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How To Get A Campsite At Colter Bay


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Mariel Hudspeth



Welcome to Colter Bay, the gateway to adventure in the heart of nature’s playground. Nestled on the shores of Jackson Lake in Grand Teton National Park, Colter Bay is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts seeking unparalleled beauty and endless recreational opportunities. Whether you’re an avid camper, an avid hiker, or simply looking for a peaceful retreat, Colter Bay Campground offers the perfect setting for your next adventure.


With its stunning views of the Teton Range and its close proximity to hiking trails, fishing spots, and scenic drives, Colter Bay is a popular destination among nature lovers from all walks of life. The campground is managed by the National Park Service and provides a range of camping options to suit every preference, from tent sites to RV hookups.


In this article, we will guide you through the process of securing a campsite at Colter Bay, helping you navigate the reservation system, select the perfect campsite, and make the most of your stay. So, let’s dive in and start planning your unforgettable camping experience at Colter Bay Campground.


Understanding Colter Bay Campground

Before diving into the reservation process, let’s take a moment to understand the layout and amenities of Colter Bay Campground. The campground is located near the northern end of Jackson Lake and is divided into several loops, each offering a unique camping experience.


There are a total of 360 campsites available, with a mix of tent-only sites, RV sites with full hookups, and sites for group camping. The campground is open from mid-May to late September, with peak season running from June to August.


Colter Bay Campground is equipped with clean and modern restroom facilities, as well as water stations and picnic tables at each site. Bear-proof food storage lockers are also provided to ensure the safety of campers and wildlife alike.


One of the unique features of Colter Bay Campground is its proximity to the Colter Bay Village. Here, you’ll find a general store, gift shop, laundry facilities, showers, and even a marina where you can rent boats and explore the scenic Jackson Lake.


It’s worth noting that while there is no Wi-Fi available at the campground, you will find cell phone reception in most areas. This allows you to stay connected while still immersing yourself in the tranquility of nature.


Now that you have a good understanding of the campground, let’s move on to the reservation and availability process.


Reservations and Availability

Securing a campsite at Colter Bay Campground requires advance planning due to its popularity. Reservations can be made up to six months in advance, and it is highly recommended to reserve your spot as early as possible, especially during the peak season.


You can make your reservation online through the official Grand Teton National Park website or by calling the reservation line. The online reservation system provides real-time availability, allowing you to see which campsites are still open for your preferred dates.


It’s important to note that a non-refundable reservation fee is required when making your reservation. This fee helps support the maintenance and preservation of the campground and its facilities.


While online reservations are the most convenient option, a limited number of first-come, first-served sites are available for those who prefer a more spontaneous camping experience. These sites are usually in high demand, so arriving early and being flexible with your dates is key.


During the peak season, Colter Bay Campground can fill up quickly, especially on weekends and holidays. Therefore, it’s essential to check the availability regularly and be prepared with alternative dates in case your preferred dates are already booked.


If you are unable to secure a campsite at Colter Bay Campground, there are other nearby campgrounds in Grand Teton National Park and the surrounding area. It’s always a good idea to have backup options in mind.


Now that you know how to make a reservation and understand the availability process, let’s explore the different booking options available to you.


Booking Options

When it comes to booking a campsite at Colter Bay Campground, you have several options to choose from depending on your camping preferences. Here are the different booking options available:

  1. Tent-Only Sites: If you prefer the classic camping experience of setting up a tent under the stars, Colter Bay Campground offers a variety of tent-only sites. These sites are perfect for those seeking a more rustic and intimate camping experience surrounded by nature.
  2. RV Sites: For those traveling in recreational vehicles, Colter Bay Campground provides RV sites with full hookups. These sites offer amenities such as water, electricity, and sewer connections, allowing for a more comfortable camping experience. Keep in mind that these sites tend to be in high demand, so early reservation is crucial.
  3. Group Camping: If you are planning a camping trip with a large group, Colter Bay Campground offers group camping sites. These sites can accommodate multiple tents or RVs and provide a communal setting for friends and families to gather and enjoy the outdoors together.
  4. First-Come, First-Served: As mentioned earlier, a limited number of campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. These sites are ideal for those who enjoy a more spontaneous approach to camping or for those who were unable to secure a reservation in advance. However, be aware that availability is subject to demand, so arriving early is essential.

When making your reservation or selecting a first-come, first-served site, it’s important to consider factors such as the size of your camping party, the amenities you require, and the specific location within the campground that suits your preferences. The next section will delve into choosing the right campsite at Colter Bay Campground.


Choosing the Right Campsite

Choosing the right campsite at Colter Bay can greatly enhance your camping experience. Here are some factors to consider when selecting a campsite:

  1. Location: Take into account the proximity of the campsite to amenities, such as restrooms and water stations. If you prefer a more secluded experience, look for campsites located further away from high-traffic areas.
  2. Views: Colter Bay offers breathtaking views of the Teton Range, so consider selecting a campsite that provides a picturesque backdrop and allows you to enjoy the natural beauty that surrounds you.
  3. Privacy: If you value privacy, opt for a campsite with ample vegetation or space between neighboring sites. This will allow you to enjoy a more secluded and intimate camping experience.
  4. Ease of Access: Consider your camping equipment and any mobility restrictions. If you have a large RV or require accessible facilities, look for campsites that can accommodate your specific needs.
  5. Shade and Sunlight: Depending on the season and personal preference, you may want to select a campsite that offers shade during hot summer days or one that provides ample sunlight for warmth and natural lighting.
  6. Noise Level: Keep in mind that the campground can get busy during peak season. If you prefer a quieter experience, aim for campsites located away from busy roads or common gathering areas.

While the online reservation system allows you to choose your preferred campsite, first-come, first-served campers may not have the same luxury. In such cases, it’s helpful to have a few backup options in mind. Explore the campground map and familiarize yourself with the different loops and their amenities to make an informed decision upon arrival.


By considering these factors and taking the time to choose the perfect campsite that suits your needs and preferences, you’ll set the stage for a memorable and enjoyable camping adventure at Colter Bay.


Tips for Securing a Campsite

Securing a campsite at Colter Bay requires careful planning and some insider tips. Here are a few tips to help you increase your chances of securing a campsite at this popular destination:

  1. Book Early: As mentioned before, Colter Bay Campground is in high demand, especially during the peak season. Booking your campsite as early as possible, up to six months in advance, gives you the best chance of securing your preferred dates.
  2. Be Flexible with Dates: If your travel schedule allows, consider being flexible with your dates. Weekdays and shoulder seasons tend to have better availability compared to weekends and peak summer months.
  3. Check Regularly for Cancellations: People’s plans can change, and campsites may become available due to cancellations. Keep an eye on the reservation system and be ready to snatch up any openings that may arise.
  4. Arrive Early for First-Come, First-Served Sites: If you opt for a first-come, first-served site, arrive at the campground early in the morning to increase your chances of securing a spot. Popular sites fill up quickly, so it’s best to be there when the campground opens.
  5. Plan for Shoulder Seasons: Consider visiting Colter Bay in the spring or fall when the crowds are thinner. The weather may be slightly cooler, but you’ll enjoy more serene surroundings and greater availability of campsites.
  6. Divide and Conquer: If you’re traveling with a larger group and need multiple sites, have a plan in place to secure adjacent sites. Splitting up your group upon arrival can increase the chances of finding available campsites that are close together.
  7. Have Back-Up Campgrounds: While Colter Bay is a popular choice, nearby campgrounds in Grand Teton National Park or the surrounding area can offer a great alternative. Research and have a list of alternative campgrounds ready in case Colter Bay is fully booked.

Following these tips will help you navigate the reservation process and increase your chances of securing a campsite at Colter Bay Campground. Remember, preparation and flexibility are key to successfully finding the perfect spot for your camping adventure.


Arrival and Check-in Process

Once you’ve successfully secured your campsite at Colter Bay Campground, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the arrival and check-in process to ensure a smooth start to your camping experience.


Upon arrival at Colter Bay, you’ll need to check-in at the campground’s registration office. The registration office is typically located near the entrance of the campground and is easily identifiable. Here, you will provide your reservation details and any additional information requested by the staff.


If you’ve made a reservation, the staff will confirm your booking and provide you with a campsite assignment. They will also provide you with a campground map, which will help you navigate your way to your designated site. It’s advisable to make note of the site number and keep a copy of the campground map for reference during your stay.


For those opting for a first-come, first-served campsite, the check-in process is similar. You’ll provide your information to the staff and be assigned an available campsite based on the availability at the time of your arrival.


Once you’ve checked in and obtained your campsite assignment, it’s time to head to your site and set up camp. Follow the directions provided by the staff or refer to the campground map to locate your designated site. Keep in mind that check-in time is usually in the afternoon, so plan your arrival accordingly.


Before setting up your camp, take a moment to familiarize yourself with the campground’s rules and regulations. This will ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable stay while respecting the natural environment and other campers. Pay attention to guidelines regarding campfires, quiet hours, proper waste disposal, and wildlife safety.


Now that you’re familiar with the arrival and check-in process, it’s time to start enjoying all the amenities and recreational opportunities that Colter Bay Campground and its surrounding area have to offer.


Amenities and Facilities

Colter Bay Campground provides a range of amenities and facilities to enhance your camping experience and ensure your comfort during your stay. Here are some of the amenities you can expect to find at Colter Bay:

  1. Restroom Facilities: The campground offers modern and well-maintained restroom facilities equipped with flush toilets and running water. These facilities are conveniently located throughout the campground, ensuring easy access from your campsite.
  2. Water Stations: Freshwater is essential for camping, and Colter Bay Campground provides water stations where you can fill your containers and refill your drinking water supply. These stations are easily accessible and strategically placed to serve campers in different loops.
  3. Picnic Tables and Fire Rings: Each campsite at Colter Bay Campground is equipped with a picnic table and a fire ring. These amenities allow you to enjoy outdoor dining and cook meals over an open fire, creating a true camping experience.
  4. Bear-Proof Food Storage Lockers: To protect the wildlife and prevent any unwelcome encounters with bears, Colter Bay Campground provides bear-proof food storage lockers. These lockers are available at each campsite, ensuring that your food and scented items are stored securely and away from wildlife.
  5. Laundry Facilities: For campers in need of laundry facilities, Colter Bay offers a convenient laundromat. This facility allows you to clean your clothes and essentials during your stay, keeping you fresh for all your outdoor adventures.
  6. Showers: If you’re in need of a refreshing shower after a day of exploring, Colter Bay has shower facilities available for campers. Keep in mind that showers may have a fee associated with their usage.
  7. General Store and Gift Shop: Located in the nearby Colter Bay Village, the general store provides a wide range of grocery items, camping supplies, and firewood. The gift shop offers souvenirs and outdoor gear, allowing you to stock up on any essentials you may have forgotten.
  8. Marina and Boat Rentals: For those eager to explore the scenic Jackson Lake, Colter Bay has a marina where you can rent boats and kayaks. This gives you the opportunity to paddle across the crystal-clear waters or try your hand at fishing in the lake.

These amenities and facilities ensure that you have everything you need to enjoy a comfortable and convenient camping experience at Colter Bay Campground. From clean restroom facilities to the convenience of a general store and access to recreational activities, Colter Bay strives to make your stay as enjoyable as possible.


Exploring Colter Bay Area

Colter Bay is not only a great place to camp, but it also serves as a starting point for many exciting outdoor adventures. Here are some of the activities and attractions you can explore in the Colter Bay area:

  1. Hiking: Colter Bay is surrounded by an extensive network of hiking trails that cater to all skill levels. From leisurely strolls along the lake to more challenging hikes in the nearby mountains, there’s something for everyone. Some popular trails include the Lakeshore Trail, Hermitage Point Trail, and the Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point Trail.
  2. Fishing: Jackson Lake is renowned for its excellent fishing opportunities. Whether you’re an experienced angler or a beginner, you can try your luck catching trout, salmon, or even the elusive cutthroat trout. Make sure to obtain the necessary fishing permits and adhere to the state fishing regulations.
  3. Boating and Kayaking: With the marina located in Colter Bay, you have the chance to rent a boat or kayak to explore the picturesque Jackson Lake. Paddle along the calm waters, discovering hidden coves and enjoying the stunning mountain views.
  4. Wildlife Viewing: Grand Teton National Park is home to a diverse array of wildlife, and Colter Bay is no exception. Keep your eyes peeled for sightings of moose, elk, bison, bald eagles, and even the occasional black bear or grizzly bear. Remember to observe wildlife from a safe distance, respecting their natural habitat.
  5. Scenic Drives: Take a drive along the scenic roads in the area to appreciate the breathtaking landscapes of Grand Teton National Park. The Signal Mountain Summit Road and the Teton Park Road offer stunning views of the Teton Range and opportunities for wildlife sightings along the way.
  6. Photography: The natural beauty of Colter Bay makes it a paradise for photography enthusiasts. Capture the majestic mountain vistas, vibrant sunrises and sunsets, or the delicate wildflowers that dot the meadows. The incredible diversity of the landscape provides endless opportunities for stunning photographs.
  7. Guided Tours and Programs: If you’re interested in learning more about the natural and cultural history of the area, join one of the guided tours or programs offered by the national park. These educational experiences, led by knowledgeable park rangers, can provide deeper insights into the ecosystem and cultural significance of the region.

Exploring the Colter Bay area allows you to immerse yourself in the majestic beauty of nature and engage in a wide range of outdoor activities. From hiking and fishing to wildlife viewing and photography, there’s something to suit every interest and adventure level.


Nearby Attractions and Activities

While Colter Bay itself offers a plethora of outdoor adventures, there are also several nearby attractions and activities that you can explore during your visit to the area. Here are some noteworthy destinations near Colter Bay:

  1. Grand Teton National Park: Colter Bay is located within the expansive Grand Teton National Park, which encompasses stunning mountain peaks, pristine lakes, and diverse wildlife. Take the opportunity to explore other areas of the park, such as Jenny Lake, Cascade Canyon, and Snake River Overlook, which offer breathtaking vistas and scenic trails.
  2. Jackson Hole: Just a short drive from Colter Bay, you’ll find the vibrant town of Jackson Hole. Known for its lively atmosphere, charming shops, and delicious local cuisine, you can spend a day exploring the town’s art galleries, enjoying live music, or savoring a meal at one of the many restaurants.
  3. Yellowstone National Park: Embark on a day trip to the iconic Yellowstone National Park, located to the north of Grand Teton. Marvel at the impressive geysers, including the famous Old Faithful, witness the vibrant hot springs, and keep an eye out for the abundant wildlife, such as grizzly bears, wolves, and herds of bison.
  4. Jackson Hole Mountain Resort: If you’re visiting during the winter months, consider heading to the nearby Jackson Hole Mountain Resort for some world-class skiing and snowboarding. With challenging terrain and stunning mountain views, it’s a haven for winter sports enthusiasts.
  5. National Elk Refuge: Located near Jackson, the National Elk Refuge is home to thousands of wintering elk, providing a unique opportunity to witness these majestic creatures up close. Take a sleigh ride through the refuge for an unforgettable wildlife viewing experience.
  6. Snake River: The Snake River flows through the area, providing excellent opportunities for scenic float trips and thrilling whitewater rafting adventures. Join a guided tour or rent a kayak or canoe to explore the river’s beauty and enjoy the tranquility of floating downstream.
  7. Rock Climbing and Mountaineering: For the adventurous souls, the Teton Range offers world-class rock climbing and mountaineering opportunities. With its dramatic peaks and breathtaking exposure, this region attracts climbers from around the world seeking challenging routes and incredible vistas.

These nearby attractions and activities add even more excitement and variety to your visit to Colter Bay. From exploring neighboring national parks to experiencing the charm of Jackson Hole, there’s no shortage of adventure and exploration in this remarkable region.



Colter Bay Campground offers the perfect basecamp for immersing yourself in the pristine beauty of Grand Teton National Park. With its stunning views, a range of camping options, and proximity to a multitude of outdoor activities, this campground is a paradise for adventure seekers and nature enthusiasts.


By understanding the reservation process and making early bookings, you increase your chances of securing a campsite at Colter Bay. Whether you choose a tent-only site, an RV hookup, or opt for a first-come, first-served site, planning ahead is key. Consider the specific amenities and facilities you desire, and select the ideal campsite that suits your needs.


Once you’ve settled into your campsite, you can explore the beauty of Colter Bay and its surrounding area. Embark on scenic hikes, cast a line into the crystal-clear waters of Jackson Lake, or rent a boat to navigate its tranquil surface. Take time to appreciate the breathtaking natural beauty and make sure to keep an eye out for the incredible wildlife that call this area home.


Furthermore, don’t miss the opportunity to visit nearby attractions, such as Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park, and the charming town of Jackson Hole. These destinations offer additional adventures and experiences to complement your stay at Colter Bay.


Remember to make the most of the amenities and facilities available at Colter Bay Campground, like the modern restroom facilities, water stations, and bear-proof food storage lockers. And, of course, enjoy the convenience of the general store and gift shop in nearby Colter Bay Village.


Whether you’re a seasoned camper or new to the world of outdoor adventures, Colter Bay Campground is a destination that will captivate your heart and provide memories to last a lifetime. So, pack your camping gear, prepare for breathtaking views, and get ready to experience the magic of Colter Bay in Grand Teton National Park.