Grand Teton National Park

The run on 800-plus freshly reservable campsites in Grand Teton National Park was significant, but worries that all the park’s tent pads would be swooped up within hours were mostly unfounded.

Teton Park made the switch from first-come, first-served camping to reservation-only for all drive-to campsites ahead of the 2021 summer season. Those sites became available on Recreation.gov for dates between when camping opens in the spring through six months out from the present date — so into early August — starting a week ago Tuesday morning. A week later, there remained plenty of camping opportunities, although the later into the summer, the slimmer the pickings.

“There are still sites available,” Grand Teton spokeswoman Denise Germann said last week. “Every day opens up new ones, because it’s on a six-month rolling basis.”

At popular spots like Jenny Lake and Signal Mountain, it is already hard to find any July camping openings. But at the larger campgrounds, such as the Gros Ventre Campground, availability remained for almost every day, even including the most popular stretches of summer, such as over the Fourth of July weekend.

Once everything is picked over in coming weeks and months, there will still be one last shot at summer 2021 Teton camping. At an unspecified date, 30% of the Gros Ventre Campground’s 300-plus sites will release — a one-time deal to help out tourists who missed news of the switch to reservation-only.

“There should be additional opportunities for reservations at Gros Ventre,” Germann said. “I encourage everybody to continually look at Recreation.gov.”

Not all sites are reservable through that federal website. The Colter Bay RV Park and tent village for 2021 are listed at the concessionaire’s website, GTLC.com, though the reservations will migrate to Recreation.gov in 2022. Headwaters Campground sites are available through FlaggRanch.com.

Grand Teton National Park made the switch to reservation-only camping at the request of its two privately owned concessionaires, which operate the properties. In recent years, all 800-plus sites were occupied with regularity during the heart of the summer.

The situation is different in Yellowstone National Park, where its concessionaire, Xanterra, operates five of the park’s campgrounds — the Fishing Bridge RV Park and the Madison, Grant Village, Canyon and Bridge Bay campgrounds — and had already switched to reservation-only.

Yellowstone Park itself operates the seven remaining campgrounds and is considering following suit to Xanterra and Grand Teton National Park and making the transition to reservation-only. That decision, however, has not yet been made.

“We’re not at that point,” Yellowstone spokeswoman Linda Veress said.

Note — This story has been updated to specify that the Colter Bay RV Park and tent village are reserved through GTLC.com for 2021. The campground sites at Colter Bay are reservable through recreation.gov.

Contact Mike Koshmrl at 732-7067 or env@jhnewsandguide.com.

Mike has reported on the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem's wildlife, wildlands and the agencies that manage them since 2012. A native Minnesotan, he arrived in the West to study environmental journalism at the University of Colorado.

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(1) comment

William Baehr

"Grand Teton National Park made the switch to reservation-only camping at the request of its two privately owned concessionaires, which operate the properties." The public had no opportunity to weigh in on this decision because there was no public comment period. Apparently, the Park managers take orders from the concessionaires and could care less what the public thinks.

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