Camping in Glacier & Yellowstone

Discussion in 'Americas' started by Essnowyt, Apr 7, 2018.

  1. Essnowyt

    Essnowyt Been here awhile

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    Hello Adv'ers.

    At risk of another Glacier & Yellowstone thread, I have questions about about camping.

    I am planning a two week trip from Milwaukee, WI to Glacier, then Yellowstone, then Pikes Peak, the MOA rally in DesMoines and then back home. I am planning this adventure for June, 30 to July 15th. The first week coincides a plant shutdown at work, and the second week I am taking as vacation. So unfortunately, my travel dates are not flexible.

    I have read that camping in both Glacier and Yellowstone is available. However, I am finding that most of the in park sites are not reserve-able. I imagine most times of the year a traveler could roll up and get a camp site with no problems. However, my dates have me visiting these places over the forth of July holiday. So, I am expecting the parks and other areas to be packed. Is it reasonable that a traveler could find a camping location in the parks or just outside, without reservation? My fear is being told, "Sorry we're full", at every campground within a reasonable distance of the parks.

    So, what should I expect for challenges with finding a camping location in Glacier & Yellowstone between July 1st and July 10th?

    Tentative plan:
    June 30th. Depart MKE, saddle sore to Eastern MT.
    July 1 Make it to Kalispel/Glacier area.
    July 2-4, Explore Glacier
    July 5th Travel to Yellowstone (thinking West Yellowstone)
    July 6-9 Explore Yellowstone
    July 10 travel to CO.
    July 11 Pikes Peak
    July 12 Travel to Omaha (Family)
    July 13 Travel to DesMoines for MOA Rally
    July 14 MOA Rally
    July 15 Travel Home to MKE.

    Thank you,

    Snowy.
    #1
  2. viajero

    viajero Too old to be a nOOb

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    Although my experiences camping in both parks are a bit dated (1999), I'll offer these thoughts.

    I never had reservations for any of the approximately 10 days I camped in these parks in a similar time frame.

    I didn't always get my first choice of site, but always found one.

    I always tried to get a site early in the day, like right after lunchtime, at the latest.

    I used the "hiker-biker" sites for several nights.

    Spent three nights in the Canadian portion of Glacier. First night spent in overflow area. Not ideal, but survivable.
    #2
  3. Bayner

    Bayner Long timer

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    That's definitely in the prime season. I think you'll be fine as long as you are flexible and start looking for a site early enough in the day. You may find yourself outside the park, especially Yellowstone as it does tend to get filled up. There's camping just out of the north and west gates for sure, and obviously there's the Tetons to the south that tend to be a little less busy. I've never tried to camp in Glacier so I can't comment on that.
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  4. froger

    froger Been here awhile

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    We camped in the National forest close to the northeast corner of the park. It's nice country, and was not near as crowded as the middle of the park. Down south by the lakes it wasn't that full either, least not the time I was there.

    On a busy morning the West entrance is best avoided if possible. They have four booths selling pass's, then dump the whole shebang onto the same single lane road that just cant handle it. Hundred car strings are the order of the day. Least till you get into the park a ways. Kind of takes the fun out of it.
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  5. djroszina

    djroszina Long timer

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    The problem with Yellowstone is that it's huge. The good thing is that it's huge. Once your in there alot of the campgrounds are many miles and hours from an exit. Most campgrounds have hiker, biker, overflow areas that when asking the CG host and stating your very uncomfortable riding at night in the park with all the wildlife...well, they may give you a look, but then point to where you can set up.
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  6. thetourist

    thetourist Just passing thru

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    If you are gravel capable. There is a gravel road on the west side of Glacier, both inside and outside the park border, to Polebridge, where there is a park entrance..Lots of campgrounds.
    Google Polebridge camping. I've camped at Bowman Lake ad it was a nice campground. Lots of rules about the bears, serious bear country.
    The road inside the park is one lane, On much of it, if you meet a car you both will have to stop. then figure a way to pass.
    On the NE corner. I recommend going into Many Glaciers Lodge for tea or lunch. Breat views from the lunch room or porch.
    Also recommend the Babb Steak House if you are a carnivore.
    Park traffic is not so bad early in the morning. Remember the sun is up by 5am. The best pictures are at the golden hour

    Yellowstones West Entrance is less used
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  7. jonz

    jonz Miles are my mantra

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    The West Yellowstone entrance is the busiest entrance of the park. Maybe that's a mis type.

    I don't know about camping in YNP, but if you want to camp outside the West entrance, I can give you some ideas. On 4th of July weekend, even most of the forest service campgrounds are full. Since you're showing up just after, more sites will be available. If you decide you want to camp near West Yellowstone, I can give you some recommendations. Lots of campgrounds outside the park. I know several quieter forest service campgrounds along the west shore of Hebgen Lake off Denny Creek Road but it's a little way to the entrance.
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  8. cyclopathic

    cyclopathic Long timer

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    We were there in 2016 (both Gaciier and Jellystone) and 2017 (Glacier) and it is a nightmare to get a site there this time of the year. Get reservations if you can.

    In Yellowstone you can camp outside the park there are many NF campsites along Beartooth. Which will be open? good question; depends on snowfall. There's also a state park camp by the lake on eastern approach from Cody, and some campsites along Beartooth had RV only no motorcycle signs. Regardless you should be able to find something before Chief Joseph if you come early enough.

    If there isn't camping in Glacier Waterton on Canadian side could be a good alternative, just bring your passport good luck.

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  9. jonz

    jonz Miles are my mantra

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    That reminds me. Doesn't an inmate own a campground west of Cody near Buffalo Bill reservoir?
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  10. PittsDriver

    PittsDriver Been here awhile

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    We camped in the Lewis Lake campground a few years ago. No problem finding tent sites in late August. Some nice secluded sites there with bear boxes available in the parking lot for anything you have that might attract their attention. We had a pack of wolves roam through our camp site in the middle of the night. No campers or wolves were harmed but dang, those dudes are very large and apparently very well fed.

    I'm going to say that I was completely underwhelmed with YNP. On that particular ride we'd been to Glacier, the Big Horns, and the Black Hills and any of those kicked YNP's butt - unless you're just a huge fan of steaming ground.
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  11. Switchglide12

    Switchglide12 Been here awhile

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    Can't speak for Glacier never been there, but in Yellowstone as long as you show up early you can find spots. I did it in 2016 called few month early they told me everything was booked. I showed up no reservation was able to find camping spot all 3 nights. This was in August.
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  12. Essnowyt

    Essnowyt Been here awhile

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    Thank you everyone for your input.

    I guess I will try to find and reserve a campsite at both locations for my arrival day for sure. Maybe then pack up in the morning and explore more interior location. Or maybe I will have to stay and just ride into the parks. I guess that is not so bad. This is after all a motorcycle vacation.

    Great info about the west entrance being a bottle neck. The NPS.gov site even states come early, peak time is 9-11am. What I can not find is when the gates open. If I want to attempt photos at the Golden hour, I may be moving at 4am. <This might be a fool hardy idea while on vacation, but I will have a few cameras with me.> If I camp outside the park, how early can one enter to beat this rush?

    Another area of concern I have is camping with the wild life. I have camped a few time in Northern Wisconsin but with a car. There the cooler went into the car and that was that. Well, this time I wont have the car to keep food safe. I don't expect to have much food with me. But I may still have snacks. And those snacks would smell tasty to Yogi Bear and friends. Correct me, but I'm guessing the food boxes are kind of a community space? Go there and park your food and hope no hungry humans take your Oreo's. Food is not the only thing that will smell. All my riding gear will smell. How crazy does one, no wait. How SAFE does one have to be while camping in these area?

    Sorry these seem like silly questions. I have looked at a number a websites but they don't have some of this info and 99% of the people who visit these parks do it in cars or road hogging RVs. I know I will be exposing myself little bit more than the family in the minivan.

    Jonz - Yes, please let me know where some good camping is around West Yellowstone. West Yellowstone seems attractive as I could exit the park for food supplies and avoid the park food pricing. If there is an inmate that does operate a campground in the area please let me know.

    thetourist - Yes, I can handle some gravel. However, looking at that road/places and my above concerns about wildlife I don't think I am going to go that route. The places look ineradicable.

    Please, let me know if you have any more insight.

    Thank you,

    Snowy.
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  13. viajero

    viajero Too old to be a nOOb

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    I would not even consider riding in either park before sunup.
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  14. jonz

    jonz Miles are my mantra

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    The inmate owns a motorcycle campground near Cody, WY not West Yellowstone. I found the website: http://wowmccg.com/

    As far as West Yellowstone campgrounds, there are two KOA campgrounds on Hwy 20 west of town. Kind of $$$$. If you take Denny Creek Rd north, right after the pavement ends, you come to this campground:

    https://www.google.com/maps/place/L...8037f61e!8m2!3d44.7354861!4d-111.231342?hl=en

    There are several more forest service campgrounds as you carry on down the dirt and they have bear boxes. Farther from Hwy 20 and way more peaceful but not as convenient to town. There are some other forest service campground going north from town on Hwy 191 but I'm not as familiar with those. You can also just camp in the national forest for free with no amenities.
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  15. tennistime99

    tennistime99 Been here awhile

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    Be aware there are many campgrounds that do not allow soft sided campers or tents due to bear activity.

    I'd suggest doing your cooking at a picnic area or somewhere away from where you are sleeping. Doesn't hurt to be a little cautious.

    Sent from my XT1575 using Tapatalk
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  16. XRangerRides

    XRangerRides Been here awhile

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    Stayed just outside the south entrance to YNP in mid-July at Flagg Ranch campground. They have camper cabins and tent sites, showers onsite too. There's a lodge with bar and restaurant in walking distance. It's about 2.5 miles south of the South Entrance, on John D Rockefeller Parkway, got to the entrance at about 9 a.m. and there was only one car at the gate. You can reserve sites or take a chance on a vacancy, when we arrived on a mid-july weekday afternoon there were tent sites and one cabin (think shed with bunks) available.
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  17. everready

    everready Stuck in Ohio....Ugh!!!

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    If you don't mind rough-camping use freecampsites.net and you can camp outside of the parks. Be bear aware though.
    #17
  18. cyclopathic

    cyclopathic Long timer

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    Artist Point (and you must climb those 827 steps), Lamar river valley with thousands of bisons coming to feed in the morning and in late afternoon, Chief Joseph and Beartooth, waterfalls.. bring swimming trunks there 2 places Firehole canyon and Boiling river geiser water mixes and you can swim in. Mammoth used to be now they are all but dried up. There're things to see in YNP besides geisers.

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  19. froger

    froger Been here awhile

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    I've found good stealth camping near West Yellowstone. Used a snowmobile trail once, behind a patch of trees another time. I suppose there's pay campgrounds, but I never used any. I don't usually stealth camp much in grizzly territory, but this close to the park I figured there probably wouldn't be many rogue's around.
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  20. sasho

    sasho Dual Personality

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    I second this. And if you go further down the dirt road past Flagg Rach (towards Idaho), there are a number of camp spots along the road.

    Edit: 4th of July weekend, gonna be a zoo...
    #20