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Salt Lake City to Yellowstone National Park

Salt Lake City to Yellowstone National Park

Tucked into the upper northwest corner of Wyoming with small portions across the Idaho and Montana borders, Yellowstone is a sprawling wilderness area with powerful geysers, high-mountain peaks, massive waterfalls, and some of the largest wild bison herds in the US. As the largest National Park in the continental United States, Yellowstone has over two million acres of wilderness that can be explored with five park entrances. Yellowstone is a living, breathing concoction of geothermal activity in the heart of the American West. The national park is the center of the greater Yellowstone area, which includes some of the most wild and rugged terrain in North America. Pick up your Escape Campervan at the Salt Lake City location to travel to Yellowstone National Park.


Directions Tips:

It takes roughly 10 hours and 36 minutes to reach Yellowstone National Park from our Denver location.


Directions Tips:

It takes approximately 4 hours and 43 minutes to travel the 329 miles from Salt Lake City to Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park 

While the many gushing geysers and hot springs draw crowds to the park, the greater Yellowstone area is full of pristine, untouched wilderness and wide open spaces where herds of elk and bison roam free. The National Park stretches for nearly 3,500 square miles across three states and contains North America’s largest super volcano. 

Why Rent a Camper Van for a Salt Lake City to Yellowstone National Park Road Trip?

Cover a lot of ground in a camper van. To put it simply, Yellowstone is massive. To best experience the park in all its glory, it’s recommended to stay in multiple locations. With almost 3,500 square miles of terrain to cover, a camper van is your best bet for exploring Yellowstone National Park. 

The perfect blend of mobility and comfort: A camper van gives you unparalleled mobility and comfort. While an RV may have a similar level of comfort, you’re limited on where you can park and stay. A camper van offers the best of both worlds–camping made comfortable and easy meals on the go. Navigate winding mountain roads with ease, get to remote, dispersed campsites, and enjoy all the freedoms of camper van travel. 

Easy to drive: Unlike giant RVs, camper vans drive just like normal cars, fit into regular parking spots, and are easy to use both in nature and in the city. Camper vans are unrivaled when it comes to dispersed camping. Access remote campsites and trails in the far reaches of Yellowstone without sacrificing the comfort your van provides. 

Flexible Camping: Since camper vans don’t require electrical or sewer hookups, you have the flexibility to camp in tent-designated campsites and remote dispersed sites. The greater Yellowstone area occupies thousands of miles of pristine wilderness. Find isolated dispersed campsites or camp in the park with a camper van. 

Convenient and fun: With dozens of add-ons and several spacious models, our camper vans make spending the night in nature easy and enjoyable. You can pack everything you need for a multi-day and multi-activity adventure with you in your van and not waste time setting up a tent or looking for RV-designated camping/ parking. 

 

Preparing for a Trip to Yellowstone 

Gear

Rain Gear: The weather in Yellowstone National Park can change quickly and deviate far from the forecast. Always bring rain gear when you travel there. 

Sun Protection: Bring sunscreen, a hat, and UPF clothing when traveling in Yellowstone during the summer. During the summer, temperatures can reach into the 80s.

Layers: Summer is not always sunny. Hot days often give way to cold nights, and summer rain can bring chilly temps. Bring plenty of layers, even if you’re traveling in the summer. If you’re traveling in the winter, bring proper winter clothes and prepare for snow and extreme winter weather. 

Water & Food: A camper van allows you to take everything you need on the road. Add a kitchen kit to your camper van to plan your meals during your journey. 

Campsites

­­Dispersed camping vs. campsites: A van makes dispersed camping easy. You can disperse camp for free on federal and BLM land. There are plenty of apps available to help you find a dispersed camping site on your route. 

If you’re considering booking a reservable campsite in the park, reserve your site at least a year in advance, if not more, as campsites fill up fast. If you are planning a trip and find there are no available campsites within the park, do not worry, as there are dozens of options for camping outside of the park by the park’s five entrances. Camping outside of the park will give you more options, access to nicer amenities, and increased availability. However, it is still recommended to book as far in advance as you can.  

Navigation

Phones & Chargers: Navigation is integral to your trip’s success. Make sure you bring a smartphone or GPS device and a charger. Download maps offline so you can access them when you don’t have service. 

Which Camper Van is Best for Traveling in Yellowstone National Park? 

Escape Camper Vans offers a variety of van models to suit your travel needs, group size, and desired destination. These vans are equipped with all the bells and whistles to provide the ultimate mix of comfort and ease of travel. With a built-in kitchenette, solar panels, and a comfortable queen bed, there’s no better way to hit the road. From our Salt Lake City location, you can choose between the spacious Mesa, Del Mar, and Mavericks models. Each van sleeps up to 5 people (with a rooftop sleeper). Browse our selection of vans to find the perfect model for your Yellowstone National Park road trip, and make sure it’s stocked with everything you need for an epic adventure.

Must-See Sights, Events, and Places in Yellowstone National Park 

Explore the otherworldly geological features of the Mammoth Hot Springs.

The Mammoth Hot Springs are one of the park’s biggest attractions thanks to the bizarre and almost decorative appearance of the limestone pools and plateaus.

 The upper and lower terraces of Mammoth Hotsprings are the highlight of the area and can be explored on a system of boardwalks. Pallete Springs is accessed from the lower park lot, and the bright sulfur-yellow Canary Springs can be accessed from the upper loop. Both sites look as if they were carved by a divine hand. 

The thermal activity in the area is always changing, so check in at the visitor center to see what is open during your visit. 

Visit Old Faithful and the Upper Geyser Basin

Yellowstone is home to approximately half the world’s geysers, and most of them are located in the Upper Geyser Basin. 

The Old Faithful Geyser is Yellowstone’s most popular attraction. Old Faithful erupts on a predictable schedule, allowing visitors to catch an eruption about every 90 minutes. The eruptions expel anywhere from 3,700 to 8,400 gallons of boiling water over 100 feet into the air and last from 1.5 to 5 minutes. 

Beyond Old Faithful, the Upper Geyser Basin is home to the Anemone, Beehive, Castel, Daisy Geyser, and more. 

Tour the Grand Prismatic Spring 

The Grand Prismatic Spring is the largest and deepest thermal feature in the park, but its size does not attract visitors; rather, it’s the thermal pool’s opal-lake quality that does. 

The 370-foot wide and 121-foot deep hot spring has a deep, sapphire blue center with multi-colored rings around the edge of the pool thanks to various forms of algae that give the pool a rainbow prism appearance. 

Grand Prismatic Spring can be explored by a series of boardwalks, but for the best photos drive south to the Fairy Falls Trailhead and walk about 1 mile to an overlook platform on the hill. 

Spot wildlife in Lamar Valley

Lamar Valley is one of Yellowstone’s premier wildlife viewing zones. The Lamar River Valley is home to elk, bison, deer, and pronghorn in the grasslands. While the Northern Range is home to coyotes, bobcats, cougars, foxes, and wolves. 

When observing wildlife in the park, do not approach or feed the animals. Keep in mind that elk and bison have injured tourists before. Stay at least 100 yards from bears and wolves and 25 yards from all other animals. 

Hike the Dunraven Pass to Mount Washburn

This 7-mile out-and-back trek involves climbing the summit of Mt. Washburn for epic views. Along the way, you’ll trace the rim of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, see Hidden Valley, encounter Yellowstone Lake, and even spot the Grand Tetons off in the distance. 

This hike follows an old stagecoach road that was constructed in 1905, so the hike isn’t too strenuous despite the 1394-foot elevation gain. Make sure to leave early to avoid the crowds. 

Take a dip in the Firehole Canyon Swimming Area

Cool off after a long hike with a dip in the Firehole River. The Firehole Canyon Swimming Area is open seasonally during the day and offers park visitors a much-needed reprieve from the hot summer sun.

The river is typically closed for swimming until mid-summer due to strong currents. Check the river conditions here

Camping in Yellowstone National Park 

Due to Yellowstone National Park’s size, exploring requires a lot of moving around. So, we recommend picking a few different camp spots to explore each corner of the park as thoroughly as you desire. If you are interested in dispersed camping, please note that while it isn’t allowed inside the park boundaries, there are plenty of free dispersed camping opportunities exist on nearby BLM land. 

There are five entrances to Yellowstone National Park. 

The North Entrance give​​s park visitors the best access to the popular Mammoth Hot Springs area. This is the only entrance open year-round.

The Northeast Entrance is best for accessing the Lamar Valley and other popular wildlife viewing areas. This entrance typically opens from mid-April to mid-May and closes in November. 

The East Entrance of the Park will give you direct access to Yellowstone Lake.  This entrance typically opens from mid-April to mid-May and closes in November. 

The South Entrance is best for those coming from Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. This entrance typically opens from mid-April to mid-May and closes in November. 

The West Entrance is the most accessible and well-trafficed entrance. If you’re driving from Salt Lake City to Yellowstone National Park, you’ll likely use the West Entrance. This entrance typically opens from mid-April to mid-May and closes in November. 

Where to Camp in Yellowstone National Park in a Camper Van

There are a dozen campgrounds within the park and multiple options nearby, both on private campsites and dispersed camping on BLM land. Park campgrounds can be reserved either at recreation.gov or the Yellowstone National Park Lodges website. If you have a specific campsite in mind, you will need to make your reservations early, up to a year in advance or more, to ensure you get your desired campground. If you’re considering camping outside of the park on BLM land, click here to learn more about dispersed camping near Yellowstone. 

Bridgebay Campground: The Bridgebay area is the main access point to Yellowstone Lake, with a marina, picnic area, campground, and more. The lower section of the campground is best for RVs, while the upper section is reserved for tents only. You should be fine in either with a camper van. Reservations are required and can be made here

Canyon Campground: Canyon Campground gives campers unparalleled access to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River. Tucked away in a thick pine forest in Canyon Village, this campground gives campers direct access to the canyon, its waterfalls, and trails leading to Cascade Lake and Mount Washburn. This campground is open from late May to mid-September and has flush toilets, hot showers, potable water, and laundry facilities. Make your reservations here

Grant Village Campground: Grant Village is located near the park’s South Entrance on the southwest shore of Yellowstone Lake.  Open from early June through early September, Grant Village offers visitors easy access to the West Thumb Geyser Basin and puts campers in the perfect position to explore both Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park. Book reservations here

Indian Creek Campground: This Yellowstone campground is situated at the base of the Gallatin Mountains and offers surreal views and direct access to some of the park’s best hiking and fishing areas. The campground has restrooms with vault toilets, picnic tables, and potable water. Make your reservations here

Lewis Lake Campground: As the southernmost campground in the park, Lewis Lake is a great campground for those who wish to spend time in both Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park. Just a stone’s throw from the shores of Lewis Lake, this Yellowstone campground gives visitors a quiet reprieve from the rest of the park. This campground doesn’t allow generators or RVs over 25 feet, so it’s a great option for those looking for a peaceful camping experience. Lewis Lake Campground has potable water, vault toilets, and food storage lockers. Reserve your campsite here

Madison Campground: As the westernmost campground, Madison is ideal for visitors using the park’s popular west entrance. Located near the Madison River, this campground offers a chance to spot herds of elk and bison as they make their way toward the water source. This Yellowstone campground is open from early May to mid-October. Make your reservations here

Mammoth Campground: Located near the park’s North Entrance, Mammoth Campground is tucked away in a forest of juniper and Douglas fir trees that provide critical shade for campers during the summer. That same shade is sought after by Bison and Elk, so don’t be surprised if you spot wildlife nearby. This Yellowstone Campground is conveniently close to Mammoth Hot Springs and offers the park’s only year-round reservable campsites along with several first-come, first-serve spots. This Yellowstone campground has potable water and flush toilets. Mammoth Campground was damaged in 2022 due to flooding and was closed for the 2023 season. Click here to make your reservations and check the status of the campground. 

Norris Campground: Located near the Norris Geyser Basin, this Yellowstone campground offers visitors direct access to some of the park’s most active geysers, including the Steamboat Geyser, the tallest geyser in the world. Nestled under towering pines, this campground has 112 sites with picnic tables, fire pits, and the chance to see Bison pass through the nearby meadow. This campground was closed in 2023. Check here for updates. 

Pebble Creek Campground: Yellowstone is one of the nation’s most popular parks, so it can be hard to find a campground that feels truly isolated. With only 27 campsites, Pebble Creek offers visitors solitude near the park’s Northeast Entrance and is open from mid-June to late September. Located near Lamar Valley, this campground is perfect for spotting wildlife. The campground has vault toilets, food storage, and potable water. Pebble Creek was closed in 2023 for flood recovery. Check here for updates. 

Slough Creek Campground: Get away from the hustle and bustle with a campsite at Slough Creek. This campground is a true hidden gem that only has 16 sites. Located between Lamar Valley and Tower-Rosevelt, this Yellowstone campground is ideal for wildlife viewing. With vault toilets and potable water, you’ll have everything you need for a rustic and secluded camping experience in Yellowstone. Make your reservations here

Tower Fall Campground: Nestled away near the Tower-Roosevelt area of the park by the Northeast Entrance, Tower Fall gives campers access to the Tower Fall hike, the Tower General Store, and the Roosevelt Lodge. This Yellowstone campground offers vault toilets, potable water, food storage, and a seasonal amphitheater. This campground was closed in 2023. Check here for updates

Wildlife in Yellowstone

Yellowstone National Park is one of the nation’s most popular national parks due to its abundance of wildlife. Yellowstone offers visitors the chance to encounter a myriad of wildlife species, from elk and bison to grey wolves and grizzly ears. Each year, Yellowstone’s wildlife makes headlines for dangerous close encounters with tourists. With so much wildlife present in the park, it is important to follow the

According to park officials, Yellowstone visitors should keep an appropriate distance from wildlife, especially females with young. When approaching animals on foot, stay at least 100 yards away from bears and wolves and a minimum of 25 yards away from other wildlife. Use roadside pullouts when viewing wildlife and utilize telephoto lenses and binoculars when possible to keep a safe distance. Read more about wildlife in Yellowstone here.

Leave No Trace Principles

Whenever traveling in nature, utilize the Leave No Trace Principles, which means packing out everything you packed in, including food waste, trash, camping gear, and anything else you may have brought. 

When is The Best Time to Visit Yellowstone National Park?

Yellowstone National Park is open 365 days a year; however, only the North Entrance is open during the winter—the rest of the park’s entrances and many of the park roads close seasonally. The main season for camping in Yellowstone is from the late spring to the early fall. While there’s still camping in the park during the winter, options are severely limited. 

Best Time to Camp

Summer: Summer is the ultimate time to explore Yellowstone National Park. Visitors can enjoy daytime temperatures between 70-80°F and nighttime temperatures of 50°F to below freezing at higher elevations. Afternoon thunderstorms are common. 

Spring: With much of the park’s roads and campgrounds opening in the spring, it’s a popular time to visit the park. Spring daytime temperatures can range from 30°F to 60°F, while nighttime temperatures can range from 0°F to 16°F. Snow is common in the spring, with a regular accumulation of up to 12 inches in 24 hours. 

Fall: Fall visitors can expect daytime temperatures range from 30°F to 60°F, while nighttime temperatures can range from 0°F to 16°F. Snow is common in the fall, with a regular accumulation of up to 12 inches in 24 hours. Winter: Winters in Yellowstone can be harsh yet beautiful. Temperatures range from 0 to 20°F during the day. Sub-zero temperatures are common at night. Snowfall is common. While the average annual snowfall is 150 inches, it’s common for higher elevations to receive twice that amount. Most of the roads are closed to normal vehicle traffic, and much of the park is accessible only by snowmobile. 

Reserve with Escape Camper Vans for Your Trip to Yellowstone National Park

A camper van is the ultimate adventure vehicle for exploring Yellowstone National Park. The combination of mobility and comfort is unmatched by any other form of camping. Given Yellowstone’s massive size, it helps to be able to pack up and go at a moment’s notice. Don’t waste time unpacking and pitching a tent when you have everything you need to camp inside your van. Unlike RVs, camper vans allow you to camp in tent sites, park like a normal vehicle, and drive safely and comfortably up and down mountain roads. Pick your camper van up at Escape Camper Vans in Salt Lake City for your Yellowstone Adventure.

Hit The Road!

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