For many of Yellowstone’s visitors, the best way to experience the park is by camping in the backcountry. A Backcountry Use Permit is required for all overnight trips. Permits must be obtained in person and no more than 48 hours in advance. It is possible to reserve a site by contacting the park’s backcountry office. (Yell_Backcountry_Office@nps.gov).
If possible, it is best to pick-up your permit at the backcountry office closest to where your trip begins. Rangers at that location should have the best information on trail conditions. Be sure to ask about any restrictions and stream crossings that may affect your trip.
Once you have received a permit and are on the trail, the adventure begins. Yellowstone is home to black bears and grizzly bears, and special rules apply when camping in bear country.
Food storage poles are provided at most sites, so that food and other attractants can be suspended out of a bears reach. Hikers need to carry at least 35 feet of rope. Food, garbage, and all odorous items, including toothpaste and other toiletries must be suspended at least 10 feet off the ground and 4 feet from tree trunks.
While campfires are allowed in some sites, it is best to cook using a camp stove. Strain food particles from dishwater and pack it out with your garbage. Dishwater should be scattered at least 100 yards from your tent site. Clothes worn while cooking should also be hung on the food storage pole.
If possible, choose a spot for your tent that is at least 100 yards from the food storage pole and 100 yards from a water supply. I like to picture a triangle with 100 yards from pole to tent to water.
For your safety and the safety of the next campers, always keep a clean camp. Never leave food items unattended, even for a short period. Camping in Yellowstone’s backcountry can be a wonderful experience if you stay alert and follow a few simple rules.