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For many people, Yellowstone camping is a big part of their visit. Sitting around a campfire, cooking outdoors, and sleeping under the stars creates memories of Yellowstone you won’t soon forget. This article will help you figure out the “how and where” of camping near Yellowstone, North Entrance in Gardiner, Montana.

There are several types of camping: car camping in a campground, dispersed camping, and RV camping. I’ll cover the best places for each of these camping styles, plus the etiquette to ensure you have the best experience.

Gardiner and other Yellowstone gateway towns are busier than ever in the summer. More people are visiting than these small towns are prepared to accommodate. In addition to making reservations before you arrive whenever possible, I encourage you to be patient and kind — everyone is doing their best to make sure you have a great vacation, but resources are limited.

When planning your Yellowstone camping trip, keep in mind that you can’t just set your tent (or RV) just anywhere. There are rules even for dispersed camping in the National Forest. In Yellowstone National Park camping is only allowed in designated campgrounds.

bear storage sign and bear box in a campground near Yellowstone's north entrance

Camping Near Yellowstone, North Entrance

Around Gardiner, you’ll find private and Forest Service campgrounds, as well as dispersed camping options on the National Forest. 

Table Of Contents

Grizzly sow foraging, Yellowstone National Park

Camping in Bear Country 

Both grizzly and black bears live in and around Yellowstone. It’s wonderful living and camping in proximity to these wild creatures and we have a responsibility to protect them. One way we can do that is by not luring them into our campsites. Human-bear interactions are almost always bad for the bear (unless you are watching from a distance). 

The main thing to remember when camping in bear country is to keep a clean camp.

All food and fragrant items (water containers, stoves, pet food and bowls, garbage, toothpaste, sunscreen, deodorant etc) need to be stored in a bear-proof container whenever you aren’t right next to it. This could be a bear box, which are found at some campgrounds, or a vehicle. Some coolers are bear-proof when properly locked, though most aren’t. 

If a bear comes into your camp, grab your food and get into your car as quickly as possible. 

You can read about what to do if you see a grizzly bear while hiking here.

Campfire Dos and Don’ts

two people sitting in chairs around a campfire on a camping trip near Yellowstone

It’s one of the best parts of camping — gathering around a fire for s’mores and songs. Or just staring at the flames. But, wildfires are no joke around here and they are often started with a wayward campfire. 

Check with the Gardiner District of the Custer Gallatin National Forest to find out what the current fire regulations are. You can look online or stop by the Forest Service Ranger Station in Gardiner.

Keep fires in a designated campfire ring. We take our Solo Stove camping so everything is totally contained (and barely any smoke!) When dispersed camping, use existing fire rings and avoid creating new fire rings.

Always make sure your fire is 100% out. Pour water on it, stir it up, pour more water or dirt. 

Disposing of Human Waste

Ok, we have to talk about poop here. We all do it and we need to think about where we do it. If you are staying in a campground with bathroom facilities of some sort, do it there. 

For dispersed camping, plan to dig a hole at least 6-inches deep and bury it. Pack your toilet paper out — yup, it’s gross, but zippered plastic bags are your friends. I make a little potty kit that includes a titanium shovel, toilet paper, extra zip top bags, and hand sanitizer. I keep mine in a small waterproof bag like this one, but another zip top bag works if you wrap the shovel in something so it doesn’t cut through the bag. 

Alternatively, you can use a Biffy Bag / Wag Bag and carry everything out. 

The bonus is that you now have a kit take hiking in case nature calls…in nature.

Showers Near Yellowstone

Unless you are staying in an RV park with a bathhouse, showers can be hard to come by for campers. 

You don’t have to stay grungy, however, there are a couple options for showers in Gardiner or nearby: 

  • North Entrance Washtub – coin operated laundry and public showers
  • Yellowstone Hot Springs – use of showers included with entry.
  • Chico Hot Springs – use of showers included with entry.

Camping Supplies in Gardiner

If you left an important piece of camping equipment at home, never fear, there are places to get general camping supplies in Gardiner. 

  • Gardiner Market, 701 Scott Street West
  • Flying Pig’s Camp Store, 511 Scott Street West
  • Mammoth General Store, Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone 

For a larger camping equipment selection, try Dan Bailey’s Outdoor Co. in Livingston.


Campgrounds Near Yellowstone / Gardiner 

Public Campgrounds Near Gardiner and Yellowstone’s North Entrance

Mammoth Campground in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, United States

Mammoth Campground

A smallish campground in the bend of the road heading up to Mammoth Hot Springs. This is the only year round campground in the park. Walking access to the Boiling River, abundant wildlife in the area, close to fishing, hiking, and the Mammoth Terraces. 

  • Location: Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park 
  • Tent sites: 85 total non-electric for tents or RVs 
  • RV sites: 85 total non-electric for tents or RVs
  • Amenities: flush toilets, sinks with water, potable drinking water 
  • Reservations: recreation.gov
  • Open dates: Year round
  • Fee: $25/night
Roadside sign in Gardiner, Montana with directions to Jardine, Old Yellowstone River trail access and other destinations.

Bear Creek Campground

  • Location: Five miles NE of Gardiner on Jardine Rd, 5.5 mi NE on Bear Creek Rd (Forest Rd 493). 
  • Tent sites: dispersed 
  • RV sites: Access road not suitable for vehicles longer than 21 feet.
  • Amenities: vault toilets, no water 
  • Reservations: first-come, first-served
  • Open dates: June 15- October 31 (weather dependent) 
  • Fee: None

Timber Camp Campground

  • Location: Five miles NE of Gardiner on Jardine Rd, 4 miles NE on Forest Rd 493
  • Tent sites: dispersed 
  • RV sites: Access road not suitable for vehicles longer than 21 feet. 
  • Amenities: vault toilets, no water, stock corral 
  • Reservations: first-come, first-served
  • Open dates: June 15- October 31 (weather dependent) 
  • Fee: None

Eagle Creek Campground

Aerial view of Eagle Creek Campground near Yellowstone and Gardiner
  • Location: Two miles NE of Gardiner on Jardine Rd..
  • Tent sites: 16
  • RV sites: Access road not suitable for vehicles longer than 48 feet.
  • Amenities: vault toilets, no water, picnic tables, fire grates, stock corral
  • Reservations: first-come, first-served
  • Open dates: year round
  • Fee: $15.00 single, $30 double, $5.00 each additional vehicle 

Canyon Campground

Canyon Campground sign for camping near yellowstone
  • Location: 16 mi N of Gardiner on US 89
  • Tent sites: 17
  • RV sites: Campground roads not suitable for vehicles longer than 48 feet.
  • Amenities: vault toilets, no water, picnic tables, fire grates
  • Reservations: first-come, first-served
  • Open dates: year round
  • Fee: $10.00, $5.00 each additional vehicle

Carbella Fishing Access Site 

  • Location: Twenty miles north of Gardiner on US 89, 100 yards west on Tom Miner Road. 
  • Tent sites: 10 – 15
  • RV sites: non-electric, same as tent sites
  • Amenities: vault toilets, no water, picnic tables, fire grates
  • Reservations: first-come, first-served
  • Open dates: TEMPORARILY CLOSED 
  • Fee: None

Tom Miner Campground

  • Location: 17 miles NW of Gardiner on US 89, 12 mi SW on Tom Miner Rd
  • Tent sites: 16 + 2 group sites
  • RV sites: non-electric, same as tent sites
  • Amenities: vault toilets, no water, picnic tables, fire grates, corral
  • Reservations: first-come, first-served
  • Open dates: June 1- October 31 (weather dependent) 
  • Fee: $12.00, $5.00 each additional vehicle

Snowbank Campground

  • Location: North of Gardiner on US 89 37 miles, east on Mill Creek Road 11 miles 
  • Tent sites: 10
  • RV sites: non-electric, same as tent sites. This campground is not recommended for RV’s over 30′ in length.
  • Amenities: Picnic tables and campfire rings are provided, as are vault toilets, drinking water and trash collection.
  • Reservations: Online at recreation.gov 
  • Open dates: Memorial Day – September
  • Fee: $20 / night

Pine Creek Campground

  • Location: North on US 89 for 37 miles, 0.08 east on Mill Creek Road, 7 miles north on State Hwy 540, right on Luccock Park Rd for 2.7 miles. 
  • Tent sites: 26
  • RV sites: non-electric, same as tent sites. 
  • Amenities: Tables and campfire rings are provided, as are vault toilets, drinking water and trash collection.
  • Reservations: Online at recreation.gov 
  • Open dates: Memorial Day – Labor Day
  • Fee: $20 / night

Private Campgrounds Near Yellowstone and Gardiner

Yellowstone RV Park 

  • 46 RV sites overlooking the Yellowstone River with full hook-ups
  • 1 mile from the North Entrance of Yellowstone National Park
  • Pull-thru & back-in sites
  • Tent sites
  • Free cable TV
  • Clean showers and laundry facility
  • Up to 6 people for the same rate
  • Free Wifi Access 

Rocky Mountain RV Park + Cabins 

  • 70 RV sites with full hook-ups
  • 4 blocks from Yellowstone and in Gardiner, MT
  • Pull-thru & back-in sites
  • Cabins 
  • Free cable TV in deluxe sites
  • Clean showers and laundry facility
  • Free Wifi Access
  • Miniature golf

Yellowstone Destinations Campground

RV Campground at Yellowstone Hot Springs

(Formerly LaDuke Springs Campground)

  • 8 RV sites
  • 8 miles from Gardiner and Yellowstone’s North Entrance
  • Pull-thru & back-in sites
  • port-a-potties, shower house at adjacent hot springs
  • potable water provided

Dispersed Camping Near Yellowstone & Gardiner 

If you find all the Gardiner, MT campgrounds are full, are looking for free camping near Yellowstone, or want more of a wilderness experience, dispersed camping is an option. 

Dispersed camping is allowed on most of the Custer Gallatin National Forest surrounding Gardiner. The key here is to consult a map and make sure you are not camping on private land (trust me, it happens). 

The Forest Service defines it this way:

“Dispersed camping is the term used for camping anywhere in the National Forest OUTSIDE of a designated campground. Dispersed camping means no services (such as trash removal), and little or no facilities (such as tables and fire pits) are provided.” 

Here are the rules: 

  • Groups over 75 people are not allowed.
  • Dispersed camping is NOT allowed in the vicinity of developed recreation areas.
  • You need to be self-contained. No amenities are provided; such as water, restrooms or trash cans. Please pack out all your trash.
  • You may camp in a dispersed area for up to 16 days. After 16 days, you must move at least 5 road miles for camping in another dispersed area and you can not return to your original campsite for 7 days.
  • Please use existing fire rings and avoid creating new fire rings.
  • Contact your local district office for information on fire restrictions. It is your responsibility to know if fire restrictions are in effect before you go camping.
  • Be bear aware and know the food storage regulations before camping. These regulations are strictly enforced.

My favorite places for dispersed camping are:

  • in the Bear Creek area north of Jardine off the Bear Creek Road (see Timber Camp and Bear Creek Campgrounds above) 
  • in the Tom Miner Basin west of Hwy 89 on the east side of the Gallatin Range,
  • in the Mill Creek Drainage west of Hwy 89 on the west side of the Absaroka Range.

Other Yellowstone Campgrounds and Lodging Options

A bison grazing amidst campers at the Bay Bridge Campground in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA.

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