Old Faithful Inn and Geyser in Yellowstone National Park

Best Places to Stay in and Near Yellowstone National Park

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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

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

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.

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 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.

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.

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 in YellowstoneOld Faithful Inn Yellowstone
Old Faithful Inn interior

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.
  • 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.  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.

TIP: If you are short on time and decide to stay in Jackson, 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-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:

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

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

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, the Canyon area 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. 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.

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 a good place to stay for exploring northern Yellowstone, but not ideal for the other places.

Is it better to stay in Gardiner or West Yellowstone?

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.

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.

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 resources for your trip to 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
Best places to stay in and near Yellowstone National Park


  1. We are planning to go next summer and thinking of staying in West Yellowstone. Are there any disadvantages to staying at a VRBO really close by rather than staying in the actual park?

    1. Author

      Hi Patty, the only disadvantage of staying outside the park is that you’ll spend a bit more time in the car and might have to queue at the park entrance gates in order to get in every time. Apart from that, if your accommodation is somewhat centrally located to easily reach the main areas of Yellowstone, it’s not a big deal. It’s such a big park that no matter where you’d stay, you’ll have to drive quite a lot every day anyway.
      For the best ‘base’ location for a longer stay, try not to stay north or south of Yellowstone, but rather more centrally, e.g. West Yellowstone area. That way you can easily cover different parts of the park on different days without having to drive through the entire park every time.
      Hope this helps.

    2. Hi Patty,
      I live in West Yellowstone year round and my vote is stay outside the park. There are more services and options and the gate to the park is literally 1/2 block outside of our little ‘town’.

  2. hello,
    so glad to found this. i am planning a trip to YNP from June 13 – 25. We will be coming from Maryland. i read your article that staying at West YNP will be best.
    Any advice?

    1. Author

      Hi Lani, it really depends on what you are planning to do.
      With so much time in Yellowstone, you may want to split your stay between several areas close to the park. For that, West Yellowstone is indeed a good choice and it’s much more budget-friendly than staying inside the park. But you may also want to stay e.g. on the eastern side of the park for visiting Lamar Valley which is otherwise quite far to get to. Cooke City has a few accommodations not too far from the park. But I’d only stay there for a night or two; if you want to avoid lots of driving in one day.
      With so many days in the area, you may want to visit more places than just Yellowstone. If you spend 5 full days in Yellowstone, you can do all the musts and a bit more (please see our Yellowstone itinerary suggestions for ideas). If you spend a week, you can do quite some hiking as well. Unless you want to explore every corner of the park to the fullest, I don’t think you need more time there than 5-6 days.
      So you may also want to spend a few days at Grand Teton NP (e.g. Jackson Lake Lodge has an excellent location) or in Jackson Hole (lots of accommodations there) where you have lots of fun activities (rafting, hot air balloon flights, etc.).
      Hope this helps. Good luck with the planning and have a great trip!

  3. Hello,
    I was wondering how far out to book a flight for a trip in July.

    1. Author

      Hi Karina, you can normally book flights up to 11 months in advance. So if your travel dates are not flexible and you find a good deal, I’d say book sooner rather than later. The problem these days is that there is so much uncertainty, but I read just yesterday that many airlines in the US have decided to offer free date changes for new bookings, so if you can get such a flexible ticket, there’s probably not too much risk.
      If your travel dates are flexible, you can always wait a bit and see if you find better prices, but that’s hard to predict. Furthermore, as you can read in this article, you really have to book Yellowstone accommodation well in advance. So for that, it’s also easier if you book your flights at the same time when booking hotels.

  4. Very glad I found your post. You provide more information that I could ever hope to find on my own.
    I will be traveling with my grandson – hopefully in August of this year 2020. Not sure what’s happening with this virus so I’m hesitant to book flights and hotels. I’m looking at doing your 3 or 4 day trip. How should I begin my trip if I’m, flying into JAC

    1. Author

      Hi John, please check our Yellowstone itinerary suggestions and then plan everything based on the location of your accommodations. If your flight arrives quite late, stay in Jackson Hole the first night. Otherwise, you can already drive closer to Yellowstone (again, depends on where you find a hotel).
      If you stay in West Yellowstone, you can plan the days in pretty much any order as it’s relatively centrally located.
      If you are looking for more details at what to do at each place, please check our article with the best things to do in Yellowstone and also e.g. suggested 2-day Yellowstone itinerary that has a map and lots of details for each place.
      All this is, of course, based on the assumption that the park will be completely open by that time. For the official up-to-date information in regards to what’s open this summer, please check the National Park Service website. Part of the park is already open now and it should open up completely soon, but nobody can tell you with any certainty how the situation will be in a few months from now.
      Hope this helps and I really hope you can make this trip happen. It’s well worth the hassle!

    2. We are staying in Cody tonight, we have no reservations or itenerary for Yellowstone. Which is the best way to go and where to stay for 2 nights and do Yellowstone in 2-3 days. We are just winging it😩

        1. So we are gonna stay at the Crosswinds Inn for 2 nights so where should we begin Yellowstone tour

          1. Author

            Hi Lori, sorry for the late reply. I hope that our Yellowstone itinerary suggestions that I linked to in my previous answer were useful. We are also traveling at the moment and I really have no time for personalized last-minute itinerary suggestions for all our readers. I’m sure you’ll understand.
            Hope you had a great time in Yellowstone.

  5. Thank you so much for your article. I have literally driven myself crazy trying to figure out Yellowstone since we have never been there before. I can’t believe my luck having stumbled upon your post which has made my life so much easier! lol
    Our family of 4 is going to plan on staying 3 full days in Yellowstone and will follow your itinerary that you have posted. The problem I am having now is I am unsure of what airport we should fly into. We are coming from Texas. I would like to stay in both the OF lodge and the Canyon Village. And I also don’t mind flying into one airport and out of another. Just need some suggestions on where to even start. Thank you!

    1. Author

      Hi Stacy, there are several airports not too far from Yellowstone. The biggest one is the Bozeman airport (BZN). Alternatively, try Jackson Hole (JAC).
      As for accommodation – it’s not always that you can just find availability inside the park, so keep that in mind. If you are traveling this summer, everything inside the park will likely be fully booked. If you can’t find anything inside the park, I recommend staying in West Yellowstone and booking asap.

  6. We visited Yellowstone many years ago. One of our highlights was a morning tour from our hotel where cowboys took us by wagon to a remote stop and cooked breakfast for us. We were feet away from a water hole where bison were drinking and we had the view of the Tetons. Do you have any idea of how we could do that again. We are also interested in half day trips through Yellowstone since we will not be driving. We are flying in from Orlando.

    1. Author

      Hi Phyllis, a quick search and I found this Old West Dinner tour in Yellowstone – by horse or wagon. Maybe something for you?
      I can’t really offer much advice for short Yellowstone day tours since I have no idea where you’ll be staying, but I’m sure you can find more available tours on the official website of Yellowstone NP that I linked to above.
      Hope this helps. Enjoy your trip!

  7. Thanks for a very useful post. Can you show me the airports location vis a vis the park

    1. Author

      It’s so easy to do this on Google Maps. On this map, you can see all the major airports near Yellowstone.

    2. I am interested in following your 4 day itinerary…we will be coming from Mount Rushmore area and I’m wondering if it will be the best route to start…thanks

      1. Author

        Hello, coming from Mount Rushmore, you could drive to Cody or Wapiti (about 380 miles – at least 7hrs drive). You can probably stay there (see Cody hotels and Wapiti hotels) and visit Yellowstone Lower Loop from there.
        With 4 days in Yellowstone, you could probably spend two nights in the Cody area and two in either West Yellowstone or Gardiner and visit the Upper Loop attractions from there.
        Or you just stay in Cody on the first night and then visit part of the Lower Loop and immediately move on to the West Yellowstone area. From there, you can then easier visit the rest of the park.
        Hope this helps. Enjoy your trip!

  8. Hi Jurga,
    We are arriving at Yellowstone through Gardiner late afternoon on August 24. We have 4 nights reservation at Old Faithful Inn (the old rooms with shared bathroom.) I’m now wondering if it might be better to stay 1-2 nights at Mammoth Springs (there is availability in cabins with shared bathrooms), do touring from the north, and then stay 2-3 nights at the Old Faithful Inn. Am I right in thinking that if we stay all 4 nights at OF Inn we will be in the car every day for long drives?
    We could also enter from West Yellowstone, coming from the Bozeman Airport, and just go right to OF Inn, but still have the problem of always being in the car!
    I appreciate any advise you can give me!

    1. Author

      Hi Colleen, OF area is quite centrally located, so it’s not a bad place to stay. Whatever you do, you’ll be in the car a lot anyway. Mammoth Springs could be a good place to stay for exploring the northern part of the park and would save you maybe about an hour both ways. So it could be good for 1 or 2 nights, depending on your arrival times. I’d say one full day exploring is enough for that area. In general, if I had to pick one of those two places, I’d go with the OF. But if you don’t mind changing hotels, then yes, splitting your stay might be a good idea.
      If you are not sure how to plan your time, please check our suggestions for Yellowstone itinerary.

  9. Hi Jurga,

    Do you know if we can park a SUV in RV/Tent rental spot no hookup.

    1. Author

      Hi, no, I have no idea about camping. Enjoy your trip!

  10. I agee- great post! I appreciate your info. I will be traveling in late Sept. with 5-6 days in the park. I will be driving a small class c motorhome, Two questions- am I likely to be able to get to first come first serve camp sites in the park that time of year? Are we likely to have road closures in the park due to snow? We have one night booked at Old Faithful Lodge, but hope to find campgrounds the other days.

    1. Author

      Hi Ramona, I really can’t answer your questions as I simply don’t know. On the official website of Yellowstone NP you can find more information about campgrounds – some of them can be reserved in advance, the others are indeed first come first served. Please note that quite some campgrounds might already be closed, depending on your exact travel dates.
      I’d think that the end of September shouldn’t be too busy, but I really can’t say.
      As for the snow, I think you should be ok and most roads are normally open at that time of the year. However, we visited end of July and the week before we came, it was snowing at Mount Washburn, whereas we had really warm weather and were wearing t-shirts. So you never know…
      Enjoy your trip!

      1. I would love to go back to Yellowstone National Park as an adult.

        1. Author

          What’s holding you back? It’s such an amazing destination. One of my favorites in the States. If you can make it, do it! Just – if and when you go back – book your accommodation well in advance! 😉
          Happy travels!

  11. My susggestion, book ASAP. Back in 2008 we were out there and there were very few places to stay. Evenything was booked up. We got the last place that cost $250 a night, and it was much too big for us too.

    1. Author

      I think these days one would be glad to pay ‘just’ 250 USD a night for a big room… Times change and prices in and around Yellowstone too. One thing indeed remained the same – you have to book in advance for the best location and best prices.

  12. Great Yellowstone posts! I have overlapping reservations for two nights at OF inn and three nights at Canyon and need to decide what to keep and what to cancel. I’m thinking two nights at OF and one at CL since we’ll be driving in late afternoon on the first day. Any thoughts? Or is two nights at CL better? Planning one night in GTNP afterwards.

    1. Author

      Hi Sonali, it’s really your personal choice, I don’t think it matters much. Just see how you plan your itinerary and you’ll be ok either way.

  13. Jurga, one of the best blogs on YNP/GT trip planning I have found! I plan to follow your itenerary for both parks as close as possible. We are going to be there June 2020 for approx. 7-8 nights. We plan to fly into SLC, stay at colter bay village (or whatever accommodation we manage to get around that area) for two nights and explore GT. Then head up to YNP. We don’t mind moving around to keep driving distances to a minimum, so I was thinking we could do 2 nights in west yellowstone, 2 nights at canyon lodge, and 1-2 nights at Gardiner near north entrance before we drive up to Bozeman airport. Does this order make sense? Or should we switch the two nights at canyon lodge first and then move to west Yellowstone area?

    1. Author

      Hi Fari, I really don’t know if it makes much difference – you can do it either way. The only reason to leave West Yellowstone/ OF area for last would be because it’s actually better to visit the Grand Prismatic and the Upper Geyser Basin at the end of your trip. If you check my recommended Yellowstone itineraries, I suggest to keep it for the very end. I think you’ll appreciate the other places in the park more that way.
      Good luck with the planning – you are nicely on time for next year!

  14. Hi: I will be travelling from Regina SK Canada. I think I will enter the park from North side. What is the best location for my 3 nights stay in the Park?

    1. Author

      Hi Enamul, I guess it depends on when you arrive and what time of the year you travel and if there are still accommodations available inside the park or not. If you arrive rather late in the evening, then you could stay in Gardiner the first night and then move on to West Yellowstone for the other 2 nights. Otherwise, I’d visit the northern side of the park first and then drive on to West Yellowstone and stay there all 3 nights. This is assuming you are traveling soon and there are no available accommodations inside the park.

      1. Yes, I am planning to visit from June 28 to July 1, 2019. I think your suggestion is reasonable. I will stay first night in Gardiner and then move into West Yellowstone for the 2nd two nights.
        Thank you very much.

  15. Hi I love your itinerary cos it covers everything n still seems to be relaxed. We r also planning for 4 days tour. Wanted to know about food. We r booking canyon village lodge, do they provide good food for breakfast and dinner? What did u do for lunch? I know there wont be any way to cook ourself inside so whts ur take on tht..

    1. Author

      Hi Vaidehi, there are many restaurants and also some shops near all the main lodges in Yellowstone, so you’ll never had any trouble to find a place to eat. We found breakfast the easiest, at lunch it was usually crowded everywhere, and at dinner we usually had to wait a bit to be seated, but never longer than 20 minutes.
      It’s easiest to just get something for a picnic lunch and take it with you, so you don’t have to waste your time looking where to eat during the day. As I said, there are plenty of shops, also deli-style with sandwiches and other snacks you can easily take for a picnic. You won’t be hungry, don’t worry. 🙂

  16. Hi there,

    we have three kids, twins will be 4 in May and older boy will be 7 in March and we are planning to go to Yellowstone in July. Great articles you wrote BTW, thanks! I guess we will do 3 days at yellowstone and one at Grand Teton national park per your suggestions. Question is, i actually have a lot of time off so we could stay longer. Would you recommend staying for a couple of days in Jackson, or doing something else in the area to complement the parks trips? We live 10 miles north of San Francisco and i need to figure out whether better to fly into Jackson or west yellowstone

    1. Author

      Hi Doug, if you have more time, I would suggest to stay in Yellowstone a bit longer – at least 4 full days. Here you can find Yellowstone itinerary suggestions – 4 days is really not exaggerated at all. Here you can read more about things to do in Yellowstone with kids and there’s also Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center just outside Yellowstone that is great to visit with kids if you have extra time. I have a bit more info about it in this article: best things to do in Yellowstone.
      Grand Teton NP nearby is also a nice place and you could certainly spend at least one full day there (please check this article for suggestions). If you like kayaking and such, you could also spend more time there. I think they even have some family-friendly rafting (floating) trips.
      Jackson is a nice town and there are lots of activities that you can do nearby, so I’m sure you can fill a few days there as well.
      You could fly in/out of Jackson, or fly to Bozeman and depart from Jackson (or vice versa).

  17. Love your post! We are planning a trip for May of this year. I am already finding it to be true about accommodations being booked up. We are driving in from Alabama. I had thought of staying in Jackson Hole a couple nighhts and doing GTNP and the lower half of Yellowstone then staying at the West Entrance to finish up our trip all while following your 4 day intinerary guide just changing the order of the days a little. How does that plan sound? I would also like to do a rodeo and a chuckwagon dinner? Do you have any suggestions for those? Unfortunately the chuckwagon dinners yellowstone offers do not begin until June 1 and we will
    Be gone by then

    1. Author

      Hi Jane, it all sounds ok to me. One thing to consider, check the road conditions for when you are planning to travel to make sure that all those roads will be open in May. I’m not certain, but I think some roads only start to open in late May. You can find some up-to-date information here.
      Sorry I can’t help you with the rodeo or chuckwagon dinner – no experience with this. Maybe check with your accommodation, they might know more.
      Have a great trip!

  18. My mom and I went to Yellowstone for 2 weeks in July of 2017 and we stayed in Gardiner. We didn’t find it horribly inconvenient at all. Yes, it took a little longer to get to places like Lamar Valley and Grant Village, but we saw beautiful landscape on the way and were able to stop and get some great wildlife shots. Staying in Gardiner also made it possible to support some local businesses like the Yellowstone Grill, where we had breakfast. I enjoyed my stay in Gardiner and would stay there again.

    1. Author

      Thank you for sharing your experience, Jennifer. I’m sure many people will find it very useful.
      And 2 weeks in Yellowstone – wow! Lucky you!
      Happy travels.

  19. What a great post. It definitely helped me pull the trigger on canyon lodge. My family would like to visit all the highlights of the park and I do need your advise on couple things for this trip. We will be driving to YSNP from Glacier park and arriving by end of day. My questions are
    1. Which park entrance would you recommend for us to use and why?
    2. Should we plan on staying outside YSNP maybe Gardiner as we arrive from GNP and plan to maybe visit Lamar valley & beartooth highway on the way to Canyon lodge next day? or drive straight to Canyon lodge?
    3. We plan on visiting Grand Teton after spending 5 days in YSNP. Recommendations on where to stay?

    1. Author

      Hi Nimisha, glad you found this post useful. I’m not sure when you are traveling, but beware that Yellowstone accommodations are often fully booked long in advance. So I’d first check if Canyon Lodge is available for your travel dates.
      1. Coming from Glacier NP, use the North Entrance – seems most logical to me and should be much quieter than the West Entrance.
      2. Indeed, the first night or two you could stay in Gardiner. It would probably save you a small fortune compared to staying inside the park. If there would be no accommodation available at the Canyon Lodge anymore, in that case I’d suggest to stay in West Yellowstone either the entire stay or maybe in combination with Gardiner in the beginning.
      3. Please check this post for recommendations for Grand Teton.
      Enjoy your trip and whatever you decide, book ASAP!

  20. Thank you so much for your information. We are planning a trip this summer, which apparently I have waited to late to stay in the park. I see that you recommended staying near the west gate entrance. Is this just because of the availability of lodging or based on getting the best location to visit all the park? Reason I am asking, we will be coming in from the east side. I have found an airbnb location in the town of Wapiti. I don’t mind to drive the initial distance to the west side, but mainly wanting to know best location to visit all of Yellowstone while staying in one location outside of the park.

    1. Author

      Hi Darla, I recommend West Yellowstone as the best alternative to park lodging due to its more central location. It gives you easy access to northern and southern parts of the park, as well as Grand Prismatic/OF area without having to sit in the car for hours every single day. Also, every time you have to drive through Hayden valley, you never know how long it will take you. Bison are often on the roads there, which might mean huge delays. We were stuck in a traffic jam there, standing still for over 40min if I recall well.
      Maybe you could stay in Wapiti just in the beginning, visit the southern part of the lake from there and then make your way up. Then stay in West Yellowstone for the rest of your trip and explore the other areas from there.
      Hope this helps. Enjoy the trip!
      PS if you haven’t seen it yet, please check our Yellowstone itinerary suggestions, as well as other posts about visiting Yellowstone.

  21. My husband and I will be traveling through Yellowstone in a week. We are on a time schedule and will be staying 1 night at the Yellowstone lodge. Any recommendation for what we should see with only a day or a day and half in Yellowstone. Anything by the Yellowstone Lodge? Thanks

    1. Author

      Hi Danelle, I’m not sure what you mean by Yellowstone Lodge? The Old Faithfull Inn in the park or the Yellowstone Lodge hotel in West Yellowstone?
      Anyway, both these options are relatively close by to the Old Faithfull/ Grand Prismatic area. So that’s where I would start. Also, maybe drive part of the scenic loop and make a short stop by the Yellowstone Canyon, pass the Hayden Valley along the way (there are often lots of bison there). This would be a full day though, so make sure to start early. If you feel that it’s too much driving, then just focus on the Old Faithfull, Grand Prismatic area.
      Here you can find my more detailed recommendations for Yellowstone itinerary (1-5 days), it also has a map to help you get a better idea of where all those places are.
      Hope this helps.

      1. Yes, we are staying at the Yellowstone Lodge Hotel in West Yellowstone. Thanks for your advise.

  22. Hello! My name is Madison and I enjoyed reading your article l, however I found it troubling that you didn’t mention the town of Dubois, WY which is located only an hour and 20min outside of Yellowstone (the same distance as Jackson hole). The hotels and people there are so amazingly friendly and the hotels are cheaper than in Jackson as well! The hotel we stayed at even had free fly fishing casting lessons as well as a nightly bonfire with s’mores for guests! I just think that people should know about it as an option as well and not just the places that are easy to find.

    1. Author

      Hi Madison, thanks for your input. While I’m certain that there are many nice places to stay in that area, this is not what this article is about.
      This post is about the BEST places to stay for visiting Yellowstone. If you had read the article completely, you would have seen that I do not recommend Cody, Jackson, Grand Teton NP, or any other places that are more than a few minutes outside the Yellowstone gate for sightseeing. It’s fine if you are just planning a one-day trip to Yellowstone, leave early in the morning, come back at midnight, see two or three highlights. I guess you can tick the box that you have visited Yellowstone. But if you really want to discover the park and not spend all your time driving up and down, then accommodation that is located 3-4 hours driving time from most sections of the park is simply not a feasible option.

      1. I agree, Dubois is a wonderful beginning to a week in Yellowstone. It is a pleasent destination after a long drive, a good beginning to a morning drive on the North Loop, ending with a night in Mammoth Hot Springs Lodge.

        1. Author

          Dubois – Mammoth Hot Springs is a 4-hour drive one way, heavy traffic and bison jams not included… If you take the North Loop, as you say, it’s even longer… So yes, it’s ok for one night if you are staying in Yellowstone after that.
          Once again, Dubois might be a good place to stay before or after you are going to Yellowstone, but I really don’t think I would recommend to stay in Dubois and explore Yellowstone from there on a daily basis…

  23. So am I reading the description right? Canyon Lodge does not offer AC rooms? The room descriptions state no AC and we would be traveling in July.

    1. Author

      🙂 Yes, indeed, Yellowstone accommodations have no air conditioning. If you really think you can’t live without it, then the hotels in West Yellowstone are probably the better option.
      Just one thing – we were also in Yellowstone end of July and while it was hot during the day, the nights were generally quite cold. We never missed AC.

      1. Ahhhh, ok. Well I wouldn’t expect to be around during the day. We would be traveling early/mid July. I have booked Explorer Cabins in West Yellowstone for 3 nights and I’m considering 2-3 nights at the Canyon Lodge. We then probably head over to the Grand Teton National Park for 2-3 nights. Thanks for your reply!

  24. I understand that the days will be full, but what about the evenings? Are there any night time activities? Especially for kids. Do you just veg in the evenings or are there indoor pools.

    1. Author

      Hi Dione, we visited Yellowstone with kids and after a long day and dinner we were usually tired and just went to bed. It was usually past 9PM anyway. Sometimes the kids would still play a game of chess (was available at the Canyon Lodge), but for the rest there wasn’t much to do, and in any case it was time for bed for them. At the Old Faithful Inn there was live music in the evenings if I’m not mistaken.
      Yellowstone is a National Park, not a theme park, so you won’t find any swimming pools, playgrounds, etc. Good news is that there is a natural hot tub – Boiling River – that kids will love.
      Hotel facilities will depend on where you stay. There are several hotels in West Yellowstone that do have a pool or even a hot tub (e.g. Holiday Inn West Yellowstone or Gray Wolf Inn & Suites), but you won’t find any of that in Yellowstone lodges. So if you prefer to keep your days shorter and have some relaxing time in the evenings, you may want to stay there instead of inside the park. It’s also much more affordable, especially for big family rooms.

  25. Oh my goodness I’m so glad I found your site. I’m been so overwhelmed trying to research Yellowstone. This is the first post of yours I’ve read but based on this I can’t wait to explore the rest of your site!!

    Trying to plan a really big family reunion type trip next summer. Most of us have never been to yellowstone.

    1. Author

      Hi Jillinda, thank you for your kind words. Glad to hear that you found this post useful. We indeed have many more blog posts about Yellowstone, including best things to do in Yellowstone, itinerary suggestions, packing advice, even a secret natural hot tub – the Boiling River
      Just one tip – book your accommodations ASAP, it’s probably already quite late for next summer if you want to stay inside the park. On the other hand, staying in West Yellowstone will probably give you many more options for a big group of people (not to mention that it’s much cheaper), and it’s still a great location for sightseeing.
      Enjoy the trip planning!

  26. Thank you for offering up the Grand Teton and Yellowstone 4 Day 3 Night Wildlife Tour. How do you know about it? Have you been on it or know anyone that has? I’m curious why you chose them, out of so many, to recommend? It’s so hard to select a good tour outfit/operator. I’d love to trust your recommendation, but would like to understand what it is based on. MANY thanks.

    1. Author

      Hi Libby, I know what you mean – the choice of tours can be overwhelming at any location. I chose this tour primarily to show my readers that there are alternative ways to visit Yellowstone. Not everyone travels the same way and some people never leave the house because they are frightened of an idea of having to plan a trip. I want my readers to know of the alternative possibilities so that everyone finds a suitable way to visit Yellowstone.
      As to why this particular tour, I like that it has a focus on wildlife, at the same time includes all the main highlights of Yellowstone, as well as Grand Teton.
      I haven’t been on this tour, no. We visited Yellowstone on our own and here you can find our Yellowstone itinerary suggestions if you rather do it on your own as well. If you check our suggested itinerary for 3-4 days and compare it with this tour, you’ll see that it covers pretty much the same places. Therefore I think it’s quite a good choice for those who rather not go through a hassle of having to plan their own trip.
      Is it the best Yellowstone tour out there? I honestly don’t know. But if you end up doing it, feel free to come back here and tell us your experience. I know it will be useful to other readers.
      Whatever you decide, enjoy your trip to Yellowstone!

      1. Thanks much Jurga. I’ll be sure to report back, if I decide to go the tour route.

  27. 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.

    1. Author

      The rates will of course be much better if staying outside of Yellowstone, but from our experience (and that of our readers), staying so far from Yellowstone is not something I’d advise to anyone. Since you included the name of accommodation (which I removed), I assume this comment was just meant to advertise your or our friends’ business and not to share your actual experience. I guess it all depends on how much time you have and what you want to see, but driving an hour just to get to one of the remote gates of Yellowstone doesn’t leave much time for sightseeing.. It is my opinion that one should try to make the best of the limited vacation time when traveling and make the most of the trip. Sometimes it means paying a bit more for accommodation and having more time left to actually see and do something.

  28. 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.

  29. 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!

  30. 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.

  31. 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 😉

  32. 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

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

    1. Author

      Good to hear that, Rekha. Any trip requires so much preparation, so I know exactly what you mean.

  34. 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.

  35. Wow! These places are stunning and excellent, Jurga! Yellowstone is breathtaking!

  36. 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!

  37. 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…

  38. 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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