Looking for a national park trip planner to finally see American bison living in the wild? Check out RVadventure-usa.com! Why are we fascinated with seeing bison roaming around in their natural setting? Bison are the largest mammal in North America. The male bison (called bulls) can weigh up to 2,000 lbs. and the females (called cows) can weigh up to 1,000 lbs. They are wild and docile, crazy and caring and look so darn proud that they just fascinate us; we can’t seem to get enough of them.
So get out your RV national park trip planner and check out the best destinations (in our opinion) to see these amazing creatures, as you will not find them in a zoo.
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming – The National Park Service states that during the summer of 2022, there were around 5,900 bison in Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone is the only place in the U.S. where bison have lived continuously since prehistoric times.
- Lamar Valley should be on your “to do” list when visiting this national park. This portion of the park is more remote and is a fantastic place to see bison and other wildlife. Lamar Valley is located in the northeastern portion of the Park off NE Entrance Road and east of Tower Junction.
- Hayden Valley is usually the easiest place to see bison and the valley. Hayden Valley is located in the middle of the Park off Grand Loop Road just north of Yellowstone Lake and south of Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.
Yellowstone has many campgrounds inside the Park with most offering beautiful views, wildlife sightings of bison, elk, grizzly bears and wolves.
- Slough Creek Campground – a small beautiful rustic campground near Lamar Valley that does take reservations. Nightly rate $20. 16 sites. Max RV size is 30 foot. Open June 22-October 9. This campground offers pull thru sites, vault toilets, hand pump for water and no hook-ups for your RV (no water, sewer or electric), no generator use allowed. Fishing opportunities are nearby as well.
- Lewis Lake Campground – located about 8 miles north of the South Entrance to Yellowstone National Park that does take reservations. Nightly Rate $20. 84 sites. Max RV size is 25 foot. Open June 22-October 14. Back-in sites only, vault toilets and no hook-ups for your RV (no water, sewer or electric), no generator use allowed. A good place for those who want to be off the beaten path and who like to fish or just hang out by the water. It is a short walk to Lewis Lake.
If you have a larger RV or want more amenities such as water, electric and sewer, there are many campgrounds available just outside the Park. Then consult your National Park Trip Planner and take your RV, tow vehicle or rental car and go visit these amazing animals along with all the beauty of Yellowstone National Park.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota. This park offers views of 400 bison throughout the Park. Animals such as the American bison and the black-tailed prairie dog are relatively easy to spot. Others such as big horn sheep or elk are more difficult to find, due to their behaviors and/or preferred hours of activity. Bison were brought to the Park in 1956 when they roam freely on 46,000 acres. In 1962, the herd increased to 145 animals. Today, the bison roam freely throughout the Park in the South Unit (300 bison) and North Unit (100 bison). President Roosevelt’s former ranch house also enhances your visit to the South Unit.
There are not many choices for campgrounds in or near this national park.
- Juniper Campground – This is the only campground in the park’s North Unit. Beautiful views and lots of wildlife. Open all year, sites are first-come, first-served except the group site which is open by reservation only, May through September. Nightly Rate $7-$14 depending on the time of year you visit. This campground is mostly tent camping but RVs are also allowed. Pull through and Back-in sites available and sites vary in size so there is no guarantee a site to fit your RV will be available (something to keep in mind). No hook-ups, flush toilets are seasonal, vault toilets are open year round, potable water (seasonal), non-potable water (all year), and a dump station are offered at this campground. The campground is within walking distance of the cannonball creations in the North Unit.
- Cottonwood Campground – located in the park’s South Unit near the Little Missouri River and there is a chance of buffalo, wild horses or prairie dogs visiting the campground. This campground is open all year. Half the sites are by reservation and half are first-come, first-served. RV sites vary in length but there are pull thru sites up to 50 feet and back-in sites up to 40 feet in length. Potable water (seasonal), no dump station, generator use is allowed during specific hours.
If you prefer a campground with hook-ups, you will need to go into Dickinson (37 miles east of the national park). Then take your RV, tow vehicle or rental car and go visit this amazing national park.
GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, North Rim. The bison herd primarily resides on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. About 100 bison migrated here in the early 1990s. The bison spend their summers in the open meadows and near water sources where they can easily be viewed by visitors. Some of the bison can also be seen in the neighboring Kaibab National Forest. The North Rim of the Park has some amazing wildlife viewing and is less populated than the South Rim. The North Rim is typically open from May to the end of October but can vary based on snowfall over the winter.
Campground options are limited:
- North Rim Campground. Is located on the remote and rustic North Rim of the Grand Canyon. This campground does take reservations and is perfect for tents and RVs up to 40 foot maximum including tow vehicle. Season May 15-October 15. Nightly Rate $18-25. There are no hook-ups at this campground but there is a water refill station, restrooms with flush toilets, general store and a dump station.
- Kaibab Camper Village at Jacob Lake. Off the beaten path, quiet and secluded, surrounded by Kaibab National Forest. Located 43 miles from the North Rim (est 2 hour drive). Season May 14-October 15. Large RVs welcome up to 45 foot and one vehicle. Nightly Rate $50 (average). Offers restrooms, showers, laundry, and general store. Full hook-ups including 30 and 50 amps.
- Jacob Lake Campground. Located in Jacob Lake, Arizona, 43 miles north of the North Rim (est 2 hour drive). This campground is nestled among the towering Ponderosa Pine trees of the North Kaibab National Forest. Season May 17-September 28. Nightly Rate: $26/night. No hook-ups, Vault toilets, no showers or laundry, RVs not allowed to fill water tanks with drinking water from the campground. Country store across the street from the campground.
CUSTER STATE PARK, Rapid City, SD. The free roaming herd of nearly 1,400 bison can be found at Custer State Park, one of the world’s largest publicly owned bison herds. You can visit the Bison Center and hear the story of the park’s bison herd and how they plan to educate future generations on the importance of bison. The park encompasses 71,000 acres in the Black Hills and is home to abundant wildlife and adventure; camping, hiking, biking, swimming, fishing, or relaxing, there’s something here for everyone. This state park also offers annual buffalo roundup every year during September. While at the park, be sure to take a Buffalo Safari Tour where you go off-road to see the wildlife up close.
There are 9 campgrounds inside the state park but here are a couple to consider. In addition to the nightly rate, you will need to pay the park entry fee. https://gfp.sd.gov/csp-campgrounds/
- Game Lodge Campground. Located in the park near the Visitor Center in a secluded area of the woods. Open all year with all amenities available April 1-November 15. From November 16-March 31, vault toilets and water hydrant are available. Nightly Rate: $30/night electric only. Large RVs welcome. Flush toilets, showers, dump station, drinking water, vault toilets are available.
- Sylvan Lake Campground. Just a short walk from Sylvan Lake, the crown jewel of Custer State Park. Sylvan Lake Campground is suitable for tents and RVs under 27 feet. Nightly Rate: $35/night. There is a low tunnel that prevents you from getting to the campsite easily as you must come and go via Rte 89. Offers restrooms, showers, and is close to the general store.
There are many campgrounds in this area to consider as well.
CSKT BISON RANGE, Missoula, Montana. CSKT is a nature reserve on the Flathead Indian Reservation near Missoula established for the conservation of American bison. Formerly called the National Bison Range, the size of the bison herd is 350 adult bison and welcomes between 50-60 calves per year. You will take a self-guided drive through the Range, and in addition to bison you will also see Rocky Mountain goats, elk, pronghorn antelope and bighorn sheep. RVs are allowed. If you are towing, stop at the large parking lot at the Visitor Center and disconnect.
Campgrounds in the area include:
- Flathead River Reserve. This campground is 17 miles from the Range and is located inside the CSKT Indian Reservation adjacent to the Flathead River. This campground only has 3 sites but each one has a view of the Flathead River. This is not a campground for a night or two but requires a minimum of 1 month stay. You must email the campground for rates. It does offer pull thru sites, full hook-ups (15, 20, 30, 50 amps). There are no other amenities.
- Diamond S. RV Park. This campground is 18 miles from the Range off Hwy 93 in Ronan, Montana. This campground is open all year and has 27 sites and welcomes RVs up to 50 feet. Nightly Rate: $62. Amenities include full hookups, 30/50 amp, restrooms, showers, laundry and playground.
Other campgrounds are available further from the Range, Missoula (48 miles south) and Polson (32 miles north).
Bison can be found in Wyoming, Montana, Utah, California, Arizona and South Dakota. The above destinations are our favorite to view bison but be sure to check out the other states as well.
When looking for assistance for your next RV road trip, RV Adventure-USA is your valuable resource to help create an RV adventure that includes your ideal destinations. Our expertise provides you with years of travel experience, roads that are RV safe, information on preferred campgrounds that will accommodate your RV, list of activities (guided and self-guided) from each campground to help you get the most out of your stay. We will make sure that your journey is both enjoyable and safe. We are here to help whenever you are ready.