The Complete Guide to Camping in Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef National Park in southern Utah preserves an incredible landscape and history. This beautiful and unique national park features stunning canyons, red rock cliffs, and the geologic wonders known…

Capitol Reef National Park in southern Utah preserves an incredible landscape and history. This beautiful and unique national park features stunning canyons, red rock cliffs, and the geologic wonders known as the Waterpocket Fold and Cathedral Valley. Capitol Reef is is named after the large sandstone formations that evoke the capitol domes founds in statehouses across the country.

The park is also incredibly remote, making it the perfect place to do some serious stargazing. In fact, Capitol Reef has been designed as an international dark sky parkGiven all that, we think the best way to experience all that Capitol Reef National Park has to offer is by spending the night in your tent or RV where you’ll experience this beautiful landscape first hand.

Capitol Reef National Park and the surrounding areas have camping options to suit any style. From the national park’s lone developed campground, free primitive campgrounds for those with an adventurous spirit, and endless opportunities for backcountry camping, you’re sure to find the perfect campsite for your next trip to Capitol Reef.

In addition to the campgrounds within the national park you’ll also find great options for RV,  car camping, and tons of free dispersed camping just outside the Capitol Reef National 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 Capitol Reef National Park

Rock formation in Capitol Reef

The stunning rock formations are just one reason to camp in Capitol Reef National Park.

 

In this Post

 

Capitol Reef National Park Campgrounds

Capitol Reef National Park occupies a long and narrow section of Utah’s canyon country. The park is approximately 60 miles long from north to south, but is only a few miles wide for much of its length. This naturally splits the park into northern and southern districts, with remote terrain separating the two sections.

The main access to Capitol Reef is from Utah State Highway 24, which cuts east-west across the park’s northern district. The vast majority of visitors will arrive on this highway and head to Fruita, the main hub of activity in Capitol Reef National Park.

Temple of the sun and moon in Cathedral Valley

Explore Cathedral Valley by camping at the Cathedral Valley primitive campground in Capitol Reef.

 

There is a single developed campground in Capitol Reef, located in Fruita. In addition to the Fruita Campground there are also two ‘primitive’ campgrounds in the park. These are well-located for exploring the different districts of Capitol Reef, with the Cathedral Valley Campground located in the northern district and the Cedar Mesa Campground located in the southern district.

In addition to these designated campgrounds Capitol Reef is also home to vast backcountry wilderness open to camping that can be accessed by foot. Given the unforgiving landscape of Capitol Reef, these campgrounds are only for the experienced and prepared backcountry camper.

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

Map of campgrounds in Capitol Reef National Park

Campgrounds in Capitol Reef National Park. Map courtesy of NPS. (Click to enlarge)

 

All of the campgrounds in Capitol Reef, with the exception of the Fruita Group Campsite, are open year round making a trip any time of year possible. However, keep in mind that it may be difficult to reach the Cathedral Valley and Cedar Mesa campgrounds during inclement weather.

Keep reading to learn more about reserving your campground in Capitol Reef National Park.

Reservations & Permits

The developed Fruita Campground in Capitol Reef accepts reservations from March 1st – October 31st each year. Campsites here are reserved through Recreation.gov and reservations can be made up to six months in advance.

Click here to make a reservation for the Fruita Campground via Recreation.gov

In addition, the group campsite at the Fruita Campground which can accommodate groups of up to 40 people requires an advance reservation. The group campsite is open seasonally and reservations can be made up to 12 months in advance via Recreation.gov.

Click here to make a reservation for the Fruita Group Campground via Recreation.gov

The two primitive campgrounds located in Capitol Reef, Cathedral Valley and Cedar Mesa, do not allow advance reservations. Both of these campgrounds are available on a first-come, first-served basis throughout the year. If you’re looking to grab a campsite at either of these campgrounds during the peak season we highly recommend you arrive early as spots tend to fill up on busy weekends!

Tent in Capitol Reef National Park

 

For those interested in exploring the vast backcountry wilderness in Capitol Reef on a backcountry camping trip you’ll need to secure a free backcountry use permit. These permits can be obtained at the Fruita Visitor Center during normal business hours and are required for any overnight stay in Capitol Reef’s backcountry.

Information on backcountry regulations in Capitol Reef can be found here.

Backcountry wilderness in Capitol Reef National Park

Explore Capitol Reef’s vast wilderness on a backcountry camping trip.

 

What to bring on your Capitol Reef National Park Camping trip

Preparing for your Capitol Reef National Park camping trip involves more than deciding which campground best fits your needs. There is also the important job of making sure you have all the right gear you’ll need to ensure a great trip.

We’re sure you’ll already have the essentials like a great tentsleeping bags, and camp chairs, but below are some of our favorite items specifically for camping in Capitol Reef:

  • Coleman Camping Stove – This camping classic is perfect for Capitol Reef as campfires are prohibited throughout the park.
  • Pop-up canopy – The sun in Utah can be extremely strong. While there is some shade at the Fruita Campground it’s always good to be able to create your own. We recommend bringing a portable shade structure like this one.
  • Portable water container – These portable water containers are a life saver.
  • Cooler – The hot temperatures here make a good cooler essential. We can’t recommend Yeti enough!
  • Capitol Reef National Park Map – An essential for any trip, a good map is a must.
  • Capitol Reef Guidebook – A good guidebook will provide insights and information to help you plan your perfect trip to Capitol Reef. We like this guide to all 62 National Parks from Moon Guides. This Capitol Reef Hiking Guide is also a great resource.

When to Camp in Capitol Reef National Park

All three of the campgrounds (just not the Fruita Group site) in Capitol Reef National Park are open year round providing the opportunity for a camping trip throughout the year. However, peak season for camping in Capitol Reef is generally from March 1st – October 31st.

The winter months bring snow and cold temperatures to Capitol Reef, making camping only appealing to the hardcore winter campers out there. In addition, the summer months bring high temperatures consistently reaching into the 90s and 100s during the day in July and August. While you can still camp during these months, you’ll need to be prepared with plenty of water.

Winter in Capitol Reef national park

Winter in Capitol Reef brings snow and tough camping conditions. Photo credit NPS/Chris Roundtree

 

We think the best time to camp in Capitol Reef is during the spring and fall when temperatures are more moderate and you’ll be able to take advantage of the many things to do in the national park.

Find more information on the weather conditions you can expect to encounter in Capitol Reef National Park here. 

Developed Campgrounds

There is a single developed campground in Capitol Reef National Park, located in Fruita. In addition, the Fruita Campground also features a group campsite and has easy access to the majority of services in the national park.

Keeping reading for all the details. 

Fruita Campground

Number of Sites: 71 sites
Fee: $20/night
RVs: Yes, max length of approximately 50′.
Reservations: Available from March 1st – October 31st. Click here to reserve.
Season: Open year round.
More Information

Tents in the Fruita Campground

The Fruita Campground is a beautiful place to spend the night. Photo credit NPS/Ann Huston.

 

The Fruita Campground is the lone fully developed campground in Capitol Reef National Park. Located just south of the visitor center, the campground sits adjacent to the Fremont River making for an idyllic place to spend the night.

The campground is well located for exploring the Cohab Canyon Trail, Fremont River Trail, as well as the historic Fruita Schoolhouse. Be sure to check out the Park Service’s excellent list of hikes in the Fruita area here and also download the Fruita Area Map & Guide.

The Fruita Campground contains 71 individual campsites and one group campsite. The campground is organized into three loops (A, B, and C) with each loop having access to restrooms. Potable water and a dump station are available near the entrance to the campground. Campsites at the Fruita Campground come well-equipped with a picnic table and fire grate/grill.

Campsites at the Fruita Campground are reservable up to six months in advance during peak season, from March 1st – October 31st each year. Outside of this time frame all of the campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Click here to reserve your campsite at the Fruita Campground

The campground can accommodate both tents and RVs, with multiple sites able to fit campers in excess of 40′ in length. There are also several walk-in tent sites at the Fruita Campground, perfect for those with a smaller set-up. Check out the map linked below for a detailed map of the campground as well as more information on the features of each campsite.

View a map of the Fruita Campground here. 

Fremont River from the Cohab Canyon Trail

The Fruita Campground provides easy access to the Cohab Canyon Trail. Photo credit NPS/Chris Roundtree.

 

Fruita Group Campground

Number of Sites: 1 group site
Fee: $100/night
Capacity: 40 people
RVs: Yes, max length of approximately 50′.
Reservations: Required. Click here to reserve.
Season: Open seasonally from mid-April to mid-October
More Information

Fruita Group Campground in Capitol Reef National Park

The Fruita Group Campground can accommodate up to 40 people. Photo credit NPS/A. Huston.

 

In addition to the 71 individual campsites, the Fruita Campground also features a large, group campsite. Located in a secluded area away from the main campground, the Fruita Group Campsite can accommodate up to 40 campers at a time. You’ll enjoy access to picnic tables, fire grate, and a covered shelter.

The Fruita Group Campground costs $100/night to reserve regardless of how many people are camping and has a limit of 10 total vehicles. RVs are welcome, but keep in mind that anything longer than 27′ will have a difficult time navigating the parking area.

Reservations for the Fruita Group Campground are required and can be made up to 12-months in advance via Recreation.gov. The campground is only open during the peak season, generally from mid-April through mid-October.

Reservations for the Fruita Group Campground can be made here. 

Barn in the Gifford Homestead in Capitol Reef National Park

Explore the Gifford Homestead from your campsite at the Fruita Group Campground.

 

Primitive Campgrounds

In addition the developed Fruita Campground, Capitol Reef National Park features two primitive campgrounds located on the park’s iconic dirt roads. These campgrounds are located in the northern and southern districts of Capitol Reef, allowing visitors to camp and explore different sections of the park.

The primitive nature of these campsites means you won’t find any flush toilets, water taps, or other amenities that developed campgrounds 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 the two primitive campgrounds in Capitol Reef National Park.

Cathedral Valley Campground

Number of Sites: 6 sites
Fee: Free
RVs: Not recommend.
Reservations: First-come, first-served.
Season: Open year round.

Picnic table in the Cathedral Valley Campground

The Cathedral Valley Campground. Photo credit NPS/ Erik McDonald

 

The Cathedral Valley Campground is located in Capitol Reef’s northern district, known as Cathedral Valley. This stunningly beautiful section of the national park got its name from the sandstone towers that dot the landscape and evoke the forms of medieval cathedrals. Spending the night here will also have you well located to explore the many hikes that take in the incredible scenery of Cathedral Valley.

Situated on the popular Cathedral Valley Loop Road, a 58-mile dirt road that circumnavigates the area, the campground generally requires a 4WD vehicle with high clearance to reach. As such, we don’t recommend trying to camp here with an RV.

The campground has six individual campsites that each feature a basic picnic table and fire ring. There are also pit toilets for the campground. There is no running water available at the Cathedral Valley Campground, so be sure to bring all that you’ll need for your trip. 

All of the sites are free of charge and available on a first-come, first-served basis. The campground will fill most nights on busy weekends during the peak season, so we recommend trying to arrive early to secure your site.

Views of the Cathedral Valley

Exploring the Cathedral Valley is a quintessential experience in Capitol Reef. Photo credit NPS/Nielson.

 

Cedar Mesa Campground

Number of Sites: 5 sites
Fee: Free
RVs: Not recommend.
Reservations: First-come, first-served.
Season: Open year round.

The Cedar Mesa Campground is located in the southern district of Capitol Reef National Park. This less explored section of the park is home to several excellent hikes as well as the famous Burr Trail switchbacks. Take advantage of the campground’s location at the start of the Red Canyon Trail, a popular hike in this section of the park.

Cedar Mesa is located on the Notom-Bullfrog Road which ultimately leads to the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, south of Capitol Reef. Getting to the campground is typically doable in a 2WD vehicle, although it is always a good idea to touch base with a ranger for the latest road conditions prior to setting out.

The campground has five individual campsites that each feature a basic picnic table and fire ring. There are also pit toilets for the campground. There is no running water available at the Cedar Mesa Campground, so be sure to bring all that you’ll need for your trip. 

All of the sites are free of charge and available on a first-come, first-served basis.

The Burr Trail switchbacks near the Cedar Mesa campground

The Burr Trail Switchbacks are approximately 45 minutes from the Cedar Mesa Campground.

 

Backcountry camping in Capitol Reef National Park

For the adventurous, a backcountry camping trip in Capitol Reef National Park is the perfect opportunity to explore this vast wilderness. The park’s remote terrain provides the chance for solitude and an experience that can’t be found at the developed or primitive campgrounds in Capitol Reef. However, a backpacking trip here is not for the inexperienced. Be sure you are prepared for this unique environment and follow the national park guidelines for backcountry camping, outlined below. 

A backpacking trail in Capitol Reef National Park

 

Backcountry Use Permit

Anyone planning to spend the night in the Capitol Reef backcountry is required to obtain a free, backcountry use permit. These permits are available at the Fruita Visitor Center during normal operating hours.

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.

Backcountry Regulations

The following backcountry regulations should be observed by anyone venturing into the Capitol Reef backcountry, especially those planning an overnight trip:

  • Limit group size to no more than 12 people.
  • Camp away from roads and out of sight of trails or other campers.
  • Properly dispose of all human waste.
  • Campfires are prohibited in the Capitol Reef backcountry.
  • Pets are not allowed on any trail or in the backcountry.
  • Always prace Leave No Trace principles.

Click here for a full list of backcountry regulations in Capitol Reef National Park

Sandstone ridge

 

Where to go backpacking in Capitol Reef

Once you’ve got the basic regulations for planning a backpacking trip in Capitol Reef down you can move on to the fun part: planning your trip!

While you can technically backpack and camp anywhere within the park boundaries, the park service has an excellent list of recommended backpacking trips, outlined below:

A hiker explores the Halls Creek Narrows

Exploring the Halls Creek Narrows on a backpacking trip. Photo credit NPS.

 

Capitol Reef National Park Camping Must Know

The following sections contain all the basic information you need to ensure you have a great time camping in Capitol Reef National Park.

Campfires in Capitol Reef

Campfires are permitted only in the provided fire rings and grates at the Fruita Campground as well as the Cathedral Valley and Cedar Mesa primitive campgrounds. The fire must be contained within the provided fire pit/grate and should not 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 existing wood from the national park.

Firewood is available for purchase from the Gifford House, near the Fruita Campground.

There are no fires allowed in the Capitol Reef backcountry, so plan to bring a camp stove if backpacking.

Wildlife

Capitol Reef National Park is home to a wide variety of wildlife that inhabit this unique ecosystem. The rugged nature of Utah’s canyon country means that many of these species have adapted to live where water can be scare and the terrain unforgiving. Campers should be especially aware of the following:

  • Rock squirrels: This is mammal you are most likely to encounter on a camping trip in Capitol Reef. They are commonly found near the Fruita area and are known to try to snack on your camping supplies!
  • Snakes: Capitol Reef is home to a wide variety of snake species. Snakes are most active at night, but be sure to always be scanning the trail and near campgrounds for them. The only venomous snake found in Capitol Reef is the Midget Faded Rattlesnake, which are very common throughout the park.
  • Desert Bighorn Sheep: This incredible species was successfully reintroduced to Capitol Reef National Park in the 1990s. Spotting a bighorn sheep as they move effortlessley along a cliff face is a truly spectacular sight!

You can find more information on the wildlife of Capitol Reef National Park here.

A desert bighorn sheep in Capitol Reef

A desert bighorn sheep in Capitol Reef. Photo credit NPS/Nielson.

 

Pets

As with many national parks, Capitol Reef has strict guidelines on where you are allowed to bring a pet. Pets are permitted at all three of the designed campgrounds in Capitol Reef. Pets are also allowed in the following places:

  • The trail between the Fruita Campground and Visitor Center
  • On specific portions of the Fremont River Trail
  • Parking & Picnic Areas
  • Within 50′ of roadways

Please keep you pet on a leash at all times and remember that pets are not allowed in the backcountry or on any hiking trails in Capitol Reef National Park.

In addition,  it is important to take proper precautions when bringing a pet to Capitol Reef. This includes bringing plenty of water for them and never leaving them unattended in a car.

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

Where to get supplies

Capitol Reef National Park is incredible remote with no major towns in close proximity. Thus, stocking up on camping supplies before your camping trip is essential. 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 small towns that provide some essential services near Capitol Reef National Park. Check out your options below:

  • In the park
    • There are no major services located within Capitol Reef National Park. The only store resides in the Gifford House which sells local craft goods, some very basic food items, and firewood. The store only operates during peak season.
  • East of Capitol Reef
    • Hanksville, Utah: Hanksville is located approximately 45 minutes east of Fruita along State Highway 24. Here you’ll find a basic grocery store, a few gas stations, and a handful of restaurants.
  • West of Capitol Reef
    • Torrey, Utah: Located just 8 miles west of Fruita, Torrey is likely to be your best bet for any last minutes camping supplies. The town features an excellent outdoor store, grocery store, and several gas stations.

 

Camping near Capitol Reef National Park

Spending a few nights camping in Capitol Reef National Park is an experience not to be missed. However, given the somewhat limited options within the national park it is always possible that you’ll arrive only to find all the campgrounds full.

Don’t let that deter you, though, as there are plenty of great camping options outside of Capitol Reef National Park. Check out your best bets for RV campgrounds, car camping, and free dispersed camping near Capitol Reef National Park below.

RV driving towards Capitol Reef National Park

 

RV campgrounds near Capitol Reef

Those camping in an RV will have plenty of options just outside Capitol Reef National Park. RV campgrounds are generally found along State Highway 24 on both the west and east side of the national park. Learn more below.

RV Campgrounds East of Capitol Reef National Park (Caineville & Hanksville)

The following campgrounds are all located to the east of Capitol Reef National Park:

Sleepy Hollow Campground – Caineville

Number of sites: 30
Fee: Varies
Capacity: None stated
RVs: Yes
Reservations: Recommended. Call 435-456-9130
Pets: Allowed

The Sleepy Hollow Campground is located adjacent to the Fremont River just off State Highway 24. From here it is only a short drive, 20 minute drive to the heart of Capitol Reef. The campground gets excellent reviews for the beautiful views and very friendly owner. Highly recommended.

 

Duke’s Slickrock Campground & RV Park- Hanksville

Number of sites: 49 RV site + 30 tent-only sites
Fee: $35/night for RV sites and $20/night for tent sites
Capacity: None stated
RVs: Yes, full hookups available.
Reservations: Recommended. Visit website here to reserve. 
Pets: Allowed

Centrally located in Hanksville, UT, Duke’s Slickrock Campground is a great option for those looking for an RV campground with great services and amenities. You’ll be a bit further from the national park here (30 minute drive), but in exchange you’ll have access to laundry facilities, free WiFi, and an on-site restaurant.

 

RV Campgrounds West of Capitol Reef National Park (Torrey & Hanksville)

Wonderland RV Park- Torrey

Number of sites: Plenty!
Fee: Varies. More information here. 
Capacity: $42/night for RV sites, $20/night for tent sites
RVs: Yes, full hookups available.
Reservations: Recommended. Visit website here to reserve. 
Pets: Allowed

The Wonderland RV Park is located on the eastern edge of Torrey, UT putting you extremely close to Capitol Reef National Park. This large campground features a variety of campsites to accommodate all types of RVs, including sites with full-hookups. In addition, there are dedicated tent-only campsites. Amenities include free WiFi, shower and laundry facilities, and free cable tv.

The campground gets great reviews for its clean facilities and stunning location.

 

Sandcreek RV Park & Campground – Torrey

Number of sites: 15 RV sites + 12 tent-only sites
Fee: Varies. More information here. 
Capacity: None stated
RVs: Yes, full hookups available.
Reservations: Recommended. Visit website here to reserve. 
Pets: Allowed

The Sandcreek RV Park & Campground is located on the western side of Torrey, putting you in a convenient location for accessing Capitol Reef National Park. This smaller campground has just 15 RV sites which makes for a quiet and relaxing atmosphere. Campers have access to free WiFi, showers, and laundry facilities.

Storm clouds over Capitol Reef National Park

 

Car camping sites near Capitol Reef National Park

If you’re looking for car camping sites near Capitol Reef 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 Capitol Reef.

Car camping near Capitol Reef

 

Fishlake National Forest

Number of Sites: Singletree (31 sites), Upper Pleasant Creek (16 sites), and Oak Creek (9 sites)
Fee: $10 – 20/night
Capacity: None stated.
RVs: Yes, but check individual campsite pages for length restrictions. Not recommended at Oak Creek.
Reservations: Only for Singletree Campground. Reserve here. 
Pets: Allowed.

Map of campgrounds in Fishlake National Forest near Capitol Reef.

The campsites in Fishlake National Forest make a great car camping option near Capitol Reef. Map credit NPS.

 

Just south of Torrey, UT on the western edge of Capitol Reef National Park sits Fishlake National Forest. There are three developed campgrounds here that make a great option for those looking to car camp prior to their visit to Capitol Reef National Park.

The first and largest of the three campgrounds is the Singletree Campground, which can accommodate larger RVs in addition to tent campers. Reservations are recommended here. Traveling a bit further south along Highway 12 will bring you to the Upper Pleasant Creek and Oak Creek Campgrounds. These are more basic and are best suited to tent campers.

Free dispersed camping near Capitol Reef National Park

Your final option for camping near Capitol Reef National Park is to find a free, dispersed campsite on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) or United States Forest Service (USFS) land adjacent to the national park. If this appeals to you you’re in luck, as Capitol Reef National Park is practically surrounded by this public land with tons of free camping opportunities.

Much of this land is overseen by the BLM and USFS 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.

The park service provides the handy map below that shows the different areas surrounding Capitol Reef National Park that is open to dispersed camping and we’ve highlighted some of our favorites below.

Map of dispersed camping areas near Capitol Reef National Park

There are tons of options for dispersed camping near Capitol Reef National Park. Map credit NPS.

 

Dispersed Camping West of Capitol Reef

There is an abundance of public land that allows for free dispersed camping on the west side of Capitol Reef National Park. These areas are primarily located in Fishlake National Forest and are concentrated south of Torrey, UT on State Highway 12 as well as just north of State Highway 24 between Torrey and the national park boundary.

The most popular of these campsites is located just north of Highway 24 around mile marker 73. Find more detail here on FreeCampsites.net. 

For those looking for a bit more privacy, the dispersed camping along State Highway 12 south of Torrey tends to be a bit more secluded.

As always, please be sure to practice Leave No Trace principles when dispersed camping.

Be sure to contact the Dixie/Fishlake Ranger Office if you have any questions about dispersed camping on the west side of Capitol Reef. They can be reach at (435) 836-2811.

Dispersed Camping East of Capitol Reef

On the east side of Capitol Reef dispersed camping is available on BLM land immediately adjacent to the park. You’ll find good free campsites located along State Highway 24 as well as south along Notom-Bullfrog Road.

There is a large site just south of the highway on Notom-Bullfrog Road that gets good reviews. Find more information on this free campsite here.

Along State Highway 24 this campsite on BLM land gets good reviews for its beautiful river views.

As always, please be sure to practice Leave No Trace principles when dispersed camping.

The NPS recommends contacting the Henry Mountain Field Station to inquire about dispersed camping on BLM land near Capitol Reef National Park.

Have a great trip!

That’s it! We hope you’ve found all of the information on camping in Capitol Reef 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!

Red sandstone cliffs in Capitol Reef

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Cotswold Way | Maps & Routes

The Cotswold Way is a classic English walk. Crossing through one of the most beautiful areas of the country, the walk takes in not only stunning scenery but also some…

The Cotswold Way is a classic English walk. Crossing through one of the most beautiful areas of the country, the walk takes in not only stunning scenery but also some of the most beautiful villages in England. The Cotswold Way traditionally begins in Chipping Campden and winds it way to the famous village of Bath. The route is generally walked over the course of 6 – 10 days, with eight days seeming to suit most walkers.

As with many of England’s National Trails you’ll find plenty of accommodation options along the route including hotels, B&Bs, and simple bunkhouses. The following post will introduce you to the Cotswold Way through in-depth maps, navigational resources, and more!

Let’s get started.

A trail marker on the Cotswold Way

 

In this post

 

Where is the Cotswold Way?

The Cotswold Way crosses England’s Cotswolds, located in southwestern England, and connects Chipping Campden in the north to Bath in the south. Much of the walk crosses the Cotswolds AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) and takes walkers through countless charming villages.

The route can be walked in either direction, and you’ll find that there is no definitive traditional way. It seems equally popular to walk from north to south as to walk from south to north. We have described it here in the north to south direction, but the information is still relevant for those starting in Bath and walking north to Chipping Campden.

The Cotswold Way is accessed relatively easily from the rest of the UK, with public transport connections frequent. The one minor inconvenience comes in reaching Chipping Campden, which does not have a rail line. If you’re planning to take public transportation to get to or from here you’ll need to utilize the bus at the northern end of the walk.

In the south, the nearest large city to Bath is Bristol, and in the north the nearest large city to Chipping Campden is Birmingham.

 

Overview map of the Cotswold Way

The Cotswold Way connects Chipping Campden and Bath. (Click to enlarge).

 

As you wind your way along the Cotswold Way you’ll take in pastoral countryside, exceedingly quaint villages, and beautiful buildings constructed out of the famous Cotswold stone. Highlights of the Cotswold Way include Bath Abbey, Roman ruins, and the Tyndale Monument.

We recommend walking the Cotswold Way over eight stages, although you could certainly complete it in fewer days for those with less time or extend it to 10 or more days if you prefer a slower pace.

Below is the standard route from north to south on the Cotswold Way:

  • Stage 1: Chipping Campden to Stanton
  • Stage 2: Stanton to Cleeve Hill
  • Stage 3: Cleeve Hill to Birdlip
  • Stage 4: Birdlip to Painswick
  • Stage 5: Painswick to King’s Stanley
  • Stage 6: King’s Stanley to Wotton-under-Edge
  • Stage 7: Wotton-under-Edge to Tormarton
  • Stage 8: Tormarton to Bath
Cotswold Way Map

Map of the Cotswold Way. (Click to enlarge)

 

In addition to the standard walking route described and shown in the map above, the Cotswold Way features several short detours and alternative routes to showcase the surrounding area.

These alternate routes include:

  • Korea Friendship Trail: Stinchcombe Hill – The Korea Friendship Trail at Stinchcombe Hill is a unique partnership between Britain and South Korea. On this circular route you’ll experience some incredible views of the Cotswolds as well as learn about Jeju Olle Trail in South Korea. Highly recommended!
  • The Selsley Circuit – The Selsley Circuit is located just outside of King’s Stanley and takes walkers on a historical walk providing insights into the industrial past of the Cotswold. You’ll see Victorian era mills and enjoy a peaceful walk along the Stroudwater Canal.
Lavender fields in the Cotswolds

Lavender fields in the Cotswolds.

 

Read More: Cotswold Way Packing List

 

Interactive Cotswold Way map

The interactive Cotswold Way map below will allow you to zoom in on the various stages as well as view the traditional stops along the route.

 

How long is the Cotswold Way?

From Chipping Campden to the center of Bath, the Cotswold Way is 100 miles or 161 kilometers long.

There is nothing quite like a walk that is exactly 100 miles long!

However, the exact measurement of the route doesn’t provide much practical value to the average walker. You will assuredly walk much further than the 100 miles the route covers as accommodation, short detours, and the occasional sidetrack to visit a local pub will all increase the distance covered.

As such, anyone setting out on the Cotswold Way should plan to cover over 100 miles in order to fully experience this beautiful area and trail.

That being said, it is still useful for itinerary planning purposes to have a good sense of the total length of the route as well as individual segment lengths on the Cotswold Way. The maps below provide just that information, with the approximate distance of the standard eight stage itinerary shown in both miles and kilometers.

Note that these distances do not include alternates or variants, and should only be used to get a general idea of distance.

Map showing stage distances on the Cotswold Way in kilometers.

Stage distances on the Cotswold Way in kilometers. (Click to enlarge).

 

Map showing stage distances on the Cotswold Way in miles.

Stage distances on the Cotswold Way in miles. (Click to enlarge).

 

Cotswold Way Elevation Profile

The Cotswold Way is certainly on the easier end of the spectrum when it comes to the difficulty of the UK’s National Trails. While there are hills along the walk’s 100-mile journey, there aren’t many that should cause walkers with an average level of fitness any issues.

However, the Cotswold Way does have approximately 10,000 feet or 3,000 meters of elevation gain over its entire length. Averaged across the recommended eight stages, this equals approximately 1,250 feet of elevation gain each day.

The largest hills of the walk are concentrated in the northern section of the route and will be encountered early on by walkers heading in the north to south direction. This is an advantage as you’ll tackle these sections on fresh legs!

The high point of the Cotswold Way sits at Cleeve Hill, approximately 330 meters above sea-level. If heading from north to south you’ll encounter Cleeve Hill at the very end of your second day.

A bench at the top of Cleeve Hill

Cleeve Hill marks the highest point on the Cotswold Way.

 

The elevation profiles below, displayed in both imperial and metric units, will give you an overview of what each stage of the Cotswold Way entails in terms of total elevation change and distance. Elevation is shown on the left side while distance is shown on the bottom. Each blue dot represents a stop along the traditional 8-stage walk, with the stop name shown at the top.

The steepness of the line between any two points reflects the steepness of the trail for that particular stage. The distance between the two points shows the length of the stage. For instance, you can see that the stage from Tormarton to Bath is rather long in distance, while the stage from Stanton to Cleeve Hill has a lot of elevation gain.

When thinking about how many days or stages you’ll take to complete the Cotswold Way be sure to reference these elevation profiles. They’ll give you a sense of how hard each day is and will let you see which stages may make sense to combine or split up on your walk.

Elevation profile of the Cotswold Way in miles and feet.

Elevation profile of the Cotswold Way in miles and feet. (Click to enlarge).

 

Elevation profile of the Cotswold Way in kilometers and meters.

Elevation profile of the Cotswold Way in kilometers and meters. (Click to enlarge).

 

Which maps should I carry on the Cotswold Way?

As with all the National Trails, the Cotswold Way is very well marked. You can expect frequent trail signs featuring the iconic acorn that denotes National Trails at most major trail junctions on the Cotswold Way. However, the countryside of the Cotswold is crisscrossed by countless other footpaths and bridleways, which makes taking a wrong turn a real possibility.

For this reason, we always recommend that walkers bring a few map resources when walking the Cotswold Way.

Our preference is generally to rely on GPS maps on our smartphones when out on a multi-day walk, and we can highly recommend this method for most walkers. All you’ll need is a GPX file for the route (available on the National Trails website here) and a GPS app. We like Gaia GPS, although there are many great options available.

In addition to digital navigation methods, we also recommend you bring a paper map or map booklet along. There is simply no replacement for a physical map, afterall you never know when you may find yourself with a dead battery rendering your GPS app useless!

There are several excellent physical maps available for the Cotswold Way, outlined below:

The Cotswold Way Map Booklet – Cicerone Guides
In our opinion, your best bet will be to pack this excellent resource from Cicerone Guides. Their Cotswold Way map booklet contains Ordnance Survey maps for the entire route, neatly organized into a small and portable booklet.

Cotswold Way Adventure Atlas
Another convenient and highly recommended option is the Cotswold Way Adventure atlas. This map consists of OS Explorer maps for the entire Cotswold Way route, but saves you the hassle of assembling all of the Ordnance Survey maps yourself. It is also a bit larger and easier to read when compared to the Cicerone Map Booklet, which many walkers will prefer.

Ordnance Survey Explorer Maps
Finally, no article on maps for the Cotswold Way would be complete without referencing Ordnance Survey maps. These maps provide an excellent level of detail , although you’ll need to carry five maps to cover the entire route:

In addition, a weatherproof carrying case like this one wouldn’t hurt to have either.

Stage-by-stage maps for the Cotswold Way

The Cotswold Way is traditionally completed in eight stages, with a wide variety of accommodation options available at each point along the walk. The maps below provide a general outline for each of these eight stages and include distance and elevation change.

Stage 1: Chipping Campden to Stanton

Distance: 16.58 km
Elevation Gain/Loss: +437 m / -477 m

Map of stage 1 of the Cotswold Way - Chipping Campden to Stanton

Stage 1 – Chipping Campden to Stanton

 

Stage 2: Stanton to Cleeve Hill

Distance: 22.09 km
Elevation Gain/Loss: +703 m / -545 m

Map of stage 2 of the Cotswold Way - Stanton to Cleeve Hill

Stage 2 – Stanton to Cleeve Hill

 

Stage 3: Cleeve Hill to Birdlip

Distance: 20.45 km
Elevation Gain/Loss: +712 m / -697 m

Map of stage 3 of the Cotswold Way - Cleeve Hill to Birdlip

Stage 3 – Cleeve Hill to Birdlip

 

Stage 4: Birdlip to Painswick

Distance: 11.69 km
Elevation Gain/Loss: +403 m / -536 m

Map of stage 4 of the Cotswold Way - Birdlip to Painswick

Stage 4 – Birdlip to Painswick

 

Stage 5: Painswick to King’s Stanley

Distance: 14.52 km
Elevation Gain/Loss: +449 m / -552 m

Map of stage 5 of the Cotswold Way - Painswick to King's Stanley

Stage 5 – Painswick to King’s Stanley

 

Stage 6: King’s Stanley to Wotton-under-Edge

Distance: 19.56 km
Elevation Gain/Loss: +806 m / -753 m

Map of stage 6 of the Cotswold Way - King's Stanley to Wotton-under-Edge

Stage 6 – King’s Stanley to Wotton-under-Edge

 

Stage 7: Wotton-under-Edge to Tormarton

Distance: 24.43 km
Elevation Gain/Loss: +675 m / -607 m

Map of stage 7 of the Cotswold Way - Wotton-under-Edge to Tormarton

Stage 7 – Wotton-under-Edge to Tormarton

 

Stage 8: Tormarton to Bath

Distance: 26.97 km
Elevation Gain/Loss: +600 m / -735 m

Map of stage 8 of the Cotswold Way - Tormarton to Bath

Stage 8 – Tormarton to Bath

 

Cotswold Way GPS/GPX

If you are interested in getting access to the GPS data for the Cotswold Way head on over to the National Trails website here. You’ll find a free GPX download of the entire route.

Click here to access the free GPS data for the Cotswold Way

You’ll be able to load the GPX file into the mapping software or GPS phone app of your choice!

Hikers on the Cotswold Way

 

Apps and offline mapping

As mentioned above we highly recommend utilizing offline downloadable GPS maps on our smartphones to navigate while walking the Cotswold Way. This is a great way to navigate on the trail as it allows you to see your progress for the day and also doesn’t require a cell phone signal (which you may not have) to display the map.

Our How to Navigate on the Tour du Mont Blanc post has all the information you need to get set up using an app for your map. Although written for a different hike, this step-by-step article will teach you how to quickly and easily turn your phone into a GPS device for the Cotswold Way.

Have a great Cotswold Way adventure!

We hope this post has given you all the information you need to get a basic overview of the Cotswold Way. Let us know your questions or comments below. Happy trails!

And don’t forget to check out our Cotswold Way Packing List!

Cairn on the Cotswold Way

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South Downs Way | Maps & Routes

The South Downs Way is one of the UK’s most well known National Trails. This classic walk in the south of England takes walkers from Winchester to Eastbourne over the…

The South Downs Way is one of the UK’s most well known National Trails. This classic walk in the south of England takes walkers from Winchester to Eastbourne over the course of 6 – 10 days. The route takes in pastoral English countryside, quaint villages, and the famous Seven Sisters Cliffs.

The trail is well served by a variety of accommodation options including hostels, bunkhouses, B&Bs, and campgrounds. The post will provide an introduction to the South Downs Way by providing in-depth maps, navigational resources, and more!

Let’s get started.

Pastoral countryside in the South Downs.

The pastoral countryside of the South Downs.

 

In this post

 

Where is the South Downs Way?

The South Downs Way traverses southern England across the South Downs and connects from the cathedral village of Winchester in the west to seaside Eastbourne in the east with much of the route crossing through the South Downs National Park. The route is traditionally walked from west to east finishing at the sea, although it can be walked in the opposite direction as well. Along the route you’ll pass through several lovely villages with friendly locals and beautiful scenery.

The South Downs Way is easy to get to from London and the rest of southeast England with a variety of rail and bus connections available. Southampton in the west is the nearest large city to the start, while Brighton is the nearest large city to the end of the walk in the east.

South Downs Way overview map

The South Downs Way connects Winchester and Eastbourne. (Click to enlarge).

 

Between the beginning and ending points, the South Downs Way provides some of the best walking in southeast England, and indeed all of the country. Highlights of the walk include the stunning cathedral in Winchester, the pastoral Queen Elizabeth Country Park, the quaint village of Amberley, and of course the iconic Seven Sisters.

The route is typically completed in eight days walking, although there are countless opportunities to shorten or extend your walk. It is also possible to camp along the South Downs Way, as there is an excellent network of campgrounds located along the route. Below is the standard route for the South Downs Way:

  • Stage 1: Winchester to Exton
  • Stage 2: Exton to Buriton
  • Stage 3: Buriton to Cocking
  • Stage 4: Cocking to Amberley
  • Stage 5: Amberley to Upper Beeding
  • Stage 6: Upper Beeding to Kingston Near Lewes
  • Stage 7: Kingston Near Lewes to Alfriston
  • Stage 8: Alfriston to Eastbourne
South Downs Way map

Map of the South Downs Way. (Click to enlarge).

 

In addition to the traditional walking route described above there are several options for alternate routes and excursions on the South Downs Way. For those planning to cycle or ride on horseback there are a few mandatory alternate routes in place where the path is restricted for walkers only.

In addition, the final day of the walk from Alfriston to Eastbourne has an alternate inland route that avoids the Seven Sisters trail. Most walkers will want to take the main trail here as the views of simply stunning, but it is always good to know your options!

Below is a list of the alternates/detours along the South Downs Way:

  • 01A – Winchester to Exton – Just past the start of the walk in Winchester there is a short detour off the main trail for equestrian users and cyclists.
  • 01B – Winchester to Exton – Prior to reach the village of Exton, those cycling or riding the route on horseback will have to detour off the main trail. Access to Exton is simple and easy from this slight detour.
  • 05A – Amberley to Upper Beeding – This alternate route provides walkers with access to the town of Washington.
  • 08A – Alfriston to Eastbourne – The route along the Seven Sisters is restricted to walkers only. Those cycling will have to take the inland Bridleway connecting Alfriston and Eastbourne.
The Seven Sisters Cliffs

The Seven Sisters are a highlight for many walkers on the South Downs Way.

 

Read More: South Downs Way Packing List

Interactive South Downs Way map

The interactive South Downs Way map below will allow you to zoom in on the various stages as well as view the traditional stops along the route.

 

How long is the South Downs Way?

Most sources will tell you that the South Downs Way is 160-km or 100 miles long. While this is certainly a very accurate estimate, we measure (via GPS) the South Downs Way to be 162.6 kilometers or 101 miles long from the center of Winchester to Eastbourne.

Of course, this exact measurement has little practical value to the average walker. You will almost certainly end up walking further than the distance provided in this post as many of the accommodation options are located a bit off the track itself. Add in a few side trips to see worthwhile attractions and you should plan on walking well over 100 miles on your own South Downs Way adventure!

However, it is still helpful for trip planning purposes to have a sense of the total length as well as individual segment lengths on the South Downs Way. The two maps below show just that, with the approximate distances for the standard eight stage itinerary shown in both miles and kilometers.

Note that these distances do not include alternates or variants, and should only be used to get a general idea of distance.

South Downs Way map with stage distances in kilometers

Stage distances on the South Downs Way in kilometers. (Click to enlarge).

 

South Downs Way map with stage distances in miles

Stage distances on the South Downs Way in miles. (Click to enlarge).

 

South Downs Way Elevation Profile

Over the course of the South Downs Way 101 miles (or 162 kilometers) the trail has approximately 9,060 feet or 2,760 meters of elevation gain. Averaged across the traditional 8 stages, this equals around 1,100 feet of elevation gain each day. That’s nothing to sneeze at!

Much of this elevation gain is evenly spread out along the undulating route, although there are a few particularly steep sections. The most notable climbs on the South Downs Way are the walk up Rackham Hill just outside of Amberley, the steep walk up Truleigh Hill on stage six, and the steep ascent up Itford Hill on the way to Alfriston.

The high  point of the South Downs Way sits at Buster Hill (270m above sea-level) which you encounter on the second day of the walk, just before reaching Buriton.

The South Downs Way trail

 

The elevation profiles below, displayed in both imperial and metric units, will give you an overview of what each stage of the South Downs Way entails in terms of total elevation change and distance. Elevation is shown on the left side while distance is shown on the bottom. Each blue dot represents a stop along the traditional 8-stage walk, with the stop name shown at the top.

The steepness of the line between any two points reflects the steepness of the trail for that particular stage. The distance between the two points shows the length of the stage. For instance, you can see that the stage from Upper Beeding to Kingston Near Lewes is rather long in distance, while the stage from Kingston Near Lewes to Alfriston has a lot of elevation gain.

When thinking about how many days or stages you’ll take to complete the South Downs Way be sure to reference these elevation profiles. They’ll give you a sense of how hard each day is and will let you see which stages may make sense to combine or split up on your walk.

Elevation profile of the South Downs Way

Elevation profile of the South Downs Way in miles and feet. (Click to enlarge).

 

Elevation profile of the South Downs Way in kilometers and meters.

Elevation profile of the South Downs Way in kilometers and meters. (Click to enlarge).

 

Which maps should I carry on the South Downs Way?

As the South Downs Way is a National Trail, walkers can expect the path to be very well sign posted and easy to navigate. However, as with many walks in England, it can be quite easy to get turned around or generally off the correct track.

There are countless trail intersections, bridleways, and footpaths that can be easy to confuse with the South Downs Way. For this reason, we always recommend that walkers bring a few map resources when walking the South Downs Way.

Our preference is generally to rely on GPS maps on our smartphones when out on a multi-day walk, and we can highly recommend this method for most walkers. All you’ll need is a GPX file for the route (available on the National Trails website here) and a GPS app. We like Gaia GPS, although there are many great options available.

In addition to digital navigation methods, we also recommend you bring a paper map or map booklet along. There is simply no replacement for a physical map, afterall you never know when you may find yourself with a dead battery rendering your GPS app useless!

There are several excellent physical maps available for the South Downs Way, outlined below:

The South Downs Way Map Booklet – Cicerone Guides
In our opinion, your best bet will be to pack this excellent resource from Cicerone Guides. Their South Downs Way map booklet contains Ordnance Survey maps for the entire route, neatly organized into a small and portable booklet.

South Downs Way Adventure Atlas
Another convenient and highly recommended option is the South Downs Way Adventure atlas. This map consists of OS Explorer maps for the entire South Downs Way route, but saves you the hassle of assembling all of the Ordnance Survey maps yourself. It is also a bit larger and easier to read when compared to the Cicerone Map Booklet, which many walkers will prefer.

Ordnance Survey Explorer Maps
Finally, no article on maps for the South Downs Way would be complete without referencing Ordnance Survey maps. These detailed South Downs Way maps provide an excellent level of detail , although you’ll need to carry several maps to cover the entire route:

Alternatively, the Ordnance Survey also offers a package of all seven maps for a significant discount here.

In addition, a weatherproof carrying case like this one wouldn’t hurt to have either.

Stage-by-stage maps for the South Downs way

The South Downs Way is traditionally completed in eight stages, with a wide variety of accommodation options available at each point along the walk. The maps below provide a general outline for each of these eight stages and include distance and elevation change.

 

Stage 1: Winchester to Exton

Distance: 20.45 km
Elevation Gain/Loss: +482 m / -459 m

Map of Stage 1 of the South Downs Way- Winchester to Exton

Stage 1 – Winchester to Exton

 

Stage 2: Exton to Buriton

Distance: 20.36 km
Elevation Gain/Loss: +561 m / -479 m

Map of Stage 2 of the South Downs Way - Exton to Buriton

Stage 2 – Exton to Buriton

 

Stage 3: Buriton to Cocking

Distance: 17.9 km
Elevation Gain/Loss: +495 m / -531 m

Map of Stage 3 of the South Downs Way from Buriton to Cocking

Stage 3 – Buriton to Cocking

 

Stage 4: Cocking to Amberley

Distance: 19.65 km
Elevation Gain/Loss: +462 m / -516 m

Map of Stage 4 of the South Down Way from Cocking to Amberley

Stage 4 – Cocking to Amberley

 

Stage 5: Amberley to Upper Beeding

Distance: 20.1 km
Elevation Gain/Loss: +448 m / -487 m

Map of Stage 5 of the South Downs Way from Amberley to Upper Beeding

Stage 5 – Amberley to Upper Beeding

 

Stage 6: Upper Beeding to Kingston Near Lewes

Distance: 28.29 km
Elevation Gain/Loss: +828 m / -671 m

Map of Stage 6 of the South Downs Way from Upper Beeding to Kingston Near Lewes

Stage 6 – Upper Beeding to Kingston Near Lewes

 

Stage 7: Kingston Near Lewes to Alfriston

Distance: 18.76 km
Elevation Gain/Loss: +470 m / -627 m

Map of Stage 7 of the South Downs Way from Kingston Near Lewes to Alfriston

Stage 7 – Kingston Near Lewes to Alfriston

 

Stage 8: Alfriston to Eastbourne

Distance: 17.13 km
Elevation Gain/Loss: +677 m / -632 m

Map of Stage 8 of the South Downs Way from Alfriston to Eastbourne

Stage 8 – Alfriston to Eastbourne

 

South Downs Way GPS/GPX

If you are interested in getting access to the GPS data for the South Downs Way head on over to the National Trails website here. You’ll find free downloads for the walking route, cycling route, and equestrian route on the South Downs Way. And it is completely free!

Click here to access the free GPS data for the South Downs Way

You’ll be able to load the GPX file into the mapping software or GPS phone app of your choice!

Road in South Downs National Park

 

Apps and offline mapping

As mentioned above we highly recommend utilizing offline downloadable GPS maps on our smartphones to navigate while walking the South Downs Way. This is a great way to navigate on the trail as it allows you to see your progress for the day and also doesn’t require a cell phone signal (which you may not have) to display the map.

Our How to Navigate on the Tour du Mont Blanc post has all the information you need to get set up using an app for your map. Although written for a different hike, this step-by-step article will teach you how to quickly and easily turn your phone into a GPS device for the South Downs Way.

Have a great South Downs Way adventure!

We hope this post has given you all the information you need to get a basic overview of the South Downs Way. Let us know your questions or comments below. Happy trails!

Keep Reading: South Downs Way Packing List

Trail sign on the South Downs Way

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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.

In This Post

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.

What to bring on your Death Valley National Park Camping trip

Preparing for your Death Valley National Park camping trip involves more than deciding which campground best fits your needs. There is also the important job of making sure you have all the right gear you’ll need to ensure a great trip.

We’re sure you’ll already have the essentials like a great tentsleeping bags, and camp chairs, but below are some of our favorite items specifically for camping in Death Valley:

  • Coleman Camping Stove – This camping classic is perfect for Death Valley, especially where fire aren’t allowed.
  • Pop-up canopy – The sun in Death Valley is incredibly strong. We recommend bringing a portable shade structure for any of the campgrounds.
  • Portable water container – Water is scarce in Death Valley and these portable water containers are a life saver.
  • Cooler – The hot temperatures make a good cooler essential. We can’t recommend Yeti enough!
  • Death Valley National Park Map – An essential for any trip, a good map is a must.
  • Death Valley Guidebook – A good guidebook will provide insights and information to help you plan your perfect trip to Big Bend. We like this guide to all 62 National Parks from Moon Guides. This Death Valley Hiking Guide is also a great resource.

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!

Road sign with mountains in the background

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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 for Big Bend National Park Camping

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.

 

What to bring on your Big Bend National Park Camping trip

Preparing for your Big Bend National Park camping trip involves more than deciding which campground best fits your needs. There is also the important job of making sure you have all the right gear you’ll need to ensure a great trip.

We’re sure you’ll already have the essentials like a great tentsleeping bags, and camp chairs, but below are some of our favorite items specifically for camping in Big Bend:

  • Coleman Camping Stove – This camping classic is perfect for Big Bend as campfires are prohibited throughout the park.
  • Pop-up canopy – The sun in south Texas is nothing to sneeze at! While there are some shade structures at the Chisos Basin Campground it’s always good to be able to create your own. We recommend bringing a portable shade structure, especially for any primitive dirt road campsites!
  • Portable water container – Especially useful for roadside camping in Big Bend these portable water containers are a life saver.
  • Cooler – The hot temperatures make a good cooler essential. We can’t recommend Yeti enough!
  • Big Bend National Park Map – An essential for any trip, a good map is a must.
  • Big Bend Guidebook – A good guidebook will provide insights and information to help you plan your perfect trip to Big Bend. We like this guide to all 62 National Parks from Moon Guides. This Big Bend Hiking Guide is also a great resource.

 

Developed Campgrounds in Big Bend

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.

What to bring on your Great Basin National Park Camping trip

Preparing for your Great Basin National Park camping trip involves more than deciding which campground best fits your needs. There is also the important job of making sure you have all the right gear you’ll need to ensure a great trip.

We’re sure you’ll already have the essentials like a great tentsleeping bags, and camp chairs, but below are some of our favorite items specifically for camping in Great Basin:

  • Coleman Camping Stove – This stove is perfect for cooking up camping classics at the campground.
  • Pop-up canopy – The sun in Nevada can be intense! We recommend bringing a portable shade structure like this one.
  • Portable water container – Especially useful for camping along Snake Creek Road, portable water containers are a life saver.
  • Cooler – The hot summer temperatures make a good cooler essential. We can’t recommend Yeti enough!
  • Great Basin National Park Guidebook – A good guidebook will provide insights and information to help you plan your perfect trip to Great Basin.

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.

What to bring on your Hot Springs National Park Camping trip

Preparing for your Hot Springs National Park camping trip involves more than deciding which campground best fits your needs. There is also the important job of making sure you have all the right gear you’ll need to ensure a great trip.

We’re sure you’ll already have the essentials like a great tentsleeping bags, and camp chairs, but below are some of our favorite items specifically for camping in Hot Springs National Park:

  • Coleman Camping Stove – This camping classic is perfect for whipping up campsite classics.
  • Portable water container – Save yourself from making dozens of trips to the campground water tap and bring one of these.
  • Cooler – The temperatures make a good cooler essential. We can’t recommend Yeti enough!

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.

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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