Choosing where to stay in Yellowstone National Park can be a crucial part of planning your visit. Maybe the MOST crucial part of your visit because it sets you up for the best access to all the wonders of the park.

Yellowstone is also HUGE. And the speed limits are low, so it takes a long time to get around the park. Add a bison or bear jam, road construction, or Sunday drivers, and it can easily take hours to get from one spot to another. When I recommend the best place to stay to visit Yellowstone, I take into consideration what visitors want to do in the park – which location gives them the best access for their dream vacation.  

I always recommend staying in two places on a Yellowstone visit. It does mean packing up and moving, but it also means you will reduce your driving by being strategically located closer to the places you most want to visit. 

I think staying at Canyon and Mammoth or Old Faithful and Roosevelt can set you up for a super visit to Yellowstone. 

If you really want to stay in one place the whole time, choose the Canyon Area (inside the park) or West Yellowstone (outside the park) for the most central locations. 

Cute boy standing in the snow in front of the Old Faithful Snow Lodge in Yellowstone

I have more options for places to stay near Yellowstone:  


Where to Stay INSIDE Yellowstone National Park

View of Old Faithful lodge and geyser at Yellowstone National Park

Should You Stay in Yellowstone or Outside the Park?

Choosing whether to stay inside or outside Yellowstone National Park depends on your priorities, budget, and the type of experience you desire. Here are some factors to consider:

Staying Inside Yellowstone

Pros:

  • Hotels Close to the Best of Yellowstone: Lodging inside the park places you close to the park’s iconic attractions, reducing travel time.
  • Avoiding Crowds in the Park: You’ll have early access to the park’s natural wonders and wildlife, avoiding crowds.
  • Historic Yellowstone Lodging: Staying within the park allows you to experience the park’s unique atmosphere and history, especially in historic lodges.

Cons:

  • Higher Costs: Accommodations inside the park can be pricier, and they often require reservations well in advance. Staying in a cabin or a room with a shared bathroom will save money.
  • Limited Availability: Due to high demand, lodging inside the park can be scarce, especially during peak seasons.
  • Fewer Amenities: Some lodges might have limited amenities compared to off-park options, like wi-fi, televisions, telephones, dining options, etc.
WPA poster art of Roosevelt Lodge Cabins located in the Tower-Roosevelt area in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming USA done in works project administration style or federal art project style.
Roosevelt Lodge

Staying Outside Yellowstone

Pros:

  • More Accommodation Choices: Lodging outside the park provides a broader range of options, from hotels to vacation rentals.
  • Budget-Friendly Lodging: Outside-the-park accommodations are often more cost-effective, making it easier to find deals.
  • Availability: There’s generally more availability, allowing for last-minute bookings.
  • More Dining Options: There are more dining choices in the gateway towns than within the park.
  • More Activities: Yellowstone’s gateway towns offer white water rafting, Imax theaters, lots of souvenir shops, wildlife parks and educational facilities, adventure courses, rodeos, shoot-outs, live performances, art galleries, and much more.

Cons:

  • Travel Time to Yellowstone: You may spend more time commuting to and from the park, potentially dealing with traffic and limited parking at popular attractions.
  • Less Immersive: Staying outside the park may result in a less immersive experience, with fewer opportunities for early morning and late evening park visits.

Ultimately, your decision should align with your preferences and priorities. If you seek an immersive, nature-centric experience and can secure lodging inside the park, that might be your best choice.

On the other hand, if you prefer more budget-friendly options, a broader range of accommodations, and more dining and activity choices, staying outside the park might be the way to go.

You can use my itineraries to help plan your time in Yellowstone and determine the best Yellowstone lodging for your specific trip.

Red doors, entrace to the Old Faithful Inn, Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park Lodging Locations

Yellowstone National Park features several lodges scattered throughout its vast landscape, each offering a unique atmosphere and advantages based on its location. Again, the best place to stay in Yellowstone depends on your priorities and budget.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the various hotels and cabins available within Yellowstone National Park, helping you choose the perfect place to stay for your adventure.


Hotels in Yellowstone National Park

Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel entrance and exterior - Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA - 2020

Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and Cabins

Location: Mammoth Hot Springs

Style: Victorian

Highlights: Historic charm, proximity to Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces.

Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel offers a unique Victorian-style atmosphere and is conveniently located near the Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces, which are a must-see in the park. This is where to stay when visiting Yellowstone in winter if you want to drive to a hotel.

Dining: The Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel features the Mammoth Dining Room, known for its bison and elk dishes, and the Terrace Grill for more casual dining. It’s a 10-15 minute drive to the town of Gardiner, which has many restaurants.

Season: April–late October and mid-December-early March


Canyon Lodge is where to stay in Yellowstone

Canyon Lodge and Cabins

Location: Canyon Village

Style: Modern

Highlights: Updated facilities, proximity to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

The Canyon Lodge and Cabins provide a more modern lodging experience, being the newest hotels in the park. The lodge is made up of five buildings and over 500 rooms (including cabins). Its central location near the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone makes it a popular choice. All 5 new lodges are LEED Certified.

Dining: Canyon Lodge Eatery offers a food court with a variety of options, including breakfast, pizza, and grill items, making it a convenient choice for families. You’ll also find Canyon Lodge Falls Cafe, Canyon Lodge Ice Creamery, Canyon Lodge Washburn Lookout, and Roosevelt Lodge Dining Room. There are other options in Canyon Village, outside the Canyon Lodge.

Season: Canyon Lodge is open from the middle of May through early October.

While you are at Canyon, check out all the things to see at the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.


YELLOWSTONE NP, UNITED STATES - Jul 25, 2018: Old faithful Inn lobby at Yellowstone NP - Wyoming - USA

Old Faithful Inn

Location: Old Faithful Geyser area

Style: Historic

Highlights: Iconic architecture, proximity to Old Faithful Geyser

The Old Faithful Inn is a historic masterpiece and the most famous hotel in the park. Its rustic charm, iconic architecture, and proximity to the legendary Old Faithful Geyser make it a top choice for many visitors. Here’s everything you need to know to plan your Old Faithful visit.

Where to stay in yellowstone could be the Old Faithful Snow Lodge in the background with a yellow snowcoach and three people in front

Dining: The Old Faithful Inn features the renowned Dining Room, offering a mix of classic and contemporary cuisine, the Old Faithful Lodge Cafeteria & Bake Shop, and the Bear Paw Deli, perfect for a quick bite or a cup of coffee. 

Season: Early May – early October


front of a wooden hotel in Yellowstone -- the Old Faithful Snow Lodge

Old Faithful Snow Lodge and Cabins

Location: Old Faithful Geyser area

Style: Modern

Highlights: Nice views, proximity to Old Faithful Geyser, updated amenities. The Snow Lodge at Old Faithful is a modern and comfortable lodging option that offers breathtaking views of Old Faithful Geyser. With its updated facilities and proximity to the park’s most famous attraction, it’s a fantastic choice for those seeking both convenience and comfort. The cabins are a little more rustic and basic, but are clean and provide a great option for staying in the Old Faithful area.

Dining at Old Faithful in the Obsidian Lodge

Dining: The Snow Lodge at Old Faithful offers the Obsidian Dining Room, where you can savor a diverse menu, and the Geyser Grill for quick, casual meals.

Season: Late April–late October and mid-December–early March.

See my post about visiting Old Faithful in Winter. Staying at the Snow Lodge and exploring the park under a blanket of snow is my favorite thing to do in Yellowstone.


Lake Hotel in the evening in Yellowstone National Park
Lake Hotel in Yellowstone is a great place to stay inside the park.

Lake Yellowstone Hotel and Cabins

Location: Lake Village

Style: Colonial Revival

Highlights: Gorgeous lake views, fine dining, historic appeal, piano music in the lobby

If you’re looking for elegance and stunning lake views, the Lake Yellowstone Hotel is your go-to option. This colonial revival-style hotel offers comfortable rooms and excellent dining options.

Dining: The elegant Lake Yellowstone Hotel offers the Lake Hotel Dining Room, serving fine dining with beautiful lake views, and the Lake Hotel Deli for more casual meals and snacks.

Season: Mid-May–early October


Grant Village Lodges

Location: Grant Village

Style: Basic

Highlights: Lakeside location, proximity to Yellowstone Lake

Grant Village offer a more budget-friendly option with a lakeside location and easy access to Yellowstone Lake’s recreational opportunities and the South Entrance. The 6 two-story buildings each contain 50 rooms, none have elevators. The village is also nearest to Grand Teton National Park.

Dining: The Grant Village Lake House Restaurant has a casual menu while the Grant Village Dining Room is a full-service restaurant. Both have awesome views of the lake.

Season: Late May–early October


Cabins in Yellowstone National Park

As mentioned above, many of the lodges have cabins associated with them. If you think the best place to stay in Yellowstone National Park is a cabin, you can look into Mammoth Hot Springs Cabins, Canyon Cabins, Old Faithful Cabins, and Yellowstone Lake Cabins, in addition to the two mentioned below.

Front of the Roosevelt cabins in Yellowstone

Roosevelt Lodge Cabins

Location: Tower-Roosevelt area

Style: Rustic

Highlights: Historic feel, cowboy cookouts, and horseback rides.

For an authentic Wild West experience, consider staying at the Roosevelt Lodge Cabins. Enjoy rustic cabins, cowboy cookouts, and horseback rides. This is the best lodging at Yellowstone for visiting the Lamar Valley. If you want to get out early or stay late, this is the closest you can get in the park. It’s also a good starting point for driving the Beartooth Highway. Lodging near Yellowstone in Silver Gate or Cooke City is even closer to the Lamar Valley and the Beartooth Highway.

Dining: The Roosevelt Lodge Dining Room is a family-style restaurant (get the cornbread!) and there is a bar in the lobby. The Old West Dinner Cookout leaves from the stables at Roosevelt Lodge.


Entrance to the Old Faithful Lodge Cabins in Yellowstone

Old Faithful Lodge Cabins

Location: Old Faithful Geyser Area

Style: Rustic

Highlights: This historic cabin facility is located near Old Faithful Inn and includes a one-story main lodge built in the 1920s featuring massive logs and stone pillars. Tremendous views of the Old Faithful Geyser can be seen from the lobby area.

Dining: The lobby has a bakery/snack shop and cafeteria-style food court and it’s a short walk to all of the other dining options in the Old Faithful area.

Season: Mid-May – early October


Lake Lodge Cabins in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, United States

Lake Lodge Cabins 

Location: Lake Village

Style: Rustic

Highlights: Cozy cabins, proximity to Yellowstone Lake, historic appeal

Lake Lodge Cabins offer a rustic and cozy lodging experience in Lake Village. These cabins provide visitors with proximity to the majestic Yellowstone Lake and access to various recreational activities around the lake area.

Dining: Lake Lodge Wylie’s Canteen is known for serving a variety of cafeteria-style meals, including breakfast, lunch, and dinner options. 

Season: Mid-June – early October


black bear in a green meadow at the Roosevelt Cabins in Yellowstone

How To Make a Hotel Reservation in Yellowstone 

You can make a reservation online by going to the park concessionaire’s (Xanterra) website and clicking the “stay” button. 

I think it is almost easier to call Xanterra (also called Yellowstone Park Lodges) if you don’t make your reservation the day they become available. Since Yellowstone reservations can be tough to come by, it can be nice to talk through your options with someone. 

They have a very generous cancellation policy, so if at first you don’t succeed, call back daily!

  • Within the U.S. 866-GEYSERLAND (866-439-7375)
  • Outside the U.S. 307-344-7311
  • For same-day reservations or to reach a lodge guest (when in-park operations are open) 307-344-7901

Reservations Office Hours (Mountain Time)

  • Daily – 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Mountain Time

Note: The reservations office is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day, and will close at 12:00 pm on the day prior to each of these holidays.


Fireplace in the Snow Lodge at Old Faithful Yellowstone

How Far in Advance Can You Make Reservations in Yellowstone?

I think this is a little confusing, so read carefully and mark your calendar for the first day you can make a reservation.

The reservation booking window accepts reservations for stays up to 13 months in advance. 

Specifically, on the 5th of each month, they begin accepting reservations for the same entire month of the following year. Online reservations begin at midnight (12:00 a.m.) Mountain time or over the phone beginning at 7:00 a.m.

For example, on April 5, 2024, guests will be able to make Yellowstone reservations for applicable dates and properties from April 1 through April 30, 2025. On May 5, 2024, guests will be able to make reservations for May 1 through May 31, 2025, and so on.

Remember that Yellowstone is a vast park, and each lodging option has unique advantages. The best choice for you ultimately depends on your preferences, budget, and what you decide to do in Yellowstone. Whatever you decide, Yellowstone National Park offers a memorable and awe-inspiring adventure.

Make sure to check out these posts with specific lodging options:

Interior of the Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone

FAQs About Deciding Where to Stay if Visiting Yellowstone

Q: What hotels are in Yellowstone park?

A: Yellowstone National Park offers a variety of lodging options ranging from historic lodges to modern hotels. Some of the prominent lodges within the park include Old Faithful Inn, Lake Yellowstone Hotel, Canyon Lodge, and Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel. Additionally, there are several campgrounds for those seeking a more immersive outdoor experience. Scroll up for all the details on hotels in Yellowstone.

Q: What city is best to stay in when visiting Yellowstone?

A: The choice of the city to stay in largely depends on your travel plans and preferences. West Yellowstone and Gardiner in Montana are popular gateway towns, providing proximity to the park’s west and north entrances. Cody in Wyoming (1 hour from the East Entrance) is another option, offering a scenic drive to the east entrance. Jackson, Wyoming (about an hour from the South Entrance) puts you in close proximity to Grand Teton National Park.

Q: What is the best side of Yellowstone to stay on?

A: The choice of which side of Yellowstone to stay on depends on your planned activities and entrance point. West Yellowstone is convenient for exploring the geothermal features and Old Faithful, while the northern and northeastern areas offer access to Lamar Valley, known for wildlife sightings. Consider the side that aligns with your primary points of interest or stay in two locations.

Q: Is it better to stay inside or outside Yellowstone?

A: Staying inside Yellowstone provides a more immersive experience, especially for early morning or late evening explorations. However, nearby gateway towns like West Yellowstone, Gardiner, or Cody offer a range of accommodations and amenities and may be more convenient and less expensive for some travelers.

Q: What is the best base city for Yellowstone?

A: West Yellowstone, located near the west entrance, is a popular base city with various accommodations, dining options, and proximity to major attractions. Gardiner, near the north entrance, and Cody, near the east entrance, are also excellent base cities, each offering its unique charm.

Q: Where should I go for the first time in Yellowstone?

A: For first-time visitors, iconic attractions like Old Faithful, Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, and Mammoth Hot Springs are must-see locations. These areas showcase the park’s geothermal wonders, stunning landscapes, and diverse wildlife.

Q: How far in advance should I book Yellowstone?

A: It is advisable to book accommodations and activities as early as possible, especially during the peak summer season. That’s 13 months in advance. Scroll up to read about the details for booking your Yellowstone lodging.


More Tips for Visiting Yellowstone