Campsite Hebgen Lake West Yellowstone Montana

West Yellowstone WOW

We spent two nights in Livingston Montana at Osen RV Park — a commercial campground for the weekend.  We avoid commercial campgrounds preferring the more rustic settings. Since we are living a lot more without reservations this year and last weekend, was the last weekend before school starts in this area, we got reservations for the weekend. We didn’t know the town (Livingston) and the low price campsites were likely to be full of locals who would have a hundred-mile head start to get a campsite. Picking a campsite without knowing the area is easy, unless the competition is high, like on a Saturday. 

West Yellowstone

So this morning, Monday, we got going early (for us) and arrived in West Yellowstone before 11 am. We drove right by the first campground in West Yellowstone with hopes of getting a more remote place more scenic and quiet.

We had planned to go to Mammoth Hot Springs and camp in Yellowstone National Park but instead went through Bozeman to Hebgen Lake about eight miles west of West Yellowstone.  The reason for the change was that if we stayed at Mammoth Hot Springs it would be crowded; this week is the last week of heavy tourist season in Yellowstone. Labor Day marks the start of the quiet season in the park.

We are delighted with the decision because we had our pick of campsites and picked one right on the water with a view of the lake. I saw trout rising as we pulled up and again this evening as the shadows were getting long. 

From this campsite, we have easy access to Yellowstone and passed through a small section of the park and a small section of Wyoming only to exit the park re-enter Montana just north of West Yellowstone. This afternoon we took a five-mile drive into Idaho to get the kayaks inspected and then turned around back to Montana to our campsite. 

Gallatin River

The drive south of Bozeman was easy and very beautiful.  The road follows the Gallatin River as it flows north from Yellowstone and is one of three main rivers feeding Missouri River.  The Jefferson River, Madison River, and Gallatin combine near Butte Montana to become the Missouri River.  The river was clear – green color and very beautiful and looked very fishy. 

Yellowstone River Hayden Valley Yellowstone National Park Wyoming
Yellowstone River Hayden Valley Yellowstone National Park Wyoming

Hebgin Lake

Our campsite is on the Madison arm of Hebgin Lake and flows into the Madison River also sourced in Yellowstone.  Driving in was rough, first paved and then washboard dirt followed by deep potholes. The fence along the road was removed but the fence poles remain, and signs stated that buffalo were common in the area. Once in the campground, we have warnings about food storage and grizzly bears.

I expect to break another tradition during our stay here (planned for two weeks) by sending out more frequent reports about Yellowstone. I am wowed by the campsite and expect to be wowed by the park.

Here is a link to the google map for the area.

Link to our 2019 Route

Link to our route Minot North Dakota to Boise

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8 thoughts on “West Yellowstone WOW”

  1. Looks great, When are you going to confirm “looks fishie” and catch a fish?
    Wish we were there.

    I look forward to your reports. Always interesting and great pic’s

  2. to Bill

    We are camping on the south side of the Madison arm near the inlet. I plan to stay for two weeks.

    I love it. This place is great, it is already fall, 33 degrees last night. Clear sky and lots of frost. Not quite cold enough to kill the mosquitos yet.

    Fishing starts today. Kayaks are sitting next to the water. Won’t be able to launch without scaring up about 100 ducks and geese.

    I had to add a step to coffee making. To get the cups warm, I pour boiling water in them to bring them up to temperature, then re-heat the water before making coffee. The cups were so cold in the morning the coffee was cool before the cup was full.


  3. to Joel

    Today I fish.
    Tomorrow I fish.
    This weekend I fish.
    Labor Day I fish.
    Next week all week I fish.

    10 day Montana license.


  4. That’s an amazing campsite! The one time we went to Yellowstone we weren’t able to boondock due to power and wiring issues so we stayed at a commercial park in West Yellowstone. However, next time we go back we’ll likely boondock inside Yellowstone. It’ll sure be a lot cheaper.

    I’m happy to hear you’re enjoying your time there so far. I hope the place clears out Monday and you can go sightseeing without the mobs of tourists.

  5. to John

    John, camping in the park is still a great unknown. As far as I can tell there is no dispersed camping.

    Camping at our forest service spot on the Madison arm is fabulous.

    Today the Labor Day crowd departs, should be all alone for the next week. Not sure when we will leave. Does a 14-day limit apply if you are the only paying customer?

    Most sites in the park are size restricted. Some are in heavy tree cover and also have no generator rules. All except the one that is closed for remodeling have stay restrictions. All are crazy popular in July/Aug.


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