Planning a Last-Minute Camping Trip in Wyoming (2023)
Many people delight in taking a road trip through Wyoming and finding the perfect camping ground to take a break and explore the many beautiful natural attractions the state has to offer. Imagine camping under the stars at the magnificent Yellowstone National Park or at the Grand Teton National Park. However, finding a place to camp at these super popular destinations in Wyoming is not that easy. It can be especially difficult if you have not planned ahead.
Planning a last minute camping trip in Wyoming can be a source of stress if you are not aware of certain things. If you are off on a spontaneous adventure and were not able to book a campsite before going on the road, then this is the perfect opportunity to discover the lesser-known parts of the state located near the national parks. This is because the popular camping grounds are already booked months in advance. But this doesn’t mean that you won’t find any place to camp.
While many of the camping grounds in Wyoming do require you to make a prior reservation, this is not the case with all the sites, and you will always be able to find a place to hook up your RV or pitch your tent. And if you are open to staying a bit further away from the parks or outside the parks, then making a last minute camping trip in Wyoming can be a dream experience.
Here are some of the major factors to keep in mind if you are planning a last-minute camping trip in Wyoming.
Dispersed Camping in Wyoming
In most national forests in Wyoming, visitors can opt for the concept of dispersed camping. This involves staying outside of a developing camping ground without having access to facilities, which includes trash and toilet services. So if you are self-sufficient and you are looking for a last-minute camping site, dispersed camping is always a great option to consider as it increases the number of places where you are staying.
To make last-minute camping easy for you, every national forest website, including Shoshone, Bridger-Teton, and Caribou-Targhee, lists all the areas that already have pre-established dispersed camping sites. So if you decide to choose to go camping at the last minute, you will find several dispersed camping sites off these forest roads.
However, it is important that you respect your surroundings and pick up your trash after yourself and leave the area in a pristine condition as you found it.
Importance of Booking Early
Typically both the Grand Teton National Park and the Yellowstone National Park have a first-come, first-serve reservation system in place. However, recently, these national parks have moved away from this first-come, first-serve system. Now, all the camping grounds at Grand Teton National Park are only booked through a reservation system. In Yellowstone National Park, there are only a few camping grounds that still function of the first-come, first-serve system, but otherwise, there also a prior reservation system is in place. So even if you are planning a last-minute camping trip, do remember to arrive early in order to secure a spot at the campsite.
And if you are not able to get a camping spot in the national parks without a prior reservation, do not worry, as you will still have plenty of options for your last-minute camping trip in national forests, nearby towns, and state parks as well.
Last Minute Camping Locations in Wyoming
1. Buffalo Bill State Park
Located just an hour away from Yellowstone Lake, the Buffalo Bill State Park is a great last-minute camping destination for visitors looking for both RV and tent sites. This park is located along the edge of the Buffalo Bill Reservoir, and you will find plenty of activities here like boating, fishing, and swimming to enjoy. Every night, the sunset casts some of the most beautiful colors across this wide open mesmerizing landscape.
Even though there is a reservation system in place for their camping grounds, this state park is usually far less busy and crowded than Yellowstone.
2. Jenny Lake Campground at the Grand Teton National Park
The Jenny Lake Campground is located just seven miles north of the southern entrance of the famous Grand Teton National Park. The campground is best accessed if you enter through the Moose Entrance. The Jenny Lake Campground is perfect for getting quick access to Jenny Lake. This camping ground is also located in the perfect location to allow visitors to enjoy and take in the many impressive sights of the Teton Range.
The Jenny Lake Campground is home to 49 non-electric, tent-only camping sites. There are also ten biker/hiker campsites that are separate. Each campsite has a picnic table fire ring, and there is shared access to potable water and flushing toilets.
3. Mammoth Hot Springs Campground at the Yellowstone National Park
The Mammoth Hot Springs Campground at the Yellowstone National Park is popular for the unique experience it offers. Located close to the northern entrance of the park in Montana, the Mammoth Hot Springs Campground gives you the fastest access to the travertine terraces of the Mammoth Hot Springs. The camping ground is also located within a short driving distance of the Boiling River, which is one of the few legally allowed thermal soaking spots in the entire Yellowstone Park.
There are 85 sites at this camping ground that are non-electric and can easily accommodate trailers, RVs, and tents. Each campsite has a picnic table, shared access to potable water and flushing toilets, and a fire ring. If you want to restock on your camping supplies, there is the nearby Mammoth Hot Springs Historic District which has a souvenir cum general store that keeps some limited grocery items and a quick-serve restaurant.
The Mammoth Hot Springs Campground is also one of the few camping grounds that remain open throughout the winter months. Again, remember that all the campsites are available only on a first-come, first-serve basis.