Camping in Yellowstone National Park should be a requirement for RV and other camping enthusiasts. The Park is an amazing geological wonder, and a magnet for tourists and campers drawn to the wildlife, fishing, and overwhelming natural beauty. Although campers and other visitors tend to view the park as a pristine wilderness, the fact is that the archeological evidence points to human habitation for at least 9,000 years.
While camping in Yellowstone, you will be inside the perimeter of the world’s largest active volcano. There are more geysers and hot springs in Yellowstone National Park than the rest of the world combined. Yellowstone Lake is the world’s largest mountain lake at approximately 280 square miles. Yellowstone also became the world’s first National Park in 1872. During the summer months, there are close to two million visitors each year. There are over 15 miles of boardwalk for visitors to keep them safe from the dangerous thermal sites, and to minimize the inevitable human damage caused to the area. The park is a singularly impressive place and most of it resides above 7,500 feet elevation.
We took this picture at the Firehole River in Wyoming
If the Park Service staff does not seem as friendly as you think they should be, there is probably a good reason. With so many visitors and campers in the park, there is always an abundance of people who push the limits of common sense, and safety at the thermal sites, and with the wild animals. Although the thermal sites have plenty of warning signs, boardwalks, and platforms for safe viewing, it is not uncommon for visitors to die every year in pools of boiling water. Likewise, you will observe people walking within a few feet of Buffalo and Elk. It is amazing that the unpredictable wild animals do not injure more people.
One marvelous, and unadvertised feature of camping in Yellowstone is the night sky. Even older Americans have forgotten the wonder of a night sky unpolluted by reflected light. Camping at a high altitude on a clear night, you’ll find the night sky is every bit as breathtaking as the scenic landscape. The panoramic sky is awash with distant shimmering lights from stars. If you have never had a chance to clearly see what is really overhead at night, you are in for a genuine treat. Fortunately, the National Park Service recognizes the value of the night sky being unpolluted by light and is making efforts to reduce reflected light to a minimum.
There is no shortage of things for campers to do and see while at Yellowstone. The park has over 2.2 million acres and over 99% of the park is not developed. Although there are 370 miles of paved road within the park, many of them are narrow, and in very poor condition. Road construction is an unending project within the park.
Most of the highways in Yellowstone are closed during the winter, but that does not prevent tourists and campers from exploring in snowmobiles. Entering the park by snowmobile is a highly regulated activity, so be sure and contact the National Park Service before you go.
There are five primary highway routes into Yellowstone National Park:
•US 89/287 at the south entrance
•US 20/14 at the east entrance
•US 212 at the northeast entrance
•US 89 at the northwest entrance
•US 20/287 at the west entrance