Sleep in Car in Yellowstone?

Discussion in 'Travel' started by william_h._wiley, Aug 25, 2008.

  1. To avoid excessive motel costs, I want to sleep in the back of my SUV most nights in Yellowstone. I plan to be
    there the 3rd week of September. I need to know:
    1.) Are there campsites that allow that and which ones are they. Costs, reservations required, etc.?
    2.) Is there electricity available to recharge my digital camera's batteries?

    Thanks for your help.
  3. Whow, thanks, Bob. And I wish everyone took a google 101 course around here first ... , William.
  4. Bill, I do it every trip, much better than a tent too. I know you can do it at Norris, Mammoth, Madison, Bridge Bay, and maybe others also. As far as charging batteries get a power inverter and charge the batteries in your car.
  5. Thanks for the answers. Nice to know that someone else has done the same thing. I will pursue some information from the web page provided. Good resource. Thanks.
  6. You generally are NOT allowed to just pull over to the side of the road and sleep in your car. Expect to be woken up in the middle of the night by a ranger and asked to move, and perhaps fined if you try this in a National Park.

    You generally CAN sleep in your car in an established campground, but you'll have to pay the normal campground fee and get a regular campsite. They don't check to make sure you've got a tent.

    For recharging camera batteries, if you've got a car, the simplest solution is to buy a cheap small inverter and charge from your car's electrical system. Sites with electrical hookups, if available at all, will come at an extra cost which probably isn't worth it, and will limit your choice of campsites.
  7. Hi Bill,

    I took a trip out to Yellowstone from Michigan a few years back and slept in my Buick! I am just a little bit, less than 5 ft tall so it worked great for me. So sleeping in an SUV will be no problem

    I actually went at a little later in the season and a lot of the campgrounds were closed. Travelling alone as a female I felt much safer in the car with the security system activated. I pulled into some campgrounds that were closed and just parked for the night. In areas where the campground was actually closed I did not have any fires.

    One of those trips all by myself I will relish for years.

    Have fun share pictures. I loved the Badlands, too. Need to go back out there with someone so I can hike in areas you just shouldn't go alone, again especially as a women.

    Lennette Brunker
  8. I bought an inverter last night and it looks like it will work okay. The batteries for my Canon typically take 1-2 hours to recharge, so I'll see if it's the same using the inverter. Could be that it won't be a continuous charge either, so I'll see if partly charging several times will work, as I drive and then stop to take pictures.

    I'm a little paranoid about recharging my laptop in the car. Don't want any ups/downs in the votage to burn a circuit board. Have others used an inverter for laptops okay?

    Good point about the car's security system, Lennette. If I wake up in the middle of the night with the horn blaring, I'll know it's either a thief or a bear.

    Bought a new RAV4 last month and with the front seats moved forward, there's more room than I thought there would be. I bought a 5" thick dense foam pad for the back and it feels like nirvana. I may eat my words though after a night or two.

  9. Don't forget to take out all the food and place them in the bear resistant container provided at each camp site, or buy a portable bear resistant container (you can find it at REI). Have fun!
  10. Went up to Yellowstone last summer (thru Jackson and the Tetons). At one point we were taking photos of bison and my girlfriend said "Look!" as a 2,000lb bison walked by me. I'd like a large car to sleep in so a male bison wouldn't get enamored with the car I'm sleeping in! We stayed in Canyon in some cabins. This is right in the middle of the "Figure 8" that makes up the main roads. One hint: Don't try to get to Canyon at night from the south: In cool weather the bison like to sleep on the paved road and it can take a long time.

    IMHO it is impossible to take a bad photo of the Tetons! Just an aside.
  11. I was in Yellowstone & Grand Teton in June. I stayed in Grant Village & Signal Mountain. A camp ground is a must basically all the turn outs adn parking areas are NO OVERNIGHT CAMPING. I was at one after dark and a ranger pulled up to make sure I was not staying there.
  12. I was in Yellowstone & Grand Teton in June. I stayed in Grant Village & Signal Mountain. A camp ground is a must basically all the turn outs adn parking areas are NO OVERNIGHT CAMPING. I was at one after dark and a ranger pulled up to make sure I was not staying there.
  13. Great info you guys! Much appreciated. These ideas will make my trip a better one. Thanks for sharing.

  14. You might be able to get away with it if you're stealthy, wake up early and move out first thing in the morning. I'd say park in the lots where backpackers leave their cars. That way the rangers won't be as suspicious of your vehicle. I've never done this in Yellowstone, but do it in Yosemite quite often and I've never had a problem there. I have a friend who lived in Yosemite for 2 months this way. Good luck and have fun!
  15. If all you will be doing is sleeping in your car the Rangers will leave you alone. the few times I have been chased out I just told them that I was tired and was just taking a nap. Of course I do not need to set up anything and just lean my seat back and sleep in the drivers seat. My sister-in law is a Ranger and se told me what they don't like are people that do camp out in parking lots make a mess (cooking, going to the bathroom, and just trashing the place.)

    I have also setup to shoot night shots and the Rangers would wave and just drive by. After my shoot
    I would just take a nap.
  16. Good luck in Yellowstone, I thought about doing just that on a trip out many years ago but decided against tempting fate after an encounter in The Great Smokies. It was in the Fall, a very busy time in the Smokies where the hotel rooms are very pricey so I thought I would just pull over at a trail head to sleep, after all I was going to be up at 5:30 anyway to drive up to Clingmans Dome for the sunrise. I hadn't been there 15 minutes when a Ranger stopped, checked all vechiles and politely told me to move on to a campground or motel. It seems that there are a lot of vechile breakins and they don't allow anyone to car camp outside of the campgrounds even in out of the way areas. Yellowstone may be different what with being much larger and the present limited Park funding you may not get hassled at all. I now have a camper shell for my pickup and I've never had a problem sleeping in the back in the campgrounds, you shouldn't have any either. Most National Park campgrounds don't have any hookups, but check with the Rangers first. You will probably need a car charger for those batteries. Just my 2 cents.
  17. Recharging batteries:
    You don't want to partially charge a camera battery, because that shortens its lifetime. What works best is
    having 2+ batteries, using one, and letting the first one recharge after it got fully discharged. If you only
    have 1 battery and if you partially charge it often, it might stop holding full charge.
    Car chargers:
    Mine worked fine for about a year, then when I changed car batteries because the first car battery died, the
    charger didn't work anymore, and my first thought was the car battery... but actually the charger died. Probably
    the safest is to have 2 chargers because if that $15 charger dies, and you're on the road... of a big trip... I
    think I paid $30 for my 75watt charger on a trip because i didn't have time to find Walmart/Target, and it did
    have low-battery protection.
    Good car AC chargers will have low battery protection, so that your car battery doesn't get discharged too much.
    I have charged my laptop just fine, 7 days in a row, preferably while driving between far away spots for an hour
    or more, or i think overnight too -- there is that concern that your car battery might get totally drained and
    your car won't start in the morning -- but that is just paranoia, if your charger says it has low-battery-voltage
    protection, and you had your battery for less than a year or two (depends on the climate where your car stayed --
    in deserts of Phoenix or harsh winters of Minnesota, your battery might only last a year just from going to work
    and back) -- things should be fine.
    Definately I mostly used the laptop while plugged into the car charger (AC inverter, same thing), so that i am
    not using the battery power which will later have to be recharged. Heat and especially cold can drain your laptop
    battery even when your laptop is off, as will transferring data from attached USB device.
    There advantages to buying a Sanho Colorspace portable storage device which reads CF and SD (and other formats)
    and can hold 160gigs ($360 or $320) or 250gigs ($460 or $420), and there are smaller sized versions too. If you
    search there are comments on its speed (about 1gig per 1 minute or 1.5 minutes, and being able to
    transfer 100gigs on a single charge!!!, plus this device comes with its car charger)
    <img src="">

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