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Camping in
Grand Teton & Yellowstone National Parks


Backpacking in the Wind River Range, Wyoming

I: Camping Information

Yellowstone National Park (YSNP) has 12 campgrounds with 2000+ campsites scattered throughout the park. Five of the campgrounds are operated by a third-party company, Yellowstone National Park Lodges. They take reservations online or via phone (1-307-344-7311). The remaining ones are operated by the National Park and only offer sites on a first-come first-served basis.

Even though that sounds like a lot, many of them are at capacity or filled up by the morning of. So plan ahead! YSNP offers a nice real-time map of the campgrounds and their current availability status.

The price of a campsite per night ranges from $15 to $50 depending on location and vehicle type (car vs trailer or RV). Most of them are open between May and October. Check their webpage to see more detailed information about each campsite and their offerings.

No trip is complete without the right gear. Teton Backcountry Rentals offers gear rentals that makes packing hassle-free. Truck campers, rooftop tents, tables, lanterns, cookware, dining sets, are just some of the few things we offer. Check it out on our summer gear page.

More than 95% of all visitors entering YSNP never make it more than a mile off the paved road or boardwalk. Yellowstone is huge! Many parts of the park are rarely visited and offer lots of backcountry treasures and seclusion.

Day hiking on established trails does not require a backcountry permit. However, if you are planning on spending a night or two out there you must first visit a ranger station or visitor center. There, you can obtain a permit in person (no more than 48 hours in advance of your trip) and essential information from a ranger.

The price for a permit for backpackers is $3/person/night (with a max of $15/night)

A portion of the sites can be reserved from January 1 to October 31 of each calendar year. Reservations received by March 31 will be processed in random order starting April 1. Reservations received on or after April 1 will be processed in the order they’re received after the random lottery is complete. Requests for reservations must be submitted by mail, fax, or in person. They cannot be made over the phone or by email. A flat, nonrefundable fee of $25 is charged for each reservation. To make a reservation, download the Backcountry Permit Reservation Application.

Each designated campsite has a maximum limit for the number of people. The maximum stay per campsite varies from 1 to 3 nights per trip. Campfires are permitted only in established fire pits. Wood fires are not allowed in some backcountry campsites. A food storage pole is provided at most designated campsites so that food and attractants may be secured from bears.

For more information, please refer to YSNP’s backcountry trip planner .

Teton Backcountry Rentals offers backpacks, cook systems, water filters, trekking poles, sleep systems, and much more. When you're ready check out the arsenal on our our summer gear page.

Car camping in Grand Teton National Park can be a very rewarding experience. A little planning can go a long way.

There are six campgrounds scattered within the park’s boundaries. All of them are first-come, first served. The exception is large group sites at Colter Bay and Gros Ventre campgrounds. The sites range in capacity from 10 to 100 people. Advance reservations are required and may be made through the Grand Teton Lodge Company at (307-543-3296).

The nightly fees vary by site but hover around $30 per site. Most campgrounds are open from May through September each year.

Below are the links to each individual camp site:
Colter Bay Campground
Gros Ventre Campground
Headwaters Campground and RV sites at Flagg Ranch
Jenny Lake Campground
Lizard Creek Campground
Signal Mountain Campground

No trip is complete without the right gear. Teton Backcountry Rentals offers gear rentals that makes packing hassle-free. Truck campers, rooftop tents, tables, lanterns, cookware, dining sets, are just some of the few things we offer. Check it out on our summer gear page.

Similar to YSNP, camping in the Grand Teton National Park backcountry requires a permit. A third of the permits are reservable starting in the first wednesday of the year through May 15th. You can reserve sites through Recreation.gov for $35 (per trip, not per person or night).

The other two thirds of permits are offered as walkup (non-reserved) permits, which is issued on a first come first served basis for $25 (per trip, not per person or night). You can pick them up no earlier than the morning before the first day of your trip.

Bear canisters are required and provided to all campers free of charge. We also offer them for rent on our gear page.

Consider giving the Backcountry Trip Planner a read to help you plan your backpacking trip in the Tetons.

II: Packing List

The Ten Essentials

The must-haves for safety, survival, and basic comfort:

  1. Navigation
  2. Sun protection
  3. Insulation
  4. Illumination
  5. First-aid supplies
  6. Fire
  7. Repair kit and tools
  8. Nutrition
  9. Hydration
  10. Emergency shelter

Beyond the Ten Essentials

  1. Backpack
  2. Daypack or summit pack
  3. Pack cover
  4. Tent
  5. Footprint
  6. Sleeping bag
  7. Stuff sack or compression sack
  8. Sleeping pad
  9. Whistle (plus signaling mirror)
  10. Trekking poles
  11. Ice axe
  12. Meals
  13. Energy food (bars, gels, chews, trail mix)
  14. Energy beverages or drink mixes
  15. Stove
  16. Fuel
  17. Cookset
  18. Dishes or bowls and Utensils
  19. Bear canister (or hang bags for food)
  20. Nylon cord (50' for hanging food)
  21. Backup water treatment

Clothing: Warm Weather

  1. Wicking T-shirt (synthetic or wool)
  2. Wicking underwear
  3. Quick-drying pants or shorts
  4. Long-sleeve shirt (for sun, bugs)
  5. Sun-shielding hat
  6. Bandana or Buff

Clothing: Cool Weather

  1. Wicking long-sleeve T-shirt
  2. Wicking long underwear (good sleepwear)
  3. Hat, cap, skullcap, balaclava or headband
  4. Gloves or mittens
  5. Rainwear (jacket, pants)
  6. Fleece jacket or vest, and pants

Footwear

  1. Hiking Boots or hiking shoes suited to terrain
  2. Socks (synthetic or wool) plus spares
  3. Gaiters
  4. Sandals

Personal Items and Other

  1. GoPro Camera
  2. Extra memory cards
  3. Binoculars
  4. Permits
  5. Route description or guidebook
  6. Credit card; small amount of cash
  7. Earplugs and eye shade
  8. Toilet paper
  9. Sanitation trowel
  10. Menstrual and urinary products
  11. Hand sanitizer
  12. Insect repellent
  13. Bear spray!!
  14. Toothbrush and/or toiletry kit
  15. Biodegradable soap (and shower bag)
  16. Quick-dry towel
  17. Cell phone / satellite communicator
  18. Personal locator beacon
  19. Post-hike snacks, water, towel, clothing change
  20. Trip itinerary left with friend and under car seat

Source: REI Backpacking List

In and Around Camp

  1. Tent
  2. Tent footprint
  3. Sleeping bags (with liners)
  4. Sleeping pads
  5. Multi-tool or knife
  6. Daypacks
  7. Trekking poles
  8. Child carrier
  9. Folding chairs
  10. Folding table
  11. Headlamps (with extra batteries)
  12. Lanterns
  13. Water filter or treatment tablets or jug with potable water
  14. Bear Spray!!

Clothing and Footwear

It gets cold here at night, even in the summer! Night time lows are routinely in the 30 and 40s (Fahrenheit).

  1. Moisture-wicking T-shirts
  2. Moisture-wicking underwear
  3. Quick-drying pants/shorts
  4. Long-sleeve shirts (for sun, bugs)
  5. Sun-shielding hats
  6. Swimsuits
  7. Bandanas or buffs
  8. Boots or shoes suited to terrain
  9. Socks (synthetic or wool)
  10. Long underwear
  11. Sleepwear
  12. Insulating jacket
  13. Insulated pants
  14. Gloves or mittens
  15. Rainwear (jacket and pants)
  16. In-camp sandals

Kitchen

  1. Stove
  2. Fuel
  3. Matches/lighter
  4. Firewood (if allowed, plus hatchet)
  5. Cook pots and pan
  6. Portable coffee/espresso maker
  7. Bottle opener/corkscrew
  8. Food-storage containers
  9. Resealable storage bags
  10. Trash bags
  11. Tablecloth and clips (or tape)
  12. Coolers an Ice
  13. Cutting board or cutting surface
  14. Aluminum Foil
  15. Biodegradable soap
  16. Pot scrubber/sponge(s)

Food

Select according to personal tastes and needs:

  1. Coffee
  2. Cereal/granola/oatmeal
  3. Breakfast bars
  4. Bread/bagels
  5. Meat (fresh and jerky)
  6. Soup mixes/bouillon cubes
  7. Freeze-dried meals
  8. Cooking oil/spray
  9. Salt/pepper
  10. Tea
  11. Milk (powdered or fresh)
  12. Drink mixes
  13. Bottled/canned beverages
  14. Energy food (bars, gels, trail mix)
  15. Fruit (dried and fresh)
  16. Vegetables
  17. Cheese
  18. Crackers/chips
  19. Chocolate/sweets
  20. Marshmallows
  21. Spice kit

Personal Items

  1. Toilet paper
  2. Sunscreen
  3. Lip balm
  4. Insect repellent
  5. Hand Sanitizer
  6. First-aid kit
  7. Prescription medications
  8. Toothbrush, toiletry kit
  9. Menstrual and urinary products
  10. Eyeshades; earplugs
  11. Biodegradable soap

Other Items

  1. Camera
  2. Binoculars
  3. Campsite reservation confirmation
  4. Maps
  5. GPS receiver
  6. Cell phone

Source: REI Camping List

III: Leave No Trace & General Guidelines

The Seven Principles of Leave No Trace (LNT):

  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
  2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly
  4. Leave What You Find
  5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
  6. Respect Wildlife
  7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors

General Guideline and Safety Tips

  1. Bear spray has proven to be an effective, non-lethal, bear deterrent capable of stopping aggressive behavior in bears. While not required, it is HIGHLY recommended that you carry bear spray on you at all times when hiking in the Parks. We offer bear spray rentals. See our gear page for more information.
  2. All backpackers must carry and use an approved bear-proof canister in GTNP (see our gear page for bear canister rentals). For more information see the Bear Safety page.
  3. Carry out all of your garbage.
  4. Prevent erosion by hiking on established trails. Cutting switchbacks causes soil erosion.
  5. Observe and photograph wildlife from a safe distance. Do not approach or feed animals.
  6. Prevent contamination of waterways by burying feces in a hole 6-8 inches deep at least 200 feet from streams and lakes. Pack out used toilet paper, tampons, sanitary napkins and diapers in sealed plastic bags. Do not bury or burn them.
  7. Carry drinking water. Bring tablets or water filtration devices to purify water in the backcountry.
  8. Be prepared for rapid weather changes; bring rain gear and extra clothing. Thunderstorms occur frequently during the summer. Please watch GTNP's Summer Weather Video" for more information
  9. High elevation may cause breathing difficulties; pace yourself.
  10. Snow melts gradually, leaving valley trails by mid-June, canyon trails by late July. Be careful crossing snowfields and streams.
  11. Tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return.
  12. Solo hiking and off-trail hiking are not recommended. Check with a ranger for current information on trail conditions.

Ready to Gear Up?

Head over to our Summer Gear Rentals to book the right stuff for your trip!

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