Tour du Mont Blanc Accommodation and Refuge Guide

The Tour du Mont Blanc is arguably the greatest trek in the world. Despite the fact that you’ll experience pristine wilderness and remote surroundings by day, you can still enjoy…

The Tour du Mont Blanc is arguably the greatest trek in the world. Despite the fact that you’ll experience pristine wilderness and remote surroundings by day, you can still enjoy plenty of creature comforts each night. Trekking over jawdropping mountain passes and eating fine charcuterie in the same day? It might just be the best hike ever!

If you want to make the most of your self-guided Tour du Mont experience, it is essential to do a little advance planning when it comes to accommodation. Many places book up early in the season, and some options are much better than others.

In this guide, we’ll cover the need-to-know information on TMB refuges and other accommodations. We’ve also included an excellent directory of the best accommodation and refuges for every style, budget, and itinerary.

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A road leads towards Refuge des Mottets on the TMB
Refuge des Mottets.

Types of TMB Accommodation

There are accommodation options along the TMB to suit every budget and travel style. While not all of these options are available at every stage of the route, you can certainly customize your itinerary to fit your needs.

We’ve provided a brief explanation of each of the options below:

Hotels

Typically small and independently owned, the hotels along the TMB provide a welcome dose of luxury to weary hikers. Unless otherwise noted by the hotel, expect all of the usual amenities (hot shower, private bathroom, breakfast offered, linens and towels provided, etc). Hotels typically cost upwards of €60 per person (extra supplement for singles). For an additional fee, many hotels offer half-pension (AKA half-board or demi-pension) which includes dinner and breakfast. A few hotels along the route have dortoirs in addition to private rooms. Dortoirs are dormitories that offer a good budget option.

Gites d’Etape and Auberges

These are simple guest houses offering basic, dorm-style accommodation. Half-pension (dinner and breakfast) is typically included in the price. There are shared bathroom facilities with hot showers. Bed linens are usually provided. These are a good option for those who want to stick to a smaller budget, but don’t want to carry camping gear. Expect to pay around €50 per person for half-pension. 

Mountain Refuges

We consider a stay in a mountain refuge (aka mountain huts or rifugios) to be a highlight of any TMB trek. Set in stunning and remote locations, the ambiance at the refuges can’t be beat. Half-pension gets you a bed in a dorm (linens not provided), a delicious communal dinner, and a basic breakfast. Some refuges also offer private rooms (with shared bathrooms). Expect to pay around €45 per person for half-board in a dorm. 

Campgrounds

Although they are the cheapest accommodation option along the route, TMB campgrounds can still be quite luxurious. All provide sinks and toilets, and many offer hot showers and even WiFi! Expect to pay around €12 per person to camp. Note: you cannot camp on every stage of the TMB.

Want to know more about camping on the TMB? Check out this in-depth post!

A cozy morning at Refuge la Flegere.
A cozy morning at Refuge la Flegere.

Should I reserve my accommodation for the TMB in advance?

This is a question that creates stress and anxiety for many hikers as they are planning for their TMB adventure. The short answer is that, yes, you should try to book your accommodation as early as possible, but the longer answer is a bit more nuanced. We’ve broken it down for you here, so you can plan with more confidence and less worry.

When is your trek?

If you plan to complete your trek in peak season (July-August), it’s likely that most of the refuges and guesthouses will fill up in advance. Book 3-6 months in advance.

If you’re hiking in June or September, things will probably be sold out on the weekends, but you might be able to get away without advance reservations during the week. However, keep in mind that some refuges are closed in June and/or September.

Where do you plan on staying?

Mountain refuges are the most important to book ahead of time. Many of these huts are quite small, so they fill up quickly. Several refuges accept reservations year-round, typically allowing you to book up to 12 months in advance. Some, however, do not respond to reservation requests during the winter months (September-March, typically). You should still try to email or call the refuge to reserve your spot as soon as you know your itinerary, even if it’s prior to March. When they finally get around to responding in the springtime, they often fill requests in the order in which they received them.

Gites, auberges, and guesthouses should be your next priority when it comes to advance bookings. This is especially true in the smaller villages where accommodation options are limited, and/or if you have specific preferences for your lodging (ex; private room, linens provided, etc). In terms of when you should make your bookings, the rules are similar to refuges. As soon as you’ve made your travel plans, reach out to the gite/guesthouse (or book online). For peak summer months, it’s optimal to have these bookings made by the end of March.

For larger hotels, you have a bit more wiggle room when it comes to making reservations. You should definitely still try to do it as early as possible, but they have more rooms and are often located in places with greater availability of lodging options.

You do not need to make advance reservations for any of the campgrounds on the TMB. In fact, we recommend that you don’t. This will allow you to maximize the freedom and flexibility that camping provides, and it will make it much less complicated to check-in at the campgrounds.

I waited until the last minute…Am I doomed?

Certainly not! You can still have an amazing TMB trek, but you may need to be a bit more flexible and creative when it comes to finding places to stay. The first thing you should do is contact all of the places you would like to stay to check if they still have availability. If some key stops are sold out, it’s always possible to make some tweaks to your itinerary.

I’m more of the spontaneous type…Can I do the TMB without booking ahead?

Yes you can, and we admire your free spirit! The easiest way to hike the TMB without a set itinerary is to camp. For those who prefer to stay indoors, if you plan your trek for mid-week in June or September and you arrive at your accommodation early in the day, you will likely be just fine. If you’re hiking during peak times, get familiar with the transportation options and nearby villages so you have back-ups if your first choice of accommodation is full.

View of Chamonix on stage 1 of the TMB
The view back towards Chamonix on Stage One of the TMB.

TMB Accommodation Cost

Prices vary greatly from place to place, but generally speaking, here’s what you can expect to pay for accommodation along the Tour du Mont Blanc.

  • B&B/Guesthouse/Hotel: €65+ (per person/per night)
  • Gite d’Etape/Auberge: €50 (per person/per night w/half pension)
  • Mountain Refuge: €45 (per person/per night w/half pension)
  • Camping: €12 (per person/per night)

In our accommodation directory, we’ve provided our recommendations for high-end, mid-range, and budget options at all of the typical TMB stops. We’ve defined those categories as follows:

  • High-End: €85+ (per person/per night)
  • Mid-Range: €40-85(per person/per night)
  • Budget: <€40 (per person/per night)

Read more: How Much it Cost Us to Hike the TMB

Hikers sitting in chairs and enjoying the views outside Refuge de la Flegere
No wifi? No problem! The views and camaraderie provide more than enough entertainment along the TMB.

TMB Refuges: What You Need to Know

What to Expect

Mountain refuges on the TMB are rustic and communal at heart. Many are set in remote locations that can only be reached by foot or pack mule; some actually get supplies dropped in by helicopter!

Due to their off-the-grid nature, they are relatively basic. Luxuries like hot water and electronics charging will be limited and will likely come at an additional cost. Wifi and cell service are virtually non-existent at mountain refuges. Most refuges are cash-only, so make sure you bring enough!

While a few refuges have a small number of private rooms available, by and large you will be sleeping in a dormitory with anywhere from 4-16 beds (mostly bunk beds stacked two or three high). You’ll be provided with a mattress, pillow, and blanket, but you will need you bring or rent your own sleep sheet.

Bathrooms are also shared and typically (but not always) separated by gender.

Staying in a mountain refuge is a magical and memorable experience. There is nothing like swapping stories with fellow hikers over a shared meal and taking in the sunset in some of the world’s most stunning mountain scenery. Mountain refuges truly are one of the very best parts of the TMB!

A bunkroom inside a TMB refuge
A typical bunkroom in a TMB refuge.

What’s Included

Most TMB refuges provide half-pension (AKA demi-pension or half board). This includes your bed for the night, as well as dinner and breakfast. Dinner is often a lavish, multi-course affair. They can typically cater to vegetarians (notify them in advance), although other special diets might not fare as well. Breakfast is very simple and typically consists of cold cereal, bread, jam, and tea/coffee.

Alcohol and snacks can be purchased a-la-carte, and a packed lunch can usually be ordered for the next day (additional fee).

Expect to pay extra for a shower and if you’d like to rent a sleep sheet. Some refuges ask a small fee for electronics charging.

What to Pack

Most TMB refuges require you to use a sleep sheet or sleeping bag liner. While you can rent one in some places, if you plan on staying in several refuges, it is a good idea to bring your own. Additionally, if you want to shower, you will need to bring your own towel.

In our opinion, good earplugs and an eye mask are essential for dormitory sleeping. There’s nothing more frustrating than being kept up by a loud snorer when you’re exhausted from a big day on the trail!

Boots are not allowed inside the refuges, so many provide slippers for you to wear while indoors. If you’d prefer to wear your own pair, make sure to pack them.

For a complete list of refuge-specific gear, be sure to check out our TMB Packing List.

Tour du Mont Blanc Refuges
TMB refuges may be basic, but they still have all of the essentials!

How to Book

This video will walk you through every step of the process for making reservations at TMB refuges.

Notable Exceptions:

There are still a number of accommodation providers that do not accept online bookings. For these, you’ll need to make a reservation by email or phone. We’ve included contact information for some of the most popular ones along the route:

Rifugio Elisabetta
info@rifugioelisabetta.com
+39 0165844080  

Rifugio Elena
info@rifugioelena.it
+39 328919794

Hotel de la Forclaz
colforclazhotel@bluewin.ch
+27 7222688

Refuge du Col de Balme
+33 (0)607061630

Refuge la Flegere
bellay.catherine@wanadoo.fr

Refuge Bellachat
refuge.bellachat@gmail.com
+33 (0)450534323

What to include in your booking email:

When you send an email to make a reservation request, make sure to include the following information:

  • Number of people
  • Room type (private, shared bathroom, dorm, etc)
  • Check-in and check-out dates
  • If you would like half board, full board, picnic lunch, or bed only
  • Special dietary requests, if reserving half board (vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free)
TMB Accommodation Guide
When it comes to accommodation on the TMB, there’s plenty of charm to go around!

TMB Accommodation Directory

This directory is organized to follow a counterclockwise itinerary with all of the typical stops. For each place, we’ve provided our most highly recommended options, sorted by budget category. We’ve also included key details and contact information.

Our budget categories are as follows:

  • High-End: €85+ (per person/per night)
  • Mid-Range: €40-85(per person/per night)
  • Budget: <€40 (per person/per night)

The directory includes recommendations for these places:

The Chamonix train station - the official start of the Haute Route
The Chamonix train station

Be sure to check out our TMB Logistics article for helpful advice when planning your trek!

Chamonix

Note: While the TMB technically does not pass through Chamonix at any point, many hikers like to stay here before and/or after their trek, and so we included it in the directory.

High-End: Hotel le Morgane

Just minutes from shops, restaurants, and the bus terminal, Hotel le Morgane’s location is perfect for those starting or finishing the TMB. Furthermore, the rooms are spacious and well-equipped, the staff is friendly, and they have great amenities like free luggage storage and a heated pool and spa.

Room type(s): Private, ensuite
Payment: Credit card, cash
Meals included: None, breakfast for an additional fee

Mid-Range: Chamonix Lodge

This hotel isn’t fancy, but it is an excellent value for your money. There are a variety of room types available, many with ensuite bathrooms. A good breakfast, luggage storage, and access to the communal kitchen and hot tub are all included with your stay. The hotel is located about a mile from the city center, but they loan out bikes for you to use during your stay.

Room type(s): Private twins and doubles(some ensuite), dormitory
Payment: Credit card, cash
Meals included: Breakfast

Budget: Le Chamoniard Volent

Le Chamoniard is the best place to find a cheap bed in pricey Chamonix. It’s not luxurious, but this well-run hostel is consistently clean and friendly to TMB walkers. Guests have access to a communal kitchen and lounge area, plenty of bathrooms and showers, and free wifi. The hostel is located a little over a mile from the city center, but it is also conveniently near a bus stop.

Room type(s): Dormitory
Payment: Credit card, cash
Meals included: Breakfast, packed lunch, and/or evening meal available for an extra fee

Les Houches

High-End: Chalet Hotel du Bois

Guests love the friendly service and incredible views at this hotel. Located just a few minutes’ walk from the start of the TMB, this is a great place to stay on either end of your trek. Treat yourself with their luxurious beds and on site sauna before you rough it on the trail!

Room type(s): Private, ensuite
Payment: Credit card, cash
Meals included: None, breakfast for an additional fee

Mid-Range: RockyPop Hotel

This eclectic and funky hotel is a great option in Les Houches. The hotel features unique 80’s-style decor, an excellent restaurant, and a convenient location. Rooms are basic, but they are clean and many have good views. Luggage storage and an airport shuttle are available.

Room type(s): Private, ensuite (sizes range from 1-12 adults)
Payment: Credit card, cash
Meals included: None, breakfast for an additional fee

Budget: Gite Michel Fagot

Your stay at Michel Fagot includes a fabulous dinner, incredibly helpful and friendly service, and a dorm bed with linens provided- all for a very reasonable fee. The facilities are well-kept and feature a self-catering kitchen and a cozy living room. The gite is located just steps from the bus stop and the start of the TMB.

Room type(s): Dormitory
Payment: Cash or check only
Meals included: Breakfast and dinner (packed lunches available for an extra fee)
Breakfast on a balcony in in Les Houches
Breakfast in Les Houches

Les Contamines

High-End: Chalet-Hotel la Chemenaz

This traditional chalet-style hotel is a welcome respite for tired hikers! It is located just a short distance from the trail and features a heated pool, jacuzzi, and sauna for soothing aching muscles. The rooms are cozy and many have great views. There is a good restaurant on the premises.

Room type(s): Private, ensuite
Payment: Credit card, cash
Meals included: Breakfast included, half board option

Mid-Range: Hotel le Christiania

This hotel consistently gets rave reviews for its clean rooms, excellent service, and cozy decor. It is located near the TMB, as well as near shops, restaurants, and other services. The on site restaurant serves up delicious local fare, and many rooms have spectacular views.

Room type(s): Private, ensuite
Payment: Credit card, cash
Meals included: None

Budget: Chalet des Contamines

Given that it is operated by CAF, the French Alpine Club, this chalet has the feel of a true mountain refuge while still being conveniently located in the heart of the village. The accommodation entails simple dorm beds and shared bathrooms, but the friendly hosts and delicious food make for an outstanding experience.

Room type(s): Dormitory
Payment: Cash or check only
Meals included: Half-board

Les Chapieux

Mid-Range: Chambres de Soleil

This guesthouse is one of two great options in the beautiful hamlet of Les Chapieux. There are a variety of room types available, most with private bathrooms. Dinner and breakfast are included with your stay, and the unique food offerings are a definite highlight.

Room type(s): Private, some ensuite
Payment: Cash or check only
Meals included: Half-board

Budget/Mid-Range: Auberge de la Nova

This cozy and welcoming auberge is the other good option in Les Chapieux. Budget-minded travelers will appreciate the dormitory option, while those seeking a bit more comfort can stay in one of the six private rooms (shared bathrooms). There is a lovely outdoor terrace, and dinner and breakfast are included with your stay. Keep in mind, like many accommodations on the TMB, Auberge de la Nova does not accept credit cards.

Room type(s): Private, dormitory
Payment: Cash or check only
Meals included: Half-board, picnic lunch can be purchased
Auberge de la Nova, Tour du Mont Blanc accommodation
Auberge de la Nova

Rifugio Elisabetta

Mid-Range: Rifugio Elisabetta

A large majority of TMB hikers stop at Rifugio Elisabetta, due to the fact that it is the only accommodation in the area for many miles (4.5 miles from the previous stop and 6 miles from the next one). Perhaps another reason why so many TMB hikers make a point to stay at Elisabetta is because it is so wonderful! This historic refuge boasts tons of quintessential Alpine charm, an absolutely stunning location, and plentiful opportunities to enjoy the company of fellow hikers. There are dorms and private rooms available. Advance bookings are essential, and only cash payments are accepted.

Room type(s): Private, Dormitory
Payment: Cash only
Meals included: Half-board, picnic lunch can be purchased
Rifugio Elisabetta, Tour du Mont Blanc Accommodation
Rifugio Elisabetta

Courmayeur

High-End: Maison La Saxe

This cozy hotel offers top-notch service in a peaceful setting. It is located in the tiny town of La Saxe, which is a short walk to the center of Courmayeur. They also serve up a delicious complimentary breakfast made with all local, high-quality ingredients.  Book Suite #2 for a private roof terrace and breathtaking views of the entire valley.

Room type(s): Private, ensuite 
Payment: Credit card, cash
Meals included: Breakfast

Mid-Range: Hotel de la Telecabine

This affordable hotel is located in the town of Dolonne, just across the river from Courmayeur (hikers traveling counterclockwise will pass through Dolonne before reaching Courmayeur). The rooms are basic, but guests will appreciate the friendly service, clean facilities, and good breakfast.

Room type(s): Private, ensuite 
Payment: Credit card, cash
Meals included: Breakfast

Budget: Rifugio Bertone

Rifugio Bertone is a good option for hearty hikers on a tight budget. To reach the refuge, you’ll need to pass through Courmayeur and continue up a very steep section of the trail for about two more hours. Your efforts will be rewarded with great views and an atmospheric mountain experience at Rifugio Bertone-plus a head start for the day ahead!

Room type(s): Private, Dormitory 
Payment: Cash only
Meals included: Half board optional, picnic lunch can be purchased for an additional fee
Image of Courmayeur, Italy
Courmayeur is a classic Italian mountaineering town.

Rifugio Bonatti

Budget: Rifugio Bonatti

This is arguably one of the most memorable accommodations on the entire TMB. Its remote location boasts incredible views of Val Ferret and the jagged peaks surrounding it. The cozy interior and convivial atmosphere lend themselves to a true mountain experience.

Room type(s): Dormitory 
Payment: Cash only
Meals included: Half-board 
Rifugio Bonatti TMB accommodation
Rifugio Bonatti is one of the most magical refuges on the entire TMB.

La Fouly

High-End: Hotel Edelweiss

This smart hotel balances traditional mountain charm with fresh and modern updates, all while maintaining a high level of excellence. Enjoy the lavish breakfast spread and relax sore muscles in the sauna. There are also posh dormitories for those looking for a more upscale budget option.

Room type(s): Private, ensuite, Dormitory 
Payment: Credit card, cash 
Meals included: Half-board 

Mid-Range: Auberge des Glaciers

While some rooms are a bit outdated and cramped, this auberge offers a convenient location and great food at a very reasonable price. There are a variety of room types to suite groups of all sizes.

Room type(s): Private, some ensuite, Dormitory 
Payment: Credit card, cash 
Meals included: Breakfast 

Budget: Chalet le Dolent

Outside of camping, this is the cheapest accommodation you’ll find in La Fouly. This very rustic chalet is located on the edge of town and offers dorm beds, free wifi, and complimentary hot showers. There is a self-catering kitchen, but no meals are served on-site.

Room type(s): Dormitory 
Payment: Cash only 
Meals included: None

Read more: Tour du Mont Blanc Maps

Champex

High-End: Hotel Spendide

Hotel Spendide has a lot going for it, like the rich breakfast spread and gorgeous vintage furnishings, but all of that pales in comparison to its million-dollar views! Soak in the phenomenal Alpine vistas from the sweeping terrace or from the comfort of your own room (book a south-facing room for the best views).

Room type(s): Private, ensuite
Payment: Credit card, cash
Meals included: Breakfast

Mid-Range: Hotel Ptarmigan

This lovely B&B is a scenic and relaxing option for TMB walkers. There are just three rooms, two of which have balconies and lake views. All of the rooms share a bathroom. There’s a lovely terrace that makes the most of the B&B’s superb lakefront location.

Room type(s): Private, shared bathroom
Payment: Credit card, cash
Meals included: Breakfast

Budget: Pension en Plein Air

Champex, like most Swiss resort towns, is very expensive. Budget accommodation in Champex is very limited, and Pension en Plein Air is your best bet for cheap lodging. Don’t expect anything beyond the basics and you won’t be disappointed.

Room type(s): Private, Dormitory
Payment: Cash only
Meals included: Half-Board
Red boats on the edge of Lac Champex, Tour du Mont Blanc
Lac Champex.

Col de la Forclaz/Le Peuty/Trient

Hikers trekking in the counterclockwise direction will reach Col de la Forclaz first, and then will arrive in Le Peuty after another 40 minutes downhill. Trient is about 20 minutes from Le Peuty, just off the main TMB route.

High-End/Mid-Range: Hotel de la Forclaz

This historic hotel sits by itself on the Col de la Forclaz above Le Peuty and Trient. It is a convenient TMB stop, offering a range of private rooms, dorm beds, and camping to suit every budget. Breakfast is included with private room bookings, and it can be added on for the others. There’s also a small shop next to the hotel that sells souvenirs and snacks.

Room type(s): Private,some ensuite, Dormitory
Payment: Credit card, cash
Meals included: Breakfast or Half-Board avilable (extra fee may apply)

High-End/Mid-Range: Auberge du Mont Blanc

For those wishing to stay down in the valley, the Auberge du Mont Blanc is a great value. There are private rooms and dorm beds available, and many of the rooms have lovely views. The auberge also offers a spacious sauna and cozy lounge for guests to enjoy. The bus stop is just steps away, convenient for those who may need to detour or exit the trail early.

Room type(s): Private w/shared bathrooms, Dormitory, studio apartments
Payment: Credit card, cash
Meals included: Breakfast or Half-Board avilable (extra fee may apply)

Budget: Refuge du Le Peuty

The low-maintenance types will love this rustic bunkhouse with bohemian vibes. The refuge is located directly on the TMB route and offers a good, affordable option with plenty of opportunities to get to know fellow hikers. There are shared unisex bathrooms and snacks and drinks can be purchased in the yurt lounge next door.

Room type(s): Dormitory
Payment: Cash only
Meals included: Half-board
Trient's iconic pink church
Trient’s iconic pink church

Tré le Champ/Les Frasserands/Argentiere

The TMB route passes directly through the village of Tré le Champ, but the only accommodation there is Auberge la Boerne. There are a few additional places a bit further down the trail in the town of Les Frasserands. Alternatively, you can take the 25-minute detour to the larger town of Argentiere, where there are more services and options available.

High-End: Les Grands Montets

While getting to this hotel will require the extra walk or bus ride to Argentiere, many walkers will find this to be a worthwhile endeavor for the luxury they’ll enjoy in return for their efforts. Pamper yourself in the pool, jacuzzi, and spa, or take in the views while relaxing on the wonderful terrace. If you’re in need of a pick-me-up to get you through your final days on the trail, this is the hotel for you.

Room type(s): Private, ensuite
Payment: Credit card, cash
Meals included: Breakfast available for an extra fee

Budget/Mid-Range: Auberge la Boerne

This inviting guesthouse is conveniently located along the TMB route in the tiny hamlet of Tre la Champ. While the accommodation is rather basic (dormitories and shared bathrooms), the traditional mountain charm makes it a memorable stay for many TMB walkers. There is a communal kitchenette available if you choose to self-cater.

Room type(s): Dormitory
Payment: Cash only
Meals included: Half-board optional

Budget/Mid-Range: Gîte Le Moulin

If you continue a bit past Tre la Champ, you’ll reach the town of Les Frasserands, which is also quite convenient to the TMB route (albeit a short walk from the trail). This cozy gite offers simple dorm-style accommodation with a nice lounge area and good showers. The real highlight of Gite le Moulin, however, is the fantastic food. Don’t miss the fresh croissants at breakfast!

Room type(s): Dormitory
Payment: Credit card, cash 
Meals included: Half-board optional

Refuge la Flégère/Refuge du Lac Blanc

While Refuge la Flégère is the traditional stop along the main TMB route, many walkers opt instead for the variant to Refuge du Lac Blanc. Both refuges are cozy and comfortable. If you’re looking for convenience and an easier hike, Flégère is your best bet. If you’re looking for spectacular scenery, it may be worth the extra climb to Refuge du Lac Blanc.

Mid-Range: Refuge la Flégère

Refuge la Flégère can be a bit off-putting at first glance, given its position next to a giant cablecar station and ski area. However, once you settle into the charming and recently-renovated building, take in the panoramic views from the terrace, and enjoy some of their delicious food, you’ll surely warm up to it. It’s important to note that potable water is not available at the refuge. You can fill up inside the cable car station during its opening hours, and you can also buy bottled water at the refuge.

Room type(s): Dormitory
Payment: Cash only
Meals included: Half-board 

Mid-Range: Refuge du Lac Blanc

To reach Refuge du Lac Blanc, you’ll need to follow the signed detour from the main TMB route which leads up a very steep path to the lake. Your efforts will be richly rewarded with the stunning views across tranquil Lac Blanc to the region’s most majestic sights: Mer de Glace, the Aiguilles Vert and Charmoz, and the Grandes Jorasses. This is a basic refuge set in the remote wilderness. There’s no potable water (bottles are available for purchase or you can bring a lightweight filter like this one), no wifi, and only three outlets for the 43 beds. You’ll also need to pack out all of your trash.

Room type(s): Dormitory
Payment: Cash only
Meals included: Half-board
Hikers take in the view from Refuge la Flegere, TMB accommodation
Refuge La Flegere.

Additional Resources

  • Autour du Mont Blanc: This official TMB website has tons of excellent information, including a nearly-complete accommodation listing of all of the lodgings along the route and a booking portal that can be used for many refuges and smaller guesthouses.
  • Cicerone Guide Book: This guidebook is an indispensable resource that we recommend to all TMB hikers. It has a handy accommodation index in the back, as well as practical information for all aspects of the hike. Lightweight trekkers can download an e-book version on their phone or tablet.

What’s Next?

If you’ve read our Guide above, you’re well on your way to having an incredible experience on the Tour du Mont Blanc. However, you still have lots of preparation before you’re truly ready! Be sure to read our entire series on the TMB to learn everything you’ll need to know to prepare for your trip and don’t hesitate to comment with your questions below!

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The Complete Guide to Camping in Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park is the largest national park in the contiguous United States. Covering an area of over 3.3 million acres, Death Valley preserves one of the most unique…

Death Valley National Park is the largest national park in the contiguous United States. Covering an area of over 3.3 million acres, Death Valley preserves one of the most unique ecosystems in the world. Home to some of the hottest temperatures on earth, Death Valley National Park has an incredible diversity of natural features. From the famous ‘moving rocks’ of Death Valley’s Racetrack, to the stunning drive through Twenty Mile Mule Team Canyon you’re sure to have an incredible visit.

Given all that Death Valley National Park has to offer, we think the best way to explore this national park is by spending a few nights under the stars in your tent or RV. You’ll get to experience this magical landscape firsthand and gain an appreciation that is only possible while camping!

Death Valley National Park and the surrounding areas have tons of options for camping. From the twelve developed campgrounds located within the park boundaries, to simple backcountry road campsites, to adventurous backpacking campsites, you’re sure to find your perfect campsite in Death Valley.

In addition, you’ll find great options for camping just outside the national park. Needless to say you’ll be spoiled for options.

Keep reading to get all the details to help plan your perfect camping trip in Death Valley National Park.

Death Valley

Camping in Death Valley National Park is an experience not to be missed.

 

In this Post

 

Death Valley National Park Campgrounds

There are twelve developed campgrounds located in Death Valley National Park. Of these, nine are operated by the National Park Service, while the remaining three (Stovepipe Wells RV Park, Fiddler’s Campground, and Panamint Springs Resort) are all owned and operated by private companies. Developed campgrounds provide basic amenities such as restrooms, tables, and fire rings. Most, but not all, have potable water available.

In addition, those looking for a more primitive experience will have the option of camping along one of Death Valley’s many dirt roads at undeveloped backcountry roadside campsites. These are not formal campgrounds, but rather simple sites that offer some solitude from the main park campgrounds.

Finally, those with a sense of adventure will have the option of setting out on a backpacking trip in Death Valley. While the park maintains few formal trails, there are good possibilities for backcountry camping for those with the proper experience and equipment. There are no formal backcountry campsites, just a simple set of regulations to guide where you are allowed to camp in the Death Valley backcountry.

The map below gives you a general sense of where each of the developed campgrounds are located in Death Valley National Park as well as their relation to the surrounding area. 

Map of campgrounds in Death Valley National Park

Campgrounds in Death Valley National Park. Map courtesy of NPS. (Click to enlarge)

 

Furnace Creek, Mesquite Spring, Emigrant, Wildrose, Fiddler’s, Panamint Springs, and Stovepipe Wells RV Park are generally open year round while the other campgrounds in the park are open seasonally.

Peak season for camping in Death Valley depends on the section of the park you plan on visiting. In the low lying desert areas, peak season is generally form late-Fall through early-Spring. In the higher elevations where snow is common, peak season early-summer through the fall.

Keep reading to learn more about reserving your campground in Death Valley National Park.

Reservations & Permits

Of the nine developed campgrounds operated by the National Park Service in Death Valley, only Furnace Creek Campground accepts reservations. Campers can make a reservation here during peak season, from October 15th – April 15th via Recreation.gov. The other eight NPS campgrounds are all available on a first-come, first-served basis.

In addition to the NPS run campgrounds, there are also three privately run developed campgrounds within Death Valley National Park: Stovepipe Wells RV Park, Fiddler’s Campground, and Panamint Springs Resort. All three of these campgrounds accept reservations, which can be made by contacting the campgrounds directly.

Mountains in Death Valley

 

For those interested in exploring the backcountry of Death Valley, either by camping at one of the backcountry road campsites or by hiking to a backcountry campsite, we highly recommend you obtain an optional Wilderness/Backcountry Use Permit. These permits are not mandatory, but they are free and will give the NPS important information about your trip and planned campsites.

Learn more about backcountry camping in Death Valley in this section.

Developed Campgrounds

There are twelve developed campgrounds located in Death Valley National Park. These campgrounds vary in size and services and give plenty of options for those looking to explore all that Death Valley has to offer. Details for all twelve campgrounds are below.

Furnace Creek Campground

Number of Sites: 136 sites (including 18 with hookups)
Fee: Tent site: $22/night | Full hookup site: $36/night | Group sites: $35 – $60/night
RVs: Yes
Reservations: Available between October 15h – April 15th. Click here to reserve.
Season: Open year round.
More Information

Furnace Creek Campground, Death Valley National Park

Furnace Creek Campground, Death Valley National Park. Photo credit NPS.

 

The Furnace Creek Campground sits on the eastern edge of Death Valley National Park and is located at Furnace Creek, the main entry point for most visitors to Death Valley. The campground is perfect for those looking to explore Desolation Canyon, drive Twenty Mule Team Canyon, or visit the Harmony Borax Works.

The campground features 136 campsites, 18 of which are full-hookup RV sites, and is situated just behind the Furnace Creek Visitor Center. Campsites are located along several small roads with larger sites that can accommodate RVs the closest to the visitor center. Furnace Creek Campground is the only NPS operated campground in Death Valley that can be reserved ahead of time, with reservations made through Recreation.gov.

The campsites are reservable from October 15th – April 15th. Outside of this timeframe all campsites are first-come, first-served.

Click here to make a reservation at Furnace Creek Campground

Campsites at the Furnace Creek Campground feature picnic tables and fire pits while campers will have access to flush toilets, potable water and an RV dump station.  Generator use is generally allowed between 7am – 7pm.

Nearby you’ll find plenty of amenities including a post office, gas station, restaurants, and more. In addition, laundry and shower facilities are available at the adjacent Oasis at Death Valley for a fee.

Harmony Borax Works in Death Valley

The Furnace Creek Campground is the perfect place to spend the night before exploring the Harmony Borax Works. Photo credit NPS/Kurt Moses.

 

Sunset Campground (at Furnace Creek)

Number of Sites: 270 sites
Fee: $14/night
RVs: Yes, no hookups available.
Reservations: First-come, first-served
Season: Late fall through spring
More Information

Map of the Furnace Creek area in Death Valley National Park

The Sunset Campground is located just across Highway 190 from the Furnace Creek Visitor Center. Map courtesy of NPS.

 

The Sunset Campground sits just east of Highway 190 in the Furnace Creek area of Death Valley National Park. Sunset makes a great option for those looking to be centrally located within the park, and you’ll also be close to a variety of attractions in the Furnace Creek area.

The Sunset Campground is large, containing 270 campsites that can accommodate both tents and RVs. There are no hookups available for RVs at the Sunset Campground, although there is a dump station. All sites at the Sunset Campground are available on a first-come, first-served basis and given the large size, the campground is rarely at capacity.

Campsites at the Sunset Campground are quite basic and do not include picnic tables or fire pits. Restrooms and potable water are available at the campground and you’ll be adjacent to the many services on offer at Furnace Creek.

There is little to no shade at the Sunset Campground, so be sure to bring your portable shade structure or tent!

Twenty Mule Team Canyon

Twenty Mule Team Canyon is just a short drive from the Sunset Campground in Death Valley. Photo credit NPS.

 

Texas Springs Campground (at Furnace Creek)

Number of Sites: 92 sites (26 tent only)
Fee: $16/night
RVs: Yes, no hookups available.
Reservations: First-come, first-served
Season: Late fall through spring
More Information

Historic restrooms at the Texas Springs Campground

Historic restrooms at the Texas Springs Campground. Photo credit NPS.

 

The Texas Springs Campground is the third campground located in the Furnace Creek area of Death Valley National park that is operated by the park service. The campground sits just up the road from the Sunset Campground and is close to many of Death Valley’s main attractions, including the campground’s nakesake Texas Springs Trail.

Texas Springs features 92 campsites, 26 of which are designated as tent-only sites. The campground is located at a higher elevation than the other campgrounds at Furnace Creek (most of which are below sea-level!), and feels a bit more secluded. Here, campsites are well equipped with picnic tables and fire rings as well as access to potable water and flush toilets.

RVs are allowed at the Texas Springs Campground, but the use of generators is prohibited. As with the other campgrounds in this section of Death Valley, you’ll have easy access to the many services available at Furnace Creek.

Mountains in Death Valley National Park

 

 

Fiddler’s Campground – The Oasis at Death Valley (at Furnace Creek)

Number of Sites: 35 sites
Fee: $24/night
RVs: Yes, no hookups available.
Reservations: Recommended. Click here to reserve.
Season: Open year round
More Information

The fourth and final campground located in the Furnace Creek area of Death Valley National Park is the privately-run Fiddler’s Campground. Located at the Oasis at Death Valley, the Fiddler’s Campgrounds features 35 full-hookup RV campsites.

A great option for those looking for a bit more luxury than a typical NPS campground, Fiddler’s Campground gives guests access to a pool, hot showers, outdoor games (tennis, basketball, bocce ball, etc.), and more. The campground is also located near restaurants and the well regarded Furnace Creek Golf Course.

The campsites are spaced relatively close together, but the large shade trees make this a beautiful place to spend the night. There are not individual picnic tables or fire pits at the campsites, although there is a community fire pit and picnic area that campers can use.

Highway 190 winds through Death Valley

 

Stovepipe Wells Campground

Number of Sites: 190 sites (28 tent only)
Fee: $14/night
RVs: Yes, no hookups available. 30′ max length.
Reservations: First-come, first-served
Season: October 15h – April 15th
More Information

Stovepipe Wells Campground, Death Valley National Park

Stovepipe Wells Campground, Death Valley National Park. Photo credit NPS.

 

The Stovepipe Wells Campground is located approximately 30 minutes west of the Furnace Creek area of Death Valley National Park. Stovepipe Wells is a perfect place to spend the night before exploring the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, which are only a short drive away.

Here you’ll find 190 total campsites, with 28 of those set aside as tent-only sites. The campground is really just a large, open gravel parking area. While there are specific places to park your RV or place your tent don’t expect much privacy or seclusion. The campsites at Stovepipe Wells Campground are all available on a first-come, first-served basis and the campground is open from October 15h – April 15th each year.

There are a few picnic tables and fire rings available, but not every campsite here has one. There is potable water available as well as a nearby dump station.

Nearby you’ll find the Stovepipe Wells general store, a gas station, and the Stovepipe Wells Village hotel. If you’re looking for RV camping with full hookup you can take advantage of the Stovepipe Wells RV Park just across the highway.

Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, Death Valley National Park

You’ll be well located to explore the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes if you camp at Stovepipe Wells.

 

Stovepipe Wells RV Park

Number of Sites: 14 sites
Fee: $40/night
RVs: Yes, full hookups available.
Reservations: Recommended. Click here to reserve.
Season: Open year round
More Information

Located just across the highway from the NPS run Stovepipe Wells Campground, the Stovepipe Wells RV Park is a small, privately run RV campground in the heart of Death Valley. You’ll be a short drive from many of the park’s best attractions including the Furnace Creek area and Mesquite Flats Sand Dunes.

Stovepipe Wells RV Park is small, with only 14 full-hookup RV sites available.  The campground sits adjacent to the Stovepipe Wells Village and is run by the same company that operates the general store, hotel, and restaurant. Reservations are recommended, but not required for the campground.

Those staying at the Stovepipe Wells RV Park will get access to a swimming pool and free WiFi, welcome amenities for your visit to Death Valley National Park!

Sand Dunes near Stovepipe Wells

 

Mesquite Spring Campground

Number of Sites: 40 sites
Fee: $14/night
RVs: Yes, no hookups available.
Reservations: First-come, first-served
Season: Open year round
More Information

Mesquite Spring Campground, Death Valley National Park

Mesquite Spring Campground, Death Valley National Park. Photo credit NPS.

 

The Mesquite Spring Campground is located in the northern section of Death Valley National Park, near the Scotty’s Castle Visitor Center. Unfortunately, a 2015 flood caused severe damage to Scotty’s Castle, although the campground remains open. Staying here will leave you well positioned for a visit to the Ubehebe Crater, one of the must see sights in Death Valley.

Mesquite Spring features 40 campsites that can accommodate both tents and RVs. The campground is located adjacent to high desert mountains and generally lacks any form of shade. However, given that the campground sits at an elevation of 1,800′ above sea-level temperatures are much cooler here compared to other areas of the park. All campsites at the Mesquite Spring Campground are first-come, first-served.

Each campsite includes a picnic table and fire grate. There is also a RV dump station nearby.

The ubehebe crater in Death Valley.

The Mesquite Springs Campground is well positioned for a visit to the Ubehebe Crater. Photo credit NPS.

 

Emigrant Campground

Number of Sites: 10 sites (tents only)
Fee: Free
RVs: No.
Reservations: First-come, first-served
Season: Open year round
More Information

Emigrant Campground, Death Valley National Park

Emigrant Campground, Death Valley National Park. Photo credit NPS/C. Rohe.

 

The Emigrant Campground is a free, tent-only campground located a few miles west of the Stovepipe Wells area of Death Valley. Emigrant is centrally located in the park and situated just off Highway 190, making this a good location for exploring a variety of areas of Death Valley National Park.

At the campground you’ll just 10 tent-only campsites, which are really nothing more than a gravel parking lot just off the highway. While there are no fire pits here you will find that all of the campsites are equipped with a picnic table and have access to flush toilets and potable water.  Campsites at the Emigrant Campground are all available on a first-come, first-served basis.

The closest amenities are in the Stovepipe Wells area where you’ll find the Stovepipe Wells general store, a gas station, and the Stovepipe Wells Village hotel. Emigrant is only a 10 minute drive along Highway 190 from these services.

Highway 190 passes a campground in Death Valley

The Emigrant Campground is located just off Highway 190, providing easy access to all that Death Valley has to offer.

 

Panamint Springs RV Park

Number of Sites: 54 sites
Fee: $10 – $40/night depending on site
RVs: Yes, full hookups available.
Reservations: Recommended. Call (775)482-7680 or email reservations@panamintsprings.com
Season: Open year round
More Information

The Panamint Springs RV Park is a privately run campground located on the far western edge of Death Valley National Park. Panamint Springs location on the west side of Death Valley is ideal for a visit to Father Crowley Vista Point and also will be a great place to spend the night for those completing the long drive to the park from the western portion of California.

The campground is part of the larger Panamint Springs Resort which includes a hotel, general store, gas station, restaurant and bar. The campground features a total of 54 campsites with 22 tent sites, 6 full-hookup RV sites, and 22 RV sites with no hookups. A majority, but not all, of the campsites include a picnic table and fire ring.

Reservations are recommended for any of the campsites at Panamint Springs, although 19 of the no-hookup RV sites are held on a first-come, first-served basis.

The Panamint Springs Valley in Death Valley National Park.

Explore the Panamint Springs Valley in Death Valley.

 

Wildrose Campground

Number of Sites: 23 sites
Fee: Free
RVs: Yes, no hookups. Vehicles longer than 25′ cannot access.
Reservations: First-come, first-served
Season: Open year round
More Information

Wildrose Campground, Death Valley National Park

Wildrose Campground, Death Valley National Park. Photo credit NPS/C. Rohe.

 

The Wildrose Campgrounds is located high in the Panamint Mountains of Death Valley National Park. Situated at an elevation of 4,100′ above sea level this is a great place to spend the night with a plan to explore the quieter sections of Death Valley. Nearby you’ll find excellent hiking, such as the trail to the top of Wildrose Peak.

Wildrose Campgrounds features 23 free campsites which can accommodate both tents and RVs shorter than 25′. Campsites are dispersed throughout the hillside and feature picnic tables and fire rings. There is also potable water available at the campground. Reservations are not accepted here, and all sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

There isn’t much nearby in terms of amenities as the Wildrose Campground is located in a relatively isolated section of Death Valley.

Wildrose Peak in Death Valley National Park

A hike to the top of Wildrose Peak is a great outing in Death Valley. Photo credit NPS/Dan Kish.

 

Thorndike Campground

Number of Sites: 6 sites
Fee: Free
RVs: Yes, no hookups. Vehicles longer than 25′ cannot access.
Reservations: First-come, first-served
Season: Late spring through fall
More Information

Thorndike Campground, Death Valley National Park

Thorndike Campground, Death Valley National Park. Photo credit NPS/C. Rohe.

 

The Thorndike Campground is a rugged and remote campground located high in Death Valley’s Panamint Mountains. The 6 campsites at Thorndike are free of charge, but you’ll need a high-clearance vehicle with 4WD to reach them. In exchange for this effort you’ll be rewarded with relative solitude and cooler summer temperatures when compared to the scorching valley’s below. Nearby, the Wildrose Charcoal Kilns are a popular attraction.

The campsites can accommodate tents and RVs less than 25′ long, although we wouldn’t recommend trying to reach Thorndike without 4WD as the road is quite rough. While the campsites feature small fire rings and picnic tables there is no potable water at the campground. Be sure to bring all that you’ll need!

Reservations are not accepted at the Thorndike Campground, and all sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Wildrose Charcoal Kilns in Death Valley

A visit to the Wildrose Charcoal Kilns is recommended for those camping at the Thorndike Campground. Photo credit NPS.

 

Mahogany Flat Campground

Number of Sites: 10 sites
Fee: Free
RVs: Yes, no hookups. Vehicles longer than 25′ cannot access.
Reservations: First-come, first-served
Season: Late spring through fall
More Information

The Mahogany Flat Campground is one of the most remote places to spend the night in Death Valley National Park. Located at the end of a rough dirt road, this campground can only be reached by high-clearance vehicles with 4WD. The trail to the top of Telescope Peak leaves from the campground and is a highly recommended hike!

There are 10 free campsites at Mahogany Flat, all of which feature picnic tables and fire rings. Similar to the nearby Thorndike Campground, there is not potable water source at Mahogany Flat. The campsites are nicely shaded and provide a stark contrast to the desert valley campgrounds in the park.

Views from Telescope Peak in Death Valley

You’ll enjoy spectacular views from the top of Telescope Peak. Photo credit NPS/Dan Kish.

 

Backcountry Road Campsites

In addition to the twelve developed campgrounds outlined in the section above, Death Valley National Park allows for the unique experience of camping along one of the parks many backcountry dirt roads. This is the perfect opportunity for those with a sense of adventure and who are interested in exploring the vast wilderness of Death Valley.

Given the remote nature of these campsites as well as the harsh conditions of Death Valley it is important to come prepared and follow all NPS regulations. Campers are strongly encouraged to obtain a voluntary Wilderness/Backcountry Use Permit.

These permits are not mandatory, but they are free and will give the NPS important information about your trip and planned campsites.

Death Valley National Park’s dirt roads offer endless opportunities for exploration.

 

Where to Camp

Camping along Death Valley’s dirt roads is generally permitted throughout the national park. However, there are a few exceptions to this intended to help minimize the impact on some of the high visitor areas of the park.

Camping is prohibited in the following areas:

  • In day-use only areas
  • The valley floor from Ashford Mill to 2 miles north of Stovepipe Wells
  • Eureka Dunes
  • Greenwater Canyon
  • Historic mining areas, including:
    • Keane Wonder Mine
    • Lost Burro Mine
    • Ubehebe Lead Mine
    • Skidoo Mill
  • Within 1 mile of any standing mining structure
  • Within 100 yards of a water source

In addition, your campsite must be at least 1 mile from the nearest paved road or ‘day-use only’ area. The NPS also requires that you camp in an area that has already been used as a campsite or immediately adjacent to the roadway. This helps minimize the impact camping has on the fragile desert environment.

View the full list of regulations for backcountry road camping in Death Valley here. 

To get an idea of the best areas to camp in the Death Valley backcountry be sure to read the National Park Service’s excellent Backcountry & Wilderness Access Map here.

Check out the Backcountry & Wilderness Access Map here. 

Some of the best options for backcountry roadside camping in Death Valley National Park include:

Echo Canyon Road

Echo Canyon Road is one of the most centrally located roadside camping areas in Death Valley. Located just a few miles south of the Furnace Creek area. High-clearance vehicles are a must and 4WD is recommended. The road beyond Echo Canyon is only for the most experienced and well-equipped off-road drivers.

Map of Echo Canyon Road in Death Valley

Echo Canyon Road – Death Valley National Park. Map courtesy of NPS.

 

Hole in the Wall Road

Located just south of Echo Canyon Road, Hole in the Wall Road is another great option for primitive roadside camping in Death Valley. It is four miles to Hole in the Wall, a 400′ deep gap in the stunning ridgeline.

Map of Hole in the Wall Road in Death Valley

Hole in the Wall Road – Death Valley National Park. Map courtesy of NPS.

 

Cottonwood Canyon Road

Cottonwood Canyon road is a rough and rugged 4WD road located just north of Stovepipe Wells in Death Valley. The road is famous for the small stream lined with Cottonwoods located at the end of the road. High clearance vehicles with 4WD are a must.

Map of Cottonwood Canyon Road in Death Valley

Cottonwood Canyon Road – Death Valley National Park. Map courtesy of NPS.

 

Racetrack Road

For those who want to visit the famous and mystifying ‘moving rocks’ of Death Valley’s Racetrack, a camping trip on Racetrack Road is the perfect opportunity. This road is notorious for causing flat tires, so be sure you’re prepared! Also, no sedans or RVs permitted and be sure to not drive on the lake bed itself.

Map of Racetrack Road in Death Valley

Racetrack Road – Death Valley National Park. Map courtesy of NPS.

 

Warm Springs Canyon Road

Warm Springs Canyon Road is located in the southern section of Death Valley National Park and only requires a high-clearance 2WD vehicle for the first 10 miles or so. This is a great option for backcountry camping for those who are not equipped with a serious 4WD vehicle.

Map of Warm Springs Canyon Road - Death Valley

Warm Springs Canyon Road – Death Valley National Park. Map courtesy of NPS.

 

Be sure to check out a full list of roads and road conditions in Death Valley National Park here prior to setting out!

The Racetrack in Death Valley National Park

Backcountry camping gives you an opportunity explore some of Death Valley’s most incredible landscapes.

 

Backpacking in Death Valley National Park

Backpacking in Death Valley National Park is not for the faint of heart. While the expanse of wilderness in the park provides for nearly endless options, you’ll need to be prepared for the harsh conditions you’re likely to encounter.

However, for those who invest the time and resources in planning a backpacking trip in Death Valley you’ll be rewarded with solitude, stunning night skies, and the experience of a lifetime. Keep reading to learn how to plan your own backpacking trip in Death Valley National Park.

A backcountry camper in Death Valley National Park.

Exploring the nearly endless wilderness on a backcountry camping trip in Death Valley.

 

For those planning a backpacking trip in Death Valley we highly recommend that you secure a free backcountry use permit ahead of time and have a well planned itinerary. There are only a few designed hiking trails in Death Valley, so the NPS has created the following guidelines to help you plan a successful trip:

  • Utilize old dirt roads, canyon bottoms, and desert washes to get around.
  • Limit group size to no more than 12 people.
  • Always practice Leave No Trace principles.
  • Campfires are prohibited.
  • Pets are not allowed in the backcountry.
  • Carry at least 1 gallon of water per person per day.
  • Always have a topo map and compass AND know how to use them.

We highly recommend that you stop by the Furnace Creek Visitor Center prior to setting out to discuss your plans with a park ranger. They’ll be able to update you on current conditions in the park and give advice on how to have a successful trip.

For those looking for recommendations for possible backpacking trips in Death Valley, the NPS recommends the following destinations:

  • Big Horn Gorge
  • Cottonwood-Marble Canyon Loop
  • Fall Canyon
  • Hanaupah Canyon
  • Hungry Bill’s Ranch
  • Indian Pass
  • Owlshead Mountains
  • Panamint Dunes
  • Surprise Canyon
  • Telescope Peak
  • Titanothere Canyon

Learn more about desert backpacking in Death Valley on the National Park Services’ website here.

A hiker in Death Valley

Explore Death Valley’s vast desert landscape on a backcountry camping trip.

 

Death Valley National Park Camping Must Know

The following sections contain all the basic information you need to ensure you have a great time camping in Death Valley National Park. Before we dive in, there are a few important regulations to note:

  • No more than eight people and two vehicles per campsite.
  • The maximum stay at the Furnace Creek campground is 14 days per calendar year.
  • All other campgrounds have a maximum stay of 30 days per calendar year.
  • Generators are generally allowed from 7am – 7pm, but be sure to check the regulations for your specific campground.
  • Always practice Leave No Trace principles.

Detailed information on fires, pets, wildlife, and more can be found in the sections below.

Camper with headlamp in Death Valley

 

When to camp in Death Valley

Depending on the area of the park you’d like to explore it is possible to camp in Death Valley throughout the year. There are campgrounds located in both the valleys and mountains which provides for camping opportunities in both the summer and winter.

Read on to learn more about your camping options in Death Valley depending on the season.

Winter camping in Death Valley

During the winter and spring months, generally October – April, you’ll be able to comfortably camp at many of the campgrounds located on the valley floors throughout Death Valley. These are often inhospitable during the summer months when day time temperatures regularly surpass 110 degrees fahrenheit.

However, during the winter and spring months you’ll be able to enjoy much milder temperatures here. We recommend the following campgrounds for winter and spring camping in Death Valley:

Summer camping in Death Valley

Death Valley summers are known for the extreme heat that takes over much of the park. Daily temperatures often exceed 110 degrees, and night time lows often are in the low 100s or 90s. Not a great time to be sleeping in your tent! However, many of the higher altitude campgrounds in Death Valley are prime for a summer camping trip. The snow has melted and temperatures are much cooler at the higher elevations.

We recommend the following campgrounds for a summer camping trip in Death Valley:

Fires

Fires are generally permitted at the twelve developed campgrounds within Death Valley National Park. Fires must be completely contained within the provided fire pit/grate and should not be left unattended. The gathering of any vegetation in Death Valley is strictly prohibited, so be sure to bring your own firewood. It is also available for purchase at the Furnace Creek and Stovepipe Wells General Stores.

Fires are not permitted at the Wildrose, Thorndike, or Mahogany Flat campgrounds during the summer months, as fire danger increases significantly during this time.

Campfires are prohibited in the backcountry of Death Valley National Park, so if you’re planning a backpacking trip be sure to bring a camp stove.

Campfire

Pets

Pets are allowed in Death Valley National Park, but only in the developed sections of the park. The NPS generally defines this as anywhere a car can go.

They are permitted in the developed campgrounds, adjacent to park infrastructure, and on the main park roads.

We generally recommend against bringing you pet to Death Valley, but if you do please follow these regulations:

  • Pets must be on a leash at all times.
  • Pets are allowed within campgrounds, on park roads, and in picnic areas.
  • Pets are not allowed in park buildings, on trails, or in the backcountry.
  • Do not leave your pet unattended in your vehicle. Temperatures can get extremely hot in Death Valley.
  • Always properly dispose of pet waste.

For a complete list of regulations related to pets check out the Death Valley National Park website here.

 

Where to get supplies

Stocking up on camping supplies before your trip to Death Valley is an important part of trip planning. Death Valley National Park is in a very remote area with few amenities or services nearby, so you’ll want to invest some time making sure you are prepared. It is especially important to be sure you’re well equipped with plenty of water given the lack of water sources in the national park.

Luckily, there are a few town convenient to the various entrances to Death Valley as well as two general stores within the national park itself. Check out your options below:

Coming from the east/Las Vegas: Pahrump, NV

The town of Pahrump, NV will be your best bet for securing supplies if you’re coming to Death Valley from the Nevada/Las Vegas area. From here, it is an approximately 1 hour drive to the Furnace Creek area of Death Valley. Pahrump has everything you need to prepare for your camping trip including grocery stores, gas station, and an outdoor shop.

Coming from the southwest/Los Angeles: Ridgecrest, CA

Ridgecrest, CA is the most convenient place to stop on your way to Death Valley from the Los Angeles/Southern California area. Ridgecrest is about 1.25 hours from the edge of Death Valley National Park, near Panamint Springs. You’ll find everything you need here including several excellent camping and outdoor stores.

Coming from the south: Baker, CA

For those coming from the south and heading into Death Valley on State Highway 127, your last and best chance for decent supplies comes in Baker, CA. Baker is a small town but does have a nice local grocer, gas station, and even the world’s tallest thermometer!

In the Park

Finally, there are three general stores located within Death Valley National Park that carry some basic camping supplies, groceries, and souvenirs. These are located at Furnace Creek, Stovepipe Wells, and Panamint Springs, all along State Highway 190.

Camping near Death Valley National Park

Camping in Death Valley National Park is an incredible experience. However, you may find yourself in a situation where utilizing one of the park campgrounds doesn’t make sense.  The campgrounds may be full, you may want to stop and spend the night after a long drive before reaching the park, or you might be looking for something with a few more amenities. Regardless of your reason, there are several great campgrounds just outside of Death Valley National Park. We’ve highlighted a few good options below.

Car pulling a trailer

 

Death Valley RV Park (North of the National Park)

Number of sites: 39 sites
Fee: Varies
Capacity: None stated.
RVs: Yes
Reservations: Recommended. Call (775) 553-9702
Pets: Allowed
More Information

The Death Valley RV Park is located northeast of Death Valley National Park in Beatty, NV. The park features 39 RV campsites with 50 amp hookups. You’ll have access to free WiFi, laundry facilities, a hot tub, and pool.

From here you’re only a 40 minutes to Stovepipe Wells in the national park.

 

Shoshone RV Park (South of the National Park)

Number of sites: 25 full-hookup sites + room for tents
Fee: $30/night for tents, $45/night for RVs
Capacity: None stated.
RVs: Yes
Reservations: Recommended. Click here to reserve.
Pets: Allowed
More Information

Located just south of Death Valley National Park is the well reviewed Shoshone RV Park. This campground features 25 full-hookup RV spots as well as plenty of tent-only campsites. From here, its less than 1 mile to the park boundary.

Amenities include a mineral springs swimming pool, laundry facilities, showers, community room, and fire pit.

 

Preferred RV Resort (East of the National Park)

Number of sites: 270 sites
Fee: $40/night
Capacity: None stated.
RVs: Yes
Reservations: Recommended. Click here to reserve.
Pets: Allowed
More Information

Located in Pahrump, NV Preferred RV Resort is only a short drive from Furnace Creek and the heart of Death Valley. This large campground features full hookup sites with beautiful pine trees separating most campsites.  Amenities here include a pool, free WiFi, exercise room, and indoor spa.

Have a great trip!

That’s it!

We hope you’ve found all of the information on camping in Death Valley National Park in this post helpful and we know you’ll find the perfect campsite for your upcoming adventure! Be sure to let us know in the comments below if you have any questions or had a great time out camping!

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The Ultimate Guide to the Tour du Mont Blanc

The Tour du Mont Blanc is one of the world’s most iconic treks. Frequently referred to as the ‘TMB’ for short, the Tour du Mont Blanc circumnavigates the Mont Blanc…

The Tour du Mont Blanc is one of the world’s most iconic treks. Frequently referred to as the ‘TMB’ for short, the Tour du Mont Blanc circumnavigates the Mont Blanc massif and takes trekkers through France, Italy, and Switzerland over the course of 11 stages. Along the way you’ll experience stunning valleys, high-mountain passes, incredible cuisine, and some of the best hiking in the world.

This guide is designed to be the perfect planning companion for your own Tour du Mont Blanc adventure. We’ve included everything you need to know to have a spectacular trip in one place, so you can be sure you’ve thought of everything.

Read it through in a single go or jump to a specific section below, but rest assured knowing you’ve found the best resource on the internet for planning your Tour du Mont Blanc trek.

Let’s get started!

Mont Blanc as seen from the TMB

The Tour du Mont Blanc beckons to hikers with its stunning views and quaint villages.

 

In this Tour du Mont Blanc Guide

About the Tour du Mont Blanc

The Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB) is a 170-km trek that circles the Mont Blanc massif. The route is traditionally walked in the anti-clockwise direction over 11-stages. The TMB starts and finishes in the French village of Les Houches, which sits adjacent to the popular mountain town of Chamonix. Along the way the trail passes through seven unique and beautiful valleys, where charming hamlets and regional delicacies abound. Between the valleys, the route traverses a rugged mountain landscape and stunning high alpine scenery.

Map of the Tour du Mont Blanc

The Tour du Mont Blanc circumnavigates the Mont Blanc massif. (Click to enlarge)

 

The TMB is one of the most popular long-distance treks in Europe, with over 10,000 hikers per year embarking on their own walk around Mont Blanc. It is easy to understand why when considering the ease of access to the trek, plentiful accommodation options, and the fact that the route is achievable by most walker’s with decent fitness.

The closest major city to the TMB is Geneva, Switzerland, located just a few hours north by train or bus.  The route passes through seven mountain valleys (Val d’Arve, Val d’Montjoie, Vallee des Glaciers, Val Veny, Italian Val Ferret, Swiss Val Ferret, and Vallee du Trient) and visits charming alpine hamlets as it winds its way around Mont Blanc.

Contrary to what many believe, the TMB does not go through the iconic French mountain town of Chamonix, instead taking a trail high-above this famed destination.

Map showing the location of the Tour du Mont Blanc

The Tour du Mont Blanc is located at the intersection of France, Italy, and Switzerland. (Click to enlarge)

 

How long is the Tour du Mont Blanc?

The short answer: it depends!

The Tour du Mont Blanc has many variations and route options as it makes its way around Mont Blanc. These variations include options to tackle challenging mountain passes (see the Fenetre d’Arpette), visit crystal clear mountain lakes (such as Lac Blanc), or to simply avoid some of the more challenging sections of the hike.

However, the traditional route of the TMB is approximately 170-kilometers long.

Of course, many trekkers will opt to take several of the alternate routes, which will lengthen or shorten the total distance, depending on the routes chosen. You’ll have the option to walk less or more depending on the weather, your preferences, and the conditions encountered on the trail.

Elevation profile of the Tour du Mont Blanc

The Tour du Mont Blanc covers approximately 170 kilometers.

 

How difficult is the Tour du Mont Blanc?

If you are reasonably fit and have some backpacking experience, you should be well-suited to the physical challenges of the TMB. It is a tough trek that involves long, steep ascents and descents on nearly every stage, but it isn’t too technically demanding. Remember, the Tour du Mont Blanc is a hike not a climb!

Trekkers should be prepared for long days hiking with plenty of elevation change, but frequent services along the route make it more approachable. Weather can add to the challenge, and hikers should be prepared to encounter rain and even snow at any time.

Many of the stages of the TMB are structured such that you’ll begin your hike from the valley floor, trek up and over a mountain pass, and then descend into the next valley to finish the day. This provides a nice rhythm to the Tour du Mont Blanc but can also make for some difficult days.

Make sure you have healthy knees, as the downhill sections can take their toll!

All that being said we truly believe that most walkers who invest a bit of time in training and preparation can complete the Tour du Mont Blanc with no problems and have a great time doing it! Our best advice is to be sure you are in good physical condition and also make sound decisions when you encounter bad weather or snow.

A hiker on the trail to Col du Balme on the TMB.

The Tour du Mont Blanc is a difficult trek, but most reasonably fit hikers should have no problem completing it.

 

Planning Your Perfect Tour du Mont Blanc

Now that you have a bit of background on the TMB let’s get into the heart of what this guide is all about: helping you plan your perfect Tour du Mont Blanc!

There are lots of things to think about so we’ve organized this guide into several sections. First, we’ll start with some basics such as which direction you should hike in and what time of year will be best for you to tackle the TMB. Then we’ll dive into some more in-depth considerations such as designing your perfect itinerary and selecting your accommodation.

Let’s get started!

Refuge des Mottets on the Tour du Mont Blanc

A little planning goes a long way to ensuring you have a great TMB!

 

Which direction should I hike the TMB?

The TMB is traditionally hiked in an anti-clockwise direction beginning in the French town of Les Houches, adjacent to Chamonix. It is also possible to walk the route in a clockwise direction, and trekkers headed this way typically start in the Swiss town of Champex-Lac.

Below we’ve outlined some pros and cons of hiking in each direction.

A hiker climbs the trail on the Tour du Mont Blanc

 

Anti-clockwise (starting in Les Houches, France)

Pros:

  • Follows the classic route, good if you’re a sucker for tradition.
  • Begins near Chamonix, which is easier to get to from the Geneva Airport than Champex.
  • Rewards hikers with jaw-dropping views of Mont Blanc on the final stage.

Cons:

  • More people hike in this direction, so the trail could feel more crowded throughout the day.

Clockwise (starting in Champex, Switzerland)

Pros:

  • Fewer hikers walking in the same direction as you.
  • The first few stages are a bit mellower, allowing you to get acclimated before tackling the tougher sections.
  • You’ll meet different people at each stop along the way.

Cons:

  • You’ll pass a large wave of people walking in the opposite direction each day, which can get tight on narrow trails.
  • Champex (your starting point) has fewer amenities and is less conveniently connected by public transport than Les Houches. If you want to start in Les Houches and hike clockwise, be warned that the first day involves a doozy of a climb, which could be a major shock to the system.

All things considered, you will be sure to have a great time on the TMB regardless of which direction you choose to hike in. Think through your options and make the best decision for yourself!

Champex, Switzerland

Champex, Switzerland.

 

When should I hike the Tour du Mont Blanc?

The hiking season for the TMB generally lasts from late June through mid-September. July and August are the busiest months, and accommodation (with the exception of camping) must be booked in advance. There’s a chance you could get away without advance bookings in June and September, but we still wouldn’t recommend it.

Trail leading down from the Col de Balme

No matter which month you hike the TMB always be prepared for bad weather.

 

June
Early in the season, you are likely to encounter snow on the trail. Depending on the snow levels, there could be sections that will be impassible and you may need to reroute. Otherwise, expect cool evenings, bright sunny days, and less crowded trails. Keep in mind that most mountain refuges don’t open until late June.

July
Hikers could still encounter some snow along the trail, but chances of significant snow will diminish as the month wears on. Expect beautiful warm days and abundant wildflowers. This is a popular month to hike.

August
Another busy month on the trail, hikers can expect snow-free paths and warm, sunny weather. The end of August brings the Ultra Tour du Mont Blanc trail race. While the race is very cool, due to crowds and logistics, we recommend you try to avoid hiking during the UTMB.

September
Expect shorter days and increasingly chilly weather. This is a beautiful time to be on the trail and less crowded, although some accommodation providers may be closed for the season.

The bottom line: The best (and safest) time to hike the TMB is from late-June through early September. You’ll need to make advance bookings if you plan to hike during this time frame.

View from Lac Blanc on the TMB

 

Designing your TMB Itinerary

Now that you have a sense of which direction you’ll plan to hike in as well as which month you’ll embark of your trip it’s time to start thinking about your specific itinerary!

As we’ve mentioned, the Tour du Mont Blanc in traditionally hiked over the course of 11 days, which will be a great pace for many hikers. However, there are certainly those who will want to tackle the trail in fewer days or savor their time in the Alps and extend their hike over the course of two weeks or more!

Chamonix, France

 

Whatever you choose be sure to consider your personal abilities, how much time you’ll have, and what you want your typical days on the TMB to look like. Given the amount of accommodation options on the TMB your itinerary possibilities are nearly endless!

Checkout our general guidelines below as well as our stage-by-stage itinerary for the traditional 11-day Tour du Mont Blanc itinerary to get some ideas of your own.

Here are our general guidelines for thinking about how many days to hike the Tour du Mont Blanc in:

  • 8-10 days: Fast pace (8 – 10 hours of hiking each day)
  • 10-11 days: Average pace (without a rest day) (6-8 hours of hiking each day)
  • 11-12 days: Average pace (with a rest day) (6 – 8 hours of hiking each day)
  • 12-14 days: Leisurely pace (6 – 7 hours of hiking each day)

A section of the Tour du Mont Blanc overlooking Val Veni, Italy.

Shortcuts, detours, and rest days on the TMB

One of the great things about trekking the Tour du Mont Blanc is the ability to alter your route based on the conditions encountered. Bad weather, injuries, fatigue, burnout, limited time… there are countless reasons why you may need to use alternative means of transportation to get from one point of the TMB to another.

Fortunately, the trail rarely strays too far from civilization, meaning you have tons of options along the way for when you need them. Below, we’ve listed some of the most common detours and shortcuts used on the TMB, as well as a few great resources for problem-solving your unique situation.

Cable cars

Bellvue Cable Car: This option allows you to eliminate the lion’s share of the climb out of Les Houches on the traditional (anti-clockwise) first stage of the trek. Once you get to the top, follow the signs a short way to rejoin the main trail.

La Maison Vielle Cable Car (and chairlift): If you’d like to avoid the knee-wrenching descent into Courmayeur (Stage 4), you can take a chairlift from La Maison Vieille down to Plan Chécrouit, where there’s a cable car that terminates in the town of Dolonne, across the river from Courmayeur. If needed, you can take a bus from Dolonne to Courmayeur, otherwise it’s just a short walk.

La Flegere Cable Car: This gondola departs directly next to Refuge la Flegere and ends in the village of Les Praz. From there, it’s possible to take a bus or taxi back to Chamonix. This is a good option if you need to cut out the final day of the TMB, or if you want to hike in reverse and avoid the long, long climb out of Les Houches. You could also take the cable car down into Les Praz for more accommodation and services at this stage, and then take it back up the next morning to continue your trek.

A cable car descends into the Chamonix valley

Cable cars offer a convenient way to cut out long downhill sections on the TMB.

 

Bus/Train

La Chapelle to Notre Dame de la Gorge Navette: This free shuttle bus, or “navette,” runs from La Chapelle (a short walk from the trail on the outskirts of Les Contamines) to Notre Dame de la Gorge (at the beginning of Stage 2). This means you can pick it up at the end of Stage 1 to cut out the last hour or so of walking before reaching Les Contamines, and you can also take it from Les Contamines to Notre Dame de la Gorge on the next day to get a bit of a head start (30-60 minutes, depending on where you stay in Les Contamines).

Les Chapieux to Refuge des Mottets Navette: This shuttle allows you to avoid about 2 hours of road walking at the beginning of Stage 3. It only costs a few euros to ride, and you can pick it up at the tourist information office in Les Chapieux. Make sure to buy your tickets in advance (do so the previous day, at the tourist office), as the shuttle fills up quickly in the mornings!

Savda Bus-In and around Courmayeur: This is the bus network you’ll use if you need to take any alternative transportation in Val Ferret or Val Veny (the two valleys in the surrounding area). You can take a bus from La Visaille to Courmayeur to cut out the final hour of walking on Stage 4.

This bus can also be used to reach campgrounds that are not located directly on the TMB route. Additionally, you can use the Savda bus to get to either La Fouly or Champex (although you will need to transfer in Orsières and take a Post Bus the remainder of the journey).

Post bus to La Fouly or Champex: If you are not able to walk between Courmayeur and La Fouly or from La Fouly to Champex, you can use the Swiss Post Bus to get from town to town. Service is relatively frequent and easy to navigate.

SBB Train from Champex to Trient: It’s relatively easy and straightforward to take the Swiss SBB train from Champex to Trient, effectively cutting out all of Stage 8. You need to utilize the local bus in Champex and may need to transfer a few times on the way, but Swiss trains really do live up to their reputation for being timely and efficient.

A train arrives at the main station in Chamonix, France.

 

Keep in mind that there are many more transportation options along the TMB!

We’ve simply listed a few of the most common and straightforward ones. If you need to find a specific detour, we recommend using Rome2Rio or Google Maps as a starting point. Post Bus and SBB also have excellent apps that can be used to plan trips and buy tickets.

NOTE: Many of the buses and cable cars only run during the peak months of the hiking season (July and August). Make sure that you check the websites and timetables before planning to use any of the options listed above.

Stage-by-stage Itinerary for the Tour du Mont Blanc

We recommend most hikers take between 10-12 days to hike the Tour du Mont Blanc, depending on their hiking ability, pace preferences, and weather conditions. The classic itinerary described below takes 11 days to complete and will be the best option for the majority of hikers.

Below, we’ve given you a brief overview of each of the classic eleven stages, as hiked in the anti-clockwise direction. While your specific itinerary may look different, it’s still helpful to look over these stage descriptions to get an idea of what you can expect on the trail.

Be sure to check out our interactive map and elevation profile for the route to get a comprehensive understanding of all of your options!

Stage 1: Les Houches to Les Contamines

Distance & Elevation: 17 km // +1,112 m, -902 m
Estimated hiking time:
5 – 6 hours
Where to stay: Chalet-Hôtel La Chemenaz
Description:

This stage is a perfect introduction to the TMB. It’s not too technical or demanding, yet it still gives walkers a decent challenge. You’ll start by climbing fairly steeply up out of Les Houches and past a ski area before topping out at Col de Voza.

From the Col, you’ll descend along dirt then paved roads while enjoying incredible views of the surrounding glaciers and aiguilles. Continue along the road through some very quaint hamlets, before veering off onto a trail (pay attention-this is easy to miss). You’ll end this stage by walking along a mellow riverside path all the way to Les Contamines.

Map of Stage 1 of the Tour du Mont Blanc

Stage 1 – Les Houches to Les Contamines (click to enlarge)

 

View from the TMB looking towards Les Houches

Looking back towards Les Houches on the first stage of the TMB.

 

Stage 2: Les Contamines to Les Chapieux

Distance & Elevation: 19 km // +1,440 m, -1,024 m
Estimated hiking time:
7 – 8 hours
Where to stay: Auberge de la Nova
Description:

Start this stage by passing by the Baroque chapel of Notre Dame de la Gorge. From there, you’ll follow an old Roman road steadily uphill before getting a break when the trail levels out and passes through open meadowland. After that, prepare for another steep climb, much of it on stony steps and scree, up first to the saddle of Col du Bonhomme, and then even higher to the Col de la Croix du Bonhomme. Here you’ll find the Refuge de la Croix du Bonhomme, which makes a great spot to enjoy a break and small meal.

Early in the season, it’s common to encounter snow on this section. Upon reaching the summit of Col de la Croix du Bonhomme, begin your descent towards Les Chapieux. The trail on the way down begins as a steep footpath, eases to join a jeep road for a bit, and then finishes with steep zigzags through a pasture above Les Chapieux.

Map of Stage 2 of the Tour du Mont Blanc

Stage 2 – Les Contamines to Les Chapieux (click to enlarge)

 

Cows flank the Tour du Mont Blanc on Stage 3

 

Stage 3: Les Chapieux to Rifugio Elisabetta

Distance & Elevation: 14 km // +1,079 m, -480 m
Estimated hiking time:
5 – 6 hours
Where to stay: Rifugio Elisabetta
Description:

Choose to begin this stage with either a couple of miles of road walking, or by short-cutting it on a bus to Refuge des Mottets. From the refuge, you’ll begin a relatively short and easy climb to the Col de la Seigne.

Reaching the Col is special for a few reasons. First it marks the first of three international borders that you’ll cross on your trek. Standing at the top of the Col, you can look back towards France while also gazing ahead into Italy. Additionally, the wide-open views here are downright marvelous. From Col de la Seigne, enjoy a mellow descent to Rifugio Elisabetta.

Map of Stage 3 of the Tour du Mont Blanc

Stage 3 – Chapieux to Rifugio Elisabetta (click to enlarge)

 

Rifugio Elisabetta

Rifugio Elisabetta beckons at the end of Stage 3.

 

Stage 4: Rifugio Elisabetta to Courmayeur

Distance & Elevation: 16 km // +603 m, -1,536 m
Estimated hiking time:
5 – 6 hours
Where to stay: Maison La Saxe
Description:

As indicated by the elevation statistics, this stage is dominated by a very long and steep descent into Courmayeur. Before beginning that section, however, you’ll cross through the expansive Vallon de la Lee Blanche, where Lac Combal reflects the magnificent surrounding peaks. From there, you’ll climb for awhile on an undulating path to reach Col Checrouit, where the path begins its long downhill trajectory.

After passing a few ski areas (options to take the cable car down may be available), you’ll complete numerous switchbacks through the woods until you reach the quaint town of Dolonne. Walk through the town of Dolonne and cross the river to enter Courmayeur. Enjoy a wide arrange of excellent food and luxurious accommodation in Courmayeur. This is also a great place to take a rest day.

Map of Stage 4 of the Tour du Mont Blanc

Stage 4 – Rifugio Elisabetta to Courmayeur (click to enlarge)

 

Rooftops of Courmayeur, Italy

The charming rooftops of Courmayeur welcome you at the end of Stage 4 of the TMB.

 

Stage 5: Courmayeur to Rifugio Bonatti

Distance & Elevation: 12 km // +1,225 m, -415 m
Estimated hiking time:
5 hours
Where to stay: Rifugio Bonatti
Description:

The views along this stage are some of the most spectacular of the entire walk, but you have to earn them with a very steep climb at the outset. You’ll enjoy the satisfaction of watching Courmayeur grow ever smaller down below you as you zigzag your way up the hillside to Rifugio Bertone. From the Rifugio, you’ll enjoy an undulating, mellow walk with unparalleled views of Col de la Seigne, Aiguille Noire, Mont Blanc and the Grandes Jorasses.

It’s an incredible experience to look back and see Col de la Seigne far in the distance, knowing you’ve traversed such an expanse in just a few days with your own two feet. The beautiful views continue to abound all the way until you reach Rifugio Bonatti, an atmospheric and memorable place to spend the night.

Map of Stage 5 of the Tour du Mont Blanc.

Stage 5 – Courmayeur to Rifugio Bonatti (click to enlarge)

 

Rifugio Bonatti with Mont Blanc in the background

Rifugio Bonatti is a spectacular place to spend the night on the Tour du Mont Blanc.

 

Stage 6: Rifugio Bonatti to La Fouly

Distance & Elevation: 19 km // +1,032 m, -1,456 m
Estimated hiking time:
6 – 7 hours
Where to stay: Hotel Edelweiss
Description:

This stage rewards hikers with another border crossing and more tremendous views. The walk begins with a relatively flat path that crosses a lovely hillside. Eventually, you’ll descend into Val Ferret (the Ferret Valley) before beginning a steep climb past Rifugio Elena and up further until you finally reach the Grand Col Ferret.

At the top of the pass, you’ll enjoy your first views of Switzerland as well as phenomenal views of majestic peaks in every direction. It’s all downhill from there, much of which is pretty manageable, save for a few steep sections. There’s a rather uninspiring stretch of road walking at the very end of the day, but the charming town of La Fouly makes it all worth it.

Map of Stage 6 of the Tour du Mont Blanc

Stage 6 – Rifugio Bonatti to La Fouly (click to enlarge)

 

Hiker on the Tour du Mont Blanc enjoy views from the Grand Col Ferret

Taking in the views from the Grand Col Ferret.

 

Stage 7: La Fouly to Champex

Distance & Elevation: 15 km // +729 m, -860 m
Estimated hiking time:
4 – 5 hours
Where to stay: Au Vieux Champex
Description:

All of the guidebooks will tell you that this is the easiest day of the TMB (which is technically true), but don’t expect this stage to be completely effortless. Sometimes the “easiest” days can end up feeling really tough if we go into them with too cavalier a mindset. The first two thirds of this stage are quite mellow indeed; you’ll wind your way gently downhill through a quintessential Swiss valley filled with small farms and picturesque hamlets.

A substantial climb to Champex waits for you at the end of the stage, however. Even though it really is much less strenuous than the ascents of previous stages, it can be a shock to the body at the end of the day. Fortunately, the trail stays in the shade of the trees for much of the way up, and you’ll also get to experience the many wooden sculptures that are interspersed throughout the woods.

Map of Stage 7 of the Tour du Mont Blanc

Stage 7 – La Fouly to Champex (click to enlarge)

 

Champex-Lac on the TMB

Champex, Switzerland is a lovely stop on the Tour du Mont Blanc.

 

Stage 8: Champex to Col de la Forclaz

Distance & Elevation: 14 km // +1,125 m, -1,066 m
Estimated hiking time:
4 – 5 hours
Where to stay: Hotel de la Forclaz
Description:

On stage 8, the main TMB route follows an undulating path up to the Alp Bovine and then descends to Col de la Forclaz, but there are quite a few options to consider here.

The Fenetre d’Arpette route is a popular variant for those seeking challenge and adventure. With either route, you’ll also have a few options to choose from when it comes to your stopping point.

For a shorter day, you can stop at Hotel de la Forclaz or you can continue on further to either Le Puety or Trient. There isn’t a clear “best” choice for what to do on stage 8, but it is important to think about what is best for you in terms of challenge, distance, and accommodation.

Map of Stage 8 of the Tour du Mont Blanc

Stage 8 – Champex to Col de la Forclaz (click to enlarge)

 

Fenetre d'Arpette

The Fenetre d’Arpette provides a challenging alternate route on Stage 8 of the TMB.

 

Stage 9: Col de la Forclaz to Tre-le-Champ

Distance & Elevation: 14 km // +1,112 m, -1,229 m
Estimated hiking time:
5 – 6 hours
Where to stay: Auberge la Boerne
Description:

This stage isn’t without physical demands, gaining and losing quite a bit of elevation in a relatively short distance. While most of the climb maintains a grade that isn’t crazy steep, the descent is another story. Even if you don’t love the arduous nature of stage 9, you’ll almost certainly be smitten by the scenery.

Not only does summiting Col de Balme mean you’ll celebrate your third and final border crossing (back into France), but you’ll also get incredible views of Mont Blanc, back in sight for the first time in several days. Seeing Mont Blanc again and being back on French soil will likely remind you that your trek is nearing its end. Make sure to savor the final two stages of this incredible experience!

Map of Stage 9 of the Tour du Mont Blanc

Stage 9 – Col de la Forclaz to Tre-le-Champ (click to enlarge)

 

Refuge du Col de Balme on the TMB

Approaching the top of the Col de Balme on stage 9 of the Tour du Mont Blanc.

 

Stage 10: Tre-le-Champ to La Flegere

Distance & Elevation: 7 km // +892 m, -446 m
Estimated hiking time:
4 hours
Where to stay: Refuge de la Flegere
Description:

Allow yourself to sleep in on this stage, as you’ll have just a short walk ahead of you. Better yet, get to Refuge la Flegere early and enjoy a walk to the nearby Lac Blanc and a meal or beverage at the refuge. The final two days of the TMB follow the Grand Balcon Sud, a balcony trail with unrivaled views of Mont Blanc and the surrounding peaks. In other words, you’re in for a real treat.

Instead of being famous for this fact, however, stage 10 is perhaps better known as the “ladder stage,” and I’m betting you can guess why. To reach the high point, you’ll need to climb a series of ladders, catwalks, and platforms that go on for longer than you might expect. If you don’t have experience with this kind of thing and you also have a fear of heights, we recommend taking the Col des Montets variante.

This route takes about the same amount of time and still has great views. If you choose to conquer the ladders, make sure you do so in good weather conditions, use caution and common sense, and you’ll be just fine. Heck, you might even find the ladders to be pretty fun! Upon reaching Refuge la Flegere, join in the festive revelry of your fellow hikers marking their final night on the trail.

Map of Stage 10 of the Tour du Mont Blanc

Stage 10 – Tre-le-Champ to La Flegere (click to enlarge)

 

Refuge La Flegere on the Tour du Mont Blanc

Savoring the views from La Flegere.

 

Stage 11: La Flegere to Les Houches

Distance & Elevation: 17 km // +969 m, -1,821 m
Estimated hiking time:
6 – 7 hours
Where to stay: Hotel Le Morgane (Chamonix)
Description:

The final stage of the TMB is a big one in every way. Even though it’s dominated by downhill walking, the physical demands shouldn’t be overlooked. Start the walk on a very mellow uphill grade, before beginning a steeper climb past a ski area until reaching Col du Brevent. Take in the scenery (and catch your breath) here, but keep in mind that the best is yet to come. Climb further on more rugged terrain until you reach the almost-summit of Le Brevent (you can take a 5-minute detour to get to the actual top if you’d like).

At this point, get ready to be completely overwhelmed by the views. From Le Brevent you’ll have an unobstructed and totally breathtaking vantage point from which to take in the entire Mont Blanc range. Take time to study every intricate glacier and craggy spire before finally tearing yourself away to make your way down towards Les Houches.

Fortunately, you’ll continue to enjoy the scenery for awhile as you descend on a very long and very steep path. As you near Les Houches, the trail enters the woods where it passes a zoo and the large Christ Roi statue. Finally, the path spits you out onto the road and perhaps the least scenic part of Les Houches. Keep walking to reach the more charming part of town, then stop and toast to your remarkable accomplishment!

Map of Stage 11 of the Tour du Mont Blanc

Stage 11 – La Flegere to Les Houches (click to enlarge)

 

View of Mont Blanc from the Tour du Mont Blanc.

The final day of the TMB brings stunning views of Mont Blanc.

 

Tour du Mont Blanc Accommodation

There are accommodation options along the TMB to suit every budget and travel style. While not all of these options are available at every stage of the route, you can certainly customize your itinerary to fit your needs.

It’s nearly inevitable that you’ll need to stay in a mountain refuge on at least one stage of your trek. Be prepared for basic, communal facilities, but don’t fear! These special places often yield the most memorable stays of the entire trip.

We’ve provided a brief explanation of each of the options below:

Hotels on the Tour du Mont Blanc

Typically small and independently owned, the hotels along the TMB serve up a dose of luxury to the weary hiker. Unless otherwise noted by the hotel, expect all of the usual amenities (hot shower, private bathroom, breakfast offered, linens and towels provided, etc). Hotels typically cost upwards of €60 per person. For an additional fee, many hotels offer half-pension (AKA half-board or demi-pension) which includes dinner and breakfast. A few hotels along the route have dortoirs in addition to private rooms. Dortoirs are dormitories that offer a good budget option.

Hotel in Chamonix, France

 

Read More: TMB Accommodation and Refuge Guide

Refuges on the Tour du Mont Blanc

We consider a stay in a mountain hut to be a highlight of any TMB trek. Set in stunning and remote locations, the ambiance at the refuges (or rifugios in Italian) can’t be beat. Half-pension gets you a bed in a dorm (linens not provided), a delicious communal dinner, and a basic breakfast. Some refuges also offer private rooms (with shared bathrooms). Expect to pay around €45 per person for half-board in a dorm.

Rifugio Bonatti on the Tour du Mont Blanc

Spending a night in one of the many refuges along the route is a classic TMB experience.

 

Gites d’Etape and Auberges

These are simple guest houses offering basic, dorm-style accommodation. Half-pension (dinner and breakfast) is typically included in the price. There are shared bathroom facilities with hot showers. Bed linens are usually provided. These are a good option for those who want to stick to a smaller budget, but don’t want to carry camping gear. Expect to pay around €50 per person for half-pension.

Auberge de la Nova, Les Chapieux

The Auberge de la Nova in Les Chapieux.

 

Camping on the Tour du Mont Blanc

Although they are the cheapest accommodation option along the TMB, the campgrounds on the route are quite luxurious. All provide sinks and toilets, and many offer hot showers and even WiFi! Expect to pay around €12 per person to camp. Note: you cannot camp on every stage of the TMB.

Be sure to check out our Complete Guide to Camping on the Tour du Mont Blanc for a full camping itinerary.

Tent at Le Peuty on the Tour du Mont Blanc

Camping at Le Peuty on the Tour du Mont Blanc.

 

Do I need to book my accommodation in advance for the TMB?

This is a question that creates stress and anxiety for many hikers as they are planning for their TMB adventure. The short answer is that you should try to book your accommodation as early as possible, but the longer answer is a bit more nuanced.

We’ve broken it down for you here, so you can plan with more confidence and less worry.

  • Mountain refuges are the most important to book ahead of time. Many of these huts are quite small, so they fill up quickly. Many refuges accept reservations year-round, typically allowing you to book up to 12 months in advance. Some, however, do not respond to reservation requests during the winter months (September-March, typically). You should still try to email or call the refuge to reserve your spot as soon as you know your itinerary, even if it’s prior to March.
  • Gites, auberges, and guesthouses should be your next priority when it comes to advance bookings. This is especially true in the smaller villages where accommodation options are limited, and/or if you have specific preferences for your lodging (ex; private room, linens provided, etc). As soon as you’ve made your travel plans, reach out to the gite/guesthouse (or book online). For peak summer months, it’s optimal to have these bookings made by the end of March.
  • For larger hotels, you have a bit more wiggle room when it comes to making reservations. You should definitely still try to do it as early as possible, but they have more rooms and are often located in places with greater availability of lodging options.

Refuge de la Flegere

 

You do not need to make advance reservations for any of the campgrounds on the TMB. In fact, we recommend that you don’t. This will allow you to maximize the freedom and flexibility that camping provides, and it will make it much less complicated to check in at the campgrounds.

Booking your accommodation for the Tour du Mont Blanc

When it comes to booking your TMB accommodation, there’s good news and bad news. Let’s get the bad news out of the way first. There’s no single, streamlined booking platform for all of the refuges and/or accommodation providers along the route. In fact, the way you book will vary greatly from place to place.

Many refuges, hotels, and gites have their own websites with easy online booking platforms. Some require that you send an email or complete a contact form on their website. There are still a few refuges and gites that may require you to book over the phone, but that is becoming increasingly rare.

The good news?

The Autour du Mont Blanc website has a comprehensive list of TMB accommodation with links to booking websites and phone numbers for a majority of the refuges, gites, and hotels along the route. This website makes it very quick and easy to find and book most of your accommodation.

You can always send your request in English. If the accommodation provider doesn’t speak English, they will often use Google Translate to send the reply. For those booking by phone, make sure to ask at the beginning of the call if English is okay. If not, send your request via email.

Hikers stand next to Lac Blanc on the TMB

 

Getting to and from the Tour du Mont Blanc

The TMB is relatively easy to get to given its close proximity to Geneva, Switzerland. Flight connections from the rest of Europe, the US, and other international destinations are frequent. Travel by train to Geneva is also straightforward, if not a bit more time consuming than air travel. We recommend booking you flights as soon as you are able, as fares during the peak summer season can be quite high.

Getting to Chamonix/Les Houches from Geneva

The vast majority of walkers will get to the start of the Tour du Mont Blanc by first flying into the Geneva Airport (GVA). There are frequent flights to Geneva from the rest of Europe as well as a good number of flights from the U.S.

Once you’ve landed in Geneva, you’ll have several options for getting to Chamonix/Les Houches:

  • BlaBlaBus (formerly OuiBus) – We found this to be the cheapest option and would highly recommend BlaBlaBus. The service departs directly from the Geneva Airport and will take you to the Chamonix Sud bus station, in the heart of Chamonix. Expect the journey to take about two hours.
  • AlpyBus – AlpyBus runs a door to door transfer service from the Geneva Airport to hotels in the Chamonix Valley. It is more costly than BlaBlaBus, but also more convenient since they’ll drop you directly at your hotel (or campground!).
  • Mountain Drop-offs – Similar to AlpyBus, Mountain Drop-offs runs a door to door transfer service for walkers arriving in Geneva. Very highly rated.

All of the options above will also be able to transport you back to the Geneva Airport at the end of the TMB. Many also offer discounts for booking a return ticket.

A church steeple in Les Houches

Getting to Les Houches from Geneva couldn’t be easier.

 

Getting to Champex from Geneva (for clockwise TMB hikers)

If you plan on walking the Tour du Mont Blanc in the clockwise direction, you’ll be starting in the Swiss town of Champex. You’ll likely begin your travel by first flying into the Geneva Airport (GVA).  Once you’ve landed in Geneva, you’ll need to connect via train and local bus to reach Champex.

Unlike Chamonix, you have few options other than public transportation to reach Champex. However, Swiss trains are renowned for being on time and generally pleasant. Here are the instructions for reaching Champex from the Geneva Airport:

  • Step One – Train to Martigny: Upon exiting the airport in Geneva you’ll need to catch a train to the Swiss town of Martigny. Most of these trains will be signed in the direction of Brig, so be sure to inquire that the train you are boarding stops in Martigny. The journey should take around 1 hour and 45 minutes.
  • Step Two – Train to Sembrancher: From Martigny you’ll take a 15-minute train ride to the town of Sembrancher.
  • Step Three – Train to Orsières: From Sembrancher, you’ll catch another train to the town of Orsieres. This is a short, 10-minute ride from Sembrancher.
  • Step Four – Local bus to Champex: Unfortunately, Champex is not on a train line so you’ll have to complete the final leg of your journey via the local bus. From outside the Orsieres train station, you’ll need to catch bus #271 to Champex. The ride takes approximately 30 minutes and will drop you conveniently in the center of Champex.

The Swiss train provider, SBB, has an excellent website to help you plan your journey. We also recommend downloading the SBB app to your phone, which is very helpful for viewing timetables while traveling. Rome2Rio is also an excellent resource for mapping out your specific trip.

Train in the moutains

 

Luggage storage and transfer on the Tour du Mont Blanc

Many walkers will be traveling with more luggage than they might want to carry for the entire TMB. Storing extra luggage or having it transferred to your next stop is a great way to avoid carrying excess weight on your trek, while still allowing you to have everything you need for the remainder of your trip. This is especially true if you plan on traveling elsewhere on your holiday.

Luggage Storage on the TMB

Unfortunately, there are no luggage storage facilities at the train station in Chamonix.

Insider tip: Walkers can store their extra luggage at the Auberge du Manoir, which charges just €10 per day (free if you stay there before and after your hike).

Other hotels and accommodation may store your baggage if you have a reservation before and after you walk, but you’ll want to confirm this ahead of time.

Luggage Transfer on the TMB

If you’re concerned about the difficulty of the TMB and have room in your budget, using a luggage transfer service can be an excellent way to reduce your effort on the trail and make your trek more enjoyable. Both of the companies we’ve recommended below come highly rated and allow you to customize services to your itinerary and preferences.

Each morning of your trek, you’ll simply leave your bag in the designated storage location to be picked up by 8:00am. Your luggage carrier will deliver your bags to the next stop on your itinerary by 6:00pm each evening.

Keep in mind that they will not be able to deliver your luggage to any of the mountain refuges that are inaccessible by road (including Rifugio Bonatti and Rifugio Elisabetta). Additionally, they will not drop your luggage at private residences or AirBnBs.

  • Besson Taxi Mont Blanc: This carrier typically charges between €150-€300 for transfers, depending on how many days you use their services and how many people are in your group. They charge per bag and have a strict policy that bags may not exceed 15kg. This company also can provide shuttle services between stops on the TMB, if needed.
  • Mont Blanc Bags: Mont Blanc Bags specializes entirely in luggage transfer on the TMB, meaning they are organized and have the capacity to service over 160 locations. Prices start at €199.00 for one bag and up to 15 days. Bags may not exceed 18kg. Unfortunately, they only provide services to those hiking in the traditional anticlockwise direction, and not those who choose to trek in the clockwise direction.

Hiker with backpack on the Tour du Mont Blanc

Worried about carrying your big backpack on the TMB? A luggage transfer service might be the perfect solution.

 

Tour du Mont Blanc Weather

Mountain weather is always volatile, and what you’ll experience on the Tour du Mont Blanc is no different. Conditions can change very rapidly in the Alps, meaning that you can find yourself in the middle of a whiteout blizzard or on an exposed ridge during a thunderstorm without much warning.

However, for the most part the weather during the hiking season is ridiculously lovely. Expect warm, sunny days, cool evenings, and not too much rain. You should also need to be prepared for very hot temperatures, very cold temperatures, rain, and storms (and you could even see all of these in the same day!) Getting caught high up in the mountains during a storm or without the right gear is extremely dangerous, but you can greatly minimize your risk by taking a few important precautions:

  • The Meteoblue App is arguably the best resource for predicting the weather. It allows you to see the forecast for specific peaks or coordinates, plus it has excellent radar displays and wind predictions. Check it every time you have cell service. Chamonix-meteo also gives detailed and (mostly) accurate forecasts for the Mont Blanc region.
  • If you’re ever unsure about whether you should hike in the current conditions, it can be helpful to ask the warden at the nearest mountain refuge. When in doubt, it’s usually better to air on the side of caution and give the mountains the respect they deserve. You can almost always find a detour or shortcut to get back on track the following day.
  • Start hiking early in the day! Not only will you enjoy gorgeous sunrises, get to your refuge or campground before the crowds, and avoid the worst of the heat, but you’ll also greatly reduce your risk of getting caught in afternoon thunderstorms.

Rain clouds move over the TMB

 

Food & Drink on the TMB

One of the many wonderful things about the Tour du Mont Blanc is that you don’t need to worry about carrying (and eating) eleven days’ worth of underwhelming freeze-dried backpacker meals. Due to the fact that the trail passes through many towns and villages, you will be able to resupply every few days. 

For budget travelers, it is possible to self-cater and keep your food and drink costs quite reasonable. You’ll need to bring your own camp stove and cooking equipment if you plan on fixing most of your own meals along the TMB. You can purchase baguettes, good local cheese and charcuterie, fresh fruit, and delicious pastries for very reasonable prices.

Most of the shops along the route have convenient foods like instant noodles and canned soups, as well as dried fruits, nuts, energy bars, and other snacks so you should have no problem putting together quick and delicious meals and snacks along the route. Some hikers choose to use some backpacker meals and supplement with foods they purchase along the way.

Cheese wheels on a table

 

Additionally (for those with slightly deeper pockets), nearly all of the hotels, gites, and refuges offer the option of purchasing meals. You can just show up for lunch or a snack, but you’ll need to order ahead of time for dinner. Most refuges and many hotels and gites offer the option of half-board (demi pension), which includes dinner and breakfast.

Dinners at the mountain refuges are typically indulgent, multi-course affairs. Expect a soup or salad as a starter, a hearty pasta dish as the main, and either a cheese course or dessert to finish. Breakfast is much simpler, typically consisting of a selection of breads, cold cereals, juice, and coffee or tea.

Whichever way you approach your food and drink strategy, we think you’ll find that trekking in the Alps is every bit as much a culinary delight as a natural one!

Cheese and wine on a table.

 

Dietary Restrictions
The restaurants and accommodation providers along the TMB are generally quite willing to provide a vegetarian option. Those who are vegan, gluten-free, or have a specialized diet will have a harder time finding suitable meals. While certain places will be able to accommodate your needs, that will be the exception and not the norm. Make sure to inform all of your lodging providers of your dietary needs in advance, as they will be much more likely to accommodate you. That being said, we’d recommend bringing along plenty of your own food as a back up.

Water
All of the hotels, gites, and campgrounds provide potable water (eau potable). You will pass through many villages with public drinking fountains, but make sure to plan ahead and carry 1-2 liters of water each day. Due to the presence of agricultural activity near large swaths of the trail, we do not recommend drinking any water from natural streams without filtering it first.

Stove Fuel
If you need to purchase fuel for a camp stove, your best bet is to get this in Chamonix or Les Houches. Both towns have outdoor retailers that sell a few different kinds of fuel, and will be able to accommodate most standard stove types. It is unlikely that you’ll be able to find it at most of the stops you’ll pass through along the TMB, so plan on getting enough fuel to last your entire trek.

Maps & Guidebooks for the Tour du Mont Blanc

Carrying a good map is essential on the Tour du Mont Blanc. While the trail is generally well-marked and easy to follow, there are countless trail junctions, detours, and confusing sections that require some form of navigation.

A GPS map for the Tour du Mont Blanc

The Tour du Mont Blanc in Gaia GPS. The perfect way to navigate!

 

When we hiked the Tour du Mont Blanc we did not rely on traditional, paper maps that are available for the route. Instead, we preferred utilizing GPS maps on our phones to ensure we knew where the trail was as well as where we were in relation to it. Cell phone service is very limited along the TMB, so it is critical to have a good offline mapping app such as Gaia GPS to ensure you’ll be able to view the map at any point along the route.

You can learn more about how to navigate on the Tour du Mont Blanc here. 

With all this considered, we still recommend carrying a paper map. While technology has done a tremendous amount to make navigating while hiking easier, there is simply no replacement for carrying a physical map with you.

We recommend bringing the IGN 3630 OT Chamonix and IGN 3531 ET St-Gervais with you, as they provide a detailed view of the TMB route. A weatherproof carrying case like this one wouldn’t hurt to have either.

Find everything you need to know about Tour du Mont Blanc maps here.

As for guidebooks, you’ll have several excellent options to choose from. The first, and the one we recommend, is Kev Reynolds excellent Tour of Mont Blanc: Complete two-way trekking guide published by the renowned guidebook company, Cicerone.

Another good option is the Trailblazer Guides Tour du Mont Blanc guidebook. Trail Blazer guides are known for their excellent maps and exhaustive list of accommodation options.

Trail signs on the Tour du Mont Blanc

 

Budgeting & Money on the Tour du Mont Blanc

At first glance, the Tour du Mont Blanc might seem physically daunting, but many might find it even more financially intimidating.

The beautiful thing about the TMB, however, is that it’s pretty much up to you how expensive you want to make it. There are hikers who choose to spend more to take guided tours, stay in private rooms at upscale hotels and huts, and buy all of their meals at restaurants along the way. Others take the extremely frugal route, camping as much as possible, cooking their own meals, and minimizing expenses wherever they can.

Euros on a table.

 

Regardless of your budget and travel style, it’s important to get an idea of what to expect in terms of expenses so you can plan accordingly and avoid any stressful situations when it comes to money.

Additionally, you might find that an experience like the TMB is more within reach than you originally thought, if you just make a few intentional decisions when planning your travel.

In this section, we’ve broken down the typical costs for things like transportation, accommodation, and food. Obviously, prices will vary from place to place, but this should give you a good starting point.

  • Accommodation
    • Average Hut Price: €54 (per person)
    • Average Campsite Price: €12 (per person)
    • Hotel in Chamonix for before and after the hike: €85 (per night)
    • Hotel in Courmayeur for rest day: €132 (per night)
  • Transit
    • Bus from Geneva to Chamonix: €43 (round trip)
    • Bus from Chamonix to Les Houches: €3 (each way)
    • Shuttle Bus from Les Chapieux to Refuge Des Mottets: €3
    • Average one-way cable car ticket: €20
  • Food & Drink
    • Beer: €6
    • Bottle of Wine: €10
    • Baguette: €2
    • Breakfast/Lunch Mountain Hut: €15
    • Dinner at Mountain Hut: €25
    • Coffee/Tea: €3
    • Sandwich: €10
  • Miscellaneous
    • Stove Fuel: €7
    • Laundry: €4 for wash and dry
    • Maps: €40

Find more detail on how to budget for the Tour du Mont Blanc here. 

Cash or Credit?

While an increasing number of accommodation providers, shops, and other services are beginning to accept credit cards, cash is still the primary payment method used along the TMB. It is important to carry enough cash to cover all of your expenses for several days, as  ATMs are infrequent along the trail.

Below we’ve provided a list of stops along the TMB that have ATMs:

  • Chamonix*
  • Les Houches
  • Les Contamines
  • Courmayeur
  • La Fouly
  • Champex
  • Argentiere*

*These stops require a short detour from the main TMB route.

Currency on the TMB

The TMB crosses the borders of three different countries, meaning that you’ll need to switch from using Euros in France to Swiss Francs in Switzerland then back to Euros upon entering Italy. While most places in Switzerland will accept Euros, you’ll be better off using Francs if you can.

What to pack for the Tour du Mont Blanc

Making smart choices about what to pack (and what to leave behind) is a vital part of setting yourself up for a successful and enjoyable Tour du Mont Blanc experience. It’s simple- the heavier your pack, the harder your effort. However, with a little thoughtful planning, you can keep your pack weight manageable while still ensuring you have everything you need to be comfortable on the trail and while relaxing at the refuges, campgrounds, and villages along the way.

Find our complete Tour du Mont Blanc Packing List here. 

Our best advice for packing for the Tour du Mont Blanc is to adopt the mantra less is more. Here’s a few tips for ensuring you pack weight is manageable:

  • You only need a couple of shirts. Same goes for underwear and socks. You’ll have plenty of time and sunshine to wash and dry laundry Second, clothes are heavy, so cutting out everything but the absolute essentials will make a huge difference.
  • Plan out when/where you’ll restock food provisions and don’t carry more food than you need. This is especially true for those camping along the route.
  • Consider leaving your bulky camera equipment at home. Unless photography is your passion, most smartphones take great photos and save a ton of space and weight.

Hiking equipment laid out on the floor.

 

A few of our must-brings for the Tour du Mont Blanc are outlined below:

  • Trekking poles: You (and your knees) will be so glad to have them on steep sections, and this is especially true for campers who are carrying heavier loads
  • A good backpack: Backpacks need to be broken in through use, and your body needs to get used to the feeling of wearing it for extended periods of time. In terms of size, most campers will need between 45 and 65 liters. Those staying in refuges will find that 30-40L is perfect
  • Down jacket: We’ve found this to be a perfect piece of gear for the Tour du Mont Blanc. It can be quite chilly in the Alps in the early morning and evenings, but a heavy fleece or bulky jacket can really sabotage a lightweight pack.
  • Ear plugs: A must for sleeping in mountain refuges!
  • Good base layers: A good base layer is an essential part of any complete TMB gear list. We always bring a high-quality merino wool base layer and recommend all TMB hikers do the same.

How to train for the Tour du Mont Blanc

With just a bit of advance work and preparation, you can make sure you’re physically ready to have your best experience on the Tour du Mont Blanc. Because of its relatively low elevation and minimal technicality, the TMB is a pretty approachable long-distance trek for the casual hiker. That being said, it’s still a serious physical challenge that will push your body to new limits.

You will enjoy your trip infinitely more if you train ahead of time. This is even more true if you plan on camping (and carrying the heavier backpack that goes with it).

Here is a rough outline of a training plan to get you in shape for the TMB:

  • Six Months Before Your Trip: Build the Base
    Obviously, everyone will approach the TMB with varying levels of fitness, past injuries, and overall health needs. You’ll know your individual situation best, but you should generally focus on building your aerobic endurance in the months leading up to your trip. Start to incorporate longer bouts of walking or running into your regular fitness routine.
  • Three Months Before Your Trip: Go Uphill
    Ideally, at this point in your training you should increase the frequency and intensity of your hiking. If possible, try to hit the trails once a week and select hikes that would take two hours or longer with at least 1,500 feet of elevation gain.
  • Two Months Before Your Trip: Put on Your Pack
    In the eight weeks or so before your trip, try get in as many longer hikes (or walks) with your gear as possible. Think of it as a “dress rehearsal” for your trek. The benefits of breaking in your gear at this point are twofold. First, you’ll be able to test your boots, backpack, socks, and so on to ensure that they fit well during longer hikes. Second, you’ll begin training your body to hike while wearing a heavy backpack.
  • One Month Before Your Trip: Time for a Test Run
    If at all possible, try to take a 1-2 night backpacking trip in your local woods. If you aren’t planning on camping along the TMB you don’t need to take an overnight trip, but you should still try to fit in two back-to-back days of long, hard hiking. This important step allows you to try out different ways of packing your backpack for maximum fit and comfort, practice setting up camp, and get your body used to hiking for consecutive days in a row.

Follow our outline above and you will be able to enjoy every moment of your incredible trip so much more. Plus, the time and effort you spend working towards your goal will make the real thing that much sweeter!

For more details on how to train for the Tour du Mont Blanc check out our comprehensive guide here. 

Mont Blanc as seen from the Italian section of the Tour du Mont Blanc.

 

What’s Next?

If you’ve read our Guide above, you’re well on your way to having an incredible experience on the Tour du Mont Blanc. However, you still have lots of preparation before you’re truly ready! Be sure to read our entire series on the TMB to learn everything you’ll need to know to prepare for your trip and don’t hesitate to comment with your questions below!

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The Complete Guide to Camping in Big Bend National Park

Big Bend National Park sits on the Rio Grande River in West Texas. This stunning national park features an incredible landscape of deep canyons, high mountains, and arid desert that…

Big Bend National Park sits on the Rio Grande River in West Texas. This stunning national park features an incredible landscape of deep canyons, high mountains, and arid desert that protects a vast area of Chihuahuan Desert. Big Bend is so remote that the National Park Service has determined that it has the best stargazing of any of the national parks in the lower 48 states.  Given all that, we think the best way to experience all that Big Bend National Park has to offer is by spending the night in your tent or RV where you’ll experience this incredible landscape first hand.

Big Bend National Park and the surrounding areas have plenty of options for camping. From the four developed campgrounds located within the national park, to the primitive roadside campgrounds dotted through the landscape, to the backcountry wilderness campsites high in the Chisos Mountains, you’re sure to find the perfect campsite in Big Bend.

In addition to the campgrounds within the national park you’ll also find great options for RV and car camping just outside the park boundary.  Needless to say, you’ll be spoiled for options.

Keeping reading to get all the details to plan your perfect camping trip in Big Bend National Park.

Mountains of Big Bend

Camping in Big Bend National Park is an experience not to be missed.

 

In this Post

 

Big Bend National Park Campgrounds

There are four developed campgrounds located with Big Bend National Park. Three of these are run by the National Park Service while the fourth, Rio Grande Village RV Park, is run by Forever Resorts, a concessioner of the park.

In addition to these four campgrounds, Big Bend also features dozens of primitive roadside campsites and a plethora of backcountry campsites reached only by foot. All of the campgrounds are well located throughout the park, giving visitors plenty of campsites to choose from regardless of which section of Big Bend they want to explore.

The map below gives you a general sense of where each of the developed campgrounds are located in Big Bend National Park as well as their relation to the surrounding area. 

Map of campgrounds in Big Bend National Park

Campgrounds in Big Bend National Park. Map courtesy of NPS. (Click to enlarge)

 

Campgrounds in Big Bend are open year round making a trip any time of year possible. Peak season for camping in Big Bend is from January 1st – April 1st, when temperatures in the park are more moderate.

Keep reading to learn more about reserving your campground in Big Bend National Park.

Reservations & Permits

Generally speaking only the Chisos Basin Campground, Rio Grande Village Campground, and Rio Grande Village RV Campground accept reservations. Reservations at the Rio Grande Village Campground are only available from November 1st – April 15th. However, at the time of this writing reservations are now required for all of the campgrounds within the national park.

Get the most up-to-date information on campground reservations in Big Bend here. 

In addition, reservations are required year round for the group campgrounds located at Chisos Basin, Rio Grande Village, and Cottonwood Campgrounds. 

To make a reservation for the Big Bend Campgrounds you’ll need to visit Recreation.gov, which manages campground reservations for the National Park Service. Reservations can be made up to six months in advance of your trip, but are not accepted less than 48 hours prior to arrival.

Reservations for Big Bend National Park Campgrounds can be made here via Recreation.gov

For the Rio Grande Village RV Campground reservations can be made by calling 1-877-386-4383.

It is important to know that even if you don’t have a reservation  you can still find a campground in Big Bend. All of the campgrounds within the national park have a number of first come, first served campsites available. These can be a lifesaver when you plan a last minute camping trip to Big Bend!

To secure a first-come, first-served campground during peak season, you will want to be sure to arrive early!

Tent in Big Bend lite up at night.

You’ll be glad to made a reservation if you’re hoping to camp in peak season in Big Bend.

 

For those interested in exploring the backcountry of Big Bend, either by camping at one of the roadside primitive campsites or by hiking to a backcountry campsite, you’ll need a Backcountry Use Permit issued by the park service.  Backcountry permits are required for anyone camping in the Big Bend backcountry, so be sure to secure yours in advance.

In order to secure your permit you’ll need to have each night of your itinerary planned out. The backcountry use permit is obtained through Recreation.gov and grants access to a specific campsite for the night. You’ll want to be sure you have a variety of options during peak-season in case your desired campsite is already taken.

Backcountry campsites can be reserved up to 6 months in advance via Recreation.gov. 

Reservations for Big Bend National Park backcountry campsites can be made here via Recreation.gov

In addition to the backcountry campsites located in the Chisos Mountains, there is also the possibility of camping in the open desert areas of Big Bend. While you’ll still need a backcountry use permit for desert wilderness camping, you won’t need to specify a specific campsite for each night of your trip.

Learn more about backcountry camping in Big Bend in this section.

Cliff in Big Bend National Park

Backpacking will give you access to some of the most incredible scenery Big Bend has to offer.

 

Developed Campgrounds

There are four developed campgrounds located in Big Bend National Park. These campgrounds vary in size and services and give plenty of options for those looking to explore all that Big Bend has to offer. Details for all four campgrounds are below.

Chisos Basin Campground

Number of Sites: 60 sites (including 7 group sites)
Fee: $16/night
RVs: Yes, max size of 24′ or 20′ trailer. Not allowed at the group sites.
Reservations: Available for 40 sites. Click here to reserve.
Season: Open year round.
More Information

Picnic table at the Chisos Basin Campground.

Chisos Basin Campground, Big Bend National Park. Photo credit NPS.

 

The Chisos Basin Campground sits in the center of Big Bend National Park at the base of the Chisos Mountains. The campground is the perfect place to spend the night before exploring the Window Trail, Boot Canyon Trail, or Chisos Basin Loop trail as they are all located near the campground. You can see a full list of hikes in the mountains of Big Bend here.

The Chisos Basin Campground contains 60 campsites, seven of which are designated group sites. The campground is organized into several loops with potable water and restrooms available throughout. 40 out of the 60 total campsites are reservable in advance on Recreation.gov, while 20 sites are always available on a first-come, first-served basis. The seven group sites at Chisos Basin require an advance reservation year round.

View a map of the Chisos Basin Campground here. 

The Chisos Basin Campground can accommodate RVs and features a dump station. RVs longer than 24′ and trailers longer than 20′ are not recommended at the campground due to the narrow roads. Generator use is generally allowed between 8am – 11am and 5pm – 8pm, but only in designated areas of the campground.

Nearby you’ll find the Chisos Basin Visitor Center and Store, which carries a few camping basics and simple groceries.

View of the Chisos Mountains

Chisos Basin is the perfect place to spend the night before exploring the mountains of Big Bend.

 

Cottonwood Campground

Number of Sites: 24 sites (including 1 group site)
Fee: $16/night
RVs: Yes, no hookups available.
Reservations: First-come, first-served for individual sites. Reservation required for group site. 
Season: Open year round.
More Information

Picnic table at the Cottonwood Campground

Cottonwood Campground, Big Bend National Park. Photo credit NPS/C. Hoyt.

 

The Cottonwood Campground is located in the far southwest of Big Bend National Park and sits adjacent to the Rio Grande river. Cottonwood is the smallest campground in the park and is situated just a short drive from the spectacular Santa Elena Canyon.

Cottonwood Campground has just 24 campsites, one of which is a group site that can accommodate up to 25 people. The campground is laid out in a single loop, located just off Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive. The campground has restrooms, a potable water tap, and an amphitheater where ranger presentations often occur. Individual campsites feature picnic tables and charcoal grills.

All of the individual campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis, while reservations are required for the single group site.

View a map of the Cottonwood Campground here. 

RVs are allowed at Cottonwood, although there are no hookups or dump stations available and generators are not allowed.

Adjacent to the campground you’ll find the Castolon Visitor Center and Historic District, a worthwhile stop on your visit to Big Bend.

Canoes in Santa Elena Canyon

Santa Elena Canyon in Big Bend.

 

Rio Grande Village Campground

Number of Sites: 100 sites (including 4 group sites)
Fee: $16/night
RVs: Yes, no hookups available. Dump station nearby.
Reservations: Available for 60 sites from Nov 1st – April 15th. Click here to reserve.
Season: Open year round.
More Information

RVs in the Rio Grande Village Campground

Rio Grande Village Campground, Big Bend National Park. Photo credit NPS/C. Hoyt.

 

The Rio Grande Village Campground is located on the far eastern edge of Big Bend National Park and sits near the banks of the Rio Grande River. Rio Grande Village is perfectly located for those looking to take a soak in Big Bend’s famous hot springs, explore the Boquillas Canyon Trail, or cross the Rio Grande to explore Boquillas, Mexico.

The campground is the largest in the national park and features 100 campsites, four of which are group sites. The main camping area is organized in a large U shape with campsites clustered in neat rows. Group campsites are located on their own loop, away from the main camping area.

60 of the campsites at Rio Grande Village are able to be reserved in advance from November 1st – April 15h. Group sites require an advance reservation throughout the year.

View a map of the Rio Grande Village Campground here. 

RVs are welcome at the Rio Grande Village Campground, although there are no hookups available. Generators are allowed in specific sections of the campground and can be operated from 8am – 8pm. If you are in search of RV camping with hookups, just head next door to the Rio Grande Village RV Campground.

Near the campground you’ll find good services including the Rio Grande Visitor Center, open seasonally, as well as a camp store selling basic supplies, showers, and laundry.

Sunset over the Rio Grande River

Enjoy stunning sunsets from the Rio Grande Village Campground.

 

Rio Grande Village RV Campground

Number of Sites: 25 sites
Fee: $40/night
RVs: Yes, full hookups available.
Reservations: Available for 20 sites. Click here to reserve.
Season: Open year round.
More Information

RVs parked at the Rio Grande Village RV Campground

Rio Grande Village RV Campground, Big Bend National Park. Photo credit NPS.

 

Located just up the road from the Rio Grande Village Campground described above, the Rio Grande Village RV Campground is the only campground in Big Bend that features full hookups for RVs. The campground is operated by Forever Resorts, a concessionaire of the NPS. The campground is well located for checking out the Big Bend hot springs as well as the Rio Grande Village Nature Trail.

The campground is on the smaller side and doesn’t offer much privacy when compared to your other options. However, it does provide water, electric, and sewer hookups for RVs. Rio Grande Village RV Campground is located just off Daniel’s Ranch Road and consists of a single drive-aisle with campsites located on both sides. 20 out of the 25 campsites at Rio Grande Village RV Campground are able to be reserved in advance.

View a map of the Rio Grande Village RV Campground here. 

Most size RVs can be accommodated at Rio Grande Village RV Campground, although a few sites can not accommodate trailers or RVs greater than 40′.

Near the campground you’ll find good services including the Rio Grande Visitor Center, open seasonally, as well as a camp store selling basic supplies, showers, and laundry.

The Rio Grande River

Enjoy views of the Rio Grande River from your campsite.

 

Big Bend National Park Primitive Roadside Campgrounds

In addition to the developed campgrounds described in the section above, Big Bend National Park also features numerous ‘primitive’ campgrounds on its nearly endless miles of dirt roads. These roadside primitive campgrounds are perfect for those looking to explore the vast backcountry of Big Bend without having to pack up their backpack.

The primitive nature of these campsites means you won’t find any bathrooms, water taps, or other amenities that the developed campgrounds in the park offer. In exchange for roughing it you’ll be treated to a solitude only possible by venturing off the beaten path!

Keep reading to learn more about primitive roadside camping in Big Bend National Park.

Big Bend Primitive Campground Permits

All of the primitive roadside campgrounds in Big Bend require a backcountry use permit. You have traditionally only been able to secure these permits in person at one of the visitor centers in the park, but they are now reservable in advance via Recreation.gov.

Your backcountry permit is good for a specific night and specific campsite, so be sure to have your exact itinerary planned out before applying for a permit. Camping permits cost $10/night and can be reserved up to 6 months in advance.

Reservations for Big Bend National Park primitive roadside campsites can be made here via Recreation.gov

Keep reading to learn about your different options for primitive camping in Big Bend.

Dirt road with mountains in the background

The dirt roads of Big Bend offer a unique camping experience.

 

Campsites on Improved Dirt Roads

Your first option for backcountry roadside camping in Big Bend is to camp at one of the campgrounds located on improved dirt roads. These are roads that are passable by most vehicles and don’t require 4WD. Keep in mind that this can change during periods of heavy rain or mud, when you may have a difficult time driving these roads without 4wd.

Most of these campsites are located in the northern section of the park, with a handful located in the southwest portion of Big Bend, near the Rio Grande. Take a look at the map and list below to get a sense of the campsites general location as well as a few details.

Map of primitive campsites in Big Bend National Park.

Map of improved primitive roadside campgrounds in Big Bend. Map courtesy of NPS. (Click to enlarge)

 

The following is a comprehensive list of the improved primitive roadside campsites in Big Bend:

Campsites on Primitive Dirt Roads

For those with an adventurous spirit and a 4WD vehicle you’ll find additional primitive campgrounds located along Big Bend’s more rugged primitive dirt roads. These roads are not passable by passenger vehicles or RVs and you will need 4WD. Beware that these roads can become extremely difficult to drive and even unpassable during heavy rainfall.

The primitive dirt road campsites can generally be found in the following areas of Big Bend National Park:

Glenn Springs Road

Glenn Springs Road connects River Road East in the southern section of Big Bend with Park Route 12, the main east-west road through the national park. Along Glenn Springs Road you’ll find 13 campsites, outlined on the map and in the list below.

Map of campsites along Glenn Springs Road

Map of primitive campsites along Glenn Springs Road. Map courtesy of NPS. (Click to enlarge)

 

The following is a comprehensive list of the primitive roadside campsites along Glenn Springs Road:

Old Ore Road

Old Ore Road leads from the Rio Grande Village in the far southeast corner of Big Bend National Park north to the Main Park Rd as it nears the Permission Gap Visitor Center. The NPS estimates that it takes 3.5 hours to drive the entire length of Old Ore Road from south to north. Along the way you’ll find 11 primitive campsites outlined on the map and in the list below.

Map of primitive campsites along Old Ore Road

Map of primitive campsites along Old Ore Road. Map courtesy of NPS. (Click to enlarge)

 

The following is a comprehensive list of the primitive roadside campsites along Old Ore Road:

River Road

River Road is split into east and west sections as it follows the Rio Grande River along the southern boundary of Big Bend National Park. This is one of the most remote and beautiful sections of the park, and the campsites make a truly spectacular place to spend the night. Be aware that it can take up to 7 hours to drive the entire length of the road and that a 4WD vehicle is a must.

Along the way you’ll find 20 primitive campsites outlined on the map and in the list below.

Map of campsites along River Road in Big Bend National Park

Map of primitive campsites along River Road. Map courtesy of NPS. (Click to enlarge)

 

The following is a comprehensive list of the primitive roadside campsites along River Road:

Backcountry camping in Big Bend

Backpacking in Big Bend National Park presents nearly endless opportunity for adventure. For those planning a backpacking trip in Big Bend you’ll need to secure a backcountry use permit ahead of time and have a well planned itinerary. However, this upfront planning will pay off in spades as you’ll be able to explore an incredibly diverse and remote wilderness.

Backpacking in Big Bend can generally be split into the following three options:

Chisos Mountains Backpacking

The Chisos Mountains are entirely contained within Big Bend National Park and provide stunning terrain for the adventurous backpacker. Emory Peak, at 7,825 feet above sea-level is the highest point in the Chisos Moutains and can hiked in a strenuous day.

For those looking to explore further, the Chisos have 42 backcountry campsites located throughout the mountainous terrain. Each campsite provides a food storage locker to help keep your food safe from wildlife in addition to an area to pitch your tent.

You can view a map of the campsites and trails in the Chisos Mountains below:

Map of trails and campsites in the Chisos Mountains.

Map of trails and campsites in the Chisos Mountains. Map courtesy of NPS. (Click to enlarge)

 

Here are a few things to keep in mind when planning your backpacking trip in the Chisos Mountains of Big Bend:

  • Plan to bring all the water you’ll need. Water sources can be scare in Big Bend.
  • No fires of any kind are permitted. You must use a camp stove for all cooking.
  • Securely store all food in the provided storage lockers.
  • Pets are not permitted in the backcountry of Big Bend.

To learn more, be sure to read the National Park Service’s excellent Chisos Mountains Backpacking Guidebook here.

The Chisos Moutains

The Chisos Mountains provide numerous options for backcountry camping.

 

Desert Backpacking

Outside of the Chisos Moutains, it is possible to backcountry camp in Big Bend’s expansive desert ecosystem. This is not for the inexperienced as you’ll need to be fully self-sufficient, know how to navigate off trail, and be prepared for harsh conditions.

However, for those who are up to the challenge desert backpacking in Big Bend National Park offers the chance to experience some of the most remote sections of the area and gain a true appreciation for this incredible national park. Here are a few things to keep in mind when planning a desert backpacking trip in Big Bend:

  • Always have a topo map and compass AND know how to use them.
  • You must obtain a backcountry use permit.
  • Be sure to notify the NPS of your planned route and itinerary.
  • Camp at least 500′ from the nearest road and 100 yards from the nearest trail.
  • Always practice Leave No Trace principles.

The National Park Service recommends the following areas as potential desert backpacking destinations:

Learn more about desert backpacking in Big Bend on the National Park Services’ website here. 

Sunset in Big Bend National Park

Explore Big Bend’s vast desert landscape on a backcountry camping trip.

 

Rio Grande River Trips

The final, and possibly the most spectacular, way to experience the backcountry of Big Bend National Park is to take a multi-day river trip along the Rio Grande. The park has several spectacular canyons to explore as well as peaceful, meandering sections of the Rio Grande River. You’ll need to secure a backcountry use permit for your trip and also have the required equipment prior to setting out. You’ll want to keep the following in mind when planning a river trip in Big Bend:

  • Be everyone in your group has a personal floatation device (PFD).
  • Always practice Leave No Trace principles.
  • Camp only in permitted areas.
  • Fire pans are required for all trips.

View the full list of regulations for planning a river trip in Big Bend National Park here.

The Rio Grande River

 

Big Bend National Park Camping Must Know

The following sections contain all the basic information you need to ensure you have a great time camping in Big Bend National Park. Before we dive in, there are a few important regulations to note:

  • The maximum stay at any campground or campsite is 14 consecutive nights and no more than 28 total nights in a calendar year.
  • You are not allowed to camp for a total of more than 14 nights between January 1st – April 15th.
  • Only camp in designated sites.
  • No more than eight people per campsite.
  • Always store your food using the provided food storage locker, in your car, or in an animal proof container.
  • Always practice Leave No Trace principles.

Detailed information on fires, pets, wildlife, and more can be found in the sections below.

Stone building in front of bluff in Big Bend

 

Fires

Campfires are prohibited throughout Big Bend National Park. This includes developed, primitive, and backcountry campsites. Fires can leave a deep scar on the sensitive desert environment, so please be sure to observe this important regulation. The following are permitted:

  • Use of camp stoves
  • Use of charcoal in provided grill stands in developed campground
  • Fires in pans for river trips

Please do not gather any wood from Big Bend National Park.

Wildlife

Big Bend National Park is home to an incredible diversity of wildlife. The desert, mountain, and river landscapes are all home to unique fauna that thrives in this protected park. Many of the animals who call the park home are most active during the night, a common trait among desert adapted species. That being said, there are a few specific animals that you’ll want to be aware of when planning your camping trip in Big Bend National Park.

  • Javelina: Often thought to be wild pigs, javelina are actually an entirely different animal. These fun loving creatures can be found throughout Big Bend. Campers will want to be especially careful to properly store their food, as javelinas are known to raid campsite kitchens!
  • Black bears: Big Bend’s black bears have an incredible story of survival and reestablishment in Big Bend National Park. Once thought to no longer inhabit the area, in the 1980s black bears again begin to appear in the Chisos Moutains, their traditional habitat. While you are unlikely to have any issues with bears in Big Bend, it is important to always practice bear safety when camping.
  • Snakes: Big Bend is home to over 30 species of snakes, many of which are venomous. Don’t fret too much, as human snake interactions are rare. However, it is always a good idea of keep an eye on the trail for both snakes and their burrows.

A javelina walks on a trail

Javelinas are found throughout Big Bend National Park.

 

Pets

Pets are allowed in Big Bend National Park, but only in specific areas and under specific rules. Pets are not allowed in the backcountry, anywhere off-road, or on the Rio Grande River.

They are permitted in the developed campgrounds (but not the primitive roadside campsite), adjacent to park infrastructure, and on the main park roads.

We generally recommend against bringing you pet to Big Bend, but if you do please follow these regulations:

  • Pets must be on a leash at all times.
  • Pets are allowed within campgrounds, on park roads, and in picnic areas.
  • Pets are not allowed in park buildings, on trails, or in the backcountry.
  • Do not leave your pet unattended in your vehicle. Temperatures can get extremely hot in Big Bend.
  • Always properly dispose of pet waste.

For a complete list of regulations related to pets check out the Big Bend National Park website here.

Where to get supplies

Big Bend National Park is incredibly remote, with no major cities in close proximity. This makes it both important and difficult to stock up on camping supplies prior to your trip. Check out your options below:

  • Cottonwood General Store: Located just west of Big Bend near Turlingua, TX, the Cottonwood General Store in a local favorite. Here you can purchase all the food, water, and other essentials you’ll need for your Big Bend camping trip.
  • Big Bend National Park Convenience Stores: Located at Chisos Basin, Rio Grande Village, and Castolon these basic shops sell groceries, camping supplies, and other essentials.
  • Marathon & Alpine, TX: These are the two closest towns to Big Bend that offer a significant number of services. Marathon is convenient for those entering Big Bend via the Permission Gap Visitor Center, while Alpine is best suited to those exploring the southwest section of the park. In both towns you’ll find grocery stores, gas stations, outdoor shops, and medical services.

Services are few and far between on the road to Big Bend.

 

Camping near Big Bend National Park

Camping in Big Bend National Park is an incredible experience. However, given the increasing popularity of the national park it is always possible that you’ll arrive to find no campsites available. If this happens, all is not lost as there are plenty of good campgrounds just outside the national park boundary. From RV campgrounds with full hookups to the desert campsites of Big Bend Ranch State Park you’re sure to find something that suits your needs. Keep reading to learn more.

Highway through Big Bend National Park.

There are plenty of campgrounds just outside Big Bend.

 

RV campgrounds

Those camping in an RV will have plenty of options just outside Big Bend National Park. The majority of the RV campgrounds near Big Bend are located to the west of the national park near Terlingua. However, there are also campgrounds to the north and east, giving you tons of options to meet your camping needs.

Check out your best options for RV camping near Big Bend National Park below:

Lost Gringo RV Park

Number of sites: 15 sites
Fee: $25/night for tents, $35/night for RVs
Capacity: None stated.
RVs: Yes
Reservations: Recommended. Call (432) 371-2111
Pets: Allowed
More Information

Located west of Big Bend National Park just outside of the ghost town of Terlingua, Lost Gringo RV Park provides a great option for RV campers. With only 15 campsites this is a small, well-run campground that will put you only a few minutes from the park.

Amenities include water and electric hookups, restrooms, showers, and laundry facilities.

Big Bend Resort

Number of sites: 131 sites
Fee: $25 – $45/night
Capacity: None stated.
RVs: Yes
Reservations: Recommended. Visit website here.
Pets: Allowed
More Information

Big Bend Resort is located just a few minutes from the western entrance to Big Bend National Park, making it an incredibly convenient place to stay before exploring the park. This is a large campground with friendly staff, although some campers say the facilities could use an upgrade.

Regardless, Big Bend Resort is a great option for RV campers looking to explore the west side of Big Bend.

Terlingua Ranch Lodge

Number of sites: 20 RV sites + 28 tent sites
Fee: $30 – $40/night for RV sites // $16/person for tent sites
Capacity: None stated.
RVs: Yes
Reservations: Recommended. Call 432-371-3146
Pets: Allowed
More Information

Terlingua Ranch Lodge is located northwest of Big Bend in a remote section of West Texas desert. While not as convenient to the park as some of your other options, you’ll be in a stunning and quiet location. Terlingua Ranch features campsites with electric, water, and sewer hookups. There are also basic tent sites available.

Amenities include WiFi, a restaurant, and shower facilities. Highly recommended.

Maverick Ranch RV Park

Number of sites: 100 sites
Fee: $49 – $69/night depending on season
Capacity: None stated.
RVs: Yes
Reservations: Recommended. Call 432-424-5182
Pets: Allowed
More Information

Maverick Ranch RV Park is located in the far southwest corner of the Big Bend area in the town of Lajitas. You’ll be well positioned to explore the Santa Elena Canyon area of Big Bend as well as the Chisos Mountains. Maverick Ranch features campsites with full hookups, a pool, dog park, and more.

The campground is very popular during peak season, so be sure to call ahead to secure your site.

Stillwell Ranch RV Park

Number of sites: 65 pull thru sites + tent sites
Fee: $30 – $35/night for full hookup
Capacity: None stated.
RVs: Yes
Reservations: Recommended. Call 432-376-2244
Pets: Allowed
More Information

The Stillwell Ranch RV Park is located north of Big Bend National Park only a few minutes from the Permission Gap entrance. This campground and store features RV sites with full hookups as well basic tent sites. The campground has a well equipped shop and also features WiFi.

Don’t forget to check out the Hallie Stillwell Hall of Fame while you’re there!

Car camping sites

If you’re looking for car camping sites near Big Bend National Park you’ll have a few good options to choose from. The adjacent Big Bend Ranch State Park is worth exploring, and the Rancho Topanaga campground is a great choice for those looking to avoid the RV crowd on their camping trip. Read on to learn more.

Camping near Big Bend.

 

Big Bend Ranch State Park

Number of sites: Plenty!
Fee: $12 – $16/night
Capacity: 8 – 12 people per site
RVs: Not recommended.
Reservations: Recommended. Visit website here.
More Information

Big Bend Ranch State Park is often considered the little brother of Big Bend National Park, but it is less crowded and features some incredible campsites. The park is located to the west of Big Bend National Park and includes the same stunning scenery, mountains, and river access. Big Bend Ranch State Park features a number of primitive campsites that are perfect for those looking for more of a wilderness camping experience.

Reservations are recommend, and can be made through Reserve America here.

Rancho Topanga Campground

Number of sites: 25 sites
Fee: $10 – $25/night depending location & number of people
Capacity: None stated
RVs: No
Reservations: Recommended. Call (432) 371-2131
More Information

The Rancho Topanga Campground is located west of Big Bend National Park along highway 170. This small, friendly campground can only accommodate tents, although a few sites may allow for a pop-up trailer. The campground is basic, but features restrooms, fire rings, and excellent views.

Rancho Topanga does not accept reservations via email or their website, so be sure to call ahead if you’d like to reserve your campsite.

Have a great trip!

That’s it!

We hope you’ve found all of the information on camping in Big Bend National Park in this post helpful and we know you’ll find the perfect campsite for your upcoming adventure! Be sure to let us know in the comments below if you have any questions or had a great time out camping!

Starry sky while camping in Big Bend National Park.

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West Highland Way Accommodation Guide

The West Highland Way is celebrated for its dramatic scenery and rich cultural experiences. You’ll enjoy much of this while you’re walking throughout each stage, but the experience certainly doesn’t…

The West Highland Way is celebrated for its dramatic scenery and rich cultural experiences. You’ll enjoy much of this while you’re walking throughout each stage, but the experience certainly doesn’t end when you stop and put your feet up for the day. From luxurious B&B’s to rustic bothies, there are accommodation options to suit every style and budget. What’s more, not only is lodging convenient and accessible along the route, enjoying the Scottish hospitality at these special places is undoubtedly one of the best parts of walking the West Highland Way.

We put together this accommodation guide to help you get the most out of your West Highland Way adventure. Here’s what’s covered in the post:

Quintessential Highlands scenery in Strathfillan.

Do I need to reserve my West Highland Way accommodation in advance?

Generally speaking, yes. During the peak season (May-August), it is very likely that many places will be sold out nearly every night. Even outside of the busy months, it is a good idea to make advance bookings for places in resort areas, small towns with few accommodation options, and on weekends and holidays.

Most campgrounds on the West Highland Way do not require reservations, but there are a few notable exceptions. You should book ahead for the Sallochy Campground and also at the MacDonald Hotel. Check out this Guide to Camping on the West Highland Way for more camping-specific information.

When booking for peak season, the earlier the better. If possible, try to reserve the most in-demand accommodations 3-6 months in advance. If you’re more of a last-minute person, don’t despair. Even calling a few days ahead can really pay off.

A snow capped mountain on the West Highland Way
If you’re willing to brave the harsh Scottish winters, you can enjoy crowd-free trails and good deals at many accommodations.

How much does accommodation cost on the West Highland Way?

A wonderful aspect of the West Highland Way is its very customizable nature. No two walkers have the same experience on this dynamic trek; in fact, if you walk it twice you’ll likely have vastly different experiences each time! Just as you can tailor your itinerary to match your timeframe and your packing list to fit your travel style, so can you choose accommodation to fit your budget.

Prices vary greatly from place to place, but generally speaking, here’s what you can expect to pay for accommodation along the West Highland Way:

  • B&B/Guesthouse/Hotel: £75+ (per person/per night)
  • Bunkhouse/Hostel: £40 (per person/per night)
  • Camping: £10 (per person/per night)

In our accommodation directory, we’ve provided our recommendations for high-end, mid-range, and budget options at all of the typical West Highland Way stops. We’ve defined those categories as follows:

  • High-End: £70+ (per person/per night)
  • Mid-Range: £40-70 (per person/per night)
  • Budget:<£40 (per person/per night)

NOTE: Camping accommodation is not included in this post. Check out our detailed Guide to Camping on the West Highland Way for camping options on every stage.

Read more: How Much It Cost Us to Hike the West Highland Way

Glasses of beer on the West Highland Way
One of our favorite parts of hiking the West Highland Way!

West Highland Way Accommodation Directory

There are wonderful places to stay along the entire West Highland Way route. In this directory, we’ll give you key details about all of your options, as well as our best recommendations for every budget.

We’ve organized our list to follow most variations of the classic south to north walking itinerary.

Want help planning the perfect itinerary? Check out this handy West Highland Way Maps article!

The path from Milngavie to Drymen on the West Highland Way
Easy walking from Milngavie to Drymen.

Milngavie

High-End: West Highland Way Rooms

These two well-appointed apartments provide a perfect starting point for your West Highland Way adventure. They feature handy amenities like laundry, kitchen/kitchenette facilities, and free wifi, and the location is convenient for starting the walk.

Mid-Range: Premier Inn

There are actually two Premier Inns in Milngavie, one is called the Premier Inn Glasgow (Milngavie) and the other is the Premier Inn Glasgow (Bearsden). They are just a few minutes apart from each other and both are about a mile from the WHW starting point. These hotels are a great value for the price.

Budget: West Highland Way Campsite

Located a few miles past the starting point of the West Highland Way, this accommodation might be conveniently located for some, while a bit out of the way for others. The campsite offers luxury safari tents and well-appointed caravans in a tranquil setting.

Drymen

High-End: Ashbank Bed and Breakfast

Walkers seeking a bit of luxury after their first day on the trail will not be disappointed by this lovely B&B. Clean, welcoming, and conveniently located, this is an excellent option in Drymen. As an added bonus, the delicious hearty breakfast will sustain you for miles!

Mid-Range: The Drymen Inn

This classic Scottish inn serves up plenty of charm and warm hospitality. The vintage feel is balanced with modern conveniences, like free wifi and private bathrooms.

Budget: The Winnock Hotel

This hotel, now operated by Best Western, is a good value considering its many amenities and central location. While not particularly fancy, the rooms are cozy and there is a bar and restaurant on site.

Read more: West Highland Way Packing List

Rowardennan

High-End: Rowardennan Hotel

This beautiful historic hotel is set in a stunning location on the banks of Loch Lomond, with many of the guest rooms enjoying great views of the surrounding area. The Rowardennan Hotel is the only high-end option in the area, but it is a good one!

Mid-Range: Rowardennan Lodge Youth Hostel

The charming old building and idyllic lochside location are just a few of the many things to love about this hostel. There is also a self-catering kitchen, laundry facilities, and a drying room. Private and en-suite rooms are available.

Budget: Ben Lomond Bunkhouse

Not only does this bunkhouse get rave reviews for its clean, cozy facilities and convenient location, but all proceeds from your stay will be used by the National Trust for conservation work on Ben Lomond. The bunkhouse has a communal kitchen and wonderful lounge in addition to its two small bedrooms. Space is quite limited, so it is definitely a good idea to book ahead.

Pebble beach along Loch Lomond.

Inversnaid

High-End: Garrison of Inversnaid

This incredible B&B offers two studio rooms inside a converted barn house. The property is a working farm that dates back to 1719 and boasts incredible mountain scenery in all directions. Weary walkers will enjoy the hot tub and lavish breakfast spread. Be advised that you’ll need to walk a little under a mile uphill from the WHW trail to reach this accommodation.

Mid-Range: Inversnaid Hotel

While this hotel is primarily used for coach tours, they do accept individual bookings when rooms are available. The hotel has a beautiful lochside location that is situated directly on the WHW route.

Budget: Inversnaid Bunkhouse

This unique bunkhouse is located inside an old church and offers a variety of room types to suit your needs. There is a pub on site, as well as a drying room and a hot tub. The bunkhouse is located a bit off the trail, but they offer free pick and and drop off on most days.

Inverarnan

High-End: The Drovers Inn

Guests will enjoy the unique character and friendly service at this historic hotel. There is an excellent restaurant on site that is known for its cozy setting and great atmosphere. There are a variety of rooms on offer, from the luxurious jacuzzi room to the reputedly haunted room in the lodge across the street!

Mid-Range: Rose Cottage B&B

This friendly B&B offers clean, comfortable rooms in a convenient location. The kind hosts provide laundry service upon request, as well as a hearty breakfast and warm hospitality. There is no website for this B&B, but bookings can be made through murielrosecottage@hotmail.com or by phoning +44 01301-704255.

Budget: Beinglas Farm

This excellent accommodation offers a variety of lodging options to suit any budget. There is a cozy B&B, as well as basic camping cabins and tent camping available. There’s a great restaurant, a small shop, and laundry facilities on site.

The restaurant at Beinglas Farm knows how to feed hungry hikers!

Crianlarich

High-End: Glenardran House

The village of Crianlarich is located about 15 minutes off the main WHW route, but many walkers find it to be a worthwhile detour. This is especially true if you choose to stay at the stylish and comfortable Glenardran House. With a welcoming staff and delicious breakfast, it’s everything a B&B should be and more.

Mid-Range: Best Western Crianlarich Hotel

This cozy hotel has clean, comfortable rooms and a good quality restaurant/bar on site. It is a dependable stop and a good value for those making the short detour to Crianlarich.

Budget: Crianlarich Youth Hostel

This excellent hostel is located inside a beautiful bungalow in a tranquil wooded location. There are private rooms and dorm beds available, as well as a drying room, communal kitchen, and lounge area.

Want to take the stress out of navigating on your West Highland Way trek? Learn more about our downloadable GPS file!

Tyndrum

High-End: Glengarry House B&B

Walkers rave about this exceptional bed and breakfast located on the outskirts of Tyndrum. The hosts are welcoming and knowledgeable, the space is cozy and peaceful, and the breakfast is delicious. They offer the option for laundry and an evening meal.

Mid-Range: Dalkell Cottage

This lovely little B&B offers rooms in their guesthouse as well as the option to stay in the cozy cottage on the property. All of the rooms provide tea/coffee and plenty of thoughtful touches. The friendly hosts enjoy catering to weary walkers.

Budget: By the Way Hostel and Campsite

In addition to dorm beds in the hostel, there are a range of unique accommodations available at By the Way (including camping pods and hobbit houses). Regardless of which type of lodging you choose, you’ll be perfectly located along the WHW trail and close to the shops of Tyndrum. The facilities are well-maintained and include a drying room and a communal kitchen.

Bridge of Orchy

High-End: Bridge of Orchy Hotel

This splendid hotel is one of only a couple options in the area, but being set in the middle of nowhere works in its favor. The Bridge of Orchy Hotel enjoys gorgeous views of the tranquil valley on the banks of the Orchy River. The building has plenty of traditional charm, but rooms have comfortable modern updates.

Budget: West Highland Way Sleeper

This cozy bunkhouse is the only other accommodation on this part of the route. Housed inside a historic train platform building, it is a unique and convenient option. Accommodation is basic but comfortable. There is a drying room, and a continental breakfast and linens are provided. Advance bookings are essential during the summer months.

Bridge of Orchy frames the green hills beyond.

Kingshouse

High-End: Kingshouse Hotel

Walkers looking for a spot of luxury will not be disappointed by their stay at the Kingshouse Hotel. This excellent accommodation boasts stunning quintessential Highlands scenery and beautifully renovated rooms in an 18th-century building. There is an upscale restaurant/bar on site, as well as a more casual pub next door.

Mid-Range: Glencoe Mountain Resort

With limited lodging in the area, this is a good value option for those who are willing to rough it just a bit. The resort offers cozy microlodges that sleep up to six people. The accommodation is very basic- just bunks with mattresses (bring your own sleeping bag) and shared bathroom facilities, but they are clean and comfortable. There is a fully licensed cafe on the site.

Budget: The Kingshouse Hotel Bunkhouse

If you want to enjoy the beautiful scenery and warm ambiance of the Kingshouse Hotel on a shoestring budget, this is an excellent option. The bunkhouse features a variety of room sizes, sleeping anywhere from two to six people. There are shared bathroom facilities and a communal kitchenette. Linens are provided and towels are available for rent.

Hanging out at Glencoe Mountain Resort.

Kinlochleven

High-End: Tigh na Cheo Guest House

It’s the small details and thoughtful touches that elevate a place like Tigh na Cheo from good to exceptional. From their super comfortable beds to the bath salts provided for soaking sore muscles, this welcoming B&B will make sure that your final night on the trail is extra special.

Mid-Range: MacDonald Hotel and Cabins

While you have to walk a few minutes past the town center to reach this hotel, it is certainly worth it to enjoy the secluded setting and stunning views on the banks of Loch Leven. Hotel rooms feature en suite bathrooms and complimentary breakfast, while the budget-friendly cabins have shared bathroom facilities and linens provided (sleeping bags can be rented on site).

Budget: Blackwater Hostel

When it comes to hostels, this is one of the best along the West Highland Way. There are a variety of dormitory sizes available, allowing many walkers to enjoy a private room. The excellent facilities include good hot showers (shampoo and soap provided), drying rooms, and a well-equipped communal kitchen. It’s conveniently located near the shop and pubs.

A rare glimpse of Ben Nevis as the clouds part.

Fort William

High-End: Gowan Brae Bed and Breakfast

What better way to celebrate your completion of the West Highland Way than by enjoying a stay somewhere luxurious? Gowan Brea B&B has it all: welcoming hosts, a central location, beautiful views, and plush rooms. Plus, the breakfast is divine.

Mid-Range: Myrtle Bank Guest House

Everything about this guest house is truly magical. Set inside an 1890’s Victorian on the banks of Loch Linnhe, there’s no shortage of great views and ambiance. The service is top-notch and the price is right.

Budget: Fort William Backpackers

This friendly hostel has good facilities and tons of quirky charm. It’s set in a cozy historic house, which means that some features are a bit dated (such as the very limited number of outlets in the rooms). The hostel has a lovely lounge and communal kitchen, a very affordable continental breakfast option, and linens are provided.

What’s Next?

Check out our other great West Highland Way resources!

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The Complete Guide to Camping in Great Basin National Park

Great Basin National Park, located in eastern Nevada, is one of America’s most stunning national parks. The park features the 13,065′ Wheeler Peak, a mammoth mountain that dominates the skyline….

Great Basin National Park, located in eastern Nevada, is one of America’s most stunning national parks. The park features the 13,065′ Wheeler Peak, a mammoth mountain that dominates the skyline. At the base of the peak you’ll find the Lehman Caves, a spectacular cave system that is over 2 miles in length, the longest in Nevada. Great Basin is also home to several stands of bristlecone pines, considered to be some of the oldest living organisms in the world.

Needless to say you’ll have plenty of natural wonders to explore during your visit. We think the best way to experience everything that Great Basin has to offer is to spend a few nights under the stars in your tent or RV. Great Basin National Park has plenty of camping options from the five developed campgrounds within the park, to the primitive sites along Snake Creek Road, to the abundance of backcountry options as well as nearby RV and dispersed campsites. 

Keep reading to learn all the details you’ll need to plan your perfect camping trip in Great Basin National Park. 

Aspen tree in front of Wheeler Peak in Great Basin National Park.

Great Basin National Park has plenty of options for your perfect camping trip.

 

In this post

 

Great Basin National Park Campgrounds

There are five developed campgrounds within Great Basin National Park. These campgrounds are generally located in the northern section of the park off of Highway 488, the main road in the park. Access is through the town of Baker, NV, the main gateway to Great Basin National Park.

In addition to the developed campgrounds you’ll also find primitive campgrounds located along Snake Creek Road that generally require a 4WD vehicle to access. Snake Creek Road is located in the southern section of the national park, with access from Garrison, NV.

The map below gives you a general sense of where each of these campgrounds are located in Great Basin National Park as well as their relation to the surrounding area. 

Map of campgrounds in Great Basin National Park.

Campgrounds in Great Basin National Park. Map courtesy of NPS. (Click to enlarge)

 

The majority of the campgrounds in Great Basin National Park are open seasonally from approximately May – October. However, Lower Lehman Creek Campground is open year round as are the primitive sites along Snake Creek Road. Peak season for camping in Great Basin is during the summer, from approximately June – August.

Keep reading to learn about reservations and permits for camping in Great Basin National Park. 

Reservations & Permits

Only the Grey Cliffs Campground in Great Basin National Park accepts reservations, while the others are all first-come, first-served. Reservations can be made at Grey Cliffs from Memorial Day through the end of September, and can only be made for tent camping sites. No RV camping reservations are available. For all of the other sites your best bet during the peak season is to arrive early!

Reservations for the Grey Cliffs Campground can be made through Recreation.gov at the link below:

Reservations for the Grey Cliffs Campground can be made here via Recreation.gov

For those interested in exploring the backcountry of Great Basin National Park there are countless opportunities for backcountry camping in the park. Although it is not required, backcountry campers are strongly encouraged to register with the National Park Service before heading out. Registration is free and can be completed at either the Great Basin Visitor Center or Lehman Caves Visitor Center.

We highly recommend all backcountry campers register as this will ensure the NPS knows you are in the wilderness should anything go wrong on your trip. Learn more about backcountry camping in Great Basin National Park in this section.

View of Wheeler Peak from the Great Basin Backcountry.

Be sure to register with the NPS prior to setting out on a backcountry camping trip in Great Basin National Park. Photo credit NPS.

 

Developed Campgrounds

There are five developed campgrounds for those looking to car camp in Great Basin National Park. These campgrounds vary in size and all are located in the northern section of the park. Details for five campgrounds are below.

Note that while none of the individual campgrounds feature a dump station, there is one available on the road leading to the Lehman Caves.

Lower Lehman Creek Campground

Number of Sites: 11 sites
Fee: $15/night
RVs: Yes, limited number of sites available.
Reservations: First-come, first-served.
Season: Open year round.
More Information

A trail through the Lehman Caves in Great Basin National Park.

The Lower Lehman Creek Campground is the perfect place to spend the night before exploring the Lehman Caves. Photo credit NPS.

 

The Lower Lehman Creek Campground is one of the first campgrounds you’ll encounter upon entering Great Basin National Park through the Baker entrance. This is the only campground that is open year round in the park, so will be your best bet during the off season. Lower Lehman Creek is on the smaller side with only 11 sites, so be sure to get there early to snag a campsite!

The campground does not accept reservations and all sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. The campground has a few campsites that can accommodate pull-thru RV parking, but the ground tends to be uneven and can make it difficult to find a level spot. Tent campers should be just fine as all of the sites have sufficient space for a tent or two.

Click here to view a map of the Lower Lehman Creek Campground

Lower Lehman Creek is located close to the Lehman Caves and the Lehman Creek trail and makes a great place to spend the night prior to exploring the area.

 

Upper Lehman Creek Campground

Number of Sites: 24 sites
Fee: $15/night
RVs: Yes
Reservations: First-come, first-served.
Season: Open seasonally from May – October.
More Information

The Upper Lehman Creek Campground is perfect for those looking for easy access to hiking trails, as the Lehman Creek trails starts directly from the campground. Located just off Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive, the campground features 24 sites that are open seasonally from May – October. The campground can accommodate small RVs and trailers, but be prepared for an uneven ground surface.

All of the campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis, so be sure to arrive early during peak season to secure a spot. The lovely Lehman Creek meanders its way through the campground, making for an atmospheric place to spend the night.

Click here to view a map of the Upper Lehman Creek Campground

The campground generally has potable water available during the peak season and features picnic tables and vault toilets.

 

Wheeler Peak Campground

Number of Sites: 37 sites
Fee: $15/night
RVs: Yes
Reservations: First-come, first-served.
Season: Open seasonally from May – October.
More Information

Wheeler Peak from Wheeler Peak Campground in Great Basin National Park.

Wheeler Peak Campground’s namesake peak. Photo credit NPS.

 

The Wheeler Peak Campgrounds sits at 9,800′ above sea level and provides a high-alpine camping experience. The campground features 37 campsites, a few of which can accommodate larger trailers and RVs. To reach the campground you’ll need to drive approximately 12 miles along Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive, a steep and narrow road. It is important to note that no vehicles/trailers longer than 24′ are allowed on Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive past the Upper Lehman Creek Campground.

Click here to view a map of the Wheeler Peak Campground

This is the most convenient campground to stay at if you’re interested in hiking (or driving) to the Wheeler Peak summit. Given its proximity to the Wheeler Peak summit trail, the campground is quite popular. Be sure to arrive early as all of the sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. 

The campground generally has potable water available during the peak season and features picnic tables and vault toilets. Wheeler Peak Campground closes during the winter season.

Baker Creek Campground

Number of Sites: 38 sites
Fee: $15/night
RVs: Yes
Reservations: First-come, first-served.
Season: Open seasonally from May – October.
More Information

The Baker Creek Campground is the largest in Great Basin National Park and features 38 campsites. The campground is located at the end of Baker Creek Road, an easily passable gravel road. This is the perfect place to camp before hiking to Baker and Johnson Lakes, which is a popular loop trail in Great Basin.

Click here to view a map of the Baker Creek Campground

Baker Creek can accommodate medium sized RVs and trailers, but be aware that the road leading through the campground is quite narrow. As with the majority of the campgrounds in Great Basin National Park, all of the sites at Baker Creek are first-come, first-served. Similarly, the campground is only open during the summer season from May – October.

Grey Cliffs Campground

Number of Sites: 12 individual sites + 4 group sites
Fee: $15/night for individual sites, $30/night for group sites
RVs: Yes
Reservations: Click Here to Reserve
Season: Open seasonally from May – October.
More Information

The Grey Cliffs Campground is located a short-drive up Baker Creek Road. This excellent campground features 12 individual sites as well as 4 group sites. The group sites can accommodate up to 12 people. Reservations are required for any of the group sites and can also be made for the individual sites at the Grey Cliffs campground. Make your reservations via Recreation.gov here. Note that there is a two night minimum for any camping reservation at Grey Cliffs.

Click here to view a map of the Grey Cliffs Campground

It is important to note that there is no potable water available at the Grey Cliffs Campground. Campers will have to get their water from the Baker Creek Campground, located approximately 1.5 miles up Baker Creek Road.

Snake Creek Road Primitive Campgrounds

In addition to the five developed campgrounds described above, Great Basin National Park also features primitive campgrounds along Snake Creek Road. Snake Creek Road begins in the town of Garrison, NV and winds its way for approximately 8.5 miles into the heart of Great Basin National Park. See the map below for more detail.

Map of campgrounds along Snake Creek Road in Great Basin National Park

Map of campgrounds along Snake Creek Road in Great Basin National Park. Map courtesy of NPS. (Click to enlarge)

 

Number of Sites: 12 campsites – please camp at designed sites only!
Fee: Free
Capacity: Up to 15 people / 6 pack animals / 6 vehicle per site
RVs: Not recommended
Reservations: First come, first served
More Information

Although they are not developed campgrounds, the primitive sites along Snake Creek Road provide an excellent option for camping in Great Basin National Park. Each of the campsites along Snake Creek Road include a picnic table and many have fire rings. The park service requires that you place your tent within 30′ of either the picnic table or fire ring. The campsites are generally quite large and can accommodate groups of up to 15 people.

There are no restrooms or trash facilities along Snake Creek Road, so always be sure to bury your waste (at least 100′ from the nearest water source!) and pack out all of your trash. Water can occasionally be drawn from Snake Creek, but must be treated.

The road itself can be quite tough at times, so a high clearance vehicle is recommended. While you may be able to pass some portions in a smaller passenger vehicle, we don’t recommend it. For these same reasons RVs and trailers are not recommended for any of the campsites along Snake Creek Road.

Best of all, the campsites along Snake Creek road are all first-come, first-served and free of charge. In order to preserve these great campsites for future visitors it is very important to practice Leave No Trace principles when camping in this section of Great Basin National Park.

 

Backcountry camping in Great Basin National Park

Backpacking in Great Basin National Park is often overlooked for other, more glamorous trips in the bigger national parks. It shouldn’t be! While Great Basin only boasts 60+ miles of trails to explore, you’re bound to encounter few, if any, other backpackers during your trip. That fact combined with the lack of a permitting system making planning a backpacking trip in Great Basin National Park an easy endeavor. Read on to find out what you need to know.

A hiking trail in Great Basin National Park

 

Backcountry Camping Registration

Registration is not required for backcountry camping in Great Basin National Park. However, we strongly recommend that all backcountry campers take the time to register prior to embarking on their trip. Registration is free and it is always a good idea of let the NPS know where you plan to be should something go wrong. Registering also helps the NPS understand visitor usage in the park and better preserve this important ecosystem.

Backcountry camping registration can be completed at either the Lehman Caves or Great Basin Visitor Centers in Great Basin National Park. Prior to registering, it is important to keep a few key regulations in mind:

  • No more than 15 people per group.
  • No backcountry camping is permitted in the Wheeler Peak Day Use or Lexington Arch Day Use areas.
  • Camping is not allowed in bristlecone pine groves.
  • Camping is not allowed on the Osceola Ditch trail.

Outside of the restrictions above, backcountry camping is permitted in most areas of the park. You’ll want your campsite to meet the following guidelines provided by the NPS:

  • Be at least 1/2 mile from the nearest trail
  • Campsites must be 1/4 mile from the nearest park facility (campgrounds, trailheads, etc.)
  • At least 100′ from any water source
  • 500′ from any archeological site (mines, ruins, etc.)
  • Fires are prohibited above 10,000 feet

For a full list of backcountry camping regulations in Great Basin National Park visit the NPS website here. 

Where to camp in the Great Basin backcountry

Great Basin National Park does not have designated backcountry campsites. Rather, the NPS recommends that backcountry hikers camp at obvious campsites which have been developed by previous users. These should be fairly obvious on the trail as you’ll generally be able to see where tents have been placed, logs arranged for seating, etc.

Regardless of where you decide to pitch your tent you’ll need to be at least 1/4 mile from the nearest road,  and avoid close proximity to water sources, other campers, structures, and trails.

Pyramid Peak Loop

The most popular backcountry trip in Great Basin National Park is the Pyramid Peak Loop. This 13 mile loop makes the perfect overnight trip in the Great Basin backcountry and provides excellent views of Wheeler Peak while visiting both Baker and Johnson Lakes. Find additional information on this excellent trip below:

You can view a full list of the hiking trails in Great Basin National Park here. 

Great Basin National Park backcountry

Backcountry campers will have plenty of trails to explore in Great Basin National Park. Photo credit NPS.

 

Great Basin National Park Camping Must Know

The following sections contain all the basic information you need to ensure you have a great time camping in Great Basin National Park. Before we dive in, there are a few important regulations to note:

  • The maximum stay at any campground or campsite is 14 days
  • Tents must be placed within 30 feet of the campsites fire ring or picnic table
  • Always pay your campsite fee within 30 minutes of arrival

More detailed information on fires, pets, wildlife, and more can be found in the sections below.

Campfires in Great Basin

Fires are permitted at all of the developed campgrounds as well as the primitive campgrounds along Snake Creek Road. At these locations, your fire must be fully contained within the provided fire pit/fire grate and should never be left unattended.

In the Great Basin backcountry, campfires are allowed as long as you are below 10,000′. Above this elevation fires are prohibited. If you are camping in an area of the backcountry where fires are allowed, be sure to follow these regulations:

  • Only build fires in areas of bare soil or snow.
  • There must be at least a 10′ clear area around the fire.
  • Do not clear vegetation to create a fire pit.
  • Do not construct a stone ring fire pit.
  • Ensure the fire is completely out before leaving your campsite.

Gathering of wood in Great Basin National Park is permitted, so long as it is already dead and on the ground. You are not allowed to cut any living trees, shrubs, etc in the National Park for use as firewood. It is also important to ensure that any wood you bring into the park is properly sourced, as firewood can introduce invasive pests that can cause irreparable damage.

Campfire in Great Basin National Park

 

Wildlife

The high desert landscape of Great Basin National Park is home to a diversity of wildlife. Many of these animals have adopted specific adaptations to survive in this unique environment. While most visitors are unlikely to encounter many of the animals that live in the park, campers should be aware of a few specific species:

  • Coyotes: This is mammal you are most likely to encounter on a camping trip in Great Basin. Be sure to securely store all food, especially in the backcountry to limit your impact.
  • Snakes: Great Basin is home to several snake species, most notably the rattlesnake. Snakes are most active at night, but be sure to always be scanning the trail for them.
  • Mountain lions: Mountain lions are solitary animals and they are incredibly rare to see in person. However, campers and especially those in the backcountry should always be aware of their surroundings.

Learn more about the wildlife in Great Basin National Park here.

Mountain lion perched on a rock.

 

Pets

As with many national parks, Great Basin has restrictions about where you are allowed to bring your pet within the national park. Generally speaking, pets are allowed at the developed campgrounds and in areas immediately surrounding park buildings, such as visitor centers. In addition, pets are allowed on the Lexington Arch trail.

Pets are not allowed on any other trails in Great Basin National Park or anywhere in the backcountry. This includes the primitive campgrounds along Snake Creek Road.

If you do plan on bringing your pet to Great Basin National Park, please follow these guidelines:

  • Pets must be on a six-foot leash at all times.
  • Please pick up your pet waste.
  • Always practice Leave No Trace principles.

You can find the full list of pet regulations on the Great Basin National Park website here. 

 

Where to get supplies

Great Basin National Park is nothing if not remote. Located in far east Nevada, the park provides a true wilderness experience. All that solitude makes it important to be prepared for your camping trip as there aren’t many services close to the national park.

Check out your best bets for stocking up prior to your Great Basin National Park camping trip below:

  • Baker, NV: Baker is considered the gateway to Great Basin National Park. Located just a few miles from the national park, this is your most convenient option to stock up prior to your trip. Unfortunately, there aren’t a ton of services in Baker. However, you will find a gas station, several restaurants, an excellent coffee shop, a few hotels and friendly locals.

 

  • Ely, NV: For those in need of more services than what is available in Baker, you’ll need to head to Ely. Located approximately 1 hour from Great Basin National Park, Ely has an outdoor store, multiple grocery stores, and all the services you may need to stock up before your camping trip.

Camping near Great Basin National Park

Spending a few nights camping in Great Basin National Park is an experience not to be missed. However, the popularity of of camping in the park and limited availability for reservations means you may arrive to completely full campgrounds. Don’t let that deter you, though, as there are plenty of camping options just outside of Great Basin National Park. From full service RV campgrounds, to free dispersed camping check out your best bets below.

RV parked in the desert

There are plenty of RV campgrounds near Great Basin National Park.

 

RV campgrounds

Whispering Elms Motel & Campground

Number of sites: Plenty!
Fee: $30 – $40/night depending on hookups
Capacity: 6 people per site
RVs: Yes
Reservations: Recommended. Visit website here
Pets: Allowed
More Information

Located a short drive from Great Basin National Park in Baker, NV the Whispering Elms Motel & Campground is the closest RV campground to the national park. At Whispering Elms you’ll find hookups for 30/50 amps as well as water and sewer hookups. In addition to RVs, the campground can also accommodate tent campers.

Amenities include free pool, TV, WiFi, laundry facilities, and a restaurant/lodge. Whispering Elms gets great reviews for the stunning views from the campground and clean facilities.

The Border Inn

Number of sites: Limited
Fee: $25/night
Capacity: None stated.
RVs: Yes, hookups available.
Reservations: Recommended. Visit website here
Pets: Allowed.
More Information

The Border Inn sits, you guess it, right on the border of Nevada and Utah, approximately 15 minutes from Great Basin National Park. More than just a campground, the Border Inn features a small casino, motel, gas station, and small convenience store.

The campground is small, but the sites are level and hookups are available. The Border Inn isn’t the most family friendly of your options near Great Basin National Park, but they provide an affordable camping option and get great reviews for the friendly staff.

 

Ely KOA

Number of sites: Plenty!
Fee: $40 – $60/night
Capacity: 2 – 8 people depending on site.
RVs: Yes, up to 90′
Reservations: Recommended. Visit website here
Pets: Allowed
More Information

The Ely KOA is located in the town of Ely, NV approximately 1 hour from the entrance to Great Basin National Park. Although a bit further from the park than other options you’ll find a predictably good campground with access to plenty of services in the town of Ely. The campgrounds feature full hookups and you’ll get access to great amenities including a dog park, free WiFi, and a fire pit.

The Ely KOA also provides sites for tent campers, making this a great option before exploring Great Basin National Park.

 

Car camping sites

If you’re looking for car camping sites near Great Basin National Park you’ll have a few good options to choose from.

In addition to the campgrounds listed below, car camping is permitted and recommend at all of the campgrounds listed in the RV camping section above.  Keep reading below to see what your best bets are for car camping near Great Basin.

Car and tent near Great Basin National Park.

There are plenty of car camping sites near Great Basin National Park.

 

Cave Lake State Park – Elk Flat Campground & Lake View Campground

Number of sites: Elk Flat (15 sites) and Lake View (17 sites)
Fee: $15/night
Capacity: None Stated.
RVs: Yes
Reservations: First-come, first-served. Group site reservations may be available.
Pets: Allowed.
More Information

Located to the northwest of Great Basin National Park, Cave Lake State Park offers two developed campgrounds that provide a good car camping option near the park. The campgrounds are located approximately 1 hour from the entrance to Great Basin and there are a total of 32 campsites at Cave Lake.

All of the campsites are first-come, first-served with the exception of a few sites that are available for group reservations. To reserve a group site, email clsp@parks.nv.gov.

Cave Lake State Park has a small lake with great fishing as well as plenty of hiking trails, making it an excellent destination in its own right.

Dispersed camping near Great Basin National Park

Your final option for camping near Great Basin National Park is to find a free, dispersed campsite on adjacent Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land which practically surrounds the national park. This land is overseen by the BLM which manages hundreds of thousands of acres of public land throughout the country and generally allows for ‘dispersed camping’ on it. You can find more information on dispersed camping on BLM land here.

There are several excellent options for dispersed camping near Great Basin National Park, and we’ve outlined your best bets below.

Tent in the desert near Great Basin National Park

Free dispersed camping is available on BLM land near Great Basin National Park.

Snake Creek Road

Snake Creek Road connects Garrison, NV with Great Basin National Park. Within the park the NPS allows for free, primitive camping along the road, as we described in the section above. Similarly, there is a free dispersed campsite on Snake Creek Road in BLM land just outside the national park boundary.

You’ll find the campsite by turning south off of the main road just prior to entering the national park. Be aware that large trailer and RVs will have trouble accessing this site.

Also, there is no bathroom or potable water source at the campsite so be prepared to be self reliant and practice Leave No Trace principles.

Sacramento Pass

The Sacramento Pass Recreation Area is located just north of Great Basin National Park along State Highway 50. This free dispersed camping area is more developed than most, and you’ll find pit toilets as well as picnic tables at the campsite here. While not as close as camping along Snake Creek Road, you’ll still only be 20 minutes from the park.

Several of the campsites are large enough to accommodate RVs and trailers, so this makes a great campground for those with a big rig.

Cleve Creek

The final option for dispersed camping near Great Basin National Park is the Cleve Creek Campground.

Cleve Creek is located to the northwest of Great Basin, just outside of Humboldt National Forest. The campground has 12 individual campsites and 1 group site. There are restrooms at the campground and each site features a picnic table. There is no potable water available at Cleve Creek, so be sure to bring all that you’ll need.

Bureau of Land Management – Ely, NV Office

For the most up to date information on dispersed camping near Great Basin National Park be sure to reach out the the Ely office of the BLM. The helpful rangers will be able to provide information on potential places to camp, fire restrictions, and other pertinent information for your trip.

Have a great trip!

That’s it! We hope you’ve found all of the information on camping in Great Basin National Park in this post helpful and we know you’ll find the perfect campsite for your upcoming adventure! Be sure to let us know in the comments below if you have any questions or had a great time out camping!

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The Complete Guide to Camping In and Near Hot Springs National Park

Historical interest and natural beauty strike a perfect balance in Hot Springs National Park. This little gem is the oldest park to be managed by the National Park System, but…

Historical interest and natural beauty strike a perfect balance in Hot Springs National Park. This little gem is the oldest park to be managed by the National Park System, but its storied past extends thousands of years beyond that as a sacred place for numerous Indigenous Peoples. Visitors today can enjoy peaceful hiking trails, grandiose bathhouses, and endless recreational activities in the park and the nearby city of Hot Springs.

Those looking to make the most of their escape to nature will have their pick from a wealth of excellent camping options in the area. Whether you’re looking for a deluxe glamping experience or free dispersed camping, we’ve got you covered. This guide details all of the best places to camp in and near Hot Springs National Park and provides need-to-know information to help you have your best possible trip. Happy Camping!

Gulpha Creek in the fall.
You can camp year-round in and near Hot Springs National Park. Photo courtesy of NPS/Mitch Smith.

In this Guide:

Camping in Hot Springs National Park

Given the relatively small size of the park and its urban surroundings, camping options are limited inside Hot Springs National Park. Backcountry and dispersed camping are not permitted anywhere inside the park. The only place you can camp within Hot Springs National Park is at the Gulpha Gorge Campground, but fortunately, this is an excellent option.

With a shady and idyllic location on the banks of Gulpha Creek, Gulpha Gorge Campground accommodates both tents and RVs and gives campers easy proximity to trails, bathhouses, the Visitor Center, and other attractions. It is open year-round on a first-come, first-served basis.

An RV parked by the stream at Gulpha Gorge Campground.
Many of the sites at Gulpha Gorge Campground are located right along Gulpha Creek. Photo courtesy of NPS/Mitch Smith.

Gulpha Gorge Campground

# of Sites: 40

Type: Tent, RV

Fees: $30/night (credit or debit only)

Amenities:

  • Flush toilets
  • Potable water
  • Electric, water, and sewer hookups
  • Dump station
  • Trash/recycling
  • Picnic tables
  • Grills

Pets: Pets are allowed in the campground and on all of the trails in Hot Springs National Park. Dogs must be kept on a 6′ leash.

Fires: Grills are provided at all campsites. Ground fires are only permitted in designated fire rings at the campground.

Reservations: It is not possible to reserve a spot at Gulpha Gorge Campground. All sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. It is important to register before setting up camp and you can only pay with a credit or debit card.

Wildlife: Hot Springs National Park is home to thousands of species, including black bears, white tailed deer, coyotes, and bats. Although it’s unlikely that you’ll see a bear at the campground, be sure to secure all of your food items in a car or bear canister. The most common animal you’ll encounter in the summertime is the mosquito, so pack the bug spray!

Website: Gulpha Gorge Campground

A white tailed deer, seen while camping at Hot Springs National Park.
White tailed deer are common in Hot Springs National Park. Photo courtesy of NPS/Mitch Smith.

Campgrounds Near Hot Springs National Park

From rustic to resort-like, there are plenty of great camping options near Hot Springs National Park to suit every style and budget. In this section, you’ll find our recommendations for the best campgrounds within a 35-minute drive from the National Park.

Hot Springs KOA

# of sites: 70

Type: RV, Tent, Cabins

Fees: $30/night (Tent), $40-$75/night (RV), $75-$140/night (Cabin)

Distance to Hot Springs National Park: 4 miles ( 7-minute drive)

Amenities:

  • Toilets/Showers
  • Communal kitchen
  • Laundry
  • Water/Electric hookups (50 amp max)
  • WiFi
  • Pool
  • Snack bar
  • Games
  • Shuttle to Hot Springs National Park

Pets: Yes, must be kept on leash.

Fires: Permitted in designated fire pits. Firewood is available for purchase at the campground.

Reservations: Recommended. Reservations can be made HERE.

Website: Hot Springs National Park KOA

Bar Fifty RV Park and Horse Camp

# of sites: 57

Type: Tent, RV, Bunkhouse

Fees: $15 (Tent), $32 (RV)

Distance to Hot Springs National Park: 20 miles (35-minute drive)

Amenities:

  • Toilets/Showers
  • Potable Water
  • Water/Electric hookups
  • Picnic tables
  • Horse pens

Pets: Yes.

Fires: Yes

Reservations: Recommended for busy weekends/holidays. Can be made HERE.

Website: Bar Fifty RV Park and Horse Camp

Lake Ouachita State Park

# of sites: 93

Type: Walk-in tent, Tent, RV, Cabin

Fees: $14/night (Tent), $36/night (RV w/hookups), $200-$250 (Cabin)

Distance to Hot Springs National Park: 15 miles (25-minute drive)

Amenities:

  • Toilets/Showers
  • Potable water
  • Water/sewer/electric (50 amp) hookups (Class AAA sites)
  • Picnic tables
  • Barbeques
  • Gift shop in Visitor’s Center
  • Boat rentals

Pets: Yes, must be kept on leash.

Fires: Yes, in designated areas.

Reservations: Recommended. There is a two-night minimum for weekend reservations and a three-night minimum for holidays. Reservations can be made HERE.

Website: Lake Ouachita State Park

Charlton Recreation Area

# of sites: 52

Type: Tent, RV, Group

Fees: $15/night (tent sites), $25/night (Single RV sites w/hookups), $40/night (Double RV sites w/hookups), $40/night (Group tent site)

Distance to Hot Springs National Park: 22 miles (35-minute drive)

Amenities:

  • Flush toilets/Showers
  • Potable water
  • Picnic tables
  • Barbeques and fire pits
  • Tent/trailer pad
  • Swimming area
  • Water/Electric hookups (Loops B & C)
  • Dump Station

Pets: Yes, must be kept on leash.

Fires: Yes, in designated areas.

Reservations: N/A. All sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Website: Charlton Recreation Area

Lake Catherine State Park

# of sites: 76

Type: Tent, RV, Yurt, Cabins

Fees: $13/night (primitive tent sites), $23/night (Class B sites), $36/night (class AAA sites), $58/night (yurt), $100/night (cabins)

Distance to Hot Springs National Park: 13 miles (20-minute drive)

Amenities:

  • Flush toilets/Showers
  • Potable water
  • Picnic tables
  • Barbeques and fire pits
  • Tent/trailer pad
  • Marina/Boat Rentals
  • Water/Electric hookups

Pets: Yes, must be kept on leash.

Fires: Yes, in designated areas.

Reservations: Highly recommended. Reservations can be made HERE.

Website: Lake Catherine State Park

RV Camping near Hot Springs National Park
There are plenty of great options for both RV and tent camping near Hot Springs National Park.

Dispersed Camping Near Hot Springs National Park

The hands-down best place for dispersed camping near Hot Springs National Park is in Ouachita National Forest. This incredible wilderness area encompasses 1.8 million acres and includes Arkansas’ largest lake, Lake Ouachita.

The Forest Service offers this advice about camping in Ouachita National Forest:

“…[P]rimitive camping is allowed almost anywhere in the Ouachita National Forest unless there is a sign stating otherwise, or it is a wildlife food plot. Located throughout the Forests are areas that have been campsites for many years. These are located along roadsides, trails, mountain tops, or near streams.”

For easy access to Hot Springs National Park, camp in the southeastern part of Ouachita National Forest. The Jessieville-Winona-Fourche Ranger District and Caddo/Womble Ranger District are both good options. If you are feeling adventurous, head towards Ouachita via US-270W or AR-298W, and choose a series of dirt roads to follow to seek out a camp spot once inside the forest.

Those looking for a little more guidance can check out the recommendations on this website.

Always follow National Forest Guidelines and Leave No Trace Practices when dispersed camping.

Dispersed Camping near Hot Springs National Park
Dispersed camping near Hot Springs National Park is a peaceful and free option.

Ouachita National Forest

# of Sites: Varies

Type: Primitive (some spaces can accommodate RVs, but no hookups)

Fees: Free

Distance to Hot Springs National Park: Varies (likely about an hour+ drive)

Amenities:

  • None
  • Water should be filtered before drinking from lakes or streams.
  • There may be a recreation area nearby with water/bathrooms, and necessities are available in some towns within 30-minutes’ drive.

Pets: Yes

Fires: Yes

Reservations: N/A

Website: Ouachita National Forest

Tent Camping Hot Springs National Park

Conclusion

Whether you’re enjoying the modern comforts of an RV Resort or adventuring into the wilderness to find that perfect dispersed campsite, you’ll be well-situated to make the most of all that Hot Springs National Park has to offer. We hope this guide helps you spend less time planning and more time in the great outdoors. Got any questions or tips to share? Leave them in the comments below.

Happy Camping!

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The Complete Guide to Camping in Everglades National Park

Everglades National Park is one of America’s largest and most unique national parks. Covering an area of over 1.5 million acres, the Everglades preserves a truly unique ecosystem. Located in…

Everglades National Park is one of America’s largest and most unique national parks. Covering an area of over 1.5 million acres, the Everglades preserves a truly unique ecosystem. Located in southern Florida, the park protects incredibly biodiverse landscapes including freshwater sloughs, mangrove forests, pine forests, marine and tidal estuaries, and more. We think the best way to experience this one of a kind environment is to spend a few nights under the stars camping in Everglades National Park. 

The Everglades have some truly unique options for your next camping trip. There are two developed campgrounds located in the national park, beach campsites, backcountry ‘chickee’ campsites and nearby RV sites. Needless to say, whichever type of camping trip in Everglades National Park you’re planning they’ll be a great option for you.

Keeping reading to get all the details to plan your perfect camping trip in Everglades National Park.

Tent in the Flamingo Campground in Everglades National Park

Flamingo Campground, Everglades National Park. Photo Credit NPS/Rodney Cammauf

 

In this Post

 

Everglades National Park Campgrounds

There are two developed campgrounds located within Everglades National Park. Both campgrounds are located along State Highway 9336, the main road through the national park, and are easily accessed from the Miami area. To reach either campground you’ll pass through the Homestead Entrance and have the option to visit the Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center.

The map below gives you a general sense of where each of these campgrounds are located in Everglades National Park as well as their relation to the surrounding area. 

Map of campgrounds in Everglades National Park.

Campgrounds in Everglades National Park. Map courtesy of NPS. (Click to enlarge)

 

The Flamingo Campground in Everglades National Park is open year round, although you’ll find it is much less crowded during the summer off-season. This is for good reason and camping in the summer in the Everglades can be unbearable!

The Lone Pine Key Campground is only open during the peak season, generally from November through the first part  of May.

Peak season for camping in the Everglades is from December – April, during South Florida’s dry season. During this time you’ll have the best chance for sun, milder temperatures, and avoid the mosquito swarms that are typical during the summer months.

Keep reading to learn more about reserving your campground in Everglades National Park.

Reservations & Permits

Reservations for the campgrounds in Everglades National Park are recommend, but depend on which campground you are considering:

  • Lone Pine Key Campground only accepts reservations for the campsites that allow RVs and does not accept reservations for any of the tent sites, which are made available on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Flamingo Campground accepts reservations for RV campsites and drive-in tent campsites, but does not accept reservations for the 38 walk-in tent sites.

While neither of the two campgrounds in Everglades National Park require advance reservations, we highly recommend making one for any time during the peak season, generally December – April. The last thing you want is to pack up all of your camping gear only to arrive at a full campground!

Unlike many of the national parks, reservations for the Lone Pine Campground and Flamingo Campground are not managed through Recreation.gov. Instead, Flamingo Adventures, a private ‘concessioner’ of the National Park Service, operates both of these campgrounds. To make a reservation at either campground, visit their website below:

Reservations for Everglades National Park Campgrounds can be made here via Flamingo Adventures

RVs in the Lone Pine Key Campground, Everglades National Park.

Expect both campgrounds in Everglades National Park to be full during peak season. Photo credit NPS.

 

For those interested in exploring the vast wilderness on offer in the Everglades, a wilderness permit is required. Permits can be obtained from either the Flamingo Visitor Center, located in the far south area of the park, or the Gulf Coast Visitor Center, located at the northwest entrance to the park.

Wilderness permits can only be obtained the day before or the day of your planned departure. This makes it very important to have flexible plans for your backcountry trip in the Everglades, as there is no way to ensure your preferred campground will be available.

Our best advice? Get there early and have a few options in mind! The rangers at the permit desks are also very knowledgeable and can often suggest excellent alternative itineraries.

Permits cost $15 + $2/person per day.

Learn more about wilderness camping in Everglades National Park in this section.

 

Frontcountry & Car camping sites

There are two ‘frontcountry’ campgrounds located in Everglades National Park: Flamingo Campground and Lone Pine Key Campground. Both are located along State Highway 9336 and provide camping options for tents and RVs. Full details for both of these excellent campgrounds are below.

Lone Pine Key Campground

Number of Sites: 108 individual (up to 6 people) and 1 group site (up to 15 people)
Fee: $25/night for individual sites, $35/night for the group site
RVs: Yes. No electric or water hookups available, but a dump station is available.
Reservations: Recommended for RV sites. Tent sites are first-come, first-served.
More Information
Click Here to Reserve

Entrance to the Lone Pine Key Campground

Lone Pine Key Campground. Photo credit NPS.

 

The Lone Pine Key Campground is the smaller and more basic of the two campgrounds located in Everglades National Park. It is also the first campground you’ll reach when entering the national park from the Homestead Entrance. Lone Pine Key is open seasonally from November – early-May. The campground is located adjacent to the Long Pine Key trail, so is a great place to spend the night prior to exploring the trail.

Lone Pine Key features 108 individual campsites that can accommodate up to 6 people each as well as one group site for up to 15 people. Reservations can be made for the RV sites at the campground, but all of the tent-sites are first-come, first-served. The RV campsites do not have any water or electric hookups, but there is a dump station at the campground.

The campground features cold water showers and each campsites comes with a picnic table, fire pit, and grill stand. There is also a small lake adjacent to the campground where fishing is permitted, but do not swim as alligators are known to frequent the area.

Pine trees behind water on the Long Pine Key Trail in Everglades National Park

The Long Pine Key Trail starts at the Lone Pine Key campground. Photo credit NPS/Denise Diaz.

 

Flamingo Campground

Number of Sites: 157 sites
Fee: $25 – $45/night depending on hookups
RVs: Yes.
Reservations: Recommended for RV/drive in tent sites. Walk-in tent sites are first-come, first-served.
More Information
Click Here to Reserve

Tents set up at the Flamingo Campground in the Everglades

Flamingo Campground, Everglades National Park. Photo credit NPS/Rodney Cammauf.

The Flamingo Campground is the largest and most popular in the Everglades. The campground is located at the far southern tip of the national park and features drive-in RV and tent sites as well as walk-in tent sites on the Florida Bay. In addition, the campground also features ‘eco-tents’ which are small “safari style” canvas tents that include electricity, fans, and a small deck to sit on. Eco-tents can be reserved with or without a bed.

View a map of the Flamingo Campground here. 

Eco-tents at the Flamingo campground

Eco-tents at the Flamingo Campground. Photo credit NPS/Dylann Turffs.

 

We highly recommend reserving your RV site well in advance for the peak season as the Flamingo Campground is known to fill up. RV sites are available with or without electricity and there is potable water and a dump station available at the campground. Drive in tent sites are available in addition to the walk-in sites that are along the Florida Bay. For the walk-in campsite you’ll have to park your car and then walk your camping setup out to your site. Well worth it for a campsite on the Bay!

All campsites feature a picnic table, fire ring, and grill stand or fire grate.

The campground is near the Christian Point Trail and the Coastal Prairie Trail making it a great place to spend the night before exploring the area.

RVs parked at the Flamingo Campground in Everglades National Park

Photo credit NPS/Rodney Cammauf.

 

Looking for more campgrounds near the Everglades? Check out this section!

 

Backcountry & Wilderness campsites in the Everglades

Exploring the backcountry wilderness of Everglades National Park is an experience like no other. Rather than setting out on a hiking trail, most visitors to the Everglades wilderness rely on canoes, kayaks, or other small boats to access the backcountry. This will reward backcountry campers with solitude, quiet, and an opportunity to immerse themselves in this spectacular ecosystem.

Wilderness camping in the Everglades is best done during the winter (December – March) as temperatures are much more moderate and you’re likely to encounter clearer weather. Only a hardy few will brave the backcountry during the summer, as the heat, humidity, and mosquitos can be unbearable. Plan ahead accordingly!

Backcountry campers should plan to bring all of the potable water they need with them on their trip. Drinking water can be scarce to non-existent in the backcountry so plan to bring at least 1 gallon per person per day. The National Park Service recommends sturdy containers to prevent wildlife from getting your water. This means no plastic gallon containers!

With the right plan in place you’re sure to have a great trip in the backcountry of Everglades National Park. Learn everything you need to know to place your trip below.

Kayak on the beach in Everglades National Park

Exploring the backcountry in Everglades National Park. Photo credit NPS.

 

Everglades Wilderness Campsites

Backcountry campers are required to stay at one of the 45 designated wilderness campsites located throughout the park. The campsites consist of beach sites along the Gulf of Mexico, ground sites situated on islands or other land areas, and “Chickees”, platform campsites that sit above the water.

All of the campsites within the national park have specific limits for the number of people, number of groups, and number of tents that are permitted at a specific campsite. Beach sites tend to have the largest capacity, up to 60 people in some cases, while single Chickee sites can often only accommodate up to 6 people.

The National Park Service has an excellent table listing all of the wilderness campsites in the Everglades and their capacity here. You can view a map of all of wilderness campgrounds in the Everglades below:

Map of wilderness campsites in Everglades National Park

Map of wilderness campsites in Everglades National Park. Map courtesy of NPS. (Click to enlarge)

 

More details on each type of campsite in Everglades National Park are below:

Everglades Beach Campsites

Beach campsites in Everglades National Park are primarily located along the Gulf Coast. Beach campsites can accommodate up to 60 people (!), although there are smaller, more secluded sites available. These campsites do not have potable water sources or bathrooms, so be prepared to bring all of the water you’ll need and properly dispose of human waste. Campfires are generally allowed at beach campsites as long as they are located below the high-tide line.

Tent and Kayak on the beach in Everglades National Park

Beach campsite in Everglades National Park. Photo credit NPS.

 

Everglades Ground campsites

Ground campsites are exactly what they sound like: wilderness campsites located on solid ground within the park. These campsites are located on small islands, inland areas, and other places where the ground is stable enough to support a campsite. Campfires are not allowed at ground campsites in the Everglades.

Pinelands in Everglades National Park

Ground campsite are mostly located in the interior of the Everglades. Photo credit NPS/Caitlin Rivas.

 

Everglades Chickees

Chickees are the most unique campsite option in the Everglades. These campsites are located over water and consist of a 10′ x 12′ wooden platform with an attached porta-pottie. Many of the chickee sites contain two platforms connected by a walkway to the bathroom. You’ll need to be sure to bring a free standing tent, as there is no way to stake a tent on a chickee. Campfires are not allowed at chickee campsites and visitors will also want to be sure to bring a rope to secure their water craft while camping.

Chickee campsite in Everglades National Park.

A chickee campsite in the Everglades. Photo credit NPS.

 

Everglades Wilderness Camping Permits & Regulations

All backcountry campers in Everglades National Park are required to obtain a wilderness permit prior to starting their trip. During the peak season (November – April) permits can be obtained in person at the Gulf Coast Visitor Center or Flamingo Visitor Center. During the off season (May – October) permits can be obtained via self-registering at either of the visitor centers above. When obtaining a permit for a wilderness trip in the Everglades there are a few important things to keep in mind:

  • Permits cost $15 +$2/person per night in the peak season. Permits are free in the off season.
  • Permits can only be obtained up to 24 hours prior to your trip.
    • This means you may not be able to reserve your preferred campsite. Always have a backup plan!
  • Campsites have varying capacity for the number of groups, tents, and people. Be sure your planned campsite can accommodate your group.
  • Plan to arrive as early as possible to secure permits during peak season. You’ll have a better chance of getting your preferred campsite.

Mangrove in Everglades National Park.

Wilderness permits are required for backcountry camping in the Everglades. Photo credit NPS/Brian Call.

 

Wilderness Camping trips in Everglades National Park

As you’re planning your wilderness camping trip in Everglades National Park you’ll want to spend some time thinking about your planned route. While there are countless options, the  most popular trip is described below:

Everglades Wilderness Waterway

The Everglades Wilderness Waterway is a 99-mile route that traverses the national park via canoe, kayak, or small boat. The route connects Flamingo, FL with Everglades City, FL and is the most famous backcountry adventure in the Everglades. Expect the trip to take anywhere from between 10 – 14 days if traveling by kayak or canoe.

This is a serious undertaking so be sure you are up to the challenge and check out these helpful resources below:

Canoe on the Everglades Wilderness Waterway.

Exploring the Everglades wilderness. Photo credit NPS.

 

For those who are in search of a more mellow outing, don’t be dissuaded. There are plenty of easier overnight trips into the Everglades wilderness that don’t require two weeks of paddling! Your best bet is consult the Wilderness Trip Planner and to talk to one of the rangers at the Everglades National Park Visitor Centers to learn what might be a good option for you.

 

Everglades National Park Camping Must Know

The following sections contain all the basic information you need to ensure you have a great time camping in Everglades National Park. First a few basics:

  • Be sure you know the maximum group size allowed at your planned campsite. 
  • Practice Leave No Trace principles at all of the campsites within the Everglades.
  • You are not permitted to camp in Everglades National Park for more than 30 days/year. During peak season from November 1st – April 1st you are not allowed to camp in the Everglades for more than 14 consecutive days.

Fires

Campfires are permitted at both of the developed campgrounds (Flamingo and Lone Pine Key) in Everglades National Park. Your fire must be contained in the provided fire pit and should not be left unattended at any time. Always be sure your campfire is completely put out before going to bed or leaving your campsite.

In the backcountry, campfires are only permitted on the beach campsites. Here, fires must be located below the high-tide line. You are permitted to use wood that is already down or dead, but do not cut live wood in the national park for your fire.

Campfire in Everglades National Park.

 

Wildlife

Everglades National Park is renowned for its incredible wildlife that inhabits the park. This unique ecosystem hosts an incredible diversity of fauna, and as such it is important to minimize your impact on this ecosystem. For campers, there are a few specific species that you’ll want to be aware of, outlined below:

  • Raccoons: While raccoons are certainly not the first animal that comes to mind when thinking about the Everglades, they are one of the most pesky for wilderness campers. Raccoons are known to steal water and food of wilderness campers so be sure you’ve properly stored both while camping.
  • Vultures: Vultures are native to the Everglades, but are known to cause problems for visitors and campers alike. They are attracted to rubber parts and pieces on automobiles, tents, and campers, and have been known to cause quite a bit of damage. The park service will provide visitors with a free tarp and bungee cords to protect your vehicle or camper. Learn more here.
  • Alligators & Crocodiles: The quintessential wildlife of the Everglades, alligators and crocodiles are found throughout the park. These creatures will generally leave campers and visitors alone, but it always pays off to be vigilant. More important, please be respectful of their habitat as they are a keystone species in the Everglades.

Alligator swimming in Everglades National Park

 

Pets

Pets are only allowed in specific areas of Everglades National Park. They are allowed at both of the developed campgrounds in the national park, along park roads, in areas near park facilities, and on private boats.

Pets are not allowed in the wilderness or backcountry in Everglades National Park.

If you plan to bring your pet to the Everglades, please observe these regulations:

  • Pets must be kept of a leash at all times
  • Please pick up your pet waste.
  • Always practice Leave No Trace principles.

A full description of regulations surrounding pets in the Everglades can be found here.

Where to get supplies

Given the remote nature of Everglades National Park, it is important to stock up on camping supplies prior to your trip. The best place to stock up on camping supplies will depend on which section of the park you plan to camp in. We’ve broken down your best bets by entrance stations below:

  • Homestead Entrance (Lone Pine Key & Flamingo Campgrounds)
    • Homestead, FL: The Homestead Entrance is used by campers staying at the two developed campgrounds in the Everglades. A short, 20-minute drive from the entrance station is the town of Homestead, FL. Here you’ll find everything you need to prepare for a camping trip including grocery stores, gas stations, and a fishing shop.
  • Miami Entrance (wilderness camping)
    • Miami, FL: The Miami Entrance to Everglades National Park doesn’t see many campers, as there are few wilderness campgrounds in this area of the park. However, it is the closest to the major metropolis of Miami where you’ll find any and all services you may need for your camping trip.
  • Everglades City Entrance (wilderness camping) 
    • Everglades City, FL: The Everglades City Entrance is commonly used by wilderness campers and is the traditional starting point of the Everglades Wilderness Waterway. Here you’ll find gas stations, a grocery store, and a few fishing shops. For other needs you’ll have to head to Naples, an approximate 45 minute drive from the entrance station.

Camping near Everglades National Park

Given the popularity and scarcity of options, it is always possible that you won’t be able to find a campground within Everglades National Park. However, don’t give up as there are plentiful camping options just outside the National Park boundary!

Many of these nearby campgrounds can be found in Big Cypress National Preserve, located just north of Everglades National Park. Big Cypress covers an area of over 700,000 acres and features eight developed campgrounds to choose from.  Check out your options for camping in Big Cypress National Preserve below.

Big Cypress National Preserve Campgrounds

Big Cypress National Preserve is located just north of Everglades National Park and is managed by the National Park Service. The preserve protects thousands of acres of cypress swamps and is an important ecosystem that has a symbiotic relationship with the Everglades.

Sunset in Big Cypress National Preserve

Big Cypress National Preserve provides excellent camping options near the Everglades. Photo credit NPS.

 

Of the eight campgrounds in the preserve four of them are available on a first-come, first-served basis, while the others are reservable via Recreation.gov. The map below gives you a general sense of where each of these campgrounds are located in Big Cypress National Preserve as well as their relation to the Everglades. 

Map of campgrounds in Big Cypress National Preserve

Map of the campgrounds in Big Cypress National Preserve. Map courtesy of NPS. (Click to enlarge)

As you look at the map above, note that Everglades National Park is located to the south (towards the bottom of the map), so a few of the campgrounds are much closer to the Everglades. The most convenient for visiting the Everglades are: Burns Lake, Monument Lake, Midway, Pinecrest, and Mitchell Landing. Details for all the campgrounds in Big Cypress National Preserve are below:

Bear Island Campground

Number of Sites: 40 sites
Fee: $10/night
RVs: Yes, no hookups available
Reservations: All sites first-come, first-served.
More Information

Bear Island is a basic campground located in the northern section of Big Cypress National Preserve. Reservations are not available for Bear Island and all campsites are first-come, first-served. The campsites features pit toilets and does not have running water or hookups. 

View a map of the Bear Island Campground here. 

Burns Lake Campground

Number of Sites: 15 sites (5 tent sites + 10 RV sites)
Fee: $24/night
RVs: Yes, no hookups available.
Reservations: Recommended.
Click Here to Reserve
More Information

The Burns Lake Campground is centrally located along State Highway 41. It is the closest campground to the Everglades City entrance to the national park, making it a great option for those looking to explore Everglades National Park. The campground is basic and features 15 campsites, 10 of which can accommodate RVs. There is no water available at the campground, although there is an RV dump station.

Reservations can be made for the Burns Lake Campground via Recreation.gov here.

View a map of the Burns Lake Campground here. 

Gator Head Campground

Number of Sites: 9 sites (tents only)
Fee: $10/night
RVs: No.
Reservations: All sites first-come, first-served.
More Information

The Gator Head Campground is located in the northern section of Big Cypress and is not very convenient to the national park. At Gator Head you’ll find a basic campground with only 9 sites. The campground can only accommodate tents, so no RVs are permitted. There is no potable water and all sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Midway Campground

Number of Sites: 36 sites (10 tent sites + 26 RV sites)
Fee: $24/night for tent sites, $30/night for RV sites
RVs: Yes, electric hookups available.
Reservations: Recommended.
Click Here to Reserve
More Information

The Midway Campground is one of the largest campgrounds in Big Cypress National Preserve and is well located for visiting the Everglades. The campground has 36 campsites, 26 of which can accommodate RVs and provide electrical hookups. The campground has drinking water, restrooms, and a RV dump station.

Reservations can be made for the Midway Campground via Recreation.gov here.

You can take a virtual tour of the Midway Campground via Google Maps here

Mitchell Landing Campground

Number of Sites: 11 sites
Fee: $24/night
RVs: Yes, no hookups available.
Reservations: All sites first-come, first-served.
More Information

The Mitchell Landing Campground is a basic campground located near the Shark Valley Visitor Center in the Everglades. The campground has 11 first-come, first-served campsites and provides vault toilets. There is no drinking water available at Mitchell Landing, so plan to bring all the water you’ll need for your stay.

Monument Lake Campground

Number of Sites: 36 sites (10 tent sites + 26 RV sites)
Fee: $24/night for tent sites, $28/night for RV sites
RVs: Yes, no hookups available.
Reservations: Recommended.
Click Here to Reserve
More Information

The Monument Lake Campground features 36 campsites, 26 of which are designated for RVs. However, there are no RV hookups available at the campground. Monument Lake does not have any potable water or a dump station, so it is important to plan accordingly. The campground is well located for visiting the Everglades, as it is just off State Highway 41.

Reservations can be made for the Monument Lake Campground via Recreation.gov here.

Pinecrest Campground (Group Campground)

Number of Sites: 4 group sites
Fee: $30/night
RVs: No.
Reservations: Required.
Click Here to Reserve
More Information

The Pinecrest Group Campground is well located for visiting the Everglades, but is reserved for groups up to 15 people. The campground only has four sites, and all require advance reservations. There is no drinking water available and there are also no restrooms at the campground.

Reservations can be made for the Pinecrest Group Campground via Recreation.gov here.

Pink Jeep Campground

Number of Sites: 9 sites
Fee: $10/night
RVs: No.
Reservations: All sites first-come, first-served.
More Information

Pink Jeep Campground is located in the northern section of Big Cypress National Preserve. This is a basic campground, and requires an off-road vehicle to reach. There is no potable water available at Pink Jeep, although there are vault toilets.  Reservations are not available for Pink Jeep and all campsites are first-come, first-served.

 

RV campgrounds near the Everglades

Those camping in an RV will have plenty of options just outside Everglades National Park. RV campgrounds are conveniently located near all of the entrances to the national park. We’ve outlined your best bets for RV camping near the Everglades below.

RVs camped near Everglades National Park

There are plenty of RV campgrounds near Everglades National Park. Photo credit NPS.

 

Florida City Campsite and RV Park

Number of sites: Plenty!
Fee: $35/night
Capacity: None Stated.
RVs: Yes.
Reservations: Recommended.
Pets: Allowed.
More Information

The Florida City Campsite and RV Park is located in the Florida City/Homestead Area. This small campground is well located for those entering the Everglades via the Homestead Entrance Station, which is only a 20 minute drive from the campground.

The campground provides free WiFi, access to laundry facilities, and tons of nearby amenities.

View the Florida City Campsite & RV Park in Google Maps here.

 

Miami Everglades RV Resort

Number of sites: 471
Fee: $45 – $80/night depending on hookups & RV size.
Capacity: None stated.
RVs: Yes.
Reservations: Recommended. Click here to reserve.
Pets: Allowed.
More Information

The Miami Everglades RV Resort is a huge campground located in southwest Miami. The campground is close to both the Homestead and Shark Valley entrances to the national park. Here you’ll find a plethora of amenities that are sure to please even the most picky campers! Amenities include a clubhouse, laundry facilities, swimming pool, mini golf, WiFi and much more.

The Miami Everglades RV Resort can accommodate tents up to large RVs, so nearly every camper should be just fine here.

View the Miami Everglades RV Resort in Google Maps here.

Trail Lakes Campground

Number of sites: Plenty!
Fee: $30 – $50 depending on site/hookups.
Capacity: 4 – 8 people depending on site.
RVs: Yes, water and electric hookups available.
Reservations: Recommended. Click here to reserve. 
Pets: Allowed.
More Information

The Trail Lakes Campground is located in Ochopee, FL and is only 15 minutes from the Gulf Coast Visitor Center. This is a well regarded campsite and can accommodate everything from tents to large RVs. Sites come with a variety of electric hookup options and vary in price from $30 – $50/night. This is a family-owned campground and gets great reviews for the friendly staff.

View the Trail Lakes Campground in Google Maps here.

Chokoloskee Island Park

Number of sites: Plenty!
Fee: $59 – $69/night depending on season.
Capacity: None stated.
RVs: Yes, up to 30′. Full hookups available.
Reservations: Recommended. Click here to reserve.
Pets: Allowed.
More Information

The Chokoloskee Island Park Campground is located on Chokoloskee Island, just a few minutes from the Gulf Coast Visitor Center. This is a unique campground that provides the opportunity to stay on a small island adjacent to the Everglades. Chokoloskee Island Park can accommodate tents and RVs up to 30′ in length, and each site has water, sewer and electric hookups available.

Amenities include a marina store, clubhouse with tv, WiFi, a full kitchen, book exchange, and a beautiful pavilion right on the water.

View the Chokoloskee Island Campground in Google Maps here.

Have a great trip!

That’s it! We hope you’ve found all of the information on camping in Everglades National Park in this post helpful and we know you’ll find the perfect campsite for your upcoming adventure! Be sure to let us know in the comments below if you have any questions or had a great time out camping!

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The Complete Guide to Camping in Indiana Dunes National Park

Indiana Dunes National Park is one of America’s newest national parks, having been designated as a national park in 2019. Located along the shores of Lake Michigan in northeast Indiana,…

Indiana Dunes National Park is one of America’s newest national parks, having been designated as a national park in 2019. Located along the shores of Lake Michigan in northeast Indiana, the park covers over 15,000 acres with Indiana Dunes State Park fully enclosed within the national park’s boundaries. We think the best way to experience everything the Indiana Dunes have to offer is by spending a few nights sleeping under the stars in your tent or RV. You’ll get experience this incredible environment first hand!

Indiana Dunes National Park and the surrounding areas (including the Indiana State Park of the same name) have plenty of options to suit all types of campers. From the more rustic Dunewood Campground within the national park, to the campground located within Indiana Dunes State Park, and nearby full service campgrounds, you’ll be spoiled for options.

Keep reading to get all the details to plan your perfect camping trip in Indiana Dunes National Park.

Dunefield in the Indiana Dunes national park.

Exploring the sand dunes is just one reason to camp at Indiana Dunes National Park.

 

In this Post

Indiana Dunes National Park Campgrounds

The first step in planning your perfect camping trip to the Indiana Dunes is to understand a bit about the geography of the national park and surrounding area. Indiana Dunes National Park is unique in that the park is not located in one contiguous land mass like most national parks. Rather, it exists in several smaller parcels along the shore of Lake Michigan as well as inland. Indiana Dunes State Park is located entirely within the national park boundaries, another unique geographical feature. See the map below to get a better understanding of the geography of Indiana Dunes National Park.

Map of campgrounds in Indiana Dunes National Park

Indiana Dunes National Park campground and Indiana Dunes State Park. (Click to enlarge)

 

All of this is a benefit for those looking to camp at the Indiana Dunes given that there are campgrounds located within the national park and state park, giving you plenty of options.

The peak season for camping in the Indiana Dunes is from May – September, and the Dunewood Campground located within Indiana Dunes National Park is open seasonally from April 1st – November 1st. The Indiana Dunes State Park campground is open year round, but be sure you’re RV has heat if you’re planning a camping trip in the off season!

Reservations & Permits

Reservations are highly recommended for the Dunewood Campground in Indiana Dunes National Park. While they are not required, the campground is full during the majority of the peak summer season. For that reason, we highly recommend securing your campsite reservation in advance.

Reservations for the Dunewood Campground in Indiana Dunes National Park can be made here via Recreation.gov

You can reserve a campsite at the Dunewood Campground up to 6 months in advance. Availability for the upcoming season is typically released starting in mid-November and campsites can be reserved starting at 10 ET for the date six months out. If you’re hoping to secure a site for a popular weekend be sure you’re ready to book as soon as campsites are made available!

For the campground located in Indiana Dunes State Park reservations are also highly recommended. These sites are open year round and can be reserved through the State of Indiana website here.

Campground at Indiana Dunes National Park

Expect campgrounds at the Indiana Dunes to be full during busy summer weekends. Photo credit NPS.

 

Car camping sites

The Dunewood Campground is the only campground available in Indiana Dunes National Park. Details for this excellent campground are below:

Dunewood Campground

Number of Sites: 67 sites (13 campsites are tent camping only)
Fee: $25/night
Capacity: 8 people per site
RVs: Yes. No hookups available, but potable water and a dump station are available.
More Information
Reservations: Required during peak season and for equestrian sites. First-come, first-served during off-season
Click Here to Reserve

Tent at the Dunewood Campground

The Dunewood Campground in Indiana Dunes National Park.

 

The Dunewood Campground is located in the northern portion of Indiana Dunes National Park and features 67 campsites. From the campground it is an approximate 5-minute drive or 30-minute walk to the Lake View Beach on Lake Michigan and the campground is set back in a beautiful, forested environment. The campground is also close to the Great Marsh Trail and Observation Deck, a unique walking trail that explores the wetland ecosystem.

Map of the Dunewood Campground in Indiana Dunes National Park.

Map of the Dunewood Campground. Map courtesy of the NPS.

 

The majority of the sites can accommodate RVs, although 13 of the sites are set aside for tent camping only. There are no hookups available, but there is potable water and a dump station. Dunewood also features public restrooms and showers.

A unique aspect of the Dunewood Campground is the fact that it can be easily reached by train, not something many National Park campgrounds can attest to! The Beverly Shores train stop is located just a few steps from the campground!

View of Lake Michigan from the Indiana Dunes.

 

Indiana Dunes State Park Campgrounds

If the Dunewood Campground is full or if you prefer to have some additional amenities, the nearby Indiana Dunes State Park Campground is a great option. Check out all the details below.

Indiana Dunes State Park Campground

Number of Sites: 141 sites, 3 of which are reserved for non-profits/groups
Fee: $23 – $30/night depending on hookups
Capacity: 6 people per site
RVs: Yes, many sites up to 55′.
More Information
Reservations: Required during peak season and for equestrian sites. First-come, first-served during off-season
Click Here to Reserve

Campground at Indiana Dunes State Park

The Indiana Dunes State Park Campground is located a short walk from the beach.

 

The Indiana Dunes State Park Campground is centrally located within the state park. Since the state park is surrounded by Indiana Dunes National Park, you’ll be perfectly located for exploring all this area has to offer. Unlike the Dunewood Campground, the Indiana Dunes State Park Campground is located just a short walk from the lake shore. There is also a small camp store at the campground selling essentials.

The campground is perfectly located for anyone interested in hiking Mt. Tom, as the trail leaves from the campground.

Reservations are recommended at the Indiana Dunes State Park Campground during the peak summer season.  The campsites can accommodate tents as well as RVs and most sites feature electric hookups. The campgrounds provides plenty of restrooms and also features showers.

View a map of the Indiana Dunes State Park Campground here.

The campground also features three ‘youth’ campsites located away from the main campground. These campsites, known as the Nissaki Youth Tent Area are provided for youth based non-profit groups. These are not reservable by the general public.

Dunes at Indiana Dunes State Park near the campground.

 

Indiana Dunes National Park Camping Must Know

The following sections contain all the basic information you need to ensure you have a great time camping in Indiana Dunes National Park. First a few basics:

  • The Maximum group size for individual campsites is eight people. There are no group campgrounds in Indiana Dunes National Park.
  • Ensure you’re tent/RV is on pavement or the tent pad at all times.
  • Pets must be on a leash at all times.
  • You are not permitted to camp in Indiana Dunes National Park for more than 14 days in a 30-day period.
  • No fireworks.

Fires

Campfires are permitted at the Dunewood Campground in Indiana Dunes National Park provided it is within the provided fire grate. Your campfire should never be left unattended and always be sure it is completely out before walking away. It is also important to ensure that wood brought to the National Park is properly sourced, as firewood can often introduce invasive pests.

It is also worth noting that you should not gather any firewood or try to cut down any trees within Indiana Dunes National Park.

Campfire at Indiana Dunes National Park.

Campfires are permitted at Indiana Dunes National Park.

 

Wildlife

Indiana Dunes National Park is home to an abundance of wildlife. The intersection of wetlands, sand dunes, and Lake Michigan creates a diverse ecosystem that is home to birds, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals. For those camping in Indiana Dunes National Park there are a few important considerations related to wildlife in the park. Campers should be aware of the following:

  • Coyotes: The Indiana Dunes are home to a sizeable population of coyotes. While you’re unlikely to encounter these on any given visit to the national park, it is important to keep your food properly stored to avoid providing the coyotes with an easy meal.
  • Raccoons: Similar to coyotes, raccoons will happily feast on any food left unattended at your campsite. Be sure to properly store all food to avoid encouraging wildlife to enter campgrounds.
  • Birds: Indiana Dunes National Park hosts an incredible diversity of bird species. According to the National Park Service over 350 unique bird species visit the park each year!

You can learn more about the wildlife in Indiana Dunes National Park here. 

Pets

Indiana Dunes National Park generally allows pets in the national park. However, there are a few regulations that you need to be sure and follow. If you plan to bring your pet on your Indiana Dunes camping trip, be sure to adhere to the following:

  • Pets must be on a leash at all times – this includes on the beach and in the water!
  • Pets are allowed within campgrounds
  • Pets are not allowed on the following trails: Pinhook Bog Trail and the equestrian portion of the Glenwood Dunes Trail.
  • Pets are not allowed at the West Beach lifeguard area from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
  • Pets are not allowed in park buildings.

See the National Park Service map below to get a sense of where pets are prohibited in the Indiana Dunes.

Map of pet areas in Indiana Dunes National Park

Map of pet regulations in Indiana Dunes National Park. Pets are not allowed in the red areas. Map courtesy of NPS. (Click to enlarge)

 

For a complete list of regulations related to pets check out the Indiana Dunes National Park website here.

 

Where to get supplies

Stocking up on camping supplies before your trip to Indiana Dunes National Park couldn’t be easier. The park’s urban location provides for tons of nearby amenities that are sure to have everything you need for your trip. Your best options are listed below:

  • Michigan City, IN: Michigan City is located just a few miles north along the lake shore from Indiana Dunes National Park. You’ll find everything you need here to stock up for your camping trip including grocery stores, liquor stores, and gas stations.
  • Portage, IN: Portage is located south of the national park along I-94. While not the most convenient place to stop prior to your camping trip, there is a well stocked Bass Pro Shops located here. This will be your best bet for any camping equipment you may have forgotten.
  • Dunes Highway: The Dunes Highway (State Highway 12) cuts right through the national park and runs past the Dunewood Campground. At the intersection with Broadway (the entrance to the Dunewood Campground) you’ll find a gas station, small camp store, and the Goblin & Grocer diner. This is the most convenient for basic needs in the national park.

Bird flying near Michigan City, Indiana

 

Camping near Indiana Dunes National Park

Given the popularity of Indiana Dunes National Park and the fact there is only a single campground in the park, it is always possible that you won’t be able to secure a campsite. However, don’t give up as there are plentiful camping options just outside the National Park boundary! Check out your best options below:

RV campgrounds near Indiana Dunes

Those camping in an RV will have plenty of options just outside Indiana Dunes National Park. Check out all of your options below.

RV campground near the Indiana Dunes

 

Lake Shore Camp Resort

Number of sites: 115 campsites
Fee: $37 – $64/night depending on hookups and time of year.
Capacity: Rates are based on five people per campsite.
RVs: Yes, up to 40′.
Reservations: Recommended. Visit website here
Pets: Allowed
More Information

The Lake Shore Camp Resort is located south of  Indiana Dunes National Park in the town of Portage, IN. A 15 minutes drive from the national park, the Lake Shore Camp Resort is convenient for those coming from Chicago, as it sits just of I-94. Here you’ll get access to free WiFi, a nice picnic area, laundry facilities, and a game room.

Lake Shore Camp Resort can accommodate RVs and trailers up to 40′ in length.

Woodland Village Campground

Number of sites: Plenty!
Fee: $40/night with discounts for longer stays.
Capacity: None stated.
RVs: Yes
Reservations: Recommended. Visit website here or call (219) 762-6578
Pets: Allowed
More Information

The Woodland Village Campground is located just 15-minutes south of the Indiana Dunes. This site is a bit smaller than some of the other options in the area and get great reviews for the friendly staff. The campground has plenty of amenities including WiFi, laundry facilities, a small camp store, and over the air TV.

The site is well set-up for those traveling in a RV as all of the sites have full electric and water hookups.

Sand Creek Campground

Number of sites: Plenty!
Fee: $30 – $90/night depending on hookups.
Capacity: None stated.
RVs: Yes
Reservations: Recommended. Call (219) 926-7482
Pets: Allowed
More Information

The Sand Creek Campground is located south of the Indiana Dunes and is only a 15 minute drive from the national park. Sand Creek offers campsites that can accommodate large RVs with full hookups as well as a few campsites that are tent only.

Amenities include a swimming pool, WiFi, and laundry facilities.

Michigan City Campground

Number of sites: Plenty!
Fee: $40 – $55/night depending on hookups.
Capacity: Prices based on 4 people/campsite. Additional people $5/night.
RVs: Yes
Reservations: Recommended. Visit website here
Pets: Allowed
More Information

The Michigan City Campground is located in, you guess it, Michigan City, IN. The campground is very well located for those interested in visiting Indiana Dunes National Park as the campground is only a 10 minute drive from the park. The campground has tons of options to suit all camping styles including sites with full hookups, sites that can accommodate full size RVs, and tent camping only sites.

Amenities at the Michigan City Campground include a swimming pool, playground, WiFi access, laundry facilities, and a small camp store.

Car camping sites

If you’re after car camping sites near Indiana Dunes National Park you’ll have at least one good option. In addition to the campground listed below, car camping is permitted at all of the campgrounds listed in the RV camping section above. Keep reading below to see what your best bet is for car camping near the Indiana Dunes.

Tent near the Indiana Dunes

 

Sunset Hill Farm Campground

Number of sites: 6 campsites.
Fee: $15/night
Capacity: None stated.
RVs: No.
Reservations: Recommended. Call 219-465-3586 to make a reservation.
Pets: Allowed
More Information

The Sunset Hill Farm Campground is located south of Indiana Dunes National Park in Valparaiso, IN. From here, it is an approximate 25 minutes drive to the national park. Sunset Hill is perfect for those looking to camp in their tent, as no RVs are permitted. The campsites are more rustic and are all walk-in only. Each campsite has a fire pit and picnic table as well as access to basic toilets. There is no trash service at Sunset Hill, so you’ll need to pack out your own trash.

There is no potable water at Sunset Hill Farm Campground, so plan to bring all that you’ll need.

Free camping near the Indiana Dunes

Unlike many national parks, Indiana Dunes is not located near other public land. This limits your options for free camping near Indiana Dunes National Park as there is no BLM, Forest Service, or other public land that allows dispersed camping in close proximity.

However, there is always the possibility of spending the night in a Walmart parking lot!

While certainly not the most glamourous, the Walmart in Michigan City, IN does allow overnight parking. You’ll need to stay in your car/RV (no tents), but at least you’ll have a place to park overnight!

Check out the reviews on FreeCampsites.net for more information.

Have a great trip!

That’s it! We hope you’ve found all of the information on camping in Indiana Dunes National Park in this post helpful and we know you’ll find the perfect campsite for your upcoming adventure! Be sure to let us know in the comments below if you have any questions or had a great time out camping!

Waves on Lake Michigan

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The Complete Guide to Camping in Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park is one of America’s most unique national parks. Located in southeastern California, the park covers nearly 800,000 acres and includes two distinct deserts: the Mojave Desert…

Joshua Tree National Park is one of America’s most unique national parks. Located in southeastern California, the park covers nearly 800,000 acres and includes two distinct deserts: the Mojave Desert and the Colorado Desert. These beautiful desert landscapes provide the stunning backdrop for the park’s namesake Joshua treeWe think the best way to experience everything Joshua Tree has to offer is to spend a few nights sleeping under the stars (which are spectacular by the way!) in your tent or RV and experiencing this incredible environment firsthand.

Joshua Tree National Park and the surrounding areas have plentiful options for camping. From the nine campgrounds located within the national park, tons options for backcountry camping, and nearby campgrounds ranging from RV sites to dispersed camping on BLM lands you’ll be spoiled for options.

Keeping reading to get all the details to plan your perfect camping trip in Joshua Tree National Park.

Sunset in Joshua Tree

Enjoying the stunning sunsets in just one reason to camp in Joshua Tree National Park.

 

In this Post

Joshua Tree National Park Campgrounds

There are nine established campgrounds within Joshua Tree National Park. The majority of these are located in the north-west portion of the park with the Cottonwood Springs Campground the lone exception located in the south of the park. These campgrounds are all accessed via one of the three entrance stations to Joshua Tree, located on the west, north, and south of the national park.

The map below gives you a general sense of where each of these campgrounds are located in Joshua Tree National Park as well as their relation to the surrounding area. 

Map of campgrounds in Joshua Tree National Park

Campgrounds in Joshua Tree National Park. Map courtesy of NPS. (Click to enlarge)

 

Campgrounds in Joshua Tree are generally open year round, although they are sometimes closed during the hottest days of the summer. Peak season for camping in Joshua Tree is from October – May, when temperatures are more moderate. Keep reading to learn more about reserving your campground in Joshua National Park.

Reservations & Permits

Six of the campgrounds in Joshua Tree National Park require advance reservations during the peak camping season from the end of August through the first part of June. This includes Indian Cove, Black Rock, Cottonwood, Jumbo Rocks, Ryan and Sheep Pass Campgrounds. Note that the Ryan Campground recently transitioned to a reservation system during the peak season.

The remaining campgrounds of White Tank, Belle, and Hidden Valley do not accept reservations and are available on a first-come, first-served basis throughout the year.

Camping in the park is very popular during the peak season, so we highly recommend making a reservation in advance if at all possible. If  you’re hoping to land one of the first-come, first-served campgrounds during peak season be sure to arrive early as they are very difficult to snag!

Campground in Joshua Tree National Park

Expect campgrounds in Joshua Tree to be full during peak season.

 

During the summer off-season from May-September all of the campgrounds are available on a first-come, first-served basis. The exception to this are the group campsites located at Indian Cove, Cottonwood, and Sheep Pass which require reservations year round. Keep in mind that campgrounds can close during the hottest weather of the summer and many of the campgrounds operate under reduced capacity, so you can expect that there will be fewer campsites available.

To make a reservation for the campgrounds in Joshua Tree National Park you’ll need to visit the Recreation.gov website, which manages campground reservations for the National Park Service.

Reservations for Joshua Tree National Park Campgrounds can be made here via Recreation.gov

For those planning to explore Joshua Tree National Park by foot there are countless opportunities for backcountry camping in the park. There is no permit or reservation required for backpacking in Joshua Tree, but you are required to register any overnight visit at one of the 13 backcountry registration boards in the park. This ensure the NPS and park rangers know who is in the backcountry at any given time. Learn more about backcountry camping in Joshua Tree in this section.

Car camping sites

There are nine unique campgrounds for those looking to car camp in Joshua Tree National Park. These campgrounds vary in size and proximity to different areas of the park and are sure to provide plenty of options for your perfect camping trip in Joshua Tree. Details for all nine campgrounds are below.

Belle Campground

Number of Sites: 18 sites
Fee: $15/night
RVs: Yes. No hookups available.
More Information
Reservations: First-come, first-served

Campsite at the Belle Campground in Joshua Tree.

Belle Campground, Joshua Tree National Park. Photo credit NPS.

The Belle Campground has only 18 campsites, making it ideal for those looking for a quieter experience in Joshua Tree. The campground is located a short drive from the north entrance to the national park and is recommended for its tremendous star gazing. It is located adjacent to the California Hiking and Riding Trail so makes a great place to spend the night before exploring this beautiful trail.

The campground does not accept reservations, so it is a great option if you end up planning a camping trip in Joshua Tree but aren’t able to secure a campsite in advance. The majority of the campsites here can only accommodate a few tents, but there are several that would be suitable for RVs up to 35′.

There is no running water at the Belle Campground so be sure to bring all the water that you’ll need for your stay with you. The campground does have trash and recycling facilities and drop toilets. The campsites all feature a picnic table, fire ring, and grill.

Night sky from the Belle campground

The Belle Campground is the perfect place to take in the stunning night sky in Joshua Tree.

 

Black Rock Campground

Number of Sites: 99 sites, include 20 equestrian sites
Fee: $25/night
RVs: Yes, up to 35′. No hookups available, but potable water and a dump station are available.
More Information
Reservations: Required during peak season and for equestrian sites. First-come, first-served during off-season
Click Here to Reserve

A tent in Black Rock Campground in Joshua Tree National Park

Black Rock Campground in Joshua Tree National Park. Photo credit NPS/Hannah Schwalbe

 

The Black Rock Campground is one of the larger campgrounds in Joshua Tree and is easily accessed given its located just on the edge of the national park. Located only a few miles from the town Yucca Valley, CA in the northwest corner of the park, Black Rock Campground is perfect for those looking for convenience and ease of access. Black Rock Campground has multiple hiking trails that leave directly from the campground including the California Hiking and Riding Trail, High View Trail, and Warren Peak.

Reservations are required at the Black Rock Campground during the peak season from the end of August through the beginning of June. Outside of this season the campsites are first-come, first-served with the exception of the 20 equestrian sites which require a reservation year round. The campsites accommodate tents as well as RVs up to 35′. A bonus for RV campers is that there is potable water and a dump station nearby.

Black Rock does receive some negative reviews for noise, but this tends to come with the larger sites in any national park.

Joshua Tree hiking trail

There are tons of hiking trails that leave from the Black Rock Campground.

 

Cottonwood Campground

Number of Sites: 62 sites, including 3 group sites (15 – 25 people depending on site)
Fee: $25/night for individual sites, $40/night for group sites
RVs: Yes, up to 35′. No hookups available, but potable water and a dump station are available.
More Information
Reservations: Required during peak season and for group sites. First-come, first-served during off-season.
Click Here to Reserve Individual sites
Click Here to Reserve Group sites

Cottonwood Campground in Joshua Tree National Park

Cottonwood Campground in Joshua Tree National Park. Photo credit NPS/Kurt Moses.

 

The Cottonwood Campground is perfect for those looking to explore the southern section of Joshua Tree National Park. The campground is convenient for those coming from I-10 or any of the towns south of the park and is a just a short drive from the southern entrance station. Cottonwood is the perfect jumping off point for visiting the Lost Palms Oasis, as the trail leaves from the campground.

Reservations are required at the Cottonwood Campground during the peak season from the end of August through the beginning of June. Outside of this season the campsites are first-come, first-served with the exception of the 3 group sites which require a reservation year round. The campsites accommodate tents as well as RVs up to 35′. There is potable water and a dump station at the campground, a big convenience in the dry desert!

Cottonwood Campground also has a beautiful amphitheater where you can check out a ranger presentation and learn a bit more about Joshua Tree.

Palm tree in Lost Palm Oasis Joshua Tree

A visit to Lost Palms Oasis is highly recommended for those staying at the Cottonwood Campground. Photo credit NPS/Robb Hannawacker.

 

Hidden Valley Campground

Number of Sites: 44 sites
Fee: $15/night
RVs: Yes, up to 25′. No hookups available.
More Information
Reservations: First-come, first-served

Camper van at the Hidden Valley Campground in Joshua Tree

Hidden Valley Campground is perfect for tents and small camper vans. Photo credit NPS/Hannah Schwalbe.

 

The Hidden Valley Campground is located in the heart of Joshua Tree National Park. The campground is on the smaller side with 44 campsites, all of which are available on a first-come, first-served basis throughout the year. The campground is located near the Hidden Valley Nature Trail as well as several popular climbing spots in Joshua Tree.

The campsites at Hidden Valley are smaller than what you’ll find at many of the other campgrounds in Joshua Tree. This is great for car campers as you’ll feel a bit more secluded, but it does limit the size of RVs that can be accommodated to 25′. It is important to note that there is not potable water at the Hidden Valley Campground so you’ll need to plan on bringing all the water you’ll need with you.

Sunset in Hidden Valley

Exploring Hidden Valley in Joshua Tree is a highlight for many. Photo credit NPS/Hannah Schwalbe.

 

Indian Cove Campground

Number of Sites: 101 sites, including 13 group sites (15 – 60 people depending on site)
Fee: $25/night for individual sites, $35 – $50/night for group sites
RVs: Yes, up to 35′ for the majority of sites. No hookups available.
More Information
Reservations: Required during peak season and for group sites. First-come, first-served during off-season.
Click Here to Reserve Individual sites
Click Here to Reserve Group sites

Tents at the Indian Cove Campground

The Indian Cove Campground in Joshua Tree National Park. Photo credit NPS/Lian Law.

 

The Indian Cove Campground is located in the northern section of Joshua Tree National Park and just a short drive from either Joshua Tree Village or Twentynine Palms. Indian Cove is located along a dead end road within the park, just north of the famous Wonderland of Rocks and also near the Boy Scout Trail. The campground is perfect for climbers, with tons of pitches near the campsite to explore. 

Reservations are required for all the campsites at Indian Cove during peak-season in Joshua Tree, and are always required for the 13 group sites. Outside of the peak season, individual campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. The sites accommodate tents and RVs up to 35′. The group sites at Indian Cove can accommodate between 15 – 60 people depending on the site, so are a great option for those looking for camping options for a larger group in Joshua Tree.

There is no water available at the campground, so plan to bring in what you plan to use. The campsites all provide picnic tables and fire rings and the campground features pit toilets.

Keep an eye out for the elusive Desert Tortoise when staying at the Indian Cove Campground as they are known to frequent the area!

Wonderland of Rocks in Joshua Tree National Park.

Wonderland of Rocks, Joshua Tree National Park. Photo credit NPS/Brad Sutton.

 

Jumbo Rocks Campground

Number of Sites: 124 sites
Fee: $20/night
RVs: Yes, up to 35′. No hookups available.
More Information
Reservations: Required during peak season. First-come, first-served during off-season.
Click Here to Reserve

Tent in the Jumbo Rocks Campground

Jumbo Rocks Campground in Joshua Tree National Park. Photo credit NPS/Hannah Schwalbe.

 

Centrally located to many of Joshua Tree’s main attractions, the Jumbo Rocks Campground is one of the most popular in the park. Situated along the main road through Joshua Tree and just south of Twentynine Palms, Jumbo Rocks provides for a quintessential Joshua Tree camping experience. The campground is nestled within an iconic Joshua Tree landscape of beautiful boulders, Joshua Trees, and stunning desert surroundings.

During peak season from late-August to early-June reservations are required for the Jumbo Rocks Campground. As with the other campgrounds within Joshua Tree, the sites are first-come, first-served outside of this timeframe. Jumbo Rocks campsites feature picnic tables and fire grates and all have access to vault toilets. There is no potable water available at the campground, so be sure to bring what you plan to use.

Many reviews note that mice can sometimes be a nuisance at Jumbo Rocks, so be sure you’ve securely stored your food and cleaned up after any meals.

Criss Cross Rock in Joshua Tree

Classic Joshua Tree rock formations near the Jumbo Rocks Campground. Photo credit NPS/Robb Hannawacker.

 

Ryan Campground

Number of Sites: 32 sites, including 4 equestrian and 3 bicycle campsites.
Fee: $20/night
RVs: Yes. No hookups available.
More Information
Reservations: Required during peak season. First-come, first-served during off-season.
Click Here to Reserve

Ryan Campground

Ryan Campground, Joshua Tree National Park. Photo credit NPS/Hannah Schwalbe.

 

The Ryan Campground is one of the smaller campground in Joshua Tree National Park with just 32 campsites. The campground is very well located with easy access to several excellent hiking trails from the campground. This includes the California Riding and Hiking Trail and the Lost Horse Mine Loop Trail, as well as access to some excellent climbing spots.

The Ryan Campground has recently transitioned from being available on a first-come, first-served system throughout the year to now requiring a reservation during the peak season from the end of August to first part of June. The four equestrian sites at the Ryan Campground require a reservation year round.

The campsites at the Ryan Campground all feature picnic tables, fire rings, and grills. There is not a water source at the campground, so be sure to bring all that you’ll need. 

California Riding and Hiking Trail

Access to the California Riding and Hiking Trail from the Ryan Campground. Photo credit NPS/Brad Sutton.

 

Sheep Pass Group Campground

Number of Sites: 6 group sites (20 -25 people per site)
Fee: $50/night
RVs: Not permitted.
More Information
Reservations: Required.
Click Here to Reserve

Tents at the Sheep Pass campground

Sheep Pass Campground is perfect for larger groups. Photo credit NPS.

 

Perfect for larger groups, the Sheep Pass Campground is centrally located in Joshua Tree National Park. The campground has 6 sites and can accommodate groups size of between 20-25 people depending on the site. Reservations are required for the campsites year-round and can be made through Recreation.gov. An excellent hiking trail leaves directly from the campground and climbs to the top of Ryan Mountain.

The campsites all feature fire pits, grills, and picnic tables. RVs are not allowed at Sheep Pass, so if you’re planning a group camping trip with an RV you’ll need to check out one of the other group sites in Joshua Tree. The campground does not have potable water, so be sure to bring what you need. 

Ryan Mountain trail sign

The hike to the top of Ryan Mountain leaves directly from the Sheep Pass Campground. Photo credit NPS.

 

White Tank Campground

Number of Sites: 15 sites
Fee: $15/night
RVs: Yes, max 25′ length. No hookups available.
More Information
Reservations: First-come, first-served

Sign for the White Tank Campground

The White Tank Campground in Joshua Tree National Park. Photo credit NPS/Hannah Schwalbe.

 

The smallest campground in Joshua Tree National Park, White Tank Campground is located along Pinto Basin Road south of Twentynine Palms, CA. The campground provides excellent access to the Arch Rock Trail and California Riding and Hiking Trail.

White Tank Campground is available on a first-come, first-served basis throughout the year. This makes it a great option for a last minute camping trip in Joshua Tree. RVs are welcome at White Tank, although the maximum length is 25′ and there are no hookups available.

As with many of the campsites in Joshua Tree, White Tank does not have any potable water available. However, campsites do feature picnic tables, fire grates, and basic grills. The White Tank Campground is also a great location for stargazing, so be sure to bring those telescopes!

Arch Rock Trail sign

The Arch Rock Trail starts in the White Tank Campground. Photo credit NPS.

 

Backcountry camping in Joshua Tree National Park

For those looking to get off the beaten path, backcountry camping in Joshua Tree National Park is the perfect adventure. The nearly 800,000 acres in Joshua Tree National Park provide countless opportunities for backpacking and backcounty camping, provided you follow the national park guidelines and are prepared for this unique environment. Learn everything you need to know to plan a backpacking trip in Joshua Tree National Park below.

Backcountry camping in Joshua Tree National Park

Be sure you are prepared before venturing into the Joshua Tree backcountry.

 

Backcountry Camping Registration

The first thing you must know when planning a backcountry trip in Joshua Tree is that you’ll need to register your trip at one of the 13 backcountry boards located throughout the national park. By registering, you’re letting the NPS and rangers know about your trip length, approximate camping locations, and who is in your group should something go wrong.

We can’t overemphasize how important this step is! If something were to go wrong, it is essential that the Park Service has this information about your trip. Check out the list and map below for locations of the 13 backcountry registration boards in Joshua Tree.

Backcountry registration boards are located at:

  • Black Rock Canyon
  • Cottonwood Spring
  • Covington
  • Geology Tour
  • Indian Cove
  • Juniper Flats
  • Keys West
  • North Entrance
  • Pine City
  • Pleasant Valley
  • Porcupine Wash
  • Turkey Flats
  • Twin Tanks

These locations are shown on the map below (click to enlarge):

Map of backcountry camping registration boards in Joshua Tree National Park.

Joshua Tree National Park has 13 backcountry registration boards. Map courtesy of NPS. (Click to enlarge)

 

Each of the 13 registration boards provide access to different trails and parts of the park. Be sure to check out the NPS website here to get a sense of the different trails that each registration board has access to. In addition, you are welcome to leave your car overnight at the registration boards.

Backpacking trails in Joshua Tree National Park

As you’re planning your backcountry camping trip in Joshua Tree you’ll want to spend some time thinking about which trail you’ll plan on hiking and your planned route. While there are countless options, two of the most popular trails are listed and described below:

California Riding and Hiking Trail
The California Riding and Hiking Trail is an approximately 37-mile trail that crosses a huge swath of Joshua Tree National Park. The trail is typically completed over 2 – 4 days starting in the west at the Blackrock Campground and finishing at the north park entrance.

The route is a point-to-point hike meaning you’ll have to shuttle a car between the start and finish to ensure you have transportation back to where you started. One of the big perks of the California Riding and Hiking Trail is how often it visits campgrounds and crosses park roads. This makes it easy to cache water along the trail, which you’ll definitely want to do.

Check out this excellent guide from Hikingguy.com for detailed information.

Boy Scout Trail/Willow Hole Trail
The Boy Scout Trail is an approximate 8 mile hiking trail that connects from just north of the Indian Cove Campground to Park Boulevard adjacent to the Quail Spring Picnic Area in the south. The hike can be extended into an overnight backpacking trip by taking the Willow Hole Trail, a 2.2 mile out and back to Willow Hole.

Backpacking site in Joshua Tree

 

Where to camp in the Joshua Tree Backcountry

Unlike many other national parks, there are no designed backcountry campsites in Joshua Tree National Park. Rather, backpackers are asked to camp on durable surfaces, camp away from other groups, camp an adequate distance from roads, and not camp in day-use only areas. The full list of regulations is below:

  • Do not camp within 1 mile of a park road
  • Do not camp within 500 ft. of a trail or water source
  • Do not camp in day-use only areas (these will be marked)
  • Camp at least 1 mile from any trailheads
  • Limit your group size to the smallest possible.

In practice, this means you should seek out a secluded campsite that is on a durable surface. Rocks and sandy washes make perfect backcountry campsites in Joshua Tree. Please be very careful not to camp or hike on the ‘living soil’ in Joshua Tree. This can be recognized by the dark crust that forms on top of the soil and should be avoided to help protect this sensitive ecosystem.

Joshua Trees in front of mountain landscape.

 

Caching food and water in the Joshua Tree backcountry

Given the lack of water in this fragile desert environment, backcountry campers are permitted to cache food and water in the Joshua Tree backcountry. Caching simply means that you’ll store a supply of food or water somewhere along your planned route. This is incredibly important as you won’t be able to carry all of the water you’re likely to need. Plan on at least 3 liters of water per person per day for backpacking trips in Joshua Tree. Here are a few tips for caching food and water:

  • Plan out your route and caching locations ahead of time
  • Contact the NPS to get a sense of where a good caching location may be for your preferred route
  • Mark your cache with your name, trip dates, and contact information
  • Caches can be left for up to 14 days

You’ll want to store your cache somewhere that is out of the way, but still easy for you to find. We highly recommend utilizing a GPS app on your phone, such as Gaia GPS, in order to record a waypoint for the location of your cache.

Backcountry water cache

Caching water is essential for any backpacking trip in Joshua Tree National Park.

 

Joshua Tree National Park Camping Must Know

The following sections contain all the basic information you need to ensure you have a great time camping in Joshua Tree National Park. First a few basics:

  • The Maximum group size for individual campsites is six people, three tents, and two vehicles. Note that not all campsites can accommodate this many people/cars.
  • Do not attach any type of rope to the vegetation in Joshua Tree. This means no camping hammocks!
  • You are not permitted to camp in Joshua Tree for more than 30 days/year. Of these, only 14 days may be within the peak season from late-September to early-June.

Fires

Fires are generally permitted at the nine developed campgrounds within Joshua Tree National Park. The fire must be contained within the provided fire pit/grate or grill and should never be left unattended. It is also important to ensure that any wood you bring into the park is properly sourced, as firewood can introduce invasive pests that can cause irreparable damage.

Do not gather any wood from the national park!

Campfires are not allowed in the backcountry of Joshua Tree, so if you’re planning a backpacking trip be sure to bring a camp stove.

Campfire in Joshua Tree National Park.

 

Wildlife

A highlight for many visits to Joshua Tree is the chance to encounter some of the incredible wildlife that calls the park home. The desert adaptations of many of these animals are truly incredible and it is important to limit your impact on their fragile ecosystem. Most animal life is active during the night, although you’re likely to encounter lizards, plenty of birds, a possibly a few mammals during the day. Campers should be especially aware of the following in Joshua Tree:

  • Ground squirrels: This is mammal you are most likely to encounter on a camping trip in Joshua Tree. Be sure to securely store all food, especially in the backcountry to limit your impact.
  • Snakes: Joshua Tree is home to a wide variety of desert snake species. Snakes are most active at night, but be sure to always be scanning the trail for them. For backcountry campers you’re biggest danger is twisting an ankle in a snake hole or burrow!
  • Birds: Joshua Tree National Park has a very active population of birds. Keep an eye out for the iconic roadrunner!

Learn more about the wildlife in Joshua Tree here.

A roadrunner in Joshua Tree National Park

A roadrunner in Joshua Tree National Park. Photo credit NPS/Hannah Schwalbe.

 

Pets

Joshua Tree National Park strikes a nice balance when it comes to bringing pets along on your trip. Pets are permitted at all of the developed campgrounds throughout the park, but are not allowed in the backcountry or on any hiking trails. 

If you do plan on bringing you pet with you, please follow these regulations:

  • Pets must be on a leash at all times
  • Pets are allowed within campgrounds, on park roads, and in picnic areas
  • Pets are not allowed in park buildings, on trails, or in the backcountry

Given the hot desert environment it is important to take proper precautions when bringing a pet to Joshua Tree. This includes bringing plenty of water for them and ensuring their paws do not get burned on the hot ground.

For a complete list of regulations related to pets check out the Joshua Tree National Park website here.

 

Where to get supplies

Stocking up on camping supplies before your trip to Joshua Tree is an important part of trip planning. It is especially important to be sure you’re well equipped with plenty of water given the lack of water sources in the national park. Luckily, there are several towns near all of the Joshua Tree National park entrances, making it easy to get supplies prior to your camping trip. Check out your options below:

  • North Entrance
    • Twentynine Palms: Twentynine Palms serves as the northern gateway to Joshua Tree National Park. It is a short drive from the North Entrance station and provides easy access to the Belle, Jumbo Rocks, White Tank, and Indian Cove campgrounds.  Twentynine Palms has most of the essentials you’ll need to stock up for your camping trip including a grocery store, liquor store, and gas station. The nearest outdoor store is in Joshua Tree Village.
  • West Entrance
    • Joshua Tree Village: Joshua Tree Village is located a few miles north of the West Entrance Station. From here you’ll have easy access to Hidden Valley, Ryan, and Sheep Pass campgrounds. Joshua Tree has a small health food store, gas station, and an outdoor shop. For more services you’ll want to head to Yucca Valley.
    • Yucca Valley: West of Joshua Tree Village, Yucca Valley is the largest town on the north side of Joshua Tree National Park. You’ll travel through Yucca Valley to reach the Black Rock Campground. Yucca Valley has multiple grocery stores and gas stations.
  • South Entrance
    • Indio, CA: Located a 30 minute drive from the Cottonwood Entrance Station on the south side of Joshua Tree National Park, Indio has tons of services. Here you’ll find everything you’ll need to stock up for a camping trip in Joshua Tree including grocery stores, gas stations, and outdoor stores.

Palm trees in Indio, California.

 

Camping near Joshua Tree National Park

Spending a few nights camping in Joshua Tree National Park is an experience not to be missed. However, the popularity of of camping in Joshua Tree means it is possible that you won’t be able to find a campground within the national park. Don’t let that deter you, though, as there are plenty of camping options outside of Joshua Tree National Park. Check out your best bets below.

RV campgrounds near Joshua Tree National Park

Those camping in an RV will have plenty of options just outside Joshua Tree National Park. Most of the RV campgrounds are located in the Palm Springs area, which provides convenient access to the national park. There is also a good option on the northern side of Joshua Tree for those looking for a great RV campground. Learn more below.

RV parked near Joshua Tree

 

Palm Springs/Joshua Tree KOA Campground

Number of sites: Plenty!
Fee: $30 – $60/night
Capacity: Sites accommodate up to 8 people
RVs: Yes, up to 90′.
Reservations: Recommended. Visit website here
Pets: Allowed
More Information

The Palm Springs/Joshua Tree KOA is located just north of Palm Springs in Desert Hot Springs, CA. This large site is well located for a visit to Joshua Tree and approximately 50 minutes from both the southern and western entrance stations. Here, you’ll find all the amenities that are typical of a KOA including a pool, dog park, mini golf, playground, and fitness room.

The Palm Springs/Joshua Tree KOA can also accommodate RVs up to 90′ in length, so nearly every camper should fit just fine.

 

Palm Springs RV Resort

Number of sites: 401
Fee: $50 – $80/night depending on season
Capacity: None stated.
RVs: Yes
Reservations: Recommended. Visit website here
Pets: Allowed
More Information

The Palms Springs RV Resort is located just off of I-10 in Palm Desert, CA. This is an excellent location for those looking to explore the southern section of Joshua Tree National Park as the campground is only 30 minutes from the southern entrance station.

The campground is large, with over 400 campsites that can accommodate RVs of all lengths. Here you’ll get access to a pool, WiFi, a playground, dog park, and much more.

 

Twentynine Palms RV Resort

Number of sites: 168
Fee: $47/night
Capacity: Max of 5 people per site
RVs: Yes
Reservations: Recommended. Visit website here
Pets: Allowed
More Information

Twentynine Palms RV Resort is well located just a short drive from the northern entrance station to Joshua Tree. Every site at Twentynine Palms features electricity, water, and sewer hookups. The campground has tons of amenties as well, including a pool, fitness room, and small shop selling camping supplies.

Highly recommended!

 

Joshua Tree Lake RV & Campground

Number of sites: Plenty!
Fee: $30 – $50/night depending on hookup size
Capacity: Price is for two adults. Additional guests are $10/night
RVs: Yes
Reservations: Recommended. Visit website here
Pets: Allowed
More Information

Joshua Tree Lake RV & Campground is one of the closest RV campgrounds to the national park located just 20 minutes from the western entrance station in Joshua Tree Village. This independently run campground gets great review for its location and small pond. You won’t find the same amenities here as you’ll get at the other options (no pool!), but you will get a quieter site with tremendous views.

 

Little Pioneertown RV Campground

Number of sites: Plenty!
Fee: Call to inquire. (760) 362-2163
Capacity: None stated.
RVs: Yes
Reservations: Recommended. Visit website here
Pets: Allowed
More Information

Little Pioneertown RV Campground is located north of Joshua Tree National Park in Yucca Valley, CA. From here, you’re only a 20 minute drive from the western entrance station making this a great option for those interested in exploring the northern section of the park.

All sites at this campground feature electricity, water, and sewer hookups although you won’t find the same amenities as some of the other RV campgrounds listed above.

Car camping sites near Joshua Tree National Park

If you’re looking for car camping sites near Joshua Tree National Park you’ll have a few good options to choose from. In addition to the campgrounds listed below, car camping is permitted and recommend at all of the campgrounds listed in the RV camping section above.  Keep reading below to see what your best bets are for car camping near Joshua Tree.

Car camping near Joshua Tree

There are plenty of options for car camping near Joshua Tree National Park.

 

Mt. San Jacinto State Park State Park

Number of Sites: Idyllwild (28 sites) and Stone Creek (44 sites)
Fee: Varies, but plan on between $15 – $45/night depending on the campground and hookups.
Capacity: 8 people per campsite.
RVs: Yes.
Reservations: Required. Visit website here. 
Pets: Allowed.
More Information

Mt. San Jacinto State Park is located to the west of Palm Springs and between 1 – 1.5 hours from Joshua Tree National Park. Here, you’ll find two developed campgrounds perfect for pitching your tent. The Mt. Jacinto area stands in stark contrast to the desert landscape of Joshua Tree. Here you’ll be immersed in a high altitude mountain environment surrounded by pine trees.

The two developed campgrounds in Mt. San Jacinto State Park, Idyllwild and Stone Creek, both can accommodate tents and small RVs up to 24′. While not as close to Joshua Tree National Park as some of the other RV parks in the area, you’ll find a more basic campground that has a wilderness feel.

Dispersed campsites near Joshua Tree National Park

Your final option for camping near Joshua Tree National Park is to find a free, dispersed campsite on adjacent Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land located both north and south of the national park. This land is overseen by the BLM which manages hundreds of thousands of acres of public land throughout the country and generally allows for ‘dispersed camping’ on it. You can find more information on dispersed camping on BLM land here.

A free dispersed campsite on BLM land north of Joshua Tree National Park.

Free dispersed camping is available near Joshua Tree National Park on BLM land.

 

The two camping areas below are both overseen by the Barstow Field Office of the BLM, so be sure to contact them with any questions.

North Joshua Tree Dispersed Camping

Located a short drive from the western entrance to Joshua Tree, the BLM land located north of the national park is a popular free campground near Joshua Tree National Park. The camping area is between Joshua Tree Village and Twentynine Palms, giving you access to plenty of services in these two towns.

To get to this area you’ll take Highway 62 (the Twentynine Palms highway) to Sunfair Road. Turn north on Sunfair Rd and continue to Two Mile Road. Turn east here and continue until the road ends. Click here for directions.

The camping area is located on a dry lake bed and there is plenty of space to accommodate all campers. Given that this is not an established campsite, there is no water available and fires are not allowed. Please be sure to practice Leave No Trace principles when camping here.

As always, Freecampsites.net also has good information on the North Joshua Tree Dispersed camping area.

South Joshua Tree Dispersed Camping

The dispersed camping area located on the south side of Joshua Tree National Park is located just off of Cottonwood Springs Road. This location couldn’t be better if you’re looking to explore the southern section of the park, as you’re mere minutes from the Cottonwood entrance station. The campsites are located just north of I-10, giving you easy access to Indio for supplies.

To get here, take I-10 to Cottonwood Springs Road and head north towards Joshua Tree National Park. After approximately 1 mile of driving along Cottonwood Springs Road you’ll begin to see campsites located to the west. Click here for directions.

There is no water available here and the campsites do not have any services. Check out the Freecampsites.net description for more information.

Have a great trip!

That’s it! We hope you’ve found all of the information on camping in Joshua Tree National Park in this post helpful and we know you’ll find the perfect campsite for your upcoming adventure! Be sure to let us know in the comments below if you have any questions or had a great time out camping!

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