So, you’ve made it to Yellowstone, but RV parking in Yellowstone is not easy if you’re not sure where to park. The last thing you want is to spend hours looking for parking – or even worse, for your RV to get towed while you’re busy exploring!
Therefore, we’ve provided you with a complete guide to RV parking in Yellowstone. This helpful article gives you an idea of where you should and should not park while visiting. It also fills you in on scenic lookouts for photos, as well as rules and restrictions to abide by during your travels.
RV Parking in Yellowstone
RV parking in Yellowstone doesn’t have to be stressful. Plan your trip around the mid-day rush by visiting popular attractions in the early morning or evening. The Yellowstone National Park updates their site multiple times each day to inform visitors about the busiest sections.
The list below includes the primary parking lots throughout the region. Some of the smaller lots are not listed; however, park maps cover each parking destination. Keep in mind that these tinier lots are more likely to be filled due to their size. Therefore, planning your trip using the following information will provide the best results.
Mammoth Hot Springs Area
In conjunction with the Boiling River in northern Yellowstone, lies the Mammoth Hot Springs near the North Entrance.
These springs are lively during the summer months due to their immense popularity. For these reasons, RV parking is extraordinarily difficult. Avoid peak times between 9 am and 7 pm during these times to increase the likelihood of finding a space.
Boiling River Parking Lots
The Boiling River Swim Area attracts visitors for its unique experience. The waters of a nearby hot spring and the Gardner River combine here to produce a natural hot tub.
Moreover, there are 46 available parking spaces for non-oversized vehicles in both the east and west lots. The east lot is smaller but provides direct access to the Boiling River trail. It is also nearest to the local vault toilet. The west lot, on the other hand, is more substantial and sits on the opposite side of the road.
Note that the lot closes between April 16th and July 11th due to high-water warnings; however, it functions between 6 am to 8 pm from July 12th to September 14th. During the winter months, from September 15th to April 14th, the parking hours are 7 am to 6 pm.
With origins of erosion and volcanic activity, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River is a breathtaking historical landmark. Each season generates a new experience for visitors who take advantage of its overlooks and hiking trails.
The canyon spans a large portion of northern Yellowstone; therefore, the following six lots permit free RV parking. These lots are open 24 hours every day except between November 4th and April 30th when it closes.
Canyon Village is in the heart of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. The parking lot is across from the Canyon Visitor Education Center and has 351 spots, with 19 of them being oversized. Its busiest times in peak times are between 12 pm and 4 pm.
Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone: Artist Point Parking Lot
Just south of Canyon Village is South Rim Drive. Off this road lies another parking sector that has 109 parking spaces with nine oversized spots. It is best to avoid this lot between 11 am and 4 pm during the summer months.
Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone: North Rim Parking Lot
To reach this parking lot, head south of Canyon Village via North Rim Drive. You will find a pull-off near the Brink of the Lower Falls that accommodates 139 vehicles and 12 oversized units. During peak season, this destination becomes hectic between 11 am and 4 pm.
Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone: Uncle Tom’s Trail Parking Lot
Uncle Tom’s Trail Parking Lot is south of Canyon Village off South Rim Drive. It holds 92 vehicles with eight oversized spaces. Finding parking here in the summer is most strenuous between 10 am and 6 pm.
Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone: Upper Falls Parking Lot
To access this lot, head south from Canyon Village onto Grand Loop Road until you reach the Brink of the Upper Falls. Here you will find the Upper Falls Parking Lot, which has 101 parking spots with no accommodations for oversized units. This stretch is typically less busy than others, and parking should not be an issue.
Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone: Wapiti Lake Parking Lot
Head south of Canyon Village via South Rim Drive to reach Wapiti Lake Parking Lot. It has 45 regular parking spots with no oversized spaces. This section is busiest between 12 pm and 3 pm during peak season.
Midway Geyser Basin Area
Yellowstone’s Midway Geyser Basin is one of the main reasons that visitors travel to this region.
For one, the Grand Prismatic Spring is exceptional due to its heat-loving bacteria that give the hot spring its beautiful array of color. Photographers use this opportunity to take advantage of nature’s most impressive work.
Excelsior Geyser Crater, a dormant geyser, also reels in curious guests. Once a roaring geyser with intense eruptions, the attraction now operates as a hot spring that emits thousands of gallons of water into the Firehole River.
The park offers free RV parking 24 hours a day here, except when it closes between November 4th and April 16th.
Fairy Falls Parking Lot
Drive six miles north of Old Faithful to find Fairy Falls Parking Lot. Located in proximity to the Firehole River, this area provides convenient access to the nearby springs. There are 97 parking spaces here with no oversized accommodations. Moreover, this lot is very crowded during peak months between 10 am and 6 pm.
Midway Geyser Basin Parking Lot
Midway Geyser Basin Parking Lot is across from the Firehole River near Grand Prismatic Spring and Excelsior Geyer. Its convenient location makes it very busy, especially in the summer period. With only 55 spots and 12 oversized spaces, parking here between 9 am, and 9 pm may be challenging.
Norris Geyser Basin
With over 115,000 years of history and maximum water temperatures reaching 459°F, the Norris Geyser Basin is the oldest and hottest feature of Yellowstone National Park. This site’s intense colors, sounds, and smells are sure to stimulate the senses and provide an experience you’ll never forget.
Take advantage of the free RV parking offered here 24 hours a day between April 17th and November 3rd. Furthermore, during the peak months, account for the high-volume traffic between 10 am and 6 pm.
Norris Geyser Basin Parking Lot
The Norris Geyser Basin Parking Lot is near the Steamboat Geyser and the Norris Geyser Basin Museum. It has 143 parking spaces with 17 designed for oversized units.
Old Faithful Area
Old Faithful in the Upper Geyser Basin is, by far, the main attraction at Yellowstone National Park. Visitors can spend up to two days exploring the grounds while watching geysers erupt left and right!
Due to its popularity, Old Faithful is one of the toughest places to find RV parking. There are three lots available, each free with 24-hour access between April 17th and November 3rd.
Old Faithful Central Parking Lot
Just south of the Old Faithful Visitor Education Center is the Old Faithful Central Parking Lot. There are a whopping 342 parking spaces here with 29 for oversized vehicles. During its busiest months, the worst times to visit are between 12 pm and 3 pm.
Old Faithful East Parking Lot
The location of Old Faithful East Parking Lot is rather convenient, as it lies between the Old Faithful Inn and the Old Faithful Lodge. It has 674 spots for parking and accommodates 32 oversized units. Bypass this lot between 11 am and 5 pm during the height of summer to increase the chances of finding a space.
Old Faithful Inn Parking Lot
The vast popularity of the Old Faithful Inn Parking Lot, which is just north of the Old Faithful Inn, makes parking a challenge. Spaces are limited, as there are 150 in total with no room for oversized units. It is best to find parking between 11 am and 2 pm, as overnight guests at the Old Faithful Inn use this lot.
Can I Park My RV Overnight in Yellowstone?
Overnight stays in Yellowstone parking lots is strictly prohibited. On-duty park rangers enforce the rules and regulations to keep visitors safe. Failure to adhere to these laws can result in various consequences, such as removal from the park grounds, ticketing, or towing.
Furthermore, be cautious about where you are parking, as well as the specific rules for that lot. Be sure to grab a park map upon entry for more details.
Yellowstone has 12 campgrounds in the park for visitors. Seven are first-come, first-served, whereas the other five allow reservations about a year in advance. Note that only one of these sites has full hookups.
Always include campgrounds into your itinerary, as winging it can be troublesome, especially during peak season. Many RV parks outside of Yellowstone have electricity, sewage, and water hookups, as well as many other helpful accommodations. These sites also book up quickly, so be sure to reserve as soon as possible.
Regardless, overnight stays that are not at one of Yellowstone’s campgrounds require a permit. Furthermore, backcountry permits are for backpackers, boaters, and stock parties with horses, mules, or llamas.
Fees range from $3 to $5 per night between Memorial Day and September 10th. Permits allow access to one of over 300 backcountry campsites. Requests begin on April 1st of each year, but spots fill up quickly, as each visitor needs a reservation.
RELATED READING: You can’t park overnight in Yellowstone but there are plenty of RV campgrounds in and near Yellowstone. For more info check out our article called The Best RV Camping In (and Near) Yellowstone.
RV Parking at Scenic Overlooks
Yellowstone National Park tries to accommodate visitors as best as possible by providing pullouts near scenic overlooks. Only use these designated areas to stop, as pulling off on the side of the road can be extremely dangerous.
RV parking in a scenic overlook takes up space, so stay mindful of those around you and keep your visit to a minimum. Pull off the road entirely and obey all posted guidelines.
To view all overlooks and pullouts, use Yellowstone National Park’s interactive map on their website, or use the paper map provided at the entrance. With the park’s 2.2 million acres, each road has an equally spectacular view; however, there are several that stick out from the rest.
Beartooth Highway is known as the most scenic drive in the United States. The roadway practically soars across the mountain tops, as it winds through the Northern Rockies. Prepare for a surreal experience as you come across 20 peaks taller than 12,000 feet. Continue driving to admire picturesque lakes, valleys, and waterfalls. This 68-mile journey surely will not disappoint!
Other popular scenic drives include Gallatin Canyon, Lake Loop, Absarokee Loop, and Paradise Valley. Each road has captivating features that guarantee a thrilling experience and many photo opportunities.
Can I Pull My RV Over and Park to Take Photos?
The beautiful scenery and abundant wildlife make for a perfect driving distraction. Don’t let the idea tempt you, however! Keep your eyes on the road to ensure safety for you and your family. Pulling over is the best option, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pull off just anywhere.
Roads in Yellowstone are often windy leading to blind curves and potentially dangerous situations. Additionally, soft shoulders, or hazardous unpaved segments the roadside, should never be used except for emergencies. Do not veer off the street to take photos, as parking here can lead to accidents and RV troubles.
Instead, use pullouts to move to the side. Once parked, feel free to get out and take as many pictures as needed. Respect those around you and never block traffic. Ignoring these rules can result in death or injury.
RV Parking Rules and Restrictions in Yellowstone
Driving-related accidents are more common than animal attacks and any other threat in Yellowstone. For your safety, the park has rules and restrictions that are enforced by park rangers. Follow these guidelines to avoid issues while enjoying your vacation.
First, let’s cover some driving basics in Yellowstone. Wildlife is plentiful in this national park, meaning there is a chance that a large animal will jut out in front of you. Always prepare for this possibility by maintaining the speed limit of 45 mph. It is also important to abide by the posted speed due to potential traffic, potholes, and frost heaves. Also, be sure to keep detachable side mirrors attached, unless you are pulling a trailer.
Now, let’s talk about parking. Each road has multiple pullouts located in safe, accessible places. Use these areas to park and never stop in the middle of the street. Accidents are most common when visitors disregard these regulations.
While stationary, remember that you should never approach animals. Even the calmest and cutest creatures may turn vicious and attack. Also, never feed wildlife, as this may eventually make them aggressive towards humans. Keep your distance and do not attempt to move closer for a photo.
As previously mentioned, overnight stays are not allowed in any of the parking lots in Yellowstone (aside from lodging parking). Park rangers enforce these rules and will take immediate action. Only use parking lots for day trips and book campgrounds for overnight ventures.
RELATED READING: Check out our article called 11 Essential Tips for RV Camping in National Parks for tons of great info.
RV Parking in Yellowstone is only a hassle if you fail to research prior to your trip. Having an awareness of the crowds and parking areas will help immensely. Also, be sure to follow all laws and regulations to ensure a fun and safe trip!
Do you have any Yellowstone RV Parking tips you can share? Please leave your comments below!
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