White water rafting

Gardiner Camping: Part One

Gardiner Camping: Part One

June 21, 2017

Let’s face it: Yellowstone is a quintessential American summer experience—like sinking your teeth into a slice of watermelon on the 4th of July. And although you typically have to make reservations at least a year in advance to find lodging in the park, we have a solution for those who didn’t quite have time plan ahead. If you’re a spontaneous traveler who loves spending time outdoors, this list of area camping options is for you.

Gardiner, Montana, is a stone’s throw away from the North Entrance to Yellowstone and is surrounded on all sides by breathtaking tracts of National Forest. There are many options for pitching a tent, pulling up the RV, or simply stringing up the hammock. Plus, it’s the perfect way to bring the family together, make memories, and connect with the great outdoors.

A few of our favorite camping options around Gardiner, Montana:

Eagle Creek Campground (Forest Service)
Located 2.2 miles northeast of Gardiner along the Jardine Road.
Why we love it: Just 15 minutes away from Gardiner, Montana, this campground is the closest thing to an in-park campground—minus the price and the crowds. Stunning views of the northern section of the park and frequent wildlife sightings are just icing on the cake.
Quick facts:
16 sites
First come, first served
$7/night, $3/additional vehicles
Open year-round
10-15 minutes from Gardiner
Directions: From Gardiner, take the Jardine Road across the street from the Conoco gas station. At the edge of Gardiner, the road will turn to gravel and zig zag it’s way up the mountain. Two miles later, there will be a sign for Eagle Creek Campground on the left.
GPS Coordinates: 45.04622, -110.67856

CampingBearBox NPS

 

Timer Camp Recreation Site (Forest Service)
Located 10 miles from Gardiner northeast up into the mountains on a primitive gravel road.
Why we love it: This shady campground high above Gardiner, Montana, almost never fills up. The trailhead for Knox Lake, a popular area hiking destination, is just up the road.
Quick facts:
Various dispersed sites
First come, first serve
No charge, rustic camping
Open June 15-October 31, weather permitting
About 30-45 minutes from Gardiner
Access road not suitable for vehicles longer than 21'
Directions: From Gardiner, take the Jardine Road across the street from the Conoco gas station. At the edge of Gardiner, the road will turn to gravel and zig zag it’s way up the mountain. In 5.5 miles you will come to the small community of Jardine. In Jardine turn right across the bridge following Bear Creek Road (the road will head south/southwest for about ½ a mile before curving back around to it’s north/northeast direction). 9.8 miles past Gardiner (4.3 miles past Jardine) you will arrive at Timber Camp. Timber Camp is visible across a big meadow on the left, but the entrance is just a little bit further up the road.
GPS Coordinates: 45.09422, -110.60560

Bear Creek Recreation Site (Forest Service)
Located 11 miles from Gardiner northeast up into the mountains on a primitive gravel road.
Why we love it: Located just a mile above Timber Camp, Bear Creek offers additional primitive camping options if Timber Camp is feeling a bit too crowded.
Quick facts:
Various dispersed sites
First come, first serve
No charge, rustic camping
Open June 15-October 31, weather permitting
About 30-45 minutes from Gardiner
Access road not suitable for vehicles longer than 21'
Directions: See above directions for Timber Camp. For Bear Creek Recreation Site, continue on Bear Creek road for a little over a mile past Timber Camp Recreation Site. Bear Creek Recreation area is on the left, just after the road crosses Darroch Creek. Just beyond Bear Creek Recreation Site is the Bear Creek Trailhead, and the end of the road.
GPS Coordinates: 45.11003, -110.59965
GardinerCamping GuerinLorenCanyon Campground (Forest Service)
Location: 15 miles north of Gardiner, on Hwy 89, on the east side of the highway in Yankee Jim Canyon
Why we love it: Canyon Campground is close to both the North Entrance of Yellowstone and the many fishing accesses available along Highway 89 north of Gardiner, Montana. Rafting or fishing, anyone?
Quick facts:
17 Sites
First Come, First Serve
$7/night, $3/additional vehicle
Campground roads no suitable for vehicles longer than 48’
Largest parking spur: 12’ x 50’
Open year round
About a 15-20 minute drive from Gardiner
Directions: From Gardiner, head north/northwest on Hwy 89. The campground is just to the right of the highway, halfway through Yankee Jim Canyon, 15 miles from Gardiner.
GPS Coordinates: 45.18262, -110.88701

Carbella Recreation Site (BLM)
Location: 20 miles north of Gardiner, just off of Hwy 89, right on the Yellowstone River
Why we love it: Carbella is located right on the Yellowstone River and includes a boat ramp for easy access to recreation opportunities.
Quick facts:
Various Sites
First Come, First Serve
No charge for camping
Open year round, weather permitting
Boat ramp, picnic tables, grills
Directions: From Gardiner, head north/northwest on Hwy 89. About 20 miles from Gardiner, just after the highway exits Yankee Jim Canyon and straightens, turn left onto Tom Miner Road. After 100 yards, turn right onto the Carbella access road. After less than a mile on the gravel road, you’ll arrive at Carbella Recreation Site.
GPS Coordinates: 45.21185, -110.89961

BearCountry NPS

Tom Miner Campground (Forest Service)
Location: About 30 miles from Gardiner – 20 miles on Hwy 89, 10 miles up a gravel road into the Gallatin Mountains
Why we love it: Really, what’s not to love about this off-the-beaten-path campground nestled in the incredibly scenic Tom Miner Basin? An interpretive nature trail and several more challenging hikes are within walking distance from every campsite.
Quick facts:
16 Sites
First Come, First Serve
$7/night, $3/additional vehicle
Horse corrals available
Access road not suitable for vehicles over 42”
Largest parking spur: 12’ x 40’
Open June 1st- October 31st (weather dependent)
About an hour’s drive from Gardiner
Directions: From Gardiner, head north/northwest on Hwy 89. About 20 miles from Gardiner, just after the highway exits Yankee Jim Canyon and straightens, turn left onto Tom Miner Road. After crossing the Yellowstone River, take a left on Old Yellowstone Trail Road. The road will bend right and then left. Bear left at the “Y” following Tom Miner Road / National Forest Road #63. Shortly later, the road will bend sharply to the right. Continue up this gravel about 10 miles. The campground is adjacent to the Tom Miner Trail Head.
GPS Coordinates: 45.18262, -110.88701

GardinerAreaCamping GuerinLorenStill on the lookout for camping ideas around Yellowstone? This post is a three-part series on campgrounds in and around the Gardiner area. Stay tuned for options in Yellowstone National Park and Cooke City.

Additional Camping Resources
Staying safe in bear country
Leave No Trace principles
Where to purchase supplies
Area activities
Camping in Yellowstone National Park
Dispersed Forest Service camping information

Photo Credits: Bear box and bear country sign: NPS photos. All others courtesy of Loren Guerin/Gardiner Chamber of Commerce

 

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