Yellowstone & Grand Teton in mid October

I’m planning a 1-2 week trip down to Yellowstone and Grand Teton soon, probably early to mid October. I’ve just been looking at the campground information and unfortunately it looks like almost everything will be closed for the season. In Yellowstone, there is only Madison Campground that’s open until October 20th. In Grand Teton, it looks like the only Signal Mountain and it closes October 13th. I wanted to ask those who’ve been there in the fall what it’s really like as far as camping goes.

We will be traveling and sleeping in our van and we’re completely self sufficient so maybe if there are any good places to just park for the night (outside of the park) that would be fine too.

Unfortunately true that the campgrounds close earlier than many photographers would like. I encourage you to make your trip as early in October as possible, both for the camping situation and because by mid-October you’ll likely miss all the fall color in both parks.
My advice is to go to and try to reserve a site in those two campgrounds; don’t wait until you get there.
In Yellowstone, there are three non-reservable campgrounds that will still be open during your visit - Mammoth, Slough Creek, and Lewis (which is closest to GTNP). Get to them early in the day in hopes of snagging a spot for the night.
Also, be prepared for cold weather and possible snow, including tire chains for your van.

I’ve spent several weeks in Mammoth in October and it was nice, less crowds, more steam from the colder temps. Not the ideal time for landscape photography as everything is brown and the water levels are low, but lots of wildlife if that’s what you’re looking for. It will be quite cold, I remember it getting down around 10 degrees.

There are some great spots to camp on national forest land near the Tetons, Upper Teton View is very nice, but a little harder to find a spot these days as it’s quite popular. Antelope Flats is usually pretty easy to get a spot if you arrive mid-day, don’t arrive later in the day.

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Thank you Greg and David! I appreciate your input and suggestions. I will definitely try to go there earlier in October rather than later and I try to get all camping arrangements figured out before hand.

Also, you shouldn’t have any problems getting a site in Mammoth, I’m actually here right now and it is filling most days, but very late in the day. In October it will be quite slow, as should be the spots in the Tetons, so I wouldn’t worry about getting camping arranged especially since you can’t reserve anything. Just get there early and have a backup plan just in case.

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Thanks again David! If all goes well I will be there (somewhere) starting October 5th.

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Mammoth is the only YNP campground open year-round, and as mentioned, it should have space. If not, there is a national forest campground near Yankee Jim Canyon on Highway 89 outside of Gardiner that will add maybe 15 minutes to your commute.

If you’re in a bind, people sometimes overnight in their vehicles in a large pullout in between Silver Gate and the northeast entrance, outside the park boundary. It could work for your van, keeping in mind there are no facilities.


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Thanks Max, I’ll add your information to my notes! :slight_smile: