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Old 04-19-2015, 11:20 AM   #1
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Yellowstone NP reserve ahead or not?

Today we made reservations for 5 nights at Fishing Bridge Campground in Yellowstone. It will cost $54.45 per night, and they do not accept the Golden Age Pass discount there. The gal I talked to highly discouraged me from 'risking' staying at the campgrounds that don't take reservations. She said that during July we could easily end up not getting a spot.

Fishing Bridge has full hook-ups, which is nice, and the other parks don't. But Mammoth and Norris Campgrounds can both accommodate our size RV (30 ft. travel trailer), AND they would be free (or half-price) because they honor the Golden Age Pass. SO......what is YOUR experience. Would you 'risk' it by staying at a non-reservation campground with a unit our size? We have a generator, so we could do without hook-ups.

Would appreciate any feedback on obtaining campsites in Yellowstone. The way we look at it, we just hate to spend $54.45 per night when we'll no doubt be gone most of the day touring the park.

I read a couple of other threads about staying in Yellowstone, and they said there wouldn't be much trouble in September. But we'll be there during their busiest month of July, so what do you think? I also posted this same question on
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Old 04-19-2015, 11:25 AM   #2
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I've gone to YNP for many years as I live about 4 hours away. I've always stayed in the Grizzly RV Park in West Yellowstone and traveled throughout the park from there. It's only about two blocks to the park entrance from Grizzly. I always call the first of May when they open to make my reservations and have never had an issue getting a spot. Fishing Bridge is too busy for my liking but you might like the location.
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Old 04-19-2015, 12:00 PM   #3
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I would never risk going to Yellowstone without reservations. Yes, Fishing Bridge is expensive, and a long ways from lots of attractions. I also favor Grizzly, or other parks outside the West Entrance. I would strongly suggest confirming reservations on the West side prior to cancelling FB.

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Old 04-19-2015, 12:09 PM   #4
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I agree, you should have a reservation. But the crowds, cost, and inadequacy of amenities make the Park less desirable than outside parks-State Parks / Natl forests are my fav. Think about staying in the park a nite or 2-so you can declare you stayed there-then get a perimeter campground for the other nites. Either way-you can't miss- the parks are grand adventures
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Old 04-19-2015, 04:03 PM   #5
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We stayed at Fishing Bridge in June and would strongly encourage you to get a reservation. I also don't think relying on a genny in July is a good thing as you won't be able to run it at night to power your A/C.
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Old 04-19-2015, 04:08 PM   #6
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I visited YNP in Sept. had no issues with campgrounds but I will not be back. The crowds and traffic were horrendous in Sept. I can only imagine how bad it is in summer. Good Luck.
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Old 04-19-2015, 09:08 PM   #7
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Well...our experience with our 40' motorhome is that we did not make reservations for Mammoth. This was in August and September. In fact, Norris and Mammoth don't even accept reservations. They are first come.

What you really need to do is to stay nearby the previous night and pull into the campground early morning when people are leaving. That's how we got ours.

We've been there many times and we've even snagged sites in the reservable campgrounds of Madison and Bridge Bay without reservations because we arrived at the campgrounds early morning and there were cancellations.

I'd hate to tell you definitely, but that's how it worked for us. We rarely made reservations anywhere. Also, you don't need air conditioning at night in Yellowstone. The days will be warm though unless you get a shady spot.
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Old 04-19-2015, 09:57 PM   #8
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I've never had an issue...when I used a tent.

But I would NEVER think of going during the high season without a reservation firmly in hand if using an RV!

Been to Grizzly, and it is a really, really nice campground. But if you think Fishing Bridge costs too much.....
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Old 04-20-2015, 05:38 PM   #9
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Okay, I think we've decided to go ahead and keep the reservation for Fishing Bridge. But we may shorten our stay there, and try our luck at moving to a 'first come' campground after a couple of days. While at Fishing Bridge we'll see the areas of the park closest to it, and then we'll see the other parts of the park when we move. If we aren't able to get a 'first-come' site, we'll go outside of the park. The last time we were there we got an early start, but JUST missed getting a spot at Mammoth Campground, so we drove to Gardiner and found a site there.

We'll be arriving at Fishing Bridge on a Thursday. We thought we might stay there Thur.-Sat., then try to check in to a 'first-come' campground on Sunday morning. Has your experience been that weekend campers usually leave on Sunday a.m.? We thought that might increase our chances of getting a spot.

Thanks for your input. Greatly appreciated!
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Old 04-20-2015, 05:51 PM   #10
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I was of the impression that the Golden Age and other passes are for entrance to the parks and don't cover things like camping fees. Is that wrong?

I hate that the parks have been "sold" to concessionaires

we're going to Yellowstone in July as well but cancelled our reservations at Fishing Bridge in favor of Grizzly
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Old 04-20-2015, 09:05 PM   #11
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datrbone8.....yes, the pass does cover camping least in most places. We were in the Badlands a couple of years ago, and they did not honor the Golden Age Pass, but in most places we've received the discount, which is usually about 1/2 off as I recall.
Here is a link to the website: America the Beautiful - National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass
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Old 04-20-2015, 09:07 PM   #12
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The Golden Age Passport does cover 1/2 off on campsites but usually not concessionaire campgrounds although sometimes they do, also.
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