Are you planning a visit to Yellowstone and have no idea where to stay? I get it. Yellowstone is massive with 3,472 square miles filled with geysers, hot springs, wildlife, waterfalls, rivers, and more. With everything there is to see, it can be challenging for a first time visitor to know where to stay in Yellowstone.
Before I start this post, let me say that I know there are many blogs about the best places to stay in Yellowstone, with most recommending Canyon Village. I mostly agree, however, unlike many of the other bloggers, I have 20+ years of experience visiting Yellowstone. Over those years, I have discovered things many visitors do not consider then booking a hotel that I want to share with you.
In this “How to Find the Best Hotels in Yellowstone- First Timer’s Guide” I provide you with not only general lodging information but also actual experiences at many of the park’s hotel locations. I even include a list of nearby popular sights for each hotel location as well as questions to ask yourself prior to booking a hotel.
Tip: Choosing the right Yellowstone lodging for your specific trip will save you hours of driving each day. Otherwise It can take hours to drive between Yellowstone’s major attractions, especially with delays for animals and construction.
Yellowstone In Park Lodging
Before we look at each Yellowstone hotel location in detail, let’s get an overview of Yellowstone’s lodging options and some tips on how to book lodging in Yellowstone.
Yellowstone has 9 hotels and cabins that range from old historic places with beautiful lobbies to boring but modern motel-style hotels for a total of over 2000 rooms. Most of the hotels are in popular areas with visitor centers with lots of tourists while a couple hotels are in more remote areas.
All 9 hotels are open for the summer season while only Old Faithful Snow Lodge and Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel open again for the winter season. There is no air conditioning, telephone or TV access in any room in Yellowstone. Also all Yellowstone lodging is expensive!
Map of Yellowstone Hotels
Reserving a Hotel in Yellowstone- Things to Know
Book as early as possible –Yellowstone accepts reservations up to a year in advance beginning on the 5th day of each month. For example if you wish to visit the park in June of 2024, you can make a reservation as early as 12 A.M MT on June 5, 2023. Additionally, you will be able to book 4 additional nights into the following month. This in essence gives you a 13 month advance booking window.
Reservations can be made through Xanterra either online or by phone. For online reservations, visit Yellowstone National Park Lodges.com. To reserve a hotel by phone, call toll-free within the U.S. 866-GEYSERLAND (866-439-7375) (7a-7p MT). When calling from outside the U.S. dial (307-344-7311) and for same day reservations dial (307-344-7901).
Tip– For those of you who are last minute planners, it is best to call reservations directly instead of trying to book on line as the call center operators have the best access to current cancellations. In fact, I found calling around midday and again later in the same afternoon greatly increased my chances of getting a room.
Deposit- To reserve a room, a deposit equal to one night reserves your entire stay. Note this deposit does not protect you from future room rate increases for the remaining nights of your stay.
Rates: The rates quotes on the Yellowstone booking sight are based on 2 people. Additional adults (18 and over) require an additional per person fee. Also rates are subject to change from the time you make a reservation since they are now market based. (Yep, I don’t like this)
Cancellation Policy– The room deposit is fully refundable if cancellations occur before 30 days prior to arrival. Any changes or cancellations within 30 days of arrival are subject to a $25 fee. Cancellations & changes made within 7 days of arrival date will result in the forfeiture of a deposit.
To view the entire reservation policy including check in and check out times see: Reservations.
Yellowstone Hotel and Cabin Overview By Location
All Yellowstone Hotels and Cabins Facts
Now let’s take a look at each individual Yellowstone Hotel and Cabin property. The links below to each property offer a nice variety of images of each location that I encourage you to browse.
Old Faithful Inn
The Old Faithful Inn is a national historic landmark that was built from 1903 to 1904 and expanded in 1914 and again in 1927 and is also the largest log structure in the world. By the way, Old Faithful Inn is the most requested hotel in Yellowstone.
The Inn has a spectacular lobby including a giant stone fireplace, good porch views of Old Faithful Geyser and the Upper Geyser Basin, restaurants, a well stocked gift shop and more. The lobby is located in the “Old House” part of the Inn. In addition to the Old House, the Inn has two wings, east wing and west wing, with each wing having an east and west side.
Personally experience– I only stayed at Old Faithful once years ago before there was so much helpful information on the internet. I stayed in an Old House room that was not very nice. Regretfully, I did not know to ask about specific locations within the Inn.
Tip: If views of Old Faithful are important to you, be sure to book a room on the east side of the east wing of the Old Faithful Inn. The rooms cost a bit more but you are paying for the view and experience, not just the room. Also they tend to be cooler in the summer months.
The rooms are both east and west wings tend to be nicer than rooms in the Old House. If the east rooms in the east wing are not available, try to book a east room on the west wing over any room in the Old House portion of the Inn.
Old Faithful Inn Facts
Things to Do in the Old Faithful Area
Old Faithful Lodge and Cabins
The Old Faithful Lodge and Cabins is another historic old building that is located close to the Old Faithful Inn. It has a cafeteria style restaurant, a bakery/snack bar, and a gift shop along with the best lobby views of Old Faithful of any of the Old Faithful buildings.
There are no hotel rooms in the lodge, just check in services for the cabins.
A stay in one of the lodge cabins will put you steps from Old Faithful and the Upper Geyser Basin. This location is also a short and easy walk to the Old Faithful Inn and Visitor Center. Just be prepared to hear Old Faithful erupt all night long.
Here is a link to a map of the Lodge location at Old Faithful along with the Lodge Cabins: Old Faithful Lodge area.
The cabins are in a fourplex so you will share walls with three other guests and it can get noisy. The cabins themselves are OK but not great and come in two different versions: Frontier Cabins and Cabins without Bath. Always try to book a Frontier Cabin.
Tip: Regardless if you stay in the lodge’s cabins or not, parking in the East Parking lot by the lodge is the easiest way to access Old Faithful Geyser and the Upper Geyser Basin and avoid the congestion around Old Faithful Inn.
Old Faithful Lodge & Cabins Facts
Old Faithful Snow Lodge and Cabins
The Old Faithful Snow Lodge and Cabins is also located close to Old Faithful in the Upper Geyser Basin. The Lodge was completed in 1999 making it one of the newer hotels in the park and unlike the other two Upper Geyser Basin hotels, this hotel is open during the winter season. The Snow Lodge has 134 modern rooms and also cabins, all with private baths. To learn more about the Snow Lodge, please check out the official Snow Lodge booking information.
There are two restaurants located in the Snow Lodge, one the Snow Lodge Dining Room is only open for dinner and is reservation only while the Geyser Grill serves food in a cafeteria style. Years ago, the grill food was very good but the last two times I ate there, the food was fair to bad. Also, I should point out that the Dining Room offers a limited standard menu with more of a focus on wild game options.
Old Faithful Snow Lodge & Cabins Facts
Canyon Lodge and Cabins
Canyon Lodge and Cabins is the park’s newest facility with more than 500 rooms and is the most centrally located lodging for both sightseeing and services. In fact, this location is one of the most recommended places in the park to stay on many blogs. As previously mentioned, I mostly agree but believe visitors should base lodging decisions on a number of other factors I will cover below.
In addition to having more modern facilities, Canyon Lodge area is the only area I have found in the park where both cell service and internet are reliable. Finally, the Canyon area also has a large laundry and public shower building with easy parking and decent internet access.
The Canyon area also gives visitors some of the best selections of shops including outdoor gear and clothes selections in the park.
Note: I have not yet stayed in any of the new Canyon Lodge rooms since I now prefer to camp.
Canyon Lodge & Cabins Features
Canyon Lodge & Cabins Facts
Things to Do in the Canyon Area
Lake Yellowstone Hotel and Cabins
If you are looking for lodging with amazing water views and without the hustle of the Old Faithful area, Lake Yellowstone Hotel may be the place to stay. This historic hotel was built in 1891 and is the oldest hotel in Yellowstone. Situated on Lake Yellowstone, visitors are treated to views of water and wildlife from the hotel grounds.
Today the restored Lake Yellowstone Hotel resembles a 1920 grand hotel with massive columns on it’s exterior. It has 194 rooms and another 110 nearby cabins. On Sundays, visitors are able to listen to musicians and pianists playing in its Sun Room while enjoying views of the Lake.
In addition to the hotels amazing lake views, many visitors also come to dine in its popular and elegant Lake Hotel Dining Room. I will say that the food today is not up the standards of years past but still worth a visit. Xanterra please pay at‘tention.
A very interesting history of the Lake Yellowstone Hotel can be found at Historic Hotels.com.
Even if you chose to stay elsewhere, I highly recommend taking time to stop in and see the Lake Yellowstone Hotel.
Lake Yellowstone Hotel and Cabin Facts
Things to Do Near Yellowstone Lake Hotel
Lake Lodge Cabins
The Lake Lodge is adjacent to Lake Yellowstone Hotel and features a rustic log cabin style building that has a restaurant, nice gift shop and a lobby with fireplaces to enjoy. There are no rooms in the actual lodge but 186 nearby cabins. Given a choice between these cabins and Lake Yellowstone Hotel cabins, I would pick Lake Yellowstone Hotel cabins.
Like many of Yellowstone’s restaurants, the lodge restaurant that was once a decent place to eat has turned into a poor restaurant with very limited food selections.
Lake Lodge Cabin Facts
Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel
Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and Cabins is located in the northwest corner of Yellowstone and adjacent to the limestone terraces of Mammoth Hot Springs.
It opened for business in 1936 and has undergone a number of renovations including the most recent 2023 renovation for flood damage. It is about 5 miles from the town of Gardiner, Montana where visitors can find grocery stores along with a number of amenities and services.
The hotel is one of two Yellowstone hotels that are open during the winter season along with the summer season. It has 222 rooms on its 4 floors.
Tip: Mammoth Hot Spring is a great place to stay in fall but I do not recommend booking a room here from late July through mid August since this area has one of the hottest average temperatures in the park and the hotel has no AC.
Note: in 2023 Mammoth Hot Springs opening was delayed to July 1 due to the flood damage from 2022.
Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and Cabins Features
Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel & Cabins Facts
Things to Do at Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel
Roosevelt Lodge is a rustic lodge located in the northern park of Yellowstone National Park and is the closest lodging to Lamar Valley. The lodge was built in 1920, has a restaurant and lobby. The only accommodations are 2 types of cabins behind the lodge.
What I liked about Roosevelt Lodge was that it was in a less crowded area of Yellowstone where wildlife viewing was good although the lodging was rustic.
Roosevelt Lodge and Cabins Key Facts
Roosevelt Lodge Cabin Facts
Things to Do In The Roosevelt Area
Grant Village, located in the southeast corner of Yellowstone, is one of the park’s more modern facilities having been built in 1984. The hotel is comprised of 6 two story buildings containing 50 rooms each. All buildings are very basic motel style accommodations and lack the character or charm of other Yellowstone hotels.
Grant Village has two restaurants along with a gift shop and beautiful views of Yellowstone Lake. However, due to its location, Grant Village feels removed from the park and a bit isolated from the Yellowstone experience.
The location is a good base though from those who wish to see both Yellowstone and the Tetons in a short period of time and not move locations.
I recommend booking a second floor room even though there is no elevator access since the hotel walls are so thin you heard everything.
Honestly, if I had to choose between Grant Village lodging or staying outside the park, I would consider staying outside the park.
Grant Village Facts
Attractions by Grant Village
Best Overall Yellowstone Hotel For 1-2 Days to See All of Yellowstone
Canyon Lodge and Cabins– Best Hotel for visitors who want to see Yellowstone National Park in a 1 to 2 day period with no specific areas of interest. Additionally, Canyon Lodge offers the most central Yellowstone location along with many services such as showers and laundry.
Best Combination of Yellowstone Hotels For 3+ Day Visits
Basic Sightseeing– Book a combination of nights that include stays at both Canyon Village and the Old Faithful area. If Canyon Village is not available, consider the Lake area.
Geysers and Wildlife– Book a few nights in the Old Faithful area or at Canyon Village along with nights at either Mammoth Hot Springs or Roosevelt Lodge.
Best Yellowstone Hotels For Wildlife Viewing
Roosevelt Lodge – This lodge is just a short distance from Lamar Valley, the heart of wildlife in Yellowstone.
Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel – Although not quite as close to Lamar Valley, the Mammoth area offers many more services and is also a great place to see elk, black bears and other wildlife.
Canyon Village-Lodging here is close to another of Yellowstone’s best places to view wildlife; Hayden Valley.
Best Yellowstone Hotels for Seeing Geysers
All Old Faithful Hotels and Cabins –If your interest is geysers, there is no better place to stay than the Old Faithful area.
Canyon Village – This location is only a second choice if you are not able to get a reservation in the Old Faithful area and will require more driving to see the top geyser basins.
Best Hotel in Yellowstone for Internet Access
Internet access in Yellowstone is poor. Although some of the hotels mentioned above have locations with Wi-Fi, the towers quickly get overwhelmed in peak tourist season. If consistent access is absolutely essential, the following hotels are the only places I can recommend:
Lake Yellowstone Hotel – This is the top choice for internet access. Be sure to book a room that has wired ethernet and remember, only one person will have access at a time. This hotel also has a business center with Wi-FI access.
Canyon Village Laundry– This location was also one of the few locations where I had somewhat reliable Wi-Fi and was able to work from here several times.
Note: The internet access at the Albright Visitor Center at Mammoth Hot Springs is very unreliable so please don’t count on what you read online.
Please check prior to booking a hotel as other places may have recently increased internet access.
Prior to booking a room, be sure to check the National Park Website here.
Best Hotel in Yellowstone When Traveling With Pets
It will be easier to list where not to stay.
Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel-This hotel and its cabins do not accept pets.
Grant Hotel– Hotel does not accept pets and there are no cabins.
All Yellowstone Lodging Hotel Rooms– No Yellowstone hotels accept pets, only select cabins.
Things to Answer Before Booking a Room in Yellowstone
To recommend the best Yellowstone hotel to a stranger is difficult since there is no way to know what each person’s specific lodging needs. However, to aid you in the decision process, I have compiled a list of questions you should answer before making a final hotel decision.
Here is an example of my above point. I once met a man who would only wanted to stay at Lake Yellowstone because he came to fish in Lake Yellowstone. Even though there are probably better places to fish, his dream trip was to fish in Lake Yellowstone every day. Staying anywhere else would not have met his needs.
Do not simply rely on my hotel recommendations or anyone’s but to take a few minutes to answer the questions below. Based on your answers, use the information provided in this “How to Find the Best Hotels in Yellowstone – First Timer’s Guide” and decide for yourself which Yellowstone hotel is right for you.
Questions to Answer
|Bath Rooms||Cell Service||Internet Access||Pets||Other|
|Old Faithful Inn||May 5 to|
Oct 9, 2023
|Yes||Not in all rooms||Though available could not get signal||No||No|
|Old Faithful Lodge |
|May 12, 2023 to Oct 1, 2023||NA||Only in Frontier Cabins||Though available could never get a signal||No||select cabins|
|Old Faithful Snow|
Lodge & Cabins
|April 28 to Oct 29, 2023||Yes||Yes||Though available could never get a signal||Only in lobby||select cabins||laundry|
|Canyon Lodge &|
|May 19 to|
Oct 9, 2023
|Yes, except deluxe lodge rooms in|
Cascade and Dunraven lodges.
See Hotel desc above.
|Yes||Yes.||Not in rooms but in lobby||select cabins||Laundry|
Hotel & Cabins
|May 12 to |
Oct 1, 2023
|Most deluxe rooms have elevator |
access except 1st floor rooms that have a few stairs. Standard rooms
are only accessibly by stairs.
|Yes including cabins||Very little reception||In business center and wired ethernet in guest rooms||select cabins|
|June 10 to|
Oct 1, 2023
|Mammoth Hotel |
|Summer-April 28 to |
Nov 26 summer ( Delayed in 2023 to July 1)
Winter- Dec 15, 2023 to March 4, 2024
|Yes||Not all cabins have baths||Yes but poor||Just renovated and do not know current status. Will update soon.||No|
|Roosevelt Lodge||April 28 to Sept 4, 2023||NA||Frontier Cabins only||No||No||select cabins|
|Grant Village||June 2 to Sept 4, 2023||No, stair access only to second floors||Yes||No||No||No||Laundry|
Staying in Hotels Outside Yellowstone
If your budget does not allow for an extended stay inside the park, I still recommend spending at least one to two nights in the park for the experience before moving to a hotel in a nearby city.
Now let’s take a quick look at lodging outside the park. In an upcoming post, I will cover this topic in greater detail but for now, here is a quick overview.
There are 4 main places to stay outside of Yellowstone: West Yellowstone, Gardiner, Cooke City, and Cody. However, for first time visitors to Yellowstone, I do not recommend staying in Cody or Cooke City. They are just too far from the main tourist sights.
West Yellowstone is the most popular place to stay outside of the park with about 25 different hotels to choose from. However, these hotels tend to book up almost as fast as in park lodging. In fact, West Yellowstone have over 4 million annual tourists
Pros: The major benefits of staying in West Yellowstone are access to more modern hotels with cell and internet service along with air conditioning. The town also offers a decent selection of restaurants and services. Some of its restaurants are pretty good.
Cons: The lines to enter the park are very long after about 7 a.m. and it can take hours to get to a park destination. In fact, one wildlife jam between West Yellowstone and Madison can add hours to your drive. Once it took me over 2.5 hours at 10 p.m.at night to drive from Old Faithful to West Yellowstone.
Gardiner is a small town with a population of roughly 1000 people but don’t let that fool you. For a small town, it has some very nice hotels and restaurants, good showers and laundry service, cell service, great fishing access and more. In fact, if I had to pick motels outside of the park, Gardiner would be my first choice.
Note: Due to the flood of 2022, I am not sure how many hotels are currently opened for business.
Pros: Gardiner is not as crowded as West Yellowstone, has shorter lines at the park entrance, and I find the drive into the main park attractions to have better scenery. It is a longer drive of about 56 miles versus the 32 miles from West Yellowstone but the actual drive time is not much longer since the road between West Yellowstone and Madison can resemble rush hour traffic at times.
Cons: Gardiner does not have nearly the range of services that West Yellowstone offers.
What About Yellowstone Campgrounds?
I have not included any campground information in this post soley because I have so much to cover on campgrounds that this post would be way too long. Please stay tuned for an upcoming “Where to Stay in Yellowstone Campgrounds Guide” coming In the next couple weeks.
Final Thoughts on Finding the Best Place to Stay in Yellowstone
I hope this “Finding the Best Hotels in Yellowstone- First Timer’s Guide” equips you with the information needed for a wonderful stay. To recap the above information, be sure to book Yellowstone hotels as early as possible and be aware that each location has different opening and closing dates. For instance, if your heart in set on staying at the Old Faithful Inn, be sure to not plan a trip in very early spring or late fall.
Something else to keep in mind if you are planning a stay in July or August, all hotels have no air conditioning. You may want to consider selecting a Yellowstone hotel in a park location with the coolest average temperatures. Also learn about the best times for viewing wildlife and be factor these events into hotel selections.
Please check out my Portfolio of Yellowstone images at: Yellowstone. To view my entire collection of Yellowstone images that are available as fine art prints, gift items, and home decor products see: Yellowstone Collection. A purchase of a small print, gift card or other items help me continue to provide guides such as this to you and is greatly appreciated.
I welcome your thoughts or comments and if you have any questions I have not answered, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I will help in any way I can.
Thanks for joining me on another Photo Road Trip adventure and stay tuned for upcoming posts about Yellowstone and other great locations.