Nature never really sleeps, but immersing yourself in the wild through the night opens up a whole new set of experiences you just can’t get in a day's adventure.
Only campers know the hard-earned rewards of a night spent under the stars. A meal prepped on an open flame, the warmth of a campfire as dusk fades into night, witnessing the glow of a sunrise—camping in Jackson connects you to the largest intact ecosystem in the world. Whether you choose a designated campground or secure a backcountry permit for a night in the wilderness, prepare to feel small sleeping under the stars in the shadow of the Tetons.
No matter how you choose to camp, you’ll want to plan ahead, since camping is one of the most popular ways to stay in Jackson Hole. Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks and the Bridger-Teton National Forest (BTNF) have designated campgrounds for tents, vans, and RVs. There are also privately run RV parks outside the parks and national forest; some of these may welcome tent campers. The BTNF’s Jackson and Blackrock Ranger Districts have about 600 free campsites for tents, vans, and small RVs (30 feet max) in designated dispersed camping areas. Most campgrounds open in May, although snow may linger in the designated dispersed camping areas until July. Most campgrounds in the national parks close in late September. In May and October, camping is colder than it is between June and September, but there are also fewer bugs and crowds.
Campgrounds range from the simple — a flat spot to pitch a tent in a park — to full-service. Generally, campgrounds in the Bridger-Teton National Forest are more about a nature experience than amenities. Privately owned commercial campgrounds are usually at the opposite end of the spectrum as they offer amenities. Campgrounds in national parks can range in their amenities and offerings.
How to have a great camping experience in Jackson Hole
If you want to spend the night at one of the 1,000 tent and RV sites in Grand Teton National Park, you must make advance reservations, which can be done up to 6 months in advance.
Arrive early for first-come, first-served
If you plan to camp for free on dispersed land in the BTNF, know that these spots are first-come, first-served between June and September, and most are taken by early afternoon. Because it might be difficult to find a free campsite, be sure to have a plan B such as getting a hotel room. Remember that it’s harmful to the land and prohibited to camp in undesignated areas.
Grab a Campsite without a Reservation
If you’re looking for free camping in the BTNF close to Grand Teton National Park, your best chance of snagging a site is between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. “You want to show up when the campers who were there the night before are just leaving,” says Julie Butler, a campground ambassador for the BTNF. “Show up early in the morning, get your camp set up — making sure all of your food is properly stored — and then head off on the day’s adventure.”