Can You Sleep in Your Car in Yellowstone National Park?

Car camping is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and still have privacy and comfort when you want to relax. Luckily, there are many places where you can sleep in your car. Still, it is crucial not to break any rules.

Can you sleep in your car in Yellowstone National Park? Sleeping in the car in Yellowstone is allowed at a campground. Anywhere else in or around the park, such as open areas, parking lots, and roadsides, is not permitted. Legal action will be taken against anyone who violates this.

In this article, I have highlighted the places where you are allowed to sleep in your car. Additionally, I have outlined the best and worst timing for car camping in Yellowstone National Park.

Where to Sleep in Your Car in Yellowstone

In Yellowstone, there are 12 campgrounds where one can book in and sleep in the car. It requires the payment of camping fees. Vehicles, trailers, and RVs of specified sizes are allowed in all 12 campgrounds. 5 out of these campgrounds require prior reservation while the rest operate on a first-come, first-served basis.

Reservable Campgrounds

Car camping

These are the 5 out of 12 campgrounds in Yellowstone that require booking ahead of time. They include:

Bridge Bay Campground

If you would like to have a spectacular view of the Yellowstone Lake and the Absaroka Range, this is the perfect place to sleep in your car in Yellowstone National Park. 

Campground Details:

  • Elevation – 7800 (2377m)
  • Closed on all public holidays except Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day
  • Closed from September 8th – May 14th
  • Vehicles including RVs and Trailers up to 40ft allowed

Canyon Campground

Are you hiking Cascade Lake, Mount Washburn, and Canyon Rim Trails? You can then camp nearby in the Canyon Campground surrounded by a pine forest. Here, you will be near the amazing Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River.

Campground Details:

  • Elevation – 7900ft (2408m)
  • Closed on all public holidays except Labor Day and Independence Day
  • Closed from September 21st – May 21st
  • RVs and trailers up to 40ft allowed
  • Flush toilets and hot showers available 

Fishing Bridge RV Park

Fishing Bridge RV Park is the only campground in Yellowstone where you can have access to electricity for your RV, water, and sewer. Fishing Bridge RV Park is near the Yellowstone River mouth. Grizzly bears are widespread in the area, and for this reason, only hard-sided units like RVs are allowed.

Campground Details:

  • Elevation – 7800ft (2377m)
  • Open campfires and portable fire pits are prohibited
  • Tents or tent campers not allowed
  • Coin laundry and pay showers available
  • Gravel/paved RV pads
  • RV dump stations available

Grant Village Campground

Did you know that you can sleep in your car in Yellowstone National Park and still have access to a gas station, stores, and a restaurant? That’s what you get at Grant Campground in Grant Village at the southern end of Yellowstone Lake.

Campground Details:

  • Elevation – 7800ft (2377m)
  • Hot showers, coin-operated showers, and flush toilets available
  • Trailers and RVs up to 40ft allowed
  • Closed during public holidays except for Independence Day and Labor Day
  • Closed from September 14th to June 4th

Madison Campground

The Madison Campground is famous thanks to its longer open season and beautiful surroundings. It’s located near where Gibbon and Firehole Rivers meet to form the Madison River. Here, you can see elk and bison in the mornings. In spring and early summer, the campground is surrounded by beautiful wildflowers.

Campground Details:

  • Elevation – 6800ft (2073m)
  • It is closed on public holidays except for Columbus Day, Labor Day, and Independence Day.
  • The campground is closed from October 19th – April 30th
  • Flush toilets available
  • Trailers and RVs of maximum 30ft allowed

First-Come, First-Served Campgrounds

Sleeping in a car

Indian Creek Campground

Located at the base of the Gallatin Mountains and just at the perfect spot to view the Electric Peak, this campground is away from the main road, making it quieter compared to the other campsites.

Campground Details:

  • Elevation – 7300ft (2225m
  • Vault toilets available
  • RVs and Trailers between 30-35ft allowed
  • The campground is closed from September 30th to April 31st

Mammoth Campground

The campground is not only near the Mammoth Hotsprings Terraces, but it is also close to fishing and hiking areas. Additionally, it is also a great location to see wildlife. Elk and bison frequently visit the campground.

Campground Details:

  • Elevation – 6200ft (1890m)
  • The campground is open all-year-round 
  • Trailers and RVs allowed – 30ft in winter and 65ft in other seasons
  • Flush toilets available

Norris Campground

The campground is centrally located in the park near the Norris Geyser Basin and overlooks some breathtaking meadows. It makes it popular with many campers. It is also a great place to spot wildlife like bison.

Campground Details:

  • Elevation – 7500ft (2286m)
  • The campground is closed from September 26th to May 18th
  • Flush toilets available
  • RVs and Trailers allowed – up to a length of 50ft at two campsites and up to 30ft at five campsites

Pebble Creek Campground

Near the park’s North-east entrance, you can have a secluded camping experience at Pebble Creek Campground. The campground presents access to fishing, bird watching, and day-hiking opportunities with the view of the Absaroka mountains as a backdrop.

Campground Details:

  • Elevation – 6900ft (2103m)
  • The campground is closed from September 26th to June 14th
  • Vault toilets available
  • RVs and trailers are allowed – no limit in RV length

Tower Fall Campground   

As the name suggests, the Campground is named after the nearby Tower Fall. From the campsite, you have an unshielded view of wildlife at Lamar Valley. You can also enjoy some delicious food and horseback riding, just a short drive away at Roosevelt Lodge.

Campground Details:

  • Elevation – 6600ft (2012m)
  • The campground is closed from September 6th to June 4th
  • Trailers and a maximum of 30ft long RVs allowed
  • Vault toilets available 

Lewis Lake Campground

Located a short distance from the shore of Lewis Lake and in a wooded hill, Lewis Lake Campground is usually the last campground to fill up. If you want to get a great spot without rushing it, it is the best place to check out.

Campground Details:

  • Elevation – 7,800 (2377m)
  • The campground is closed from November 4th to June 14th
  • Vault toilets available
  • Trailers and RVs up to 25ft allowed

Slough Creek Campground

The Lamar Valley location of this campground provides the best opportunities to view wildlife. If you like to hear wolves howl or get an unblocked view of the sky, this is the campground to visit.

Campground Details:

  • Elevation – 6250ft (1905m) 
  • Trailers and RVs up to 30ft allowed
  • Vault toilets available
  • The campground is closed from November 1st to early May

General Information on All Campgrounds

  • All campgrounds except the fishing Bridge RV Campground allow open firewood and charcoal fires, but they may come with a few restrictions.
  • Propane stoves and grills allowed in all Campgrounds
  • All campsites except Tower Fall and Lewis Lake Campgrounds are ADA compliant, meaning that they are accessible by people with disabilities

Best Time to Sleep in Your Car in Yellowstone

Summer in Yellowstone

The best time to sleep in your car in Yellowstone National Park is between May and September. During this time, most of the campsites are open, allowing you to choose one that best suits your interests. More importantly, the timing presents the most comfortable weather conditions.

May to September also allows for more activities as it spans from late spring, the whole summer (June – August), and early fall. Summer is especially a fantastic season to go hiking safely in Yellowstone as trails are more accessible.

Are you planning to do some swimming in Yellowstone National Park? The water will be warm enough to swim in during summer.

On the other hand, the peak season (July – August) also falls in this duration. With this in mind, prepare to encounter lots of other visitors and to spend more on travel and shopping, especially during the two months.

If you plan to go to the reservable campgrounds, book early in advance as they can fill up even months ahead of time. For the first-come, first-served campgrounds, report early in the morning to get a place.

When Not to Sleep in Your Car in Yellowstone 

Winter in Yellowstone

The worst time to sleep in your car in Yellowstone is in winter (November March). Most places in Yellowstone are closed for camping through winter except for the Mammoth Camping Ground.

Winter in Yellowstone National Park is characterized by heavy snow, wind, and temperatures that go below freezing point – 00F to 200F (-200C to -50C). At night and on higher elevations, temperatures can get even colder. Temperatures of -660F (-540C) have been recorded in Yellowstone.

While Mammoth Campground is open throughout the year, it’s not recommended to sleep in your car during winter. Besides being limited to one campground and having to deal with snowy roads, you risk suffering from hypothermia.

If you visit Yellowstone in winter, you can find lodging facilities at Mammoth and Old Faithful.

Spring (April-May) also comes with several limitations. The weather is not as cold as winter, but early spring can feel a lot like winter in Yellowstone due to high elevation.

Remember, all the camping grounds are at elevations of over 6000ft. So, expect temperatures to fluctuate from below freezing to about 500F (100C).

The campgrounds in Yellowstone start opening gradually through spring towards summer, so be sure to check if your preferred campsite is open before making plans.

The campgrounds gradually open from spring towards summer, so be sure to check if your preferred campsite is available before making plans.

Final Thoughts

It is legal to sleep in your car at campgrounds in Yellowstone National Park. As long as you have everything that you need, the park has not only provided various options on where you can camp, but it has also put in place the necessary structures to ensure that you are both safe and comfortable.

Related: A Complete US National Park List

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