Experience Yellowstone from the quiet of a backcountry trail and campsite.  NPS photo by Jim Peaco.
Experience Yellowstone from the quiet of a backcountry trail and campsite. NPS photo by Jim Peaco.

It's hard to beat Yellowstone's backcountry campsite system.  Within the park's boundaries there are over 300 developed backcountry sites accessible by well-marked trails.  Each site is located close to a water source and positioned for full enjoyment of the park's beautiful creeks, rivers, lakes, and stunning mountain views.  Site improvements include fire rings, food hanging poles or bear boxes, and occasionally pit toilets.  Secluded from the nearest sites, backcountry camping ensures you and your camping companions can leave the hustle and bustle of civilization and enjoy a private experience.

You must reserve backcountry sites before an overnight stay, but the process is quick and convenient.  All major locations in the park (where employees work and live) contain a National Park Service Backcountry Office.  Simply go to this office and talk over your plans with a NPS Backcountry Ranger.  A Backcountry Ranger will instruct you in backcountry and bear safety.  They will also help you select a site, and after filling out a form and paying a small fee (depending on the time of year) you will be given a backcountry site permit.

Must-know backcountry camping information on reservations, permits, fees, and bear safety can be found at the Park Service Backcountry Camping and Hiking page.

Yellowstone Outdoor Rental Service (Y.O.R.S.)

Our Y.O.R.S. program has the gear you'll need to camp and backpack safely and comfortably in Yellowstone.  Equipment can be rented at any recreation office.  Each piece of equipment has a nightly fee and a cash deposit required upon checkout.  Deposits are returned in full when the item is returned in-like condition, without any damage or missing parts.  Equipment rental generally begins as trails open up and dry out in early June.

Y.O.R.S Rental Items

  • Dana Design Backpacks: Bridger, Bighorn, Glacier and Alpine models.  These packs were made right here in the Rockies in Bozeman, Montana.  Very high quality.  Numerous sizes available.
  • 2 and 3 Person Backpacking Tents: Sturdy yet lightweight designs.  All tents come with a rain fly and stakes.
  • Backpacking Sleeping Bags: We have a wide range of bags available, all lightweight and designed for backpacking use. Bags range from heavier fill (for those who need more insulation to keep warm) to lighter weight models.  All bags are high quality.
  • Sleeping Pads: These standard pads make sleeping in the backcountry a lot more comfortable.  Fold them up for a soft seat around the campfire.
  • Olicamp Kinetic Backpacking Stoves and Cook kits: Lightweight titanium stove includes a pot, lid, and utensils.
  • MSR IsoPro 8 oz Fuel Canister: We sell these canisters for $5.

Items we currently do not rent but you will need to bring with you: bear bag and rope for securing food (if your reserved campsite does not have a bear box).

Backpacker's Pantry Meals

Headed into the backcountry and need some fuel?  Tired of the employee dining room food?  Don't feel like cooking?  Stop by your location recreation office to buy Backpacker's Pantry Meals.  Freeze-dried and dehydrated, these meals are the perfect complement to any adventure.

Renting Equipment and Buying Meals

To rent equipment or buy backpacking meals visit a recreation office during business hours.  Business hours are always posted on Activity Calendars.  Renting equipment will take some time so plan accordingly.  Recreation staff will inspect and go over each piece of equipment with you, making sure each piece of equipment is in working order and that you understand how to set up and use it.  For example, if you rent a tent, recreation staff will help you set up and take down the tent to answer any questions you may have and to prepare you for the best possible experience in camp.

Frontcountry campgrounds like Slough Creek merge the park's beauty with some comforts of home. Photo by NPS.[/caption]

Campgrounds and Frontcountry Campsites

Yellowstone contains 12 campgrounds and more than 2,000 frontcountry campsites.  Some sites can be booked by reservation while others are filled on a first-come basis.  For detailed information on these sites visit the Park Service Camping page.

Backcountry campsites require storing food and scented items out of reach of animals.  Bear poles like this one are standard in backcountry campsites. NPS photo by Neal Herbert.
Backcountry campsites require storing food and scented items out of reach of animals. Bear poles like this one are standard in backcountry campsites. NPS photo by Neal Herbert.
Backpacker's Pantry Prices
Front Country campgrounds like this site at Slough Creek merge the beauty of the park with some comforts of home. Photo by NPS.
Front Country campgrounds like this site at Slough Creek merge the beauty of the park with some comforts of home. Photo by NPS.