Yellowstone National Park Backcountry Permits
Yellowstone National Park
Hosting over 4 million visits annually, Yellowstone is the world’s first National Park preserving more than 10,000 hydrothermal features and countless wildlife including bison, grizzly bears, gray wolves, elk, and moose. The park forms the core of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, one of the world’s largest, nearly intact temperate-zone ecosystems.
Beyond the roads, boardwalks, and developed areas, Yellowstone National Park offers a diverse, mountainous landscape that invites exploration by foot, pack stock, and boat. With over 1,000 miles of trail, 293 designated campsites, and 3 lakes accessible for boating there are ample opportunities for adventure and solitude.
Permit & Season Information
A permit is required year-round for all overnight stays in the backcountry. A backcountry permit allows the permit holder and their group to camp in a designated campsite.
You may stay up to 3 consecutive nights at any one campsite unless otherwise noted in the campsite description. Each campsite has a limit to the number of people, stock, and boats permitted.
Peak Season (May 15-October 31): permits are available through the early access lottery (see important dates), the general on-sale (open April 26-October 31), or in-person at a backcountry office. Reservations obtained through the early access lottery and general on-sale must be picked up in person at a backcountry permit office within 2-days of the trip start date.
Non-Peak Season (November 1-May 14): permits for the dates of November 1 through May 14 are available beginning October 6. Permits may be printed or downloaded at home within 5-days of the trip start date after discussing with backcountry office staff.
Need to Know
This website provides access to view availability and to secure reservations for permits. Pre-planning using the Yellowstone National Park website , and other resources and guidebooks is encouraged.
- Visitors interested in camping in high-demand areas (e.g. Slough Creek, Bechler area, Heart Lake, and Shoshone Lake) during peak season are encouraged to participate in the Early-Access reservation lottery.
- Some reservations with non-standard itineraries (including long mileage, undesignated campsites, switching travel methods, or more than 14 nights) cannot be reserved through Recreation.gov. Contact the Central Backcountry Office for help reserving a permit in these situations.
- During the Early Access Lottery period, Central Backcountry Office staff are available to help Monday through Friday 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM. From May through early October, staff is available daily.
When planning your trip, please keep the following in mind:
- Your reservation is not a permit. Permits must be picked up in-person at a park Backcountry Permit Office within two days of the trip start date.
- You may need more than one permit if your trip is non-contiguous. A separate backcountry permit is required anytime you return to your vehicle and travel to a new trailhead.
- You may stay up to 3 consecutive nights at any one campsite unless otherwise noted in the campsite description. Some campsites have 1- and 2-night limits.
- Each campsite has a limit to the number of people, stock, and boats permitted. If your group exceeds the number of people permitted at a campsite, you will need to split into separate groups and obtain separate permits with different trip leaders. Groups must cook, eat, and sleep separately. Affiliated groups may not congregate in a campsite if the total amount of people exceeds the campsite capacity.
- Food poles or metal boxes are provided at designated campsites. You must bring 30 feet of rope to secure your food on the provided poles. All food, trash, and scented items must be hung from the food-pole or inside the bear box. Items must be properly secured anytime they’re not directly attended. Approved hard sided bear resistant containers may be used in lieu of hanging. Soft-sided containers must be hung from the food pole or stored in the bear box.
- Bring a trowel for human waste disposal. Human waste must be disposed of in a pit toilet or buried in a cat hole dug 6-8 inches deep at least 100 feet from water, trails, and campsites.
- Pets are not permitted on trails and in the backcountry.
- Camping in designated sites is required except during the winter and in certain circumstances where designated sites do not exist with approval from park staff.
- A park Entrance Fee is required for entry into the National Park. Pay your entry fee in person or online.
- Backcountry access is limited during May and June due to deep snow and streams swollen from snow melt. Snow and dangerous stream crossing may persist in some areas well into July. Contact the Central Backcountry Office for trip planning assistance.
- All watercraft, including float tubes, must purchase a Yellowstone boat permit and be inspected for Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) before launching.
- AIS inspections and boat permits are available 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM daily at Bridge Bay, Grant Village, and Lewis Lake. Plan accordingly.
- Review Yellowstone National Park Boating Regulations for detailed regulations, fees, and safety information.
- Contact the Central Backcountry Office for help planning trips with stock.
- Campsites allowing stock have limits on the annual amount of stock use. Although a campsite may appear to be available, it may have reached its Stock Use Limit and not be available for camping with stock. Reservations are reviewed by staff and subject to change.
- Stock users must possess proof of a negative Coggins test performed within the last 12 months for all equine stock entering Yellowstone.
- Review Yellowstone’s Stock Regulations for more information.
Early Access Lottery Application Fee: $10 non-refundable. The application fee is charged for all applications to the Early Access Lottery regardless of success.
Recreation Fee: $5 per person, per night plus a $10 non-refundable reservation fee (if the reservation was booked through the lottery, the $10 non-refundable reservation fee will not apply since you have already paid the $10 non-refundable lottery application fee). The recreation fee is charged year-round for permits secured through this website or in-person at a backcountry office.
Entry into Yellowstone National Park requires a fee or pass .
Cancellation Policy: Reservations cancelled 3 or more full days before the reservation start date receive a full refund of the recreation (per-person, per-night) fee. Reservations cancelled less than 3 days before the reservation start date are non-refundable. The $10 reservation fee is non-refundable.
Change Policy: you may make changes to your permit itinerary (campsite locations), if space is available, up to two days before your reservation date. You may make changes to your group size and group member names up to the time your permit is issued. Additional fees may apply.
Your start date cannot be changed without cancelling your existing reservation and booking a new reservation.
One additional permit holder can be identified when the reservation is created. Otherwise, reservations and permits are non-transferrable.
PO Box 168 Yellowstone Natl Pk WY 82190