Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Camping Space Still Available for Last-Minute Visitors to Yellowstone

(Photo by Daniel Burton)
The marquee National Parks may have some of the most impressive natural sites, but they also tend to draw the biggest crowds. I found that out on my last trip to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon when I had to jockey for space at one ledge overlooking a particularly scenic view of the Canyon. We were able to find less crowded areas, but it took some doing.

Which is why I was pleased to get an update from Xanterra (the concessionaire that runs campgrounds and other services at many national parks) yesterday about conditions at Yellowstone. It seems a particularly snowy spring kept many areas of the park blanketed into early summer. Visitors cancelled their plans and, unusually for the summer high season, there are now dozens of empty spots at the Parks campgrounds (and, one would assume, viewing areas).

You won't be tenting on snow; the campgrounds are all now dry and usable, if quieter and emptier than in summers past.

To reserve a spot, either go to or to the Xanterra site (, for the campgrounds that company operates (5 of the 11).

Beyond Yellowstone's spectacular thermal attractions (bubbling mudpots, geysers, fumaroles, hot springs), the park is home to the largest collection of wildlife in the continental US. I'd say that, along with the Grand Canyon, its the one national park that every American must visit at least once in his or her lifetime. Its that spectacular.

(Note: Since publishing this post, I've heard from a Yellowstone expert who disputes Xanterra's claim that there's an unusually large number of spots available. My advice: contact Yellowstone directly to find out. It seems odd that Xanterra would spread misinformation on this topic, but perhaps someone there has been misinformed).


  1. I would love visit some of the hot springs. My kids would surely love the place.

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