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Encompassing more than two million acres of unspoiled land, Yellowstone National Park is America’s most iconic stretch of wilderness. You can admire its astonishing canyons, mountains, lakes, and forests from the comfort of your own vehicle or get a closer look from the park’s hiking and cross-country skiing trails. Keep an eye out for grizzly bears, black bears, and the elusive gray wolf, or gaze in wonder at the park’s multi-colored hot springs. There are nine lodges (seven of them seasonal) and 12 campgrounds inside the park. Alternatively, those in search of a more luxurious or boutique experience may choose to stay in border towns like West Yellowstone or Gardiner. Read on to discover our top picks for every kind of Yellowstone visitor.
Best Inside the Park: Old Faithful Snow Lodge & Cabins
Many visitors find Yellowstone’s official lodges outdated but they cannot be beaten in terms of location. Old Faithful Snow Lodge & Cabins is the newest of the park’s full-service lodges and the best-ranked on TripAdvisor. It’s also one of only two that are open year-round. According to reviewers, it’s clean, comfortable, and charming — as long as you don’t come in expecting luxuries like TV or air-conditioning. The lodge’s biggest selling point is its setting. You can walk to legendary Old Faithful geyser in 10 minutes and Yellowstone and Shoshone lakes are nearby.
Choose a room in the classic timbered lodge and benefit from a full bathroom, coffee maker, and refrigerator. Alternatively, cabins provide a cheaper option for budget travelers and come with basic bathroom facilities. Several guided activities depart from the lodge including photo safaris, geyser tours, and ski excursions. Grab a quick bite from Geyser Grill in between adventures, or sit down to bison short ribs and wild Alaskan salmon at full-service Obsidian Dining Room.
Best Outside the Park: Alpine Motel
Ranked by travelers as the number one accommodation option in the scenic town of West Yellowstone, Alpine Motel stands out for its convenient location and great rates. Most of all, it’s made special by the faultless hospitality of its friendly owners. From here, you can drive to Yellowstone’s West Entrance in three minutes, putting you in a prime position for exploring the park’s geyser country. You’re also centrally located within West Yellowstone itself, although the motel remains peaceful with just 15 rooms.
All rooms pair cozy, rustic decor with modern comforts including an HD TV, high-speed Wi-Fi, air-conditioning, and a refrigerator. If you’re traveling with family or friends, book a two-bedroom suite or a kitchen unit. The latter sleeps six and allows for self-catering with full kitchen facilities. All guests are welcome to use the microwave and hot beverage station in the lobby, and although there’s no restaurant, there are plenty of dining options within a couple of hundred meters. The motel also offers off-street parking.
Best Budget: Roosevelt Lodge & Cabins
Located in the northern Tower Falls area, Roosevelt Lodge & Cabins is the best option for budget travelers wanting to stay inside the park. The lodge was built in 1920 and channels the rustic atmosphere of the Old West (a pro or a con, depending on your outlook). The cheapest option is a sparsely-furnished Roughrider Cabin with a wood-burning stove and one or two double beds; you’ll share shower and bathroom facilities with other cabins. For a private bathroom, consider upgrading to a Frontier Cabin.
The main log lodge has stone fireplaces and a long front porch. Sit back in a rocking chair and admire the view, or refuel in the family-style restaurant. A highlight of staying at the Roosevelt is its corral operation, which offers horseback trail rides and stagecoach adventures. Don’t miss the Old West Dinner Cookout, held amidst the breathtaking scenery of Pleasant Valley. You’ll arrive on horseback and be treated to traditional cowboy fare and live music. The lodge is open from late May to early September.
Best for Families: Explorer Cabins at Yellowstone
For the ultimate kid-friendly experience in West Yellowstone, choose the Explorer Cabins at Yellowstone. Located a three-minute drive from the West Entrance, the hotel consists of 50 modern cabins divided into five camps. This set-up encourages a great sense of community while also providing enough privacy that you don’t have to worry about waking up the neighbors (or vice versa). Yellowstone Cabins are made with families in mind, with two private bedrooms and a sleeper sofa in the living area.
All cabins come with a flat-screen TV, Wi-Fi, and a kitchenette with everything you need to whip up snacks or warm baby bottles. Spend quality time on the front porch, or putting your complimentary s’mores kit to good use around the community fire pit. On wet days, you have free access to the Game Room at Holiday Inn West Yellowstone with its super-sized TVs and Xbox games. Other highlights include free parking, dog-friendly cabins, and the fact that the hotel is open year-round.
Best for Luxury: Four Seasons Resort and Residences Jackson Hole
Those in search of five-star luxury will have to stay further from the park. Four Seasons Resort and Residences Jackson Hole is located 1.5 hours from the South Entrance in Teton Village, but it provides ski-in/ski-out access to Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and is also ideal for exploring Grand Teton National Park. Surrounded by magnificent mountain scenery, the resort offers a slew of exclusive experiences including private snowmobile safaris into Yellowstone’s most remote areas. You’ll also have access to a resident astronomer and expert fly fishing guide.
In between adventures, indulge in a spa massage or take a dip in the heated outdoor pool. All rooms and suites spoil with a fireplace, marble bathroom, and furnished private balcony. For the most luxurious stay, book a Private Residence. These multiple-bedroom sanctuaries come with a full kitchen and lavish dining and entertainment areas. Resort restaurants include modern American steakhouse West Bank Grill and Ascent Lounge, a slope-side bar specializing in craft cocktails and pan-Asian sharing plates.
Best Boutique: 1872 Inn
Adults-only 1872 Inn is a four-minute drive from the West Entrance and the bars and restaurants of Canyon Street. With near-perfect TripAdvisor reviews, it’s a far cry from the old-school accommodations of the park itself. Each of its 18 rooms is beautifully decorated with locally made treasures, from the carved wood headboard to the artwork on the walls. Every creature comfort is provided: think gas fireplaces, Keurig coffee makers, a 48” TV, and luxurious bedding. The en-suite bathrooms are perfect for couples with double showers and sinks and his n’ hers bath products.
When you’re not exploring the park or relaxing in your room, make time to visit the sauna and fitness center. The hotel also offers excellent value for money with plenty of complimentary extras thrown in. You’ll be greeted with free snacks and water at check-in and direct bookings include a delicious continental breakfast. If you’re planning on flying into Yellowstone Airport, your airport transfers are taken care of as well.
Best B&B: Gardiner Guest House B&B
Open year-round, Gardiner Guest House B&B is the best-rated B&B in town. Located a four-minute drive from the North Entrance, it’s the ideal choice for visitors en-route to Mammoth Hot Springs or the Boiling River. Reviewers love the 1903 Folk Victorian home for its charming vintage decor and welcoming atmosphere, although the innkeepers themselves are the real highlight. Nancy is the superb cook responsible for the ever-changing breakfast spreads, while Richard is always happy to share his extensive knowledge of the local area.
The main house has three themed rooms (Asian, Gran’s, and Americana), all with unique furnishings ranging from claw-foot tubs to antique dressers. Expect books and board games, a TV, an amazingly comfortable bed, and a generous supply of home-baked treats. A beverage sideboard provides everything you need to make tea, coffee, cocoa, and hot cider. For added privacy, book the B&B’s separate cabin. It has an en-suite bedroom upstairs and a kitchen and living room downstairs.
Best for Winter Visits: Yellowstone Expeditions Yurt Camp
Adventure seekers who want to experience the splendor of backcountry Yellowstone in the heart of winter should book a stay at the Yellowstone Expeditions Yurt Camp. Located at an elevation of 8,000 feet, it occupies a small meadow near the Grand Canyon. There is no other accommodation for 35 miles and the camp is only accessible via a 40-mile snowcoach shuttle from West Yellowstone. The company uses the camp as the ideal base for its spectacularly scenic, guided cross-country skiing expeditions.
Considering the extremity of its location, the yurt camp is amazingly comfortable. At its heart are the heated Kitchen and Dining Yurts, where family-style meals are prepared and served and guests can swap tales about their daily adventures. Double occupancy sleeping yurts are warmed by propane heaters with an adjustable thermostat and lit by solar-recharged, battery-powered lanterns. All bedding is provided. A cedar wood camp sauna and a hot-water shower add a touch of luxury to your time in Yellowstone’s most pristine nature area.
Best Campground: Norris Campground
Situated near Yellowstone’s most dynamic thermal area (the Norris Geyser Basin) Norris Campground receives excellent TripAdvisor reviews for its cleanliness, tranquility, and beautiful lodgepole forest location. It’s also very central, which makes it ideal for exploring the rest of the park. Each campsite has a picnic table and a fire pit with a grate, while communal food storage boxes keep edible items out of your tent and away from bears.
Sites are allocated on a first-come, first-serve basis and usually fill up by 10 AM in season. Loops B and C are located on the hillside, while Loop A is adjacent to a meadow that’s frequently visited by bison. Make sure to join one of the campground’s guided ranger walks through the Norris Geyser Basin. You can also visit the on-site Museum of the National Park Ranger and in summer, campfire programs are held each evening. This campground is primarily for tent campers. There are only seven RV sites and no electrical hook-ups or dump stations.