Old Faithful Inn and Geyser in Yellowstone National Park

Best Places to Stay In And Near Yellowstone National Park

In Hotel reviews, North America, USA by Jurga22 CommentsTHIS POST CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS

When we started planning our American road trip with Yellowstone as one 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 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 outside the 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 accommodations. Just remember that same rule applies to camping in Yellowstone – 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.

Best places to stay in Yellowstone National Park and outside the park

 

Best places to stay in Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone has nine 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. Instead, 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 last summer. After our trip I can say that it was an excellent choice, and one that I can recommend 100%.

***Read also our Yellowstone itinerary suggestions, guide to the best things to do in Yellowstone National Park with kids and our packing tips for Yellowstone.***

Yellowstone accommodation for big families

Before we continue with the best places to stay in Yellowstone, I want to share this. If you are traveling to Yellowstone with a big family (2 adults and 3 or 4 kids), there are only two places where you can book a big family suite inside the park – Canyon Village and Lake Yellowstone. 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.

What is the 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 probbaly the best alternative (see below).

1. Canyon Village has the best location for sightseeing in Yellowstone

Canyon Lodge is a brand new accommodation in Yellowstone that 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.

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River at Yellowstone National Park

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River

 

2. Staying at the Old Faithful Inn and 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 OF 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 the first accommodation we secured for our American road trip last summer, afterwards we ‘built’ the rest of the trip around it.

Is it worth all the hassle of booking a year in advance and adjusting all our 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. But for that you don’t have to stay at the Inn itself. 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. All more affordable options and 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.

Old Faithful Inn is one of the best places to stay in Yellowstone National Park

Old Faithful Inn

 

Yellowstone – what is the best place to stay outside the park

There are several accommodation options to stay near Yellowstone National Park:

  • West Yellowstone has the best location for staying outside the park.
  • Gardinerjust 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.  But it is really too far for the rest of the park.
  • I would not advise to stay in Grand Teton for visiting Yellowstone as you will be spending more time in the traffic than sightseeing.
  • Commuting from any other place is really not doable, as 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. If you are short on time and decide to stay in Jackson, WY then consider taking an organised day tour to Yellowstone in order to get the most out of your time there.

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 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.

Best-rated hotels in West Yellowstone

Booking. com guest rating of 9 and more:

Booking.com guest rating of 8,5 and more:

Booking. com guest rating of 8 and more

Just remember, if visiting Yellowstone in high season (June-early September) you really have to book well in advance. The park accommodation not only gets sold out quickly, it is also much more expensive than the accommodation outside the park. So the best hotel deals in West Yellowstone are quickly gone too. 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.

How far in advance to book Yellowstone accommodation

From what I understand you can book Yellowstone accommodation from the 1st of May of the year before you travel. So if you are traveling to Yellowstone in 2019, you can book your stay from May 2018.

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 to book a hotel inside the park on short notice. The same counts for hotels outside the park.

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 day/ 3 night wildlife tour and let the others take care of accommodations, transport, etc. This tour starts and ends in Jackson, WY.

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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Yellowstone accommodation guide - best places to stay inside and close to the National Park

Complete accommodation guide for Yellowstone National Park

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Comments

  1. Another great place to stay outside Yellowstone is Cody, Wyoming. Only 50 miles from the east entrance of the park. Just returned from there and NO wait to get inside of the park😊. We stayed in a quaint family owned hotel. Great rates.

  2. Hello! My husband and I will be traveling with our 4 young children to YNP next year. Can you please tell me what places within Canyon Village and Lake Yellowstone have big family suites? Thank you so much!

    1. Author

      Hi Rachel, sorry for a late reply, we’re on vacation at the moment. If I remember well, Canyon Lodge has big family rooms as well as Lake Yellowstone hotel. I think maximum size is 6 people. Otherwise you have to book separate rooms. Check Yellowstone lodging website and it will normally show you what’s exactly possible and available for your group/ travel period.

  3. Our family is attempting to plan a reunion in Yellowstone for the summer of 2019. In doing some research recently, I stumbled across a NEW hotel (with cabins as well) that is located nearby (I don’t believe it’s IN the park) and is not open yet, but will be open when we would want to reserve a stay. It has large “cabins” that had more than one bedroom and slept eight adults. I have now lost the link and, for the life of me, can’t find the place again. Do you know of it, by any chance? Thank you for any help you can provide.

    1. Author

      Hi Cindy, unfortunately I can’t help you with this. Sounds like a nice place, depending on where exactly it is located, but I have never heard of it…
      If booking so long up front, try to see if you can get accommodation inside the park. It’s not cheap, but it’s really worth it as it saves you lots of driving so you can see much more in the same time. Accommodation in West Yellowstone is probably the best centrally located option outside the park and it’s more affordable. Good luck with your search and have a wonderful trip!

  4. When we went we spent a night at the cabins at Old Faithful… just be sure when booking that your cabin has a bathroom unless you like using a bath house! It put us right there to visit the OF Inn and see all the geysers without the extra price

    1. Author

      Thanks for sharing your Yellowstone accommodation experience, DMorris. I’m sure it will be useful to our readers.

  5. Hello, do your insider tips also apply for December during Christmas? Do you have any additional info for coming during this time of year? I have found this page to be very helpful!

    1. Author

      Hi Laurel, there are only two lodges open inside the park in winter – the Old Faithful Snow Lodge & Cabins and Mammoth Hot Springs & Cabins (more info here). The hotels in West Yellowstone are the best alternative option in that period too.
      Unfortunately, I don’t have any other tips as we haven’t visited Yellowstone in winter. It’s on my bucket list – I think that seeing the park and the animals in winter would be a magical and truly unique experience. Just dress warm 😉

  6. This article has been immensely helpful in planing my trip and I was able to book a 3 night stay at Canyon 6 months before my arrival. Thanks for the info

  7. This article is very helpful, thank you for posting. It saved so much of my time planning Yellowstone trip!

  8. We just returned from Yellowstone and wow….just so amazing! I think of it as the 8th wonder of the world. We stayed 5 nights in and around Yellowstone. Planning this trip seemed overwhelming at first but I used the book

    Fodor’s Travel The Complete Guide to The National Parks of the West. I followed the 7 day itinerary to help plan our nightly stays. That was so helpful. I also bought the book
    Yellowstone in a Day, while in Yellowstone at a visitor center. I suggest downloading the Yellowstone National Park app too. Very informative. Love, love, love Yellowstone!!!!

    1. Author

      Hi Kate, thanks a lot for sharing your experience. I added the links to the books you shared – might be helpful to the other readers.

  9. What a great list! Also feel terrible for living so many years in the US and never ever going. I really need to next time I visit the motherland 😉

    1. Author

      We all tend to travel abroad before exploring our own country, don’t we. That being said, there are so many amazing National Parks in the US, and Yellowstone is definitely worth a trip!

  10. Good list – I’ve never actually stayed in Yellowstone, but visiting in winter is on my bucket list. Cooke City is a good base for the Lamar Valley as well – there are a handful of hotels and restaurants.

    1. Author

      Thanks for sharing this, Leigh! Cooke City might indeed be ok for the Lamar Valley, but I think it’s really too far for the rest of the park. Having said that, I loved the beautiful road through Lamar and all the way to the Northeastern entrance – it’s definitely worth it to visit that part of Yellowstone! And there were so few people there…

  11. Wonderful Post! I can’t believe you traveled all the way from Belgium to Yellowstone and we are still talking about visiting it from California. You are so inspirational!

    1. Author

      Thank you very much! But there is so much truth in your words, somehow we all like to travel far. You wouldn’t believe how little of Europe we actually visited (we’re catching up a bit this year though). If you haven’t seen it yet, take a look at this blog post that I published awhile ago – Why in the world do you have to travel so far?! I think you’ll be able to relate.

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