Categories: CampingDestinations

Big Sky Ranch Camping West of Yellowstone National Park

Diamond P Ranch Camping is located conveniently just off the highway (but far enough from the road that you won’t hear too much traffic noise), and is on the boundary of the Caribou-Targhee National Forest. This location provides plenty of fresh mountain air and nearly 360-degree views to enjoy. Relax at your easy and open campsite or explore the bountiful offerings of the region.

One of the many eclectic corners of the town of West Yellowstone

Diamond P Ranch sits less than a 10-minute drive from West Yellowstone, which is a funky little town that seemingly had its genesis as the western gateway to Yellowstone National Park. The town has a number of restaurants, gas stations, Imax theater, and most of the amenities you’d find in any other town. More interestingly, it also has the Yellowstone Historic Center and the Grizzly and Wolf Historic Center, as well as a number of other activities and points of interest replete with local Montana flair.

Buttermilk Creek runs through the property while Lion Head’s Mountain watches from above

If you’re looking for entertainment and want to do even less driving than the short jaunt into town, the ranch hosts traditional local events once in awhile, such as their annual Diamond P Shootout where professional marksmen come from across the country and Canada to compete in mounted shooting events. There’s also a rodeo on the neighboring property that holds events frequently. You might even get to enjoy listening to the announcers in the early evening from camp if the wind is right.

From the campsite you can be in Yellowstone National Park in just over 10 minutes! It’s hard to find such laid back and spacious camping anywhere else in the region, and the park’s 2,000 campsites are usually all occupied by the end of the day, especially during summer season. We found it far more preferable, relaxing, and enjoyable to spread out at the ranch and not feel like you are camping on top of someone else.

We easily parked our van right next to the horse corral. Lots of space!

Mealtime is super easy at the campsite – just set up a table and get cooking! We opted for quick and simple avocado toast and soaked up the early morning sun with our coffee. Not to mention sunset the night before with American single malt!

From the ranch, you have great access to surrounding features like Earthquake Lake and Hebgen Lake, with their stunning views, ample and world-class river fishing, a truly relaxed vibe, and a lot less people than you’ll find inside Yellowstone. Seriously, a LOT less. You’re also within spitting distance of the Continental Divide, Lion’s Head Mountain, and endless national forest hikes and all the accompanying activities of such terrain.

We followed the horse trail up into the neighboring National Forest a little while. It was very chill but is definitely a horse path! Many other hikes can be found in the surrounding area.

If you’re interested in a horseback tour of the area, Diamond P Ranch has been operating rides for over 60 years and has trail rights throughout the region — even going up over the Continental Divide. Their staff is wonderfully laid back and friendly and will definitely take good care of you.

Trail horses relaxing in their peaceful pasture

The campsites themselves are generously spread apart, nice and flat, and sit next to Diamond P Ranch’s horse motel, so you’ll have the opportunity to meet interesting folks who are corralling their horses for the night and are perhaps even exercising them in the arena. A number of ranch horses also live 200 yards away in the open space, so you can go feed them apples and make friends with them if you’d like.

Sunsets here are spectacular, even when its hazy due to distant wildfires

Amenities are basic, but you’ll have access to potable water and nice clean port-a-toilets. Wildlife viewing opportunities abound, including red tailed hawks, great blue heron, peregrine falcons, elk, moose, and foxes. Pleasant background sounds are provided by a small brook that runs behind camp, but the location really comes into its own during sunset and after dark. The magnificent sunsets will blow you away, but once the stars come out you’ll really begin to understand why Montana is called Big Sky country as you’re dazzled by the superb tapestry that engulfs you from above.

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