A Week of Boondocking near Yellowstone and Grand Tetons
Updated: Jan 23
We visited the parks mid pandemic in the summer of 2020. So all the visitor centers were closed and the crowds were minimal, well minimal for Yellowstone. Most of the campgrounds and lodging in the parks were closed also. Yet, parking was still an issue. I can't imagine how frustrating it would be to visit in peak season under normal conditions. But no matter when you go, these two parks are a must see for everyone. They are unlike any other. Whether you have two days or two weeks, you will leave in awe. Here are some recommendations for boondocking during your visit.
Our Custer Gallatin National Forest site
We spent several nights in the Custer Gallatin National Forest. Our planned destination was the Eagle Creek Campground in the Gardiner District. We got there mid-day and it was full. However, if you leave the campground and continue up Jardine Road, your next left will be a forest service dirt road that will lead you past several pull off campsites. Just past the small pond there is a large turn around as well, in case all the spots are full and you have to head back down. We camped just across from that turn around, in one of the most epic campsites overlooking wildflower meadows, Electric Peak to our right and Mammoth Hot Springs far off in the distance to the left.
Our Grassy Lake Reservoir site
Our second campsite was down Grassy Lakes Road, a west turn off of the John D. Rockefeller Pkwy. We ended up all the way down at Grassy Lake Reservoir Campground. We had a beautiful lakefront site, but found this camping area to be a bit of a free for all. We came back on our second night to find someone had set up camp right in the middle of our "area." There is no designation as to where one should camp here, and for many, by the time you reach this area you have exhausted all other possibilities. There were some pull off campsites along Grassy Lakes Road, but not as many as we hoped and all were full by mid-day. The campsites were also marked with how many "sites" could be set up within each area. So, these sites were limited to very few lucky campers and not overly crowded. Scoring one of the spots along the river would be an anglers dream.
Our Bridger-Teton National Forest site
This was another free-for-all situation, as no sites were designated. This gives you freedom to choose exactly where you want to set up camp, but does not provide you with a set boundary for how far away you would like others to set up theirs. The view of the Tetons was amazing, but there were a lot of boondocks here. Sometimes too close for comfort. A benefit of this camping area is definitely the space. There were three very large open areas to set up camp. Lots of big rigs when we were there. Yet even with all that space, it filled up every night. This may have to do with the fact that the campgrounds within the parks were closed due to coronavirus. Im not sure what it would look like during a normal peak season when there are more camping options. But even with the high volume of traffic here, we would still definitely stay again. The location is great for seeing all the Teton sites. If you are lucky enough to have some space to spread out and enjoy the quiet, you won't be disappointed.
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