We’ve got a rundown on the national park’s most popular campsites as well as nearby hotels and resorts.

Sage Lodge lobby mountain view
Courtesy of Sage Lodge

America’s first national park celebrates a birthday this month. March marks 150 years since Yellowstone was named a national park.

Located largely in the northwest corner of Wyoming, the park’s more than 2 million acres span active geysers like Old Faithful, roaming bison, the Yellowstone river, deep canyons, and more. Its geothermal areas “contain about half the world’s active geysers,” according to the National Park Service.

The park saw its busiest year on record in 2021, when more than 4.8 million visitors flocked to its gates for whitewater rafting, fishing, biking, and more. For the first time ever, the park welcomed more than a million visitors in a single month last July.

Bison group on the move at sunrise in Lamar Valley, a place you must see in Yellowstone
Lamar Valley

NPS / Jacob W. Frank

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Here at Sunset, we’ve spent unforgettable family vacations at the park, and found epic adventures whether we had only one or three days. We even crafted a Yellowstone trip that forms a 600-mile loop of breathtaking wonderment through Montana and Wyoming.

If you’re a first-time visitor, be sure to check out our Yellowstone 101 guide. And if you’re looking for something new, read on. We’ve got a rundown on the park’s most popular campsites as well as nearby hotels, some of which opened just in the last year.

Head’s up: You can now reserve a number of campgrounds as far out as six months in advance. Available to book on Recreation.gov, popular campgrounds like Indian Creek, Lewis Lake, Pebble Creek, Slough Creek, and Mammoth have 80% of individual campsites open for advanced reservations. The remaining 20% of available spots can be booked within two weeks of arrival, a move designed to allow for the flexibility of last-minute travelers.

Campsites

Lewis Lake

A more off-the-beaten-path camp experience, Lewis Lake’s 85 sites, which sit at 7,800 feet of elevation, are a short walk from from Yellowstone’s southeast shore of—you guessed it—Lewis Lake. This is not the place to go if you’re after cell and internet service. But for detachment and serenity, it’s difficult to beat. Those with canoes, kayaks, and motor boats are allowed to use them on the lake. Vaulted toilets and potable water are available. 

Mammoth

Mammoth Hot Springs area at sunset covered in snow at Yellowstone
Spectacular shot of Yellowstone Mammoth geyser in winter

kwiktor/Getty

The only Yellowstone campground open year-round, Mammoth features 85 sites adjacent to its namesake hot springs and array of smoldering terraces. The park’s north entrance in amenity-rich Gardiner, Montana, is just a short drive, so the area will inevitably be more populated. Proximity to nature, hiking, wildlife viewing, and historic sites like Fort Yellowstone—and flush toilets—make Mammoth a worthy stay nonetheless. 

Indian Creek

If Mammoth’s crowds aren’t your thing, venture a mere 8 miles south toward the more primitive solitude afforded by Indian Creek. Near the base of the Gallatin Mountains, 70 sites—best for tent campers—sit well off the main road in a forest teeming with hiking trails. Fishing enthusiasts will love the immediate proximity of the accessible Gardiner River. Toilets? Vaulted. Potable water? Yes. 

Slough Creek

Jacob W. Frank/NPS

Sixteen sites comprise this campground at the end of a 2-mile dirt road in Lamar Valley. Alongside its namesake creek are grounds that offer unprecedented wildlife viewing, hiking, and stargazing. Spaces at Slough Creek traditionally fill up fast, but the new reservation policy offers a stellar chance to snag a site where you might even hear the distant howl of Yellowstone’s renowned wolves from the coziness of your tent. The nearest amenities can be found 8 miles away at Tower Junction. Onsite vaulted toilets and potable water are available. 

Pebble Creek

In the Lamar Valley, located in the park’s northeastern corner, sits one of the park’s most isolated campgrounds. Bolstered by the stunning backdrop of the Absaroka Mountains, Pebble Creek‘s 27 sites offer a gateway to wildlife viewing and hiking. Fishing opportunities are also available at the nearby Soda Butte Creek. Luxuries in the immediate vicinity are scarce, but gas stations and other amenities can be found about 10 miles away in Cooke City. Vaulted toilets are on site.

Hotels

Amangani

Rocks and Minerals

Courtesy of Amangani

Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks are a short drive away if you indulge in accommodations at this Wyoming resort, where the interiors are as magnificent as the views. 

Big Sky Resort

Renovations will debut at Big Sky Resort’s Huntley Lodge and Summit Hotel, where more than 200 guest rooms each will boast a refreshed airy aesthetic. While reimagined, the Huntley remains family friendly with bunk bed lofts in some suites. It’s all just in time for a new high-speed chairlift on the mountain.

The Cloudveil

Marriott Cloudveil - Jr. Suite

Ryan Sheets Studio/Courtesy of The Cloudveil

Jackson Hole’s stunning natural beauty is at your fingertips outside this modern mountain hotel, which is situated just south of both Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks.

Montage Big Sky

Montage Big Sky lobby
Montage Big Sky lobby

Courtesy of Montage Big Sky

Modern alpine luxury abounds at the new Montage Big Sky resort, from guest-room views of the snowcapped Spanish Peaks to the indoor pool, where you can relax before or after a rejuvenating facial at the spa. Rooms and suites are bedecked in furs and stone-colored furnishings, not to mention opulent tubs for a soak.

Sage Lodge

The Grill at Sage Lodge, Pray, Montana (Courtesy of Sage Lodge)
The Grill at Sage Lodge in Pray, Montana

Courtesy of Sage Lodge

Just 35 minutes north of Yellowstone, the riverfront Montana resort opened a new grill with a menu highlighted by dishes with dry-aged beef and game. 

Under Canvas

Nestled about 10 minutes from the park’s western entrance, canvas tents with ensuite bathrooms dot this safari-style camp in Montana. Its summer season runs May 19 through Sept. 6.


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