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Where to Stay: Yellowstone National Park Lodges


Where you stay when visiting Yellowstone National Park depends on your budget and the type of experience you seek. The accommodations range from the rustic Roosevelt Lodge Cabins, some with and some without bathrooms, to the casually upscale Lake Yellowstone Hotel.

The lobby at Lake Yellowstone Hotel. Photo: Xanterra Parks and Resorts

Enhance your Yellowstone National Park visit by booking the right accommodations for you. At 2.2 million acres, Yellowstone is big. To see the most, it’s wise to base yourself in two separate locations for at least two nights each. Doing so will maximize your sightseeing while minimizing your time on the road.

Where you stay depends on your budget and the type of experience you seek. The accommodations range from the rustic Roosevelt Lodge Cabins, some with and some without bathrooms, to the casually upscale Lake Yellowstone Hotel.

Don’t expect televisions and only one accommodation offers in-room Internet. Although Verizon cell service seems to work best, large stretches of the park lack connectivity. Take the hint: turn off your smartphones and stow your tablets. Look out your car window, walk the boardwalks and hike the trails to see waterfalls, geysers and hot springs as well as bison, elk, bear, and more wildlife.

Some of Our Favorite Yellowstone National Park Lodges

The cottages at Mammoth Hot Springs Photo: Candyce H. Stapen

Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and Cabins

The Mammoth area in Yellowstone’s northwest receives somewhat fewer visitors than other sections of the park, especially after the day visitors depart. Call us retro, but we like the funky cabins. Dating to 1936, these “cottages” come with front porches and basic, but comfortable, furnishings. Some have en suite bathrooms; other rooms use shared facilities.

The dining room at Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel. Photo: Xanterra Parks and Resorts

Try to book a cabin that faces a grassy courtyard. Bison and their babies meandered through on a recent night, providing quite a show for those still awake. Alas, we slept through it, discovering the droppings and the drama in the morning. The tired looking hotel is slated for renovation in the winter of 2016 and 2017. The updated dining room, a modern take on Art Deco, serves good food. We especially like the bison burger, smoked trout, and the huckleberry cobbler.

The lobby at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge. Photo: Xanterra Parks and Resorts

Old Faithful Inn and the Old Faithful Snow Lodge

Old Faithful Snow Lodge, constructed in 1999, provides a counterpoint to the iconic Old Faithful Inn, a historic 1903-1904 log structure with a multi-story atrium, a massive stone fireplace, and a deck with a prime view of the iconic geyser Old Faithful. The Inn’s dining room, open to non-guests as are all of the park’s restaurants, serves tasty food that ranges from shepherd’s pie made with beef from a Montana ranch to a corn, black bean and quinoa salad.

Since we find the Inn somewhat fussy and busy, we prefer to stay at the more modern Snow Lodge with its light wood timbers, cleaner lines, and less foot traffic than the nearby Old Faithful Inn.

The dining room at Lake Yellowstone Hotel. Photo: Xanterra Parks and Resorts

Lake Yellowstone Hotel

Consider ending your Yellowstone visit with at least one night at the Lake Yellowstone Hotel. A National Historic Landmark, the 125-year-old property underwent a $28 million renovation in 2014 that restored the hotel to its grande dame status. The lobby features Colonial Revival-style dark wood furnishings, with plenty of comfortable settees affording prime views of Lake Yellowstone.

Rooms have wired Internet but the connections are compatible with the older, larger Ethernet cables. These are currently being adapted so that the Internet is available to those whose newer devices utilize thinner cables.

Among the priciest properties in the park, Lake Yellowstone Hotel delivers a casually upscale ambiance that’s romantic. Over cocktails listen to the lobby pianist play classics, then enjoy some of the park’s best cuisine at dinner. For a splurge, order the bison tenderloin tips and poached lobster tail.

Lake Yellowstone Hotel isn’t your granddad’s national park lodge.

To book lodging, see Yellowstone National Park Lodges.

Where are your favorite places to stay when you visit Yellowstone? What do you look for in a lodging when you take a nature-oriented vacation? Comment below or connect with me on Twitter, @familyitrips.

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