Imagine the opening scene of Planet Earth 3, it’s the middle of the night, the moon is full and the air still. The camera pans slowly up to reveal a steaming, meandering, gibbon river. Bison are dormant on the plains and there is a distant howl from a pack of wolves hunting their prey.
This was what it was like arriving at Norris Campground at 2am, it was like stepping into Jurassic park. We’d driven 11 hours from Colorado and were keen to get a spot in the campground. Emily & I are pretty prepared people so we knew how the system worked. It’s first come first serve with a maximum 2 week stay. The camp office opens at 8 but people will queue far earlier. We were there on the 5th of June and by 5am there were 6 of us in line. By 7am at least 40 people eagerly waited to see if they could set up camp.
Top tip, get there early, in peak season I would recommend 5am at the latest.
We were offered a range of pitches & walk in sites. Walk ins are for campers only and have a magnificent view of the gibbon river so naturally we opted for this. I would recommend getting a spot on A-loop or the walk in sites to get yourself the best scenery, and interactions with wildlife.
Over the previous week we’d camped at some pretty incredible campgrounds, such as SilverBell in Colorado. Expecting things couldn’t get better, we were prepared for less.
We stayed at pitch 6 in the walk in sites, which was one row back from the river & arguably in the closest proximity to other pitches. A bear box, firepit and bench were standard as they are across almost all campgrounds. The pitch was level and the view was fantastic, wild Bison roam the camp and we had the pleasure of hosting Billy one night as seen in the opening picture.
It was safe to say things could get better. We enjoyed some of the most fantastic days of our lives, by the fire, under the stars and amongst the pines of this campground.
This was the first campground we stayed in with running water and flushing toilets. Very welcomed after a week of pit toilets and no water. There is a wash room for dishes and all in all everything was very clean. An added bonus is the charging points in the bathroom allowing you to recharge you camera/phone each evening. There are only 2 so be quick!
Norris campground is known for it’s wildlife, people share stories in the camp of the animals they’ve seen while on their stay. There are resident Bison that occupy the camp and come and go as they please. The solfatara trailhead out the back of the camp has been known to be a bear hotspot and a grizzly and her yearling walked through the camp on the last night we were there.
If you’ve never been to Yellowstone you can’t quite imagine how big it is. There are two main roads that form a figure of 8 and all the main attractions and sights are only accessible via these single track roads.
Norris campground is situated bang smack in the middle and is the most convenient camp to access the entire park. Nothing is more than an hour and a half away on a bad day. This was one of the draws to the campground for us and many others.
I would try very hard to camp here as it was definitely a foundation of such as successful Yellowstone trip!