Camp in the Backcountry

Backpackers hit the trail in Lamar Valley.
Backpackers hit the trail in Lamar Valley.

NPS / Neal Herbert

 

NOTICE: All backcountry permits will be issued remotely through the Central Backcountry Office. Refer to the Permits section for information on obtaining a backcountry permit.

For the latest updates on park operations please visit Current Conditions and park social media channels.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Beyond the developed areas, Yellowstone offers a diverse, mountainous landscape that invites exploration by foot, pack stock, and boat. Hundreds of miles of trails and over 300 designated backcountry campsites facilitate travel throughout the park. Permits are required for all overnight stays.

When planning a backcountry trip, remember that many of Yellowstone’s trails are more than 7,000 feet above sea level. Most areas retain snow until late May or early June, and some (especially mountain passes) are snow-covered until late July. Also, many routes require fording rivers that can be 25 feet wide, 3 to 6 feet deep, extremely cold, and swiftly running during our late spring runoff. It’s hard to tell from a map whether a stream will be a raging torrent or merely a swollen creek.

Backcountry Permits

NOTE: The process for obtaining a backcountry permit has been modified for the 2020 season.

Permits are required for all overnight stays and must be obtained from the Central Backcountry Office. Permits are available seven days a week from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm.


All backcountry permits are being issued via phone and e-mail.

Permits are available no earlier than 2-days prior to the start of your trip. To obtain a backcountry permit: Call the Central Backcountry Office at 307-344-2160. Before calling, you may email a copy of your completed
Backcountry Permit Application to speed up the process. A copy of your permit will be emailed to you after we speak with you and obtain payment information.

Is your trip start date more than 2-days away? If yes, then consider making an Advanced Reservation for the backcountry permit. Advanced reservations do not take the place of obtaining the backcountry permit, but offer a way to guarantee specific campsites well in advance of your trip. Only a portion of the park's backcountry campsites may be reserved in advance. Reservation applications are accepted by mail or fax only. A flat, nonreundable fee of $25 is charged for each reservation. Complete the
Backcountry Reservation Application and submit by fax or mail.
NOTE: Processing time for Advanced Reservations is currently around 4-7 days from time of receipt.


Important information:

  • Backcountry permits are available no earlier than 2-days prior to the start of your trip.
  • Be sure to use the correct form. Backcountry Permit Application (no more than 2-days prior to your trip) or Backcountry Reservation Application (not required, only if you want to guarantee specific campsites well in advance of your trip).
  • Watch the Beyond Roads End video and Backcountry Regulations information prior to submitting the permit application.
  • The backcountry permit fee is $3 per-person, per-night for backpacking and boating parties and $5 per-person, per-night for parties traveling with stock. Fees must be paid by credit card at the time the permit is issued.
  • Permits are available from 8:00 am until 4:00 pm. Permits will not be issued after 4:00 pm.
  • Check backcountry campsite availability prior to contacting the Central Backcountry Office or submitting a backcountry permit application.
  • Backcountry Office staff will review backcountry regulations and safety information, collect the backcountry permit fee, and e-mail you a copy of your backcountry permit.
  • Backcountry Permit Offices are not open for in-person permits or information this year.
  • Contact the Central Backcountry Office: (307) 344-2160 or email us at yell_backcountry_office at nps.gov

Fees

The following nightly permit fees are charged for trips between Memorial Day and September 10:

Backpackers/Boaters: $3/person/night (with a max of $15/night)
Stock Parties (horses/mules/llamas): $5/person/night (no max/night)

Permit fees are collected when your permit is issued. Nightly fees are not charged for trips beginning outside of these dates. Nightly fees only apply for group members age 9 and older.

Advanced Reservation Fee: $25 per trip, non-refundable. An additional nightly permit fee (above) will be collected when the reservation is converted to a backcountry permit.

Annual Backcountry Pass
For individuals taking several or extended overnight trips in Yellowstone's backcountry, we offer an Annual Backcountry Pass for $25. Valid for one season (Memorial Day to September 10), the Annual Backcountry Pass exempts the pass holder from the per-person per-night fee. The pass does not cover the advanced reservation fee.

Campsites

Each designated campsite has a maximum limit for the number of people and stock allowed per night. The maximum stay per campsite varies from 1 to 3 nights per trip. Group size limits range from 4 to 12 people. With the exception of four campsites, we allow only one group at each campsite. If your group size exceeds the campsite limit, you’ll need to obtain a second permit and cook and sleep as separate groups. A food storage pole is provided at every campsite so that food and attractants may be secured from bears. Some sites have fire pits. A list and map of campsites can be found in the Backcountry Trip Planner .

Guided Trips

Several commercial businesses are permitted to offer guided overnight backpacking trips into Yellowstone's backcountry. These businesses obtain the necessary permits for trips they provide.

Contact Us

Central Backcountry Office staff can assist with trip planning and other questions at:


Backcountry Office
P.O. Box 168
Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190
307-344-2160 (phone)
307-344-2166 (fax)
e-mail us

Additional Resources

 
Visit our keyboard shortcuts docs for details
Duration:
18 minutes, 45 seconds

Beyond Roads End

 

Last updated: July 28, 2020

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

PO Box 168
Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190-0168

Phone:

307-344-7381

Contact Us