When campgrounds are full: West Yellowstone edition

This year, visitors will be able to enter the park through the West Yellowstone Entrance on April 15. However, the closest nearby campground within the park, the Madison Campground, will not be available for reservation until April 29.

Campsites at the Madison Junction are operated by Xanterra and cost $23.50 per night. If the Madison campground is full (which is likely during summer months due to its proximity to Old Faithful), do not fret. There are many USFS campgrounds around the West Yellowstone area to stay at.

The USFS campgrounds around Hebgen Lake provide a nearby, cheap, and beautiful alternative. Many offer an ample number of sites and thick tree coverage for a sense of solitude. There are five nearby campgrounds north of West Yellowstone on Highway 141

Last Memorial Day, we were unable to stay at Madison Campground during our brief trip to the park and stayed instead at the Rainbow Point Campground (see list at the end). It was a quick and scenic drive from the entrance and relatively free of visitors and the hum of RV’s. Unfortunately, it was a rainy weekend so we were unable to capture photos of the campground and Hebgen lake. When the rain did clear, we enjoyed sitting on the small lakeside dock and watching and listening to the local wildlife.

Here’s a quick summary of what’s available from the west entrance of the park in the Custer Gallatin National Forest:

Want to skip the long drive in and out of the park? No tent, but a bit more money to spend? Here’s a unique lodging experience worth mentioning.


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