Spring is starting to show its colors, and with that for many comes the urge to get outside, stretch those winter weary muscles and soak up some vitamin D. If for you that also means planning an outdoor adventure for your summer vacation, why not take things a step further by ditching those hotel room walls and soaking up some Yellowstone moonlight as well. Whether your style is self-sufficient, self-indulgent or somewhere in between, the Yellowstone area has something to help even the most skeptical give a second thought to a night in the great outdoors
To truly get back to basics, Yellowstone has nearly 300 backcountry campsites throughout its 2.2 million acres and 1,100 miles of established trails just waiting to be enjoyed. This is camping at its no-frills core. Sure, there are no bathrooms and you have to carry everything yourself, but there is also the opportunity to see sights most park visitors don't know exist, enjoy the solitude afforded by being in some of the most remote wilderness outside of Alaska, and get at little exercise to boot. Backcountry campsites come in all shapes and locations from relatively flat 2-3 mile jaunts such as the Beaver Ponds trail in Mammoth or the Lone Star trail near Old Faithful to the 30+ mile multi-day adventures through the Bechler River region, offering options for the novice through the experienced backcountry trekker. Visit Yellowstone Backcountry Hiking and Camping for more information on planning your own trip, or check out local outfitters if you would prefer to let someone else do the planning (and some of the packing!).
If the idea of marshmallows over the fire is enticing but you're not quite ready to actually carry anything to the fire, the next step up might be your style. Ranging from first come, first camp primitive campsites to the full-service RV park at Fishing Bridge, there are plenty of options to camp with those creature comforts that car and RV camping allow. Located throughout the park, the National Park Service offers seven primitive campgrounds that meet the most basic needs – a fire ring, a tent pad and a pit toilet. These campsites typically range from $15-$20 and can go quickly, so be up bright and early to snag your sweet spot. Offering just a few more amenities are the four Xanterra operated campgrounds that accept advance reservations and offer amenities ranging from flush toilets and running water to showers, laundry and full RV services depending upon the location. Rates range from $21.50-$47.75 depending upon the level of services available and reservations can be made through Xanterra. For those arriving on a whim and prayer, the park entrance stations also display the availability status for each campground and update this periodically throughout the day.
Still not sold? Then how about giving “glamping” a gander. While there are currently no outfitters offering this up and coming luxury camping trend within the park boundaries, one does not need to go far. Located just seven miles from West Yellowstone, Mont. at the park's West entrance, Yellowstone Under Canvas offers the best of both worlds. Accommodations range from economical tipis to suites complete with king sized beds, sitting rooms and en suite bathrooms, all with the aura of a wilderness safari. And with prices ranging from $95-$425 depending on your dates and choice of accommodations, the price is comparable to many other options with solid walls. Visit www.glamping.com for more ideas on luxury camping throughout the US and the world.