The travel books are purchased. The vacation time is booked at work. This is the year you have an epic family vacation to Yellowstone.
Now the only question is: Where do you camp when you get there?
Camping in Yellowstone National Park can be the highlight of many National Park memories. Choosing which campground is best isn’t easy, especially since there are more than 2,000 developed campsites in 12 organized campgrounds to choose from in the park.
Five of the Yellowstone National Park campgrounds allow reservations (Madison, Fishing Bridge, Bridge Bay, Canyon, and Grant Village) while the remaining 7 (Mammoth, Norris, Tower Falls, Indian Creek, Pebble Creek, Slough Creek, and Lewis Lake) are first-come, first-serve. It is possible to get a non-reservable spot in summer months if you arrive early in the day and are willing to drive extra mileage if your first try is unsuccessful. For anyone on a tight timeline or those who enjoy a low-stress, low-risk vacation booking a reservable site through Recreation.gov may be the better choice.
Camping in the Madison Campground
Many visitors to Yellowstone choose the Madison Campground for this reason. The 278 sites are reservable, and the campground has the earliest open and latest close of any of the organized campgrounds in the park. In addition, it is only 16 miles from the Geyser Basin and near Old Faithful, two must-see items on any first visit to Yellowstone National Park. The Madison campground is also only 14 miles (30 minutes) from the gateway town of West Yellowstone, Montana. This can be especially helpful for those camping essentials you forgot at home.
When it comes to other amenities, the Madison Campground offers similar features as other campgrounds in the park. Running water, sinks and flush toilets in the bathhouse, picnic tables, fire grate and shared food storage to keep out any curious critters to name a few. The campground also has an evening ranger program from May to September in the campground amphitheater.
Directions and Reservations for the Madison Campground
GPS Coordinates to Madison Campground Entrance Road: 44°38’45.98″ N / 110°51’39.85″ W
From West Yellowstone: Head south out of town in Hwy 191 (North Canyon Street). Turn left onto US-191 S/US-20 E/US-287 S/Yellowstone Ave and travel to the park entrance. The Madison Campground will be located roughly 14 miles in the park on West Entrance Road. The campground will be on the right.
From Old Faithful: Leave the Old Faithful area on the ramp for US-191 N/US-20 W/US-287 N/US-89 N. Follow the road north for approximately 14 miles to Madison Junction. At the junction, follow the signs for Madison, turning left on to West Entrance Road (191 S/US-20E). The campground will be on the left.
For reservations: As of 2016, the campground is managed by park concessionaire Xanterra Parks and Resorts. Reservations are available at 1-866-Geyserland (within the. US.), (307) 344-7311 or online @ YellowstoneNationalParkLodges.
- Madison Campground is at 6,800 feet of elevation.
- It can always be cold in Yellowstone National Park! During a mid-September camping trip in the Madison campground, we woke up and it had unexpectedly frozen overnight. Packing extra clothes and warm camping gear is best for the unexpected weather in the park.
- The Madison River that runs near the campground is considered by many to be some of the best fly-fishing in the United States.
- The best time of the year to camp in Yellowstone? Park chasers recommends anytime before early June or after mid-September after the summer travel season as ended. As you can see here from the visitation statistics most people visit in June/July/August. Yellowstone is best when you can avoid crowds.