Favorite National Park Campsites

jenny lake grand tetons bears

A night spent under the bright stars in perfect weather is what we all imagine when we think of an idyllic night of camping. I’ll tell you this much: THOSE NIGHTS ARE RARE. If it isn’t the “BEWARE: Grizzly Bear Frequenting Area!” signs posted at the front of the campground, a crying baby one tent over, or the folks who open and close their car trunk into the wee hours of the morning that keep you up – it’ll be the torrential down pour, sub freezing temperatures, or the sound of a branch snapping just feet from your tent at 3 AM. The good thing is, after days of hiking up mountains, trekking through deserts, and kayaking upstream, we’re usually so exhausted we’ll sleep through just about anything.

On our 2 month, 8,500 mile America road trip, we stuck to campgrounds inside (or very close) to the National Parks for convenience. While campgrounds inside of National Parks tend to be more crowded and a little bit pricier than National Forest or BLM campgrounds, proximity to the parks was our priority. With all the miles we had already driven just to travel out west from Virginia, we wanted to limit the amount of time “commuting” to and from the parks in each day.

These were our favorite campsites in and/or around the parks we explored.

Jenny Lake Campground
Grand Tetons National Park
Site #45

Pros: Mountain views. Running water. Flush toilets. Wildlife sightings – bears are known to frequent the area. A deer startled me when it jumped out as I passed it heading to the bathroom. Trees to hang up hammock. 

Cons: No showers. No dish washing station. Campground fills up early meaning it will most likely be full.

Stillwater Campground
Outside Rocky Mountain National Park
Site #104

Pros: Quiet – we didn’t have any neighbors. Views of Lake Granby. Hot showers. Running water. Flush toilets.

Cons: Outside of park. No dish washing station. 

Grandstaff Campground
Outside Arches National Park
Site #10

Pros: Views. On Colorado River. Close to Arches and Moab. Hiking within walking distance.

Cons: Vault toilets. No running water. Near road. Little shade in middle of day.

Willow Flat Campground
Canyonlands National Park
Site #11

Pros: Views. Large sites. Shaded picnic table. Close to hiking. 

Cons: Vault toilets. No running water. No showers. No dish washing station. Only 12 sites and first come served.

Cedar Pass Campground
Badlands National Park
Site #40

Pros: Views. Shaded picnic table. Running water. Flush toilets. Hot showers. Dish washing station. In park. 

Cons: No tree cover. Bugs. Must reserve in advance.


Canyon Village
Yellowstone National Park
Site #115

Pros: Great home base for middle section of park. Plenty of tree cover. Flush toilets and dish washing station available. Close to visitor center, shops, and restaurant. Hot showers included and laundry nearby. 

Cons: Close to other sites. Reservations required.

Colter Bay Campground
Grand Tetons National Park
Site #1253

Pros: Close to visitor center, camp store and restaurant. Good hiking nearby. Partial views of mountains. Not crowded. Wildlife sightings. Flush toilets. Pay showers available.

Cons: Sharp gravel area for tent. No dish washing station.

Mammoth Campground
Yellowstone National Park
Site #85

Pros: Great home base for visiting northern section of park. Wildlife sightings – Elk walked through our campsite a few times. Open year round. Close to Mammoth Hot Springs Close to boiling river. Terraces. Flush toilets. Shaded.

Cons: Near road and cars can be loud. Fills up early. 

So, what makes a campsite a winner?

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