Don’t assume you can find a first-come, first-served campsite in the park just because it’s the off season. Mammoth is the only year-round campground, and over half the sites may be closed on any given off-season night.
The USFS campgrounds around Gardiner are the nearest alternative, many high above the Roosevelt Arch, offering great views into Mammoth; there are three nearby sites off of Jardine Road and one off of US 89.
We weren’t the only ones shut out of Mammoth in search of nearby alternatives. A quick iPhone search (there is 3G service in Mammoth) led two young German adventurers to Eagle Creek, and we enjoyed a great evening around the fire with them.
A short hike around Eagle Creek turned up mule deer, mountain bluebirds, jackrabbits, and Western Meadowlarks. The next morning, I glassed the hills above Eagle Creek while cooking potatoes; many more mule deer, and a herd of 60-plus elk disappearing back into the high pines for the day. — Keith
What are your options?
Here’s what’s available from the north entrance of the park in the Custer Gallatin National Forest:
- 2 miles away, Eagle Creek Campground; 15 sites; first-come, first-served; $7/night
- 9 miles away, Timber Camp Campground; Dispersed; first-come, first-served; no fees
- 9.5 miles away, Bear Creek Campground; Dispersed; first-come, first-served; no fees
- 16 miles away, Canyon Campground; 17 sites; first-come, first-served; $7/night