Last year we hopped in the car for an impromptu road trip from Grand Junction, CO to Bozeman, MT and back down through Yellowstone National Park. Along the way we stopped off at three campgrounds and here’s what we found.

Yellowstone National Park

The morning we left Bozeman for Yellowstone, we were up early and on the road by 8:30am. We knew we had to get to Yellowstone to secure a campsite by 11. As we drove through the Roosevelt Arch at the entrance everyone seemed to be stopping to take photos. Not us. I was shouting, “Go! Go! Get to the campgrounds!” Honestly there are a lot of campgrounds in Yellowstone, but it was July after all.  We bypassed the Mammoth Hot Springs campground (which has a huge number of sites) and headed to the lesser-known, and much smaller, Tower Fall Campground near Roosevelt Lodge and a general store.  The sites here were suitable for tents or small campers–no Winnebagos would be making their way around the circle.

While this is an older campground, the sites on the outer loop are nicely spaced and they’re large.  We had plenty of room for our tent under a giant shade tree, and we also had a picnic table.  Some sites had bear vaults as well, but we just kept everything in airtight containers in the car.

View of the inner loop from our tent site.  Clearly the outer loop is the place to be.

While not the most scenic campground, Tower Falls worked well for us.  Most everyone was tent camping here so there weren’t any loud generator noises from RVs.  The general store was close-by and it was a little more centrally located than in some of the other campgrounds in the area.  We got there by 11am and had our choice of several sites.

Grand Teton National Park

Once we left Yellowstone, we headed just a short stretch down the road to the Grand Teton National Park.  Again I’d done some research and discovered that the Lizard Creek campground was so big that it supposedly never filled up.  Perfect!  This campground has tent loops with walk-in sites (short walks) and separate RV loops.  We discovered that there were many sites in the tent section with lake views and, while the sites might seem close together, the numerous trees made it feel very secluded.

This was the view just through the trees from our campsite.  We had our own tiny private stretch of beach to relax on.

I thought this was a great campground.  The bathrooms were a little farther away than at some places, but we had our bikes so that wasn’t much of an issue.  Having the lake so close-by definitely was a treat.  We stayed two nights here before heading south back toward Colorado.

Flaming Gorge Reservoir

On our last night and within four hours of home we stopped near Flaming Gorge Reservoir.  While Flaming Gorge Reservoir itself stretches between Wyoming and Utah, we would be staying on the Utah side of the border. After checking out, and nixing, one campground, we headed up the road and discovered a gem called the Firefighter’s Campground.  Named for three firefighters who lost their lives in the 1977 Cart Creek Fire, this campground sits high above Flaming Gorge Reservoir.  The sites are nicely spaced on three loops.  We were lucky to find one with great views and lots of privacy.

A final evening of camping at Firefighter’s Campground near Flaming Gorge Reservoir

Campgrounds sometimes require taking a chance, or better yet, a drive around to check things out.  You just never know what great place you might happen upon.

# Comments

  • Jeff Barber

    +1 for driving around and finding the best campground/campsite. I rarely settle for the first site I see… unless it’s really killer.

    On a trip with some buddies last summer we were driving into a campground and on the road in we saw an AMAZING spot right on the lake. Everyone wanted to keep driving to see what else was available but I LOVED that spot so I said, “I’ll hop out here and stand guard.” Sure enough, the guys came back and were like, yeah, this is the best site.

    These days some of the mystery and serendipity of finding a great campsite can be eliminated (for better or worse) with the Tripleblaze app on a smartphone. 🙂

  • mtbikerchick

    It’s always great to have someone to jump out and stand guard at a great spot! I myself did that while the BF went to the pay stations. At Flaming Gorge we really lucked out because the host let us drive around the “reserved” loop. He said if we found one that wasn’t reserved for that night we could have it, and we did!

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