Yellowstone Backcountry Use Permits
Every overnight backcountry stay in the park requires a backcountry use permit.
If this is your first time applying for a backcountry use permit for Yellowstone National Park be patient. It can be a slow process and may take 30 to 40 minutes or longer to fill out the necessary paperwork. If you're looking to get an early start this can be a bit time consuming but the rangers will provide you with important information regarding the latest trail conditions, stream flows and bear activity for your specific trail(s).
During the application process you will be required to watch a 20 minute video that covers a variety of backcountry safety issues including; bear and wildlife encounters, food storage, stream crossings and general backcountry rules and regulations. Plan to arrive early at the ranger station closest to your backpacking destination so you can begin filling out the necessary paperwork as soon as possible. There may be other backpackers ahead of you so plan accordingly. Trailheads can be a considerable distance from these ranger stations and you should factor this into your travel itinerary. You may want to plan at least two alternate routes just in case your initial travel plans are unavailable. Hiking trails can be closed due to forest fires or wildlife activity and you may need a backup plan to accommodate for these unknown factors. During the summer months backcountry campsites can fill quickly in the more popular areas and some of the 300 wilderness campsites are reserved for stock parties only. Remember, you are only allowed to camp in designated backcountry sites within Yellowstone National Park and all of them require a permit.
Click the following link to download a PDF of the Advanced Mail-in Backcountry Reservation Form. The Park Service requires a $25.00/non-refundable processing fee (cash, check or money order). In order to have the best chance at getting a campsite, backcountry users should submit reservation requests to the park service between January 1st and March 31. Requests received on April 1 or later are processed in the order received, but are processed after the park service has processed all of the pre-April 1st backcountry requests. Requests for reservations are accepted by mail, in person, or by fax with a credit card number. They cannot accept applications over the phone, or by e-mail.
"The park service begins booking reservations for backcountry campsites on April 1st of the current year. Requests are accepted beginning in January, but are held until April 1st when all requests in their possession will be randomly prioritized by computer and processed in that order. They continue to accept and book reservations throughout the season."
Mail your advanced registration forms to:
Central Backcountry Office
P.O. Box 168 (Mail) or
Canteen Bldg. Room A, Mammoth (FedEx or UPS)
Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190
Tel: (307) 344-2160
Frequent Backcountry Use Card
If you backpack in the park on a regular basis ask the rangers about the frequent backcountry use card. Once you obtain this card you will no longer be required to watch the safety video each time you head out on a backpacking trip. This is a real time-saver and it's good for the entire year in which it was issued.
Registration/Permit Basic Overview
• All backpackers are required to camp in designated backcountry campsites.
• You must obtain a backcountry permit in person before you begin any backpacking trip.
• Permits must be obtained in person and not more than two days prior to your departure.
• Advanced reservations are held until 10 am the day of your trip.
• Maximum stay at any backcountry campsite is 1-3 days unless otherwise indicated.
• Campfires are only allowed in established fire pits.
• Some campsites do not allow campfires so check with rangers prior to your trip.
• Groups of no more than 4-12 people may occupy a campsite at any given time.
• Create a backup itinerary in case your initial backcountry sites are unavailable.
• Food storage is required at all campsites—both frontcountry and backcountry.
For additional inquiries contact the Central Backcountry Office at: (307) 344-2160.
Visit our page on backcountry camping before heading out.
Yellowstone Backcountry Permit Offices
Hours: 7 days a week: 8 am-4:30 pm
Call beforehand since hours change seasonally. (307) 344-2160
Many ranger stations are closed during the winter months.
(*) Indicates a visitor center or ranger station may be closed in winter.
• Bechler Ranger Station*
• Canyon Ranger Station/Visitor Center*
• Mammoth Visitor Center
• Old Faithful Ranger Station
• Tower Ranger Station*
• South Entrance Ranger Station*
• Grant Village Backcountry Office*
• West Yellowstone Visitor Information Center
• Bridge Bay Ranger Station Center*
Download a PDF of the Trail Guides Backcountry Trip Planner
This handy printout contains a hiking checklist, park phone numbers, backcountry permit information, a list of bear management areas, a general map of the park and a copy of the advanced mail-in backcountry permit form.