Where To Stay In Yellowstone: 10 Best Areas
Whether you are determined to stay inside the park or are willing to accept a location thats just steps away from one of the entrances, youll have plenty of choices when it comes to deciding where to stay in Yellowstone.
With attractions like Old Faithful Geyser, Grand Prismatic Spring, Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone Lake and many other awe-inspiring natural features, Yellowstone National Park is an incredibly popular destination for travelers from around the world.
Thousands of people flock here every year, especially during the summer high season. Another high season can occur in winter when snow covers the ground, and people arrive with their skis and snowboards.
Accordingly, it is sensible to plan ahead as much as possible when youre contemplating a trip to breathtaking Yellowstone. In particular, lodging in the region can be hard to come by and incredibly expensive if you wait too long.
Things To See And Do West Yellowstone:
- Always wanted to try out fishing but not sure where to start? This trout fishing experience in nearby Elk Creek is perfect for beginners.
- Head to the town centre where you can check out the local boutiques offering arts, crafts, and unique souvenirs to take home to your friends.
- Yellowstone Museum is the premier destination for learning about the natural history of the region theres also a great train ride right into the heart of the park.
- There are a few hiking trails in the far east of the town these tend to be flatter than those in the park, so great for those that cant manage anything too strenuous.
- Want to taste the best breakfast in Yellowstone? Running Bear Pancake House are famous for their bottomless stacks but their entire menu is worth sampling.
Winter Paradise In Big Sky: Lone Mountain Log Home
For your own little cosy home away from home, this charming log house is unbeatable! On the more affordable range of family accommodation, it is a little bit more secluded than our other Big Sky picks, giving you some peace and quiet away from the main tourist areas. Two of the bedrooms come with their own en-suites, adding a little extra privacy for the grown-ups.
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Want To Live In The Park For Free Work There
The final thing I want to mention is that the best way to visit Yellowstone on a budget is to just work there! Its easier than youd expect to get a job working for the concessionaires .
The work is generally thankless and the pay sucks, but youre providing three meals a day and a cheap place to live, whether that be in the national park or just outside of it.
I cant fit all the ins and outs of seasonal park work here, so Id suggest reading this guide to national park work that my girlfriend wrote. Its a wealth of knowledge and has all the information youll ever need if youre interested in working in a national park.
A Yellowstone Geography Overview
In order to talk about the best places to stay to explore Yellowstone, we need to start by covering the park highlights and where theyre located.
First of all, its worth getting this out of the way early Yellowstone is MASSIVE. Weve been to 13 national parks in the past year or so, and Yellowstone felt the biggest to us .
There are a few implications for that fact. First, youre going to be driving a lot. No ifs, ands, or buts about it.
HOWEVER, you can cut down on that driving by being strategic in terms of where you choose to stay.
Wed strongly recommend splitting your nights between two different locations so that you can spend your time seeing the sights rather than driving. Which is exactly what we have you do in our 4 day Yellowstone itinerary.
With that out of the way, lets quickly talk about Yellowstones geography.
At a high-level, wed split the park into five regions. They are:
- The Lamar Valley
- Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
- Old Faithful & Geyser Basin
- Yellowstone Lake
Thats probably not a perfect split, but its good enough to use to talk about the best places to stay.
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Luxurious Loft In Cooke City: Mountain Lux
This charming mountain loft is the perfect choice for small families and couples! The Bannock Snowmobile Trail runs right by the house, making it a popular choice for winter sports enthusiasts. There are plenty of native wildlife hotspots nearby, so you might even get the chance to spot some eagles, buffalo or deer. Exhausted after a long day of snowsports? Unwind in the hot tub and sauna.
Hotels In West Yellowstone Montana
West Yellowstone is a great place to stay outside Yellowstone National Park. Its convenient to most of the top attractions, provides plenty of accommodation and dining options, and is minutes from the West Yellowstone airport.
Youll also find the fascinating Wolf Discovery Center here well worth a trip!
Drive Time to Popular Attractions:
- Old Faithful: 55 minutes
The best hotels in West Yellowstone, Montana include:
- 1872 Inn, an updated adults-only hotel with 18 guest rooms only minutes to the park entrance
- The Evergreen, a mountain-inspired lodge with 17 guest rooms in the heart of West Yellowstone
- Elkhorn Cabins and Inns, rustic cabins with 15 guest rooms just outside the Yellowstone park entrance
- Kelly Inn, a budget-friendly hotel with 78 guestrooms, an indoor pool, and a great location in downtown Yellowstone
- Explorer Cabins, resort-style cabins with 50 guest rooms and an indoor pool, perfect for families
- Yellowstone Park Hotel, a more luxurious hotel with 66 guestrooms, an indoor pool, and a fitness center located a few minutes outside West Yellowstone
Are you planning a national park trip but dont know where to start? Get my free 28-page national park ebook where I break down everything you need to know to visit all 63 USA national parks.
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Important To Know When Booking Yellowstone Accommodation
Accommodation inside Yellowstone is very popular and, despite high prices, it sells out very soon after its available for booking.
So if you are visiting Yellowstone in high season you really should try to book Yellowstone hotels well in advance. If you want to stay inside Yellowstone in the high season, youll usually have to book your accommodation more than a year in advance. Yes, the best Yellowstone hotels 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 whats available and secure your Yellowstone accommodation first, before planning the rest of the trip.
How To Secure The Best Hotel In Yellowstone On A Budget
Theres always a high chance of canceled reservations at any one of Yellowstones lodges. If people who have already booked their stays inside the park cancel their reservations it immediately tends to show up online on the booking system of Yellowstone National Park. A room may even become available just a month/week before your trip.
While this is purely uncertain, its better to check their online platform periodically to stay updated. The lodges at Yellowstone dont work with waiting lists, so theres no point in waiting for their call-back. Instead, reach out to the reservation team and inquire once in a while about any cancellations.
If youre anxious to only book lodges inside Yellowstone, try and make a dummy reservation at the best alternative hotel that offers a free cancellation. In the meantime, if any last-minute cancellation pops up then make your final reservations at the lodge. This way, you can at least be secured from having a hotel booked nearby to the park.
|Booked a stay? But not sure to visit all places around Yellowstone? Check my , for an in-depth guide and travel resources.|
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Gas Up Outside The Park
Learn from our mistakeI would suggest having at least a half tank of gas when entering the park every day. If you do end up with your low fuel light glaring at you, no fear there are several gas stations located within Yellowstone National Park. However, with convenience comes a cost. Gas within the park was 30-40 cents more per gallon. So, if you do have to fill up, just squirt in a few gallons and plan on filling up outside the park. We stayed in West Yellowstone where gas was average prices, a lot lower than I actually expected. Try and fill up before you head into the park, save your money for tip #5.
Where Should I Stay While Visiting Yellowstone
Yellowstone National Park is a breathtaking place, complete with bubbling mud, spewing geysers, and some of the most fabulous wildlife viewing in any park its the perfect place to take a vacation!
Where should you stay while visiting Yellowstone? If you want to be in the park to cut down on driving, stay in Madison, Norris, or Canyon Village. If youre looking for something outside of the park, West Yellowstone is a fabulous option.
My name is Ash, and I worked as a park ranger in Wyoming Ive spent a lot of time in the park! Im excited to help you decide where to stay while visiting Yellowstone, so lets talk about your options.
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Contemporary Condo In West Yellowstone: Newly Built
Another great budget option, this three-bedroom condo is great for small to medium-sized families. There is a popular hiking trail running right past the end of the street, with a great bicycle hire shop only a few minutes away. The spacious kitchen is packed with luxury appliances, so youll be fully set for your self-catering stay.
How Far In Advance Should You Make Your Reservations For Yellowstone
Reservations open May 1 the prior year for summer and March 15 the prior year for winter. Lodges get fully booked one year in advance but cancellations are common, so keep checking back if you cant reserve the lodge you want.
So, if you are planning a trip for 2023, you should make your reservations in May 2022. If you cant get a lodge inside the park, I recommend booking a hotel outside of the park. On Booking.com, you can book many properties as refundable, meaning you can cancel up to a certain date and get your full payment back. Keep checking the Yellowstone Lodging website for cancellations. If something opens up, make your reservation for the the Yellowstone lodge and cancel your reservation outside of the park.
A word of advice from one of our readers
Terri from Traveling with Terri is a frequent traveler to Yellowstone. She recommends calling the park 6 to 8 weeks before your trip to get a reservation. As people cancel their plans, the rooms open up, and you can reserve them by directly calling the park. Terri recommends to avoid the online reservation system since it is difficult to use and often does not show the available rooms. You can read her full message in the comment section below. Thanks Terri!
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Plan Your Visit To Yellowstone
Yellowstone National Park is one of America’s greatest treasures and one that everyone should try to visit at least once. So whether you want to explore the millions of acres of pure wilderness, you’ve got Old Faithful on your bucket list, or you just desperately want to see what those technicolor thermal pools look like up close, be sure to save this budget guide, sign up to receive cheap flight alerts, and start planning your visit to Yellowstone.
Want to get our flight deals as soon as theyre published? Follow Dollar Flight Club on , and , and join to get email alerts from our deals feed.
Lavish Hideaway Near Yellowstone Alpenglow Villa
Ready to splash the cash? Airbnb Luxe is a premium range of vacation homes with a whole array of additional services on offer. This particular villa offers childcare, airport transfers, and spa services among many other personalised offerings. Further to that, it also comes with stylish interiors and an unbeatable location. Sleeping up to 16 guests, this is one for the big group ski trips.
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Things To See And Do In Big Sky:
- Hit the slopes! Big Sky was purpose-built as a major skiing town, with a huge array of slopes you can also book some lessons for the few easy pistes.
- Ousel Falls is a must-visit for photographers the entire waterfall freezes up during the winter, creating a crystalline wonderland that will give you some truly unique shots.
- Just down the highway, you will find Big Sky Golf Course its on the small side, but definitely one of the most scenic courses in the country.
- Lone Mountain Ranch is a dream for outdoor enthusiasts seeking the latest hiking, snow sports, and fishing gear.
- There are a few great restaurants in the area, but we particularly love Cinnamon Lodge for their mind-blowingly good Mexican cuisine.
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Where To Stay In Gardiner
- Travelodge Gardiner This branch of Travelodge is just a mile away from the North Entrance to the park, where youll find Roosevelt Gate, and is a minutes walk away from the Yellowstone River itself. It is a casual hotel with rooms that match the ambiance, painted with tones of browns and blue, and is perfect for a good nights sleep. Some rooms even come with their own kitchens, which is great for families. Theres a buffet breakfast served each morning, plus onsite laundry facilities.
- Yellowstone Gateway Inn Yellowstone Gateway Inn is a collection of cabins either one or two bedrooms complete with outdoor seating areas, kitchens, and small lounges. This makes it a great place to stay for families or groups of friends visiting Yellowstone. Here, you can sit out on the deck and gaze at the mountains. Theres a childrens park, which is another plus for families. Set near the North Entrance to the park, getting into Yellowstone from here is a breeze.
Cooke City-Silver Gate is situated to the northeast of Yellowstone National Park and is connected to the park itself via the NE Entrance Road, which then meets the Grand Loop Road at Tower Junction. While the NE Entrance Road stays open during winter, the southeast portion of the Grand Loop closes, which is important to bear in mind when youre planning your trip.
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Luxury Lodge In West Yellowstone: Eagle Ridge Ranch
This wild west style lodge is our top pick for luxury accommodation in the Yellowstone National Park area! As part of a ranch, guests get to choose from fishing, horseback riding, snowmobiling, and a host of other fun activities. The private cottages have a rustic charm while still benefiting from modern furnishings and kitchen facilities. Youll also get to socialise with other guests.
How Many Days Should You Spend In Yellowstone
We think four days is a good amount of time for exploring Yellowstone, which is why we wrote our 4 day itinerary. Youll have plenty of time to explore without feeling rushed, catch prime wildlife viewing at dawn and dusk, and tackle some of Yellowstones hikes.
If you have more time, great! But wed recommend no less than four days, since there is so much to do and see in the park.
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The Best Places To Stay To Explore Each Region
Well get into specifics for each region including accommodation options for your particular style and budget, but first lets cover where to stay for each part of the park at a high level.
- For the Lamar Valley and Mammoth Hot Springs, the best place to stay is either inside the park at Mammoth or Roosevelt Lodge, or outside the park in the town of Gardiner, which is just outside the parks northern border. If you stay in Mammoth, youll be at Mammoth Hot Springs and youll be about an hour away from the Lamar Valley. If you stay in Gardiner, its an hour and fifteen minutes to the Lamar Valley, and just 15 minutes to Mammoth Hot Springs.
- For the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, stay at Canyon Village. Theres no great option outside the park here, but Gardiner is your best bet at an hour away.
- For Old Faithful and the Geysers, stay either at Old Faithful inside the park, or in the town of West Yellowstone outside the park, which is about an hour away from the massive geyser.
- For Yellowstone Lake, the most convenient options are going to be along the lakeshore. On the north end, youve got the town of Lake, with a couple of different options. On the south end near the West Thumb, you have Grant Village.
Now, you could stay one night at every single one of those places, but lodging is so competitive in the park that its not quite realistic to expect to do that.