When we started planning our American road trip with Yellowstone as one of the main highlights of the trip, we knew just one thing – you have to book Yellowstone accommodation as early as possible. The best places to stay in Yellowstone National Park for the high season are usually fully booked a year in advance.
But what are the best places to stay in Yellowstone? And what are the best alternatives to stay near Yellowstone National Park if Yellowstone accommodation is either not available or way above your budget?
In order to help you to get the most out of your trip, I created this complete guide to the best places to stay in and near Yellowstone.
This post covers the best Yellowstone summer lodging options, as well as the best alternatives outside the park.
Since we don’t camp, I am not going to cover camping options. Just remember that the same rule applies to camping in Yellowstone as well. If traveling in high season book as early as you can. Yellowstone campings for the summer months are usually fully booked, so don’t count on finding a spot upon arrival.
READ ALSO: Best Yellowstone Tours
Best Places to Stay in Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone has the following lodging facilities inside the park:
- Canyon Lodge and Cabins
- Grant Village
- Lake Lodge Cabins
- Lake Yellowstone Hotel and Cabins
- Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and Cabins
- Old Faithful Inn
- Old Faithful Lodge Cabins
- Old Faithful Snow Lodge and Cabins
- Roosevelt Lodge Cabins
I am not going into all the details about each of these Yellowstone accommodation options. You can find all the information you need on the official website of Yellowstone National Park, where you can also book your Yellowstone accommodation. Or you can also book these hotels on Expedia – which might be easier for an overview of everything that’s available.
Instead of comparing all the Yellowstone lodges, I am going to share our suggestions on which lodge to choose for sightseeing in Yellowstone and why.
This is, of course, our opinion, but it’s based on hours and hours of research that I did before booking Yellowstone accommodation for our family trip in summer. After our trip, I can say that it was an excellent choice and one that I can recommend 100%.
Important to Know When Booking Yellowstone Accommodation!
If visiting Yellowstone in high season (June to mid September) you really have to book Yellowstone hotels in advance. Often, more than a year in advance if you want to stay inside the park.
The park accommodation not only gets sold out quickly, but it is also much more expensive than accommodation outside the park.
The best hotels near Yellowstone are quickly sold-out as well. I advise that you book your Yellowstone hotels as soon as you know when you are planning to go. Or, as we did, look at what’s available and secure your Yellowstone accommodation before planning the rest of the trip.
Further below, at the bottom of this article, we have some tips on when to book Yellowstone lodging and how to secure the best deals.
But first – the best places to stay in Yellowstone National Park. Read on!
Best Location to Stay in Yellowstone for Sightseeing
Yellowstone National Park is huge and it might be overwhelming having to choose just one location for sightseeing. Depending on the duration of your stay in Yellowstone, I would suggest that you book two strategically located accommodations and avoid having to drive too much.
We chose the following areas for our 4-day stay in Yellowstone: 3 nights at Canyon Village and 1 night at Old Faithful.
If all the accommodation in the Old Faithful area is fully booked, West Yellowstone outside the park is probably the best alternative (see below).
Canyon Village – Best Location for Sightseeing
Canyon Lodge is a relatively new accommodation in Yellowstone. It contains 5 beautiful lodges with a total of 400 guest rooms, including spacious suites for big families. Note that only the lodges are new, not the cabins.
But modern facilities and brand new lodges is not the only reason why we chose Canyon Lodge as our main accommodation in Yellowstone for 3 nights.
Canyon Village has the best location for sightseeing in Yellowstone!
Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is just a few minutes’ drive from here. Hayden Valley, Norris Basin, Mount Washburn, Tower – Roosevelt area, Yellowstone Lake, and even Lamar Valley and Mammoth Hot Springs – all these places are easily accessible from Canyon Village.
So if you are looking for the best centrally located accommodation in Yellowstone, you cannot go wrong with staying at the Canyon Village. The only area that is a bit far for sightseeing is the Old Faithful and the surrounding geyser basins. But even the Old Faithful can be visited from your lodge in Canyon Village; just expect some delays due to busy traffic.
Good to know (2021 update)! At the moment, the road north of Canyon in the direction of Tower/ Roosevelt area is closed and will remain closed in 2021 and probably a big part of 2022. This makes the location of Canyon Lodge a bit less convenient for visiting the northern side of the park. So if you are planning to go to Lamar Valley and Mammoth Hot Springs, it’s just as convenient to do that from the Old Faithful area or from West Yellowstone. Alternatively, you may even stay in Mammoth or Gardiner for a night or two. See below for hotel suggestions.
Staying at the Old Faithful Inn & Is It Worth It
One of the must-see landmarks of Yellowstone is undoubtedly the Old Faithful Inn. Famous for its remarkable log structure dating from 1904, the Old Faithful Inn is the most popular lodging facility in Yellowstone National park.
It is considered a must to stay in the OF Inn when visiting Yellowstone. It was, therefore, the first accommodation that we secured for our American road trip last summer. Only after we got our reservation at the Old Faithful Inn, we ‘built’ the rest of the trip around it.
But is it worth all the hassle of booking a year in advance and adjusting all your travel plans just to be able to stay at the Old Faithful Inn? Yes and no.
First, the Old Faithful has a great location. Staying here for one night (in addition to 3 nights at the Canyon Lodge), made it easy for us to explore all the geyser basins in the area, including the Old Faithful itself, the Upper Geyser Basin, and the famous Grand Prismatic Spring.
But for that, you don’t have to stay at the OF Inn. If it’s the location that you are most interested in, then you can also choose for the OF Lodge Cabins or the OF Snow Lodge and Cabins. Both more affordable options and somewhat easier to secure a reservation for.
Second, the rooms at the OF Inn are quite ‘tired’ and in need of refurbishment. We had a superior room with a view of Old Faithful geyser through a (very small) window. It was a nice clean room, but the contrast with the brand new and modern rooms at the Canyon Lodge could not have been bigger.
And last, the Old Faithful Inn itself is a very impressive building that is definitely worth visiting. But for that, you don’t have to stay in the lodge. Anyone is free to come and go as they wish. You can sit on the terrace overlooking the Old Faithful geyser, you can dine at the OF Inn restaurant, and you can take an introductory tour of the Old Faithful Inn to appreciate this historic landmark even more.
So all in all, I would say it’s not a must to stay at the OF Inn. It’s nice if you can do it for one night, but don’t feel like you are missing out if you can’t find any available rooms for your stay.
Best Places to Stay Near Yellowstone NP
There are several accommodation options and towns to stay near Yellowstone National Park:
- West Yellowstone has the best location for staying outside the park. If Yellowstone accommodation isn’t available, this is the best alternative. Further below, you can find the best accommodation options in West Yellowstone.
- Gardiner, just outside the park at the North Entrance of Yellowstone, is ok for visiting the Mammoth Hot Springs, the area up to Norris Geyser Basin, and East to Lamar Valley. It’s quite far for the rest of the park. if you are planning to stay in this area, check if there’s availability at the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel as well. It’s located inside the park, but the distance to Gardiner is so small that it doesn’t really matter that much.
Some guides will tell you that the Grand Teton area, Cody, or Cooke City are good options for staying near Yellowstone. The reality is that they are really much too far for the daily commute to the park. All these places are ok to stay before or after visiting Yellowstone or for visiting specific areas inside the park, but not really for exploring the entire park.
I would not advise staying in Grand Teton for visiting Yellowstone because you will be spending more time in the traffic than sightseeing. Traffic is really busy here.
Commuting from any other place on a daily base is really not doable because the distances in Yellowstone are big, bison jams unpredictable, and traffic at the entrance gates, especially at Grand Teton NP, and the main landmarks can be really busy.
Best-rated Hotels in West Yellowstone
This brings us back to West Yellowstone. Located just outside the West Entrance of Yellowstone National park, West Yellowstone offers the best price-quality accommodation at a good location for visiting Yellowstone National Park.
From simple cabins and motels to a variety of upper price range hotels – it is your best bet for finding the best accommodation deals for your visit to Yellowstone.
Furthermore, Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center, one of the places you should visit in Yellowstone, is also located in West Yellowstone.
Here is an overview of the best lodging in West Yellowstone:
Booking. com guest rating of 9 and more:
- Golden Stone Inn
- West Yellowstone Condominium Resort
- WorldMark West Yellowstone
- Explorer Cabins at Yellowstone
- 1872 Inn – Adults Exclusive
- West Yellowstone Bed and Breakfast
Booking.com guest rating of 8,5 and more:
- Kelly Inn West Yellowstone
- Gray Wolf Inn & Suites
- Elkhorn Cabins and Inn
- Holiday Inn West Yellowstone
- Crosswinds Inn
- Moose Creek Inn
- The Evergreen Motel
- The Aspen
- 9-W Cabins
Booking. com guest rating of 8 and more:
Yellowstone Accommodation for Big Families
Because we know how challenging it is to find accommodation for a big family, I want to share this.
If you are traveling to Yellowstone with a big family (2 adults and 3 or more kids), there are only two places where you can book a big family suite inside the park – the above-mentioned Canyon Lodge or Lake Yellowstone Hotel.
If big family rooms are not available anymore, your only option is to book two separate rooms (or smuggle an extra child into a 4-p room ;)).
Alternatively, you can opt to stay outside the park, which is also much more affordable. For example, the Faithful Street Inn has a very good location in West Yellowstone and has really nice cabins that can accommodate big families or groups of friends.
How Long in Advance to Book Yellowstone Accommodation
From what I understand, you can book Yellowstone accommodation (inside the park) from the 1st of May of the year before you travel. So if you are traveling to Yellowstone in 2022, you can book your stay from May 2021.
Insider Tip for Securing the Best Accommodation in Yellowstone
The accommodation booking system of Yellowstone National Park is such that it allows people to easily cancel their reservation for a minimal fee. So it might happen that a room becomes available a month or a week before your planned trip.
They don’t work with waiting lists, so you just have to be lucky to see it on the website when it happens, or you can call the reservation team once in a while to enquire if there had been any cancelations.
While you can’t count on this (especially if traveling from far), there is a slight chance that you can book a hotel inside the park on short notice. The same counts for hotels outside the park, because there are always last-minute cancelations.
TIP: If you want to visit Yellowstone but for whatever reason have difficulties planning a good trip, you may want to consider joining this highly-rated Grand Teton and Yellowstone 4 days/ 3 nights wildlife tour and let the others take care of accommodations, transport, etc. This tour starts and ends in Jackson, WY.
Yellowstone Lodging FAQs
There is no one ‘best’ place to stay in Yellowstone. There are many nice lodges inside the park and also lots of accommodation options nearby. That being said, if your budget allows it and there is availability, the Canyon area offers the best location for sightseeing.
Canyon Lodge is probably the best of all Yellowstone lodges. It’s relatively new and modern, but the biggest advantage is its central location. Lake Lodge is also very nice, but not as well-located for visiting all parts of the park. The Old Faithful Lodge is iconic and worth seeing, but the rooms are dated.
West Yellowstone, just outside the park, is the best place to stay near Yellowstone. It’s relatively centrally located for exploring all parts of the park. Gardiner just near the North Entrance is a good place to stay for exploring northern Yellowstone, but not ideal for the other places.
West Yellowstone has a better, more central location than Gardiner. Gardiner is ok for exploring the northern side of Yellowstone, but if you want to visit all the best places in the park without having to drive too far every day, then stay in West Yellowstone. West Yellowstone also has better facilities.
Staying inside Yellowstone National Park means that you are closer to the main landmarks and won’t have to drive as dar. That being said, Yellowstone is a huge park and so no matter where you stay, you can’t avoid driving.
The biggest advantage of staying outside Yellowstone and not in one of the park lodges is that there is more availability and it is much cheaper. Furthermore, you also have better facilities, including Wi-Fi, A/C, TV, or even a swimming pool – none of which are available in Yellowstone lodges.
We recommend 3-4 days for Yellowstone. It will allow you to explore the entire Grand Loop and all the main landmarks without having to rush. 2 days is an absolute minimum if you want to drive both – the Upper and the Lower loops – and stop at the main attractions for a quick visit. Staying for 5 days or more will allow you to explore the park deeper.
LEARN MORE: Yellowstone Itinerary Suggestions
More resources for your trip to Yellowstone:
- What to see: Best Things to Do in Yellowstone
- Essential read: Yellowstone Travel Tips
- Short visit: One Day in Yellowstone
- When to go: Best Time to Visit Yellowstone
- For families: Best Things to Do in Yellowstone with Kids
- What to pack: Yellowstone Packing List for Summer
So these are our tips for finding the best place to stay in Yellowstone National Park. Have you been to Yellowstone? Feel free to share your experience by leaving a comment below this article.
TIP: Visit the nearby Grand Teton National Park, it’s a great addition to your Yellowstone itinerary. Here’s our suggestion for the best way to spend a day in Grand Teton NP.
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