An American institution, Yellowstone National Park may date back nearly 150 years, but is still a hugely important tourism hot-spot. Millions make the pilgrimage to Wyoming every year and it’s the perfect destination for a US road trip in an RV rental. There are many campground options at Yellowstone for all types of motorhome, while the wildlife, natural attractions and guided tours attract visitors of all ages. Read on for Motorhome Republic's guide to this amazing natural spectacle.
Nature at your fingertips
Officially open for business in 1872, early records confirm that Native Americans actually lived in Yellowstone some 11,000 years ago. Comprising nearly 3500 square miles (9000km), it is believed to be the first national park in the world. Its unique topography is made up of the largest volcanic system in North America [Yellowstone Caldera], resulting in thousands of geysers and earthquake shakes every year – don’t worry, they’re rarely felt by the general public. Native flora and fauna, lakes, canyons, rivers, mountains and a hunting-free environment (although you can fish) make Yellowstone one of the most precious National Park’s on the planet – a definite bucket list ambition for many RV adventurers.
Things to see and do at Yellowstone National Park
In terms of outdoor, natural attractions, there is nowhere better. Photo opportunities are everywhere, various National Park Tours and there’s an all year-round appeal for those renting a motorhome… here are just some of the reasons why:
Geysers: Perhaps the most famous geyser on the planet, Old Faithful Geyser is still going strong. Erupting approximately every 65 minutes, it can shoot boiling water upwards of 185 feet. Other less renowned geysers include Castle Lion and Beehive, but are still worth a look, along with colourful hot springs – the Grand Prismatic is unmissable.
Wildlife: It would take too long to list all of the different types of animal at Yellowstone, but it’s always a pleasure to see them in a natural environment, safe and thriving. Grizzly bears, grey wolves, bison, eagles, moose and herds of wild horses are the mere tip of the iceberg.
Native American History: Step back in time at the numerous Indian reservations in the greater Yellowstone Park area, watch a PowWow (gathering of native people) and make time for the Shoshone Bannock Indian Festival at Fort Hall.
Enjoy the outdoors: At 7700 feet above sea level and 136 square miles, there’s plenty of water to enjoy on Yellowstone Lake. Here you can go rafting or paddling, with the Black Canyon a favourite spot. And let’s not forget fishing, with 16 species underwater – although permits are required. For land lovers, plan a cycling expedition on park roads or go hiking, with 900 miles of trails. There’s even horseback riding and Llama Packing, through Xanterra Parks and Resorts and one of the licensed stock outfitters.
Camping at Yellowstone in an RV or motorhome
The sheer scale of Yellowstone means there are plenty of accommodation options and places to park up your RV rental, with 12 campgrounds in total. Five reservation campgrounds are operated by Xanterra Parks and Resorts, with the National Park Service in charge of seven first-come, first-served sites.
Booking in advance is essential due to demand and you cannot park overnight outside the designated sites. If you’re looking for electrical hook-ups, then Fishing Bridge RV Park is your only option (for hard-sided vehicles only). Bridge Bay Campground is close to Yellowstone Lake, 30 miles west of the east entrance. Ideal for hiking to Natural Bridge, it has 432 campsites with restroom facilities, flush toilets and a dump station. Canyon Village Campground is south of the Washburn Range and close to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River, with 270 sites. Its forest location hosts a picnic table and fire pit, sinks and flush toilets and generator use during set times. Grant Village Campground has 430 sites, again with restroom facilities, toilets and drinking water – pay showers and laundry are a handy extra. Check online for other camping options.
With five different entrance stations and opening hours varying from season to season, pre-planning your RV rental holiday to Yellowstone is imperative – don’t get caught out.
RV pick-up points to Yellowstone National Park
If you’re booking a motorhome rental for Yellowstone, you won’t be able to collect your vehicle at the park itself. So, what are the best routes to take and where can you take advantage of Motorhome Republic’s extensive US network?
The closest RV Rental pick-up spot is Billings, Montana, known as the Gateway to Yellowstone. Around 130 miles away and a two-and-a-half hour drive south-west, take Highway 212, bypassing Laurel, Roberts and Red Lodge, before arriving at the world-famous Beartooth Highway, with steep zig-zags and switchbacks. However, it’s generally only open from May til October. Another option is Via Highways 90 and 89 into Gardiner and the North Entrance, which is open to wheeled vehicles all year round – around 170 miles in total.
The next closest for motorhome pick-up is Salt Lake City, around 320 miles south of Yellowstone. Again, there are a couple of routes you can take. Highway 15 goes via Fort Hall, and St Anthony to West Yellowstone, while I-89 is another exciting journey through Bear Lake, Montpelier, Alpine and Jackson.
Denver, Colorado is quite a trip, approaching 550 miles. However, it’s an incredibly scenic drive, via I-25 through Cheyenne and Casper.
Coming from the south-west, Reno, Nevada is a 10-hour-plus journey through joyous Nevada, via I-80, then I-86 at Twin Falls.
Seattle to Yellowstone RV rental is a very popular itinerary, with a couple of routes you can take. The northern trip is via I-90 through Spokane and Missoula – this is the quicker trip, at around 12 hours and 740 miles. The southern way in is a few hours longer at 880 miles, but takes you around the southern site of Idaho on I-84 through stunning forestry via Idaho Falls.
Other Motorhome Republic pick-up points for Yellowstone National Park:
Portland 814 miles
Bellingham 822 miles
Ferndale 831 miles
Sacramento 850 miles
San Francisco Motorhome Hire 927 miles
RV Rental from Las Vegas 740 miles
Handy tips for RV rental trips to Yellowstone
Remember that the park is so vast, with so much to do, be sure to plan your trip in great detail. Check which sites you wish to stay at, when they are open, how much they cost and availability. Also, road construction and improvement is commonplace around Yellowstone – get online and make sure the routes are clear. The middle of the year tends to be busiest (the summer months), but remember that travel in autumn and winter is still fascinating and great fun. In fact, the changes of colour and season can actually surpass the predictable heat of summer. There is also more space on the highways and byways.
Talk to Motorhome Republic about our vast selection of RVs and campervans. We’re sure to have the right vehicle for you, so you can take full advantage of everything that Yellowstone National Park has to offer.