Bison walking thru campsite, River runs beside it, Back Country trails with campsites if you dare.
Bear Spray a must..Water and Toilets available…Small campsite area only 16 sites…
Mostly tent or small RV's…once again…this is the Slough Creek campsite in the North East corner of Yellowstone…< 10 miles from Lamar Valley where you can watch Wolves…
They don't accept reservation so in the high season you have to get there early. The ranger said to get in line by 7am to get a spot for sure. They don't start until 730 but the ranger was nice to give us all the information and paperwork while we waited in line so it went by fast. Be prepared for the cold. It was 31 degrees when we waited in line and 30 degrees the next morning. Day time it was in the 80s.
We picked a walk-in site by the river. It was a short walk to where we parked. Only negative if people don't park well, it can be tight.
Bathroom was 75 yards away with a water and cleaning station. We had a picnic table and fire pit. Sites are closer together. Great place to star gaze. Entrance had ice and firewood for sale.
Con: light smelled of sulphur but with all the geysers and geological formation, its to be expected. You get used to it after awhile.
In the park and $20 a night. Got a walkin site over Memorial Day weekend which was a miracle! Clean flush bathrooms, no showers. Recycling station at entry to campground. Each site has a bear box and my row of sites had a resident bison. Near the National Ranger Museum. Walkin sites very close together - I could hear the man in the tentsite beside me snoring. Wood and ice available for sale
The sites are pretty close together, especially if you get an inside circle campsite. If on the outside you have more room from your neighbors. There was not enough room for two tents on the little square patch for tents. Perk was it came with a bear safe storage area for food and accessories as well as a fire pit.
This campground does not take reservations, they are first come, first serve. There are only a few spots for really long RV’s, so the camp hosts will escort you back to those, if you are long. At the base of the camp, there are flush toilets, there are pit toilets up in the campground. All of the camp sites have a lot of trees. It is more in the middle of the park, so it is a great “base camp” to go throughout the park
First of all, read the review of this camp site by Danielle V. It describes our check-in experience to a "t," including the gate person telling us to stop one place and then that location having absolutely nothing, a very cold wait in a very long line at Norris, and incredibly kind camp hosts keeping us informed the whole time. I had my two kiddos with me, so I stood physically in line while keeping an eye on the kiddos in the car. It was just too cold to do it any other way. All that said, we ended up with what I consider the absolute best spot in Yellowstone. We grabbed the closest "walk-in" spot, which just meant we had to walk our tent and stuff in maybe 100 yards. It was right on an incredible meadow with a semi-swimmable (though cold) winding stream. The campground is centrally located, especially if you plan to make the big loop driving. Lots to see on the way to and from the major attractions. The nighttime events were also nice. One thing to be aware of is the altitude. This site got very cold, almost freezing, in July, so come prepared. Other sites in this same campground were okay, but I really feel we lucked out with the walk-in ones.
OK, so let's be clear - camping in Yellowstone is a bit of a pain in the neck if you don't plan months in advance. There's a total of 12 campgrounds throughout Yellowstone (some of which may be closed during your visit, so check the website) including 5 campgrounds with ONLY reservable sites operated by Xanterra (a company that is completely unrelated to the NPS) and 7 first-come, first-served campgrounds operated by the park service. The Xanterra campgrounds are generally the most centrally located options, but if you don't plan in advance and reserve a site, there's no way you're getting one in the summer. If you're coming to Yellowstone without reservations, your best bet is to stay at a campground as close to the park boundaries as possible and get to your preferred campground no later than 8 AM. As another reviewer noted, some people start lining up as early as 6 AM. Keep in mind that Yellowstone is enormous, and the park access roads are limited and often times blocked by tourists, the ever-present and always-obnoxious bison, and stupid tourists in the middle of the road taking pictures of stupid bison in the middle of the road. Oh, and lots of traffic. So plan accordingly and wake up extra early, unfortunately!
We stayed at Wapiti campground in the Shosone National Forest about 1/2 an hour from the east gate entrance and started packing up at 5 AM. We got to the east gate entrance at 6 AM and the ranger at the gate told us we may as well swing by Bridge Bay to see if they have any available campsites… which illustrates an interesting point about Yellowstone in that the NPS rangers at the gates and elsewhere in the park literally have no idea what the camping conditions are within the park, either at the Xanterra campgrounds OR at the NPS-operated campgrounds. Not a clue. I find this strange since it's 2017, but that's reality. We arrived at Bridge Bay at 6:45 AM and waited patiently at the park office for a Xanterra worker to open the reservation window - not a second before 7 AM mind you - to promptly laugh at me when I inquired about a campsite, stating that they were actually overbooked. Waste of time. We continued driving to Norris, which is where we had originally hoped to get a site, and arrived about an hour later at 7:40 AM.
At 7:40 AM, we were the 26th group to arrive and join the line waiting for a campsite - it was quite the eye-opener to be honest. 25 groups ahead of us already, all freezing their butts off in line! Thankfully, the campground hosts were AWESOME and did a wonderful job keeping everyone extremely informed of availability throughout the morning. There happened to be 42 sites that they were expecting to be available sometime that morning, though current campers always have the option to renew / extend their reservations through the morning that they are scheduled to leave. The crowd that morning lucked out that so many sites were becoming available, and out of everyone that joined the line, only the real late-comers (those that showed up after around 9:30 AM) were finally told that they were not going to get a site. We did end up waiting in line until approxiamtely 10:20 AM to get our site, since campers have until 11 AM to officially check out of their sites, so even if you get there early, you should plan on standing in line for quite a while. Despite the waste-of-time aspect of it (especially if you only have a few days in the park like we do), we had a great time talking to the other folks waiting in line with us and learning where they were coming from, where they were going next, etc. It was a very pleasant atmosphere and everyone was extremely nice (and also thankful for the great communication from the hosts!).
The campground itself is pretty basic, which is typical for all of the NPS-operated campgrounds in Yellowstone. The sites do not have water/electric and the campground does not have showers, but the restrooms at least have flushing toilets and running water (most NPS campgrounds do not). We stayed in site 26 in B loop. All sites seem spacious and come with a fire ring, picnic table, and bear box for storing all cooking equipment, food, and generally anything that smells like a delicious human to grizzly bears. Each loop has its own restroooms as well as the main ones near the office, and they are well maintained.
Norris is the most centrally located NPS-operated campground, and a great choice if you're primarily interested in visiting the various geyser basins within the park. There is a trail connecting Norris Campground to the very famous Norris Geyser Basin, the park's largest collection of hydrothermal formations - which is AWESOME. As a trade-off, the entire campground smells like rotten eggs (sulfurous gas) pretty much 24-7, but you get used to it. The Solfatara Creek runs right by the A loop and entrance to the campground, and offers some decent flyfishing in the meadow. It's also an excellent area to spot wildlife, and we literally had a lone coyote trot right in front of us near the bridge that crosses the creek. I would also recommend checking out the Museum of the National Park Ranger which is actually on the main entrance drive for Norris Campground - it's small and quick, but full of a lot of great information to make you appreciate the park and the NPS in general.
For us, Norris was the perfect base of operations for our visit to Yellowstone, and while it was anonying to spend essentially 1/2 a day waiting for a campsite to open up, I can definitely understand the problem considering the ridiculous demand for campsites in this incredibly beautiful park.
As few words of caution about Yellowstone:
- Bison are cool and all, but cause hours of traffic jams throughout the park. My family has quasi-jokingly switched to eating bison burgers rather than beef hamburgers because we were so sick of bison after traveling through South Dakota and Wyoming. Don't be one of the people
- The food in Yellowstone is some of the most expensive, least satisfying food I've ever eaten in a state or national park. Pack picnic meals instead, and then swing into Fishing Bridge for the ice cream (back of the General Store).
- If you're not a big fan of crowds but still need to travel to Yellowstone during the summer due to kids being in school, plan to hit the congested areas of the park BEFORE 10 am or AFTER 4 pm to avoid the heaviest crowds. There are similar signs posted throughout the park, and I fully agree - right at 4 PM, it's like someone flips a switch and the crowds start to disappear.
- Showering in Yellowstone is a bit of an ordeal since the NPS campgrounds do not have showers. On a whim, my husband asked the front desk at the Old Faithful Inn if they have public showers and they do. I believe we paid something like $3.50 for a keycard that grants 2 hours of access to one of the bathhouses within the Old Faithful Inn 'village' of cottages. The showers were fantastic!!! The bathhouse was extremely clean, newly updated, spacious, and contained 3 shower stalls (including an ADA accessible one) that had shampoo, conditioner, and body wash pumps IN the showers so you didn't need to bring your own. I believe you can also purchase showers at: Mammoth Hotel, Roosevelt Lodge, Grant Village campground, Fishing Bridge campground, and Canyon campground - but we did not use those ones and I can't speak to their quality or availability.
I stayed here in September 2016 on a trip to Yellowstone. Having not made prior reservations I got quite lucky landing a spot here for 3 nights. I would definitely recommend reservations for the high season. This campground has level spots for tents, parking, bear proof lockers, clean bathrooms and other basic amenities. Convienient location and many nice hiking trails in close proximity to the campground.
We hiked in a little over 3 miles to site 3L2. Hike was moderate as there was some climbing up hill before hiking back down to the river. Along the way we saw giant grizzly tracks on our trail to camp. To get to the site (or any of the other sites besides 3L1) you need to ford the river. It was late August so the water was only shin deep. I hear the water level in spring can be quite different. The site was nice and private and surrounded by water on 2 sides. There is a buffalo that likes to hang out and we watched him while we ate dinner. There is a bear pole to hang your food and supplies. A nice tent spot back in the woods provided a soft pine needle floor. Fire/cook area had multiple "bones" piled up. As soon as night fell we started hearing growling. We didn't get much sleep that night as it sounded like we were in the middle of a zoo. I think with the population of wildlife on the river I will choose to camp elsewhere for a more restful night sleep. River did provide a good water source.
Setup basecamp at Norris and then hiked to backcountry campsite 4D2 on Ice Lake. Very nice wooded hike around the lake to get to camp. Campsite was VERY private and very spacious. We were able to setup our tent far away from the food/fire area. Forest floor was a soft bed of pine needles. If you have a sub par sleeping pad you will still sleep like a baby. Bear poles are provided to string up your gear. Campfire area was nice but we were unable to have a fire due to the fire ban they had for backcountry sites. Lake was clean and a good water source. The night was very peaceful. All we could hear were the owls hooting. Highly recommend this campsite!