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
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 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.
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.
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.
- 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. 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.
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
- Gray Wolf Inn & Suites
- Holiday Inn West Yellowstone
- Clubhouse Inn
- Yellowstone Park Hotel
- Yellowstone Lodge
- Hibernation Station
- 9-W Cabins
- Brandin’ Iron Inn
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 advice 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.
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.
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