Explore Yellowstone National Park in Your RV
The prestigious Yellowstone National Park is at the top of many an RV bucket list. With unique geysers and hot springs, awe-inspiring wildlife populations, and nearly 3,500 square miles of glorious natural landscapes, it's no mystery why so many travelers flock to the park every year. By the end of your trip, your camera roll is sure to contain dozens of shots from the magnificent Rocky Mountains, dramatic valleys and canyons, and lush surrounding forests. When you add world-famous landmarks like Old Faithful and the Grand Prismatic Spring, you might have a hard time dragging yourself home at the end of your trip. Does all this talk make you eager to explore Yellowstone National Park in your RV? Plan the perfect adventure with these tips for your next Yellowstone experience.
Booking Your Campsite
Yellowstone National Park boasts 12 gorgeous campgrounds with 2,000 campsites within the park itself. The good news is that every single campground offers RV camping—with some size restrictions. Unfortunately, campgrounds fill up fast, especially since most of them operate on a first-come, first-serve basis. If you want to book a site in advance in one of the five reservable campgrounds, you’ll have to start looking at least a year ahead of time. You can make a reservation at the following campgrounds:
Bridge Bay, Grant, and Madison allow an RV and vehicle up to 40 feet in length, along with a tent.
Canyon allows an RV and vehicle up to 40 feet in length plus a tent. Canyon also offers RV-only sites.
Fishing Bridge allows an RV up to 40 feet in length, along with a towing vehicle of 25 feet or less. Tents are not allowed, and there are no picnic tables or fire grates.
Fishing Bridge is the only full hookup RV site within the park. However, there are several campgrounds outside Yellowstone National Park that offer various amenities. For example, Yellowstone Grizzly within the charming town of West Yellowstone offers full hookup campsites for RVers visiting the park and surrounding area. It’s also important to note that Mammoth is the only campground within the park that’s open all year long. This campground has no hookups or dumping stations, but it can accommodate RVs up to 75 feet in length.
Hitting the Road
The park has five entrance gates: north, south, west, east, and northeast. As you plan your route, make sure you choose the best gate from which to enter the park. The north and west entrances offer the fastest routes toward some of the park’s most iconic landmarks, like Old Faithful or the Mammoth Hot Springs. The northeast gate arguably has the most beautiful scenery, but reaching it in an RV means navigating the steep paths and switchbacks of Beartooth Highway. You might be better off finding a safer alternative. No matter which entrance you choose, take the time to research the roads leading up to it as well as how the gate connects to your campsite and the park locations you want to explore.
Staying Safe in the Campground
There are a few safety tips you must keep in mind as you explore Yellowstone in your RV. Many of these tips revolve around interacting with the wildlife. Yellowstone National Park is home to some magnificent creatures, including bison, bears, elk, mountain lions, bighorn sheep, and wolves. While you should take time to admire these locals during your stay, a respectful distance is key to keeping you and your group safe. Never approach or provoke wild animals, no matter their size or location. At your campsite, keep trash and all food-related items in a secure space like your vehicle or the campground’s shared food storage box to avoid attracting bears.
Enjoying Your Stay
Once you’ve planned the practical parts of your trip, you can focus on making the most of your RV adventure. Yellowstone National Park offers enough sights, activities, and experiences to fill several trips. The opportunities only grow when you start exploring the nearby towns and campgrounds beyond the park’s borders. These ideas can help you make the most of your trip.
You’ll have to spend weeks at Yellowstone to see everything the park has to offer, but a few attractions stand out among the rest. Of course, you’ll want to cross a visit to Old Faithful off your bucket list. This iconic geyser erupts around every hour and a half, so make sure you head to the surrounding village at least once during your stay. Be sure to catch the intensely colorful Grand Prismatic Spring as well. While these two attractions are well-known examples of Yellowstone’s unique natural formations, they aren’t the only sights worth catching. Visit Norris Geyser Basin to explore Yellowstone’s oldest thermal area or stroll along the boardwalks of the fascinating Mammoth Hot Spring Terraces. Keep in mind that Yellowstone is a massive attraction for travelers from all across the world. If you want to avoid crowds, try hitting up the most iconic spots early in the morning or later in the evening. You can then spend the days exploring the seemingly endless miles of hiking trails throughout the park.
Planning for the Season
Summer is easily the most popular season for Yellowstone, but there’s no wrong time to visit the park. Just make sure you prepare accordingly for the weather. The park features high elevations and unpredictable weather. Even if you travel in the middle of summer, pack cold weather gear for those chilly mountain nights. Summer also brings a lot of road work to the park and its surrounding areas, so be sure to plan for traffic jams and longer drive times. For a quieter experience, you can visit Yellowstone in late fall and winter. Colder weather brings an immense sense of tranquility to the park, especially if you have the chance to explore an untouched snowy landscape. However, you must prepare both yourself and your RV for the weather. Be sure to winterize your vehicle with products such as heating pads for pipes, valves, and RV holding tanks for sale at UltraHeat. An RV skirt, internal heaters, and other winterizing products are also crucial for a safe and cozy experience in the cold of a Yellowstone winter. Finally, no matter what season you travel in, pack enough supplies to last a couple of extra days in the park. You never know when poor weather or other mishaps will keep you in the campground longer than expected. Backup supplies can turn these situations into a slightly extended vacation rather than a dire emergency.