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BEST Places to Stay IN & NEAR Yellowstone National Park: Complete Lodging Guide

BEST Places to Stay IN & NEAR Yellowstone National Park: Complete Lodging Guide

Planning a trip to Yellowstone and wondering where to stay in Yellowstone National Park? In this Yellowstone lodging guide, you can find all the information about the best places to stay in and near Yellowstone National Park and what you should know about Yellowstone accommodations before you plan your vacation. We also feature the best areas to stay inside the park and the best hotels near Yellowstone. Find out!

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 alternative places 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, we created this guide to the best places to stay in and near Yellowstone.

This post covers the best Yellowstone summer lodging options highlighting the best areas to stay inside the park. In addition, we also include the best alternatives just outside the park – hotels near Yellowstone National Park for all budgets.

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.

Good to know: Staying near Yellowstone (rather than inside the park) also has its advantages. There’s more lodging available, it’s cheaper, you have Wi-Fi, air conditioning, and other facilities like swimming pools, TV, a bigger choice of restaurants, etc.

So don’t worry if you can’t find a suitable place to stay inside Yellowstone. And because the park is so big, you’ll have quite some driving to do either way, no matter where you stay.

 
Best places to stay in and near Yellowstone National Park
 

Important to Know When Booking Yellowstone Accommodation!

Accommodation inside Yellowstone is very popular and, despite high prices, it sells out very soon after it’s available for booking.

So if you are visiting Yellowstone in high season (June to mid-September) you really should try to book Yellowstone hotels well in advance. If you want to stay inside Yellowstone in the high season, you’ll usually have to book your accommodation more than a year in advance. Yes, the best Yellowstone hotels (inside the park) have to be booked about 12-15 months in advance!

Good to know! Yellowstone National Park accommodation not only gets sold out quickly, but it is also much more expensive than accommodation outside the park. Therefore, the best price/quality hotels near Yellowstone are quickly sold out as well.

No matter if you are planning to stay inside or near the park, I advise booking 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 first, before planning the rest of the trip.

How Long in Advance to Book Yellowstone Accommodation?

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. If you are planning a visit in the summer of 2023, you can book your accommodation from May 2022, etc.

Further below, at the bottom of this article, we have some tips on how to secure Yellowstone lodging if it’s fully booked and how to get the best deals.

But first – the best places to stay in Yellowstone National Park and also where to stay near the park. Read on!

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 inside the park on Expedia – which might be easier for an overview of everything that’s available.

As a general rule, staying inside Yellowstone National Park is usually better location-wise than staying outside of the park, but some places are much better located than others.

So 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 vacation to Yellowstone in summer. After our trip, I can say that it was an excellent choice and one that I can recommend 100%. See our experience-based tips below!

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. If you are looking for just one best-located area to stay in Yellowstone, you should know that Canyon Village has the absolute-best central location from which you can reach all parts of Yellowstone National Park without having to spend hours and hours in a car.

However, depending on the duration of your stay in Yellowstone, I would suggest booking 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 (we stayed at the Canyon Lodge) and 1 night at Old Faithful (we stayed at the Old Faithful Inn, but there are also several other options here). You can read about these accommodations and their location further below.

TIP: If all the accommodation inside Yellowstone National Park is fully booked, West Yellowstone, just outside the park is the best place to stay near Yellowstone. Accommodations in West Yellowstone are cheaper and usually offer better facilities.

Using the map below, you can compare hotels and short-term rental accommodations in West Yellowstone. For more information about West Yellowstone hotels and also another alternative town nearby, read further below.

   

Canyon Village – Best Location for Sightseeing in Yellowstone

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 recent, not the cabins.

But modern facilities and relatively new lodges is not the only reason why we recommend Canyon Lodge as the main accommodation in Yellowstone.

Canyon Village lodges have 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 – just next to Canyon Village
 

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. 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 Geyser 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 are more affordable options and somewhat easier to secure a reservation for.

Where to stay in Yellowstone - accommodation guide for inside and near the park
The Old Faithful area is a great place to stay in Yellowstone, but you don’t necessarily have to stay at the OF Inn itself
 

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.

View on Old Faithful Geyser through a room window at the Old Faithful Inn hotel in Yellowstone National Park
View on the Old Faithful Geyser from our room at the OF Inn

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 at 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 in YellowstoneOld Faithful Inn Yellowstone
Old Faithful Inn interior
 

Best Places to Stay Near Yellowstone NP

The best towns to stay near Yellowstone National Park are West Yellowstone and Gardiner. Below, you can find a bit more info about each of these areas.

READ ALSO: Best Towns & Hotels Near Yellowstone

West Yellowstone

West Yellowstone has the best location for staying outside the park and also the best facilities, with a nice choice of hotels, short-term rentals, restaurants, and all kinds of activities. If Yellowstone accommodation inside the park isn’t available, West Yellowstone is really the best alternative, and everything is located within reasonable driving distance.

Driving distances and times from West Yellowstone to the main Yellowstone attractions:

  • Grand Prismatic Spring: 25 miles, 40 minutes
  • Old Faithul: 30 miles, 50 minutes
  • Yellowstone Canyon: 40 miles, 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Mammoth Hot Springs: 47 miles, 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Yellowstone Lake: 55 miles, 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Lamar Valley: 80 miles, 2 hours 20 minutes

If you scroll further below, you can find our hand-picked selection of the best accommodation options in West Yellowstone. But first, some more info about the other towns near Yellowstone.

Gardiner

Gardiner, just outside the park at the North Entrance of Yellowstone, is another excellent place to stay for visiting Yellowstone. It’s especially well-located for the Mammoth Hot Springs, the area up to Norris Geyser Basin, North Yellowstone, and also East to Lamar Valley.

Gardiner might be a bit far for the rest of the park, but it’s still much better than any of the other towns further away. And because traffic here is not as busy as in the Western part of Yellowstone, it can actually be just as convenient as staying in West Yellowstone.

TIP: 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 and has its charms as well. On the other hand, in Gardiner, you’ll find a better price-quality ratio and it’s just a short drive further. There are a few nice hotels in Gardiner. And – if you are looking for a more private stay – you’ll be glad to know that there are quite a few private short-term rentals in Gardiner.

Driving distances and times from Gardiner to the main Yellowstone attractions:

  • Mammoth Hot Springs: 6 miles, 15 minutes
  • Lamar Valley: 40 miles, 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Grand Prismatic Spring: 50 miles, 1 hour 25 minutes
  • Yellowstone Canyon: 40 miles, 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Yellowstone Lake: 55 miles, 1 hour 40 minutes
  • Old Faithul: 57 miles, 1 hour 40 minutes
Absaroka Lodge in Gardiner town near Yellowstone National Park
Absaroka Lodge in Gardiner – one of the best places to stay in town. Photo by raksyBH/Depositphotos.com
 

What about staying Cody, Cooke City, or Grand Teton?

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 also 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. Once again, it’s ok for a day or when visiting Yellowstone for just a day, but you don’t want to drive up and down every day.

Commuting from any other place on a daily basis 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.

TIP: If you are short on time and decide to stay in Jackson Hole, WY then consider taking an organized day tour to Yellowstone in order to get the most out of your time there.

Grizzly bear in Yellowstone National Park
Grizzly bear in Yellowstone © wschwisow via Pixabay
 

Best 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, motels, or Airbnb to a variety of upper price range hotels – it is your best bet for finding the best accommodation deals for your visit to Yellowstone.

This town has the best facilities, the biggest choice of accommodation and restaurants near 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 some of the best-rated hotels in West Yellowstone:

TOP PICK: Kelly Inn West Yellowstone – great value, good location, indoor pool. One of the top picks in West Yellowstone in the upper mid-range budget.

LUXURY:

Our recommendation: Explorer Cabins at Yellowstone – beautiful cabins, also for big families, fabulous reviews.

MID-RANGE:

Our recommendation: Clubhouse Inn – good value, excellent location, indoor pool, and nice rooms for all group sizes. One of the best choices in the mid-range budget.

Somewhat LOWER BUDGET (this is relative in West Yellowstone, especially if you want certain quality). These are the best price-quality accommodations for a lower budget:

VRBO accommodations: There are also quite a few short-term rental accommodations in West Yellowstone. These are perfect if you are looking for a longer stay or are visiting with a bigger family!

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 Aspen Condos have nice accommodations for bigger families and groups of up to 8 people. Explorer Cabins at Yellowstone area great for families, with access to an indoor pool. And Holiday Inn West Yellowstone has suites and rooms for up to 10 people.

Also Kelly Inn West Yellowstone and Yellowstone West Gate Hotel are good choices with a big family. On a lower budget, City Center Motel has good value rooms that can accommodate up to 6 people as well.

Insider Tip for Securing the Best Accommodation in Yellowstone

The accommodation booking system of Yellowstone National Park lodging is such that it allows people to easily cancel their reservations for a minimal fee. So it might happen that a room becomes available a month or even 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.

So if you can’t secure a reservation at the place you want, book the best alternative option that offers free cancelation, and then keep on checking if there is some last-minute availability at the other place.

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. Here you can find more information on the best Yellowstone tours for various durations.

Yellowstone Lodging FAQ

What is the best place to stay in Yellowstone?

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, lodging in Canyon Village (inside Yellowstone) offers the best location for sightseeing.

Which Yellowstone Lodge is best?

Canyon Lodge is probably the best of all Yellowstone lodges. It’s relatively new and modern, but the biggest advantage is its central location. Yellowstone 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 here are dated and overpriced.

What is the best place to stay near Yellowstone?

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 another good place to stay for exploring Yellowstone, but it has fewer accommodation options and other facilities.

Is it better to stay in Gardiner or West Yellowstone?

West Yellowstone has a somewhat better, more central location than Gardiner. Gardiner is better 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.

What are the advantages of staying inside Yellowstone National Park?

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.

What are the advantages of staying outside Yellowstone National Park?

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 inside the park.

How many days do you need in Yellowstone?

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 info for your stay in Yellowstone:

 

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.

If you found this post useful, don’t forget to bookmark it and share it with your friends. Are you on Pinterest? Pin this image!

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

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Stephan

Monday 30th of August 2021

Hi, thank you for all the great information about places to stay and things to do in Yellowstone. We found a little gem just outside the northeast entrance to the park that is not mentioned on your blog. We stayed at Silver Gate Lodging in Silver Gate. We loved the proximity to Lamar Valley where we saw bears, wolves, and lots of bison. I think your readers would appreciate this hidden little gem.

Jurga

Tuesday 31st of August 2021

Thanks for sharing your suggestion, Stephan. It looks like a nice place indeed, especially for people who are driving to/from Yellowstone via that side of the park. Happy travels!

Christine S Stroede

Tuesday 30th of March 2021

We are SOOOO upset right now about our entire Yellowstone/SD/Wy trip. Last summer obviously it got postponed (by Yellowstone/National parks) due to covid. This year, we had EVERYTHING booked.. starting in SD and traveling up and around through Cody, Yellowstone, down through DuBois and back out through SD. The MIDDLE and highlight of the trip was our stay in Yellowstone. We booked far in advance and then get notice they are changing their opening date to 3 days after the dates of our arrival. So we are welcome to NO CHARGE stay anywhere else in the park. But guess what, EVERYWHERE else in the park is booked. So is every other reasonable distanced and priced location near by. We have all of these reservations now and dead center of our trip we have nowhere to stay. I'm FURIOUS they did this to us... not even sure what to do at this point. And I'm going to lose a ton of money nomatter what unless we literally sleep in the car the 2 nights we were supposed to be staying in Yellowstone. :(

Jurga

Wednesday 31st of March 2021

Wow, this must be so upsetting indeed, Christine. Unbelievable! So many people book Yellowstone accommodation a year in advance and make all the travel arrangements upfront; it must have a huge impact on all those bookings... What are your travel dates? Did you try Booking.com and Expedia? They have pretty much everything that's available in the region. You can also try VRBO - short-term private rentals. Keep on trying - sometimes there are last-minute cancelations and you might get lucky and still find something. I'd also keep on trying inside the park; ask if they can put you on some kind of a waiting list in case something becomes available. Also, since they canceled your accommodation, I would expect they would pay you back 100%. But I know that it's not enough in situations like this... Hope you can make it happen. Fingers crossed!

Debra Duncan

Monday 22nd of March 2021

hi thank you for your all your input, what about dinning ? I see lodging with continental breakfast but after hiking around all day where can you relax and have dinner and drinks? looking at the West side locations thanks Debra

Jurga

Tuesday 23rd of March 2021

Hi Debra, there are restaurants in all the main areas in Yellowstone and you can have breakfast, lunch, and dinner there. Some restaurants at the main lodges (Old Faithful Inn, Lake Lodge) require reservations for dinner, but we never had a reservation and could always find a place to eat. You can find a bit more information about dining in our Yellowstone travel guide - where to eat. If you are staying in West Yellowstone hotels, it's a town with many facilities, so there are many restaurants there as well. Hope this helps.

EJ

Tuesday 9th of March 2021

Hi Jurga, Your experience is very inspiring. Thank you for sharing it. We are a french/japanese family of two and are planning to come to spend maybe 3 days inside the park. We're living in Washington DC and are thinking about tripping by RV, all the way up to Yellow stone, beginning of July. Are there any fitted sites over the park, so we can plan our visit for the best experience ? coming to Yellow stone is one of our daughters dream. thank you for your thoughts regards EJ

Jurga

Wednesday 10th of March 2021

Hello, you can find all the information about camping and campsites on the official website. If you can, best book a campsite in advance. Some of them operate on the first-come-first-served basis and they usually fill up early in the morning already. It can be very stressful. Yellowstone will be packed this summer and you really can't count on just finding a spot upon arrival in high season. Good luck!

Brittney

Sunday 14th of February 2021

Hi there, thank you so much for all of this amazing info! Given the road closures, if you were to go this summer, how would you adjust your lodging stays if at all for the 4 day itinerary? Or would you stick with 3 nights at Canyon Village and one night in OF area?

Jurga

Monday 15th of February 2021

Hi Brittney, if you absolutely want to visit Lamar Valley and the northern side of the park, staying in Canyon Village is not ideal because of the road closure. Your itinerary would depend on where exactly you start and end your trip, but I think I'd stay max. 1-2 nights at the Canyon and potentially 2 nights at the OF area or in West Yellowstone. Or I'd even opt for Gardiner in the north for 1 night.

It all depends on where you start/end, which accommodations inside the park are still available (if any), and if you prefer to stay at fewer places and drive more or rather change hotels every night and spend more time sightseeing than driving up and down. If you just want one 'base' location, then this summer, the OF area or West Yellowstone would be a better choice than Canyon. Hope this helps a bit and good luck with the planning!

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