Wow! Summer is coming to a close and things look to be slowing down, just slightly, with school starting up. We have said good bye to our visitors, recovered from the flu and our travels and are looking back through our pictures and reliving some of our adventures. As I do that, I decided it was time to get off my duff and get the campground reviews written that I promised. I am kicking this off by telling you all about Madison Campground in Yellowstone National Park.
Madison Campground is located at the West Entrance of Yellowstone (you come in through West Yellowstone, Montana). West Yellowstone is your closest grocery store and fuel in proximity to this campground. If you find yourself in West Yellowstone, make sure to stop in at Eagle’s Store. They have old fashioned malts and milkshakes and make an awesome coke float. It was a nice way to cool off on a hot day and we really enjoyed the friendly service. Nice people there!
Back to the campground!
We booked our reservation for the campgrounds in January (for our trip in July) to make sure we got a spot. This is my Type-A personality shining it’s brightest (plus, I was just getting really excited about camping and I couldn’t wait!). Xanterra takes care of all of the reservations for the lodges and 5 campgrounds including Madison, Fishing Bridge RV Park, Bridge Bay, Canyon, and Grant Village. They make it easy for you to secure a reservation either over the phone or on their website. It was reassuring for me knowing I had a place to go, and knew where I would be sleeping. It makes you a little less flexible, but the way I planned the trip, it all worked out. Campgrounds are very full during their busiest season and if you got there first thing in the morning you *might* get a spot. It is probably easier if you are tent camping, but with a trailer, spots are fewer.
Our spot in C Loop
They had us in the C loop, which was great, and they had us pretty close to the bathroom, water spigot and wash station, which was convenient. We were also camped next to a whole troop of Boy Scouts and their parents which ended up being really fun. They got to relive memories of their boys learning to ride a two-wheeler and then look over at the men they had raised and were getting ready to send off to college. That was humbling. The roads were a little busy, but great for short bike rides around the campground.
As far as amenities, there are no showers at this campground, just flushies and sinks. Word has it there is a secret swimming/wading hole in the river in a very shallow bit of still water. We had heard it has gotten a bit murky and decided to forgo it. Swimming in the river is also not advised or allowed. The campground is close to one swimming hole on the Firehole River. We were told about it, but didn’t have a chance to check it out this trip. I guess it is about 15 minutes (max) away from the campground and is warmer than most rivers in the area due to the geothermal activity. There is another swimming area in the Mammoth area as well. We heard the Firehole River was better for kids.
Madison Campground is huge, but very comfortable and it feels very safe. The environment around you is beautiful and we saw yellow bellied marmots, elk and calves, and squirrels. There is an amphitheater where presentations are frequently made by Park Rangers, and the Jr. Park Ranger Station is within walking distance.
Campsites are big, and even through there isn’t a huge amount of privacy, people pretty much keep to themselves. The spacing is good, but you definitely see each other. Each site has a picnic table and fire ring. They strictly enforce bear safety and food and any items that have a scent must be locked up. Park Rangers will give warning and possible fines if you don’t follow the rules.
Madison Campground gives you great access to several of the big sites. Old Faithful is about a 30-minute drive to the south. On the way you can also check out Biscuit Basin, Black Sand Basin, Midway Geyser Basin (which includes the Grand Prismatic Spring), and the Lower Geyser Basin. There is lots of hiking and plenty of sulfury smells!
Old Faithful in all her glory!
Madison Campground is also about a 25-minute drive to Norris Geyser Basin (Norris is to the North). On the drive north, make sure you stop at Gibbon Falls and check it out. They are very pretty. We also walked in to Artist Paintpots, but it was late in the day and Laddy was tired so we didn’t spend much time exploring. Norris Geyser Basin was beautiful.
Norris Geyser Basin
Just to the North of Norris is Museum of the National Park Ranger, which we found worth the stop as we were passing. It is a small museum but gives a great history of the birthplace of the “Park Ranger”. Yellowstone is home to the very first Park Rangers in the world, and global park ranger systems are based on what Yellowstone developed. Pretty cool!
Continue driving North and check out the Mammoth Hot Springs! It makes for a long day, but Mammoth Hot Springs is amazing!
Madison Campground was my favorite campground we stayed at in Yellowstone. It was a lot of fun and was located in such a great place for us. Definitely check it out!