Backcountry Permits


Yellowstone has a designated backcountry campsite system, and a
Backcountry Use Permit is required for all overnight stays. Each
designated campsite has a maximum limit for the number of people and
stock allowed per night. The maximum stay per campsite varies from 1 to
3 nights per trip. Campfires are permitted only in established fire
pits. Wood fires are not allowed in some backcountry campsites. A food
storage pole is provided at designated campsites so that food and
attractants may be secured from bears.

Permits may be obtained only in person and no more than 48 hours in
advance of your trip. Permits are available from backcountry offices
located in most ranger stations or visitor centers. In order to obtain
the best information on trail conditions, permits should be obtained
from the ranger station or visitor center nearest to the area where your
trip is to begin. The Backcountry Use Permit is valid only for the
itinerary and dates specified. Backcountry travelers must have their
permits in possession while in the backcountry.

Advance Reservations for Backcountry Campsites

Although permits must be obtained in person no more than 48 hours in
advance, backcountry campsites may be reserved in advance. Reservation
applications for backcountry permits are accepted from January 1 to
October 31 of each calendar year. Reservations received by March 31 will
be processed in random order starting April 1. Reservations
received April 1 and later will be processed after those received by
March 31 are processed, and will be reserved in the order received.

Requests for reservations must be submitted by mail, fax, or in person.
They cannot be made over the phone or by email. A confirmation notice,
not a permit, will be emailed to you. This confirmation notice must then
be converted to the actual permit not more than 48 hours in advance of
the first camping date. Details are provided on the confirmation notice.
The reservation fee is $25.00 regardless of the number of nights out or
the number of people involved. The fee is not refundable. The Backcountry
Permit Reservation Application is available online
 (487KB PDF) or by writing to :

Backcountry Office
P.O. Box
Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190

Email: e-mail

Or call: 307-344-2160

Permits Made Less Than 48 Hours in Advance

Because only a portion of the approximately 300 backcountry
campsites are available for advance reservations, you may choose to
wait until you arrive in the park to reserve your site(s) and obtain
your permit.

Backcountry Permit Fees

Visitors obtaining a backcountry permit with trip dates between
Memorial Day and September 10 will be charged per person, per night
permit fee. Backcountry permit fees apply for group members that are
9 years or older. Backcountry permit fees
will be collected when you pick up your permit.

Backpackers/ Boaters: $3 per-person per-night. The group per night
fee will be capped at $15 dollars per night.

Stock Parties (Horses/Mules/Llamas): $5 per person per night. There
is no cap on the group per night fee.

Annual Backcountry Pass: For individuals taking several or extended
overnight trips in Yellowstone’s backcountry there is an Annual
Backcountry Pass available for $25 dollars.The Annual Backcountry
pass is valid for one season (Memorial Day- September 10) and will
exempt the individual from the per-person per night fee. You will
need to present both the Annual Backcountry Pass and photo
identification when using the Annual Backcountry Pass in order for
the Backcountry permit fees to be waived. The Annual Backcountry
Pass does not cover advanced reservations.

Backcountry Office Locations

During the summer season (June – August), permits are available 7
days a week between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. at the following locations:

  • Bechler Ranger Station
  • Bridge Bay Ranger Station
  • Canyon Visitor Center
  • Grant Village Visitor Center
  • Mammoth Visitor Center
  • Old Faithful Ranger Station
  • South Entrance Ranger Station
  • Tower Backcountry Office
  • West Yellowstone Visitor Information Center
Backcountry permits for boating trips must be obtained at the
Bridge Bay, Grant Village, or South Entrance backcountry

During the spring, fall, and winter seasons, ranger stations and
visitor centers do not have set hours. Contact the Central
Backcountry Office for information on where to obtain a Backcountry
Use Permit during these seasons.

Several commercial
permitted to offer guided overnight backpacking trips into
Yellowstone’s backcountry. These businesses would obtain the
Backcountry Use Permits for trips that they provide.

Additional Resources for Planning Your Trip

Safety in Bear Country
Hiking and camping restrictions are occasionally in effect as a
result of bear activity. Never camp in an area that has obvious
evidence of bear activity such as digging, tracks, or scat. Odors
attract bears, so avoid carrying or cooking odorous foods. Keep a
clean camp; do not cook or store food in your tent. All food,
garbage, or other odorous items used for preparing or cooking food
must be secured from bears. Backcountry campsites have food poles
from which all food, cooking gear, and scented articles must be
suspended when not being used. You
will need to bring at least 30 feet of rope to hang your food on the
food poles.
all odorous products such as soap, deodorant, or other toiletries in
the same manner as food. Do not leave packs containing food
unattended, even for a few minutes. Allowing a bear to obtain human
food even once often results in the bear becoming aggressive about
obtaining such food in the future. Aggressive bears present a threat
to human safety and eventually must be destroyed or removed from the
park. Please obey the law and do not allow bears or other wildlife
to obtain human food.
Sleep a minimum of 100 yards (91 meters) from where you hang, cook,
and eat your food. Keep your sleeping gear clean and free of food
odor. Don’t sleep in the same clothes worn while cooking and eating.
Considering bears’ highly developed sense of smell, it may seem
logical that they could be attracted to odors associated with
menstruation. Studies on this
 are few and
inconclusive. If a woman chooses to hike or camp in bear country
during menstruation, a basic precaution should be to wear internal
tampons, not external pads. Used tampons should be double-bagged in
a zip-lock type bag and stored the same as garbage.
If you are involved in a conflict with a bear, regardless of how
minor, report it to a park ranger as soon as possible. Another’s
safety may depend on it. Exceptional combinations of food, shelter,
and space draw grizzlies to some parts of Yellowstone more than
others. In these Bear Management Areas, human access is restricted
to reduce impacts on the bears and their habitat. Ask at ranger
stations or visitor centers for more information.

Handling Refuse
All garbage must be carried out of the backcountry. Do
not wash yourself, clothing, or dishes in lakes, ponds, rivers, or
streams. Bring a trowel and bury human waste six to eight inches
(15-20 cm) below ground at least 200 feet (60 m) from water sources
or campsites. (A minimum distance of 100 feet is required). Similar
distance standards should be used for the disposal of wastewater.

General Safety Concerns
Should you drink the water? Intestinal infections from drinking
untreated water are increasingly common. Waters may be polluted by
animal and/or human wastes. As
a safeguard against Giardiasis, other parasites and bacteria, we
recommend that you boil, filter, or chemically treat all drinking
It is illegal to travel off trail in thermal areas. Don’t take
chances in backcountry thermal areas: scalding water underlies thin,
breakable crusts; pools are near or above boiling temperatures. Each
year, visitors traveling off trail have been seriously burned, and
people have died from the scalding water. No swimming or bathing is
allowed in thermal pools.
Removing, defacing or destroying any plant, animal, or mineral is
prohibited. Leave historical and archeological items in place.