley/Pebble Creek Area Campsites
  • Canyon Area Campsites
  • Canyon Lakes Area Campsites
  • East Yellowstone Lake/Thorofare Area Campsites
  • Yellowstone Lake Area Campsites
  • Heart Lake Area Campsites
  • Shoshone Lake Area Campsites
  • Old Faithful Area Campsites
  • Bechler/Old Faithful Area Campsites

If you are looking for a standard campground with amenities, my favorite campground in the park is Madison Campground.