Yellowstone National Park in the United States is something we believe every person should see at least once. There’s the geyser Old Faithful, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, and the Yellowstone lake, river, and waterfalls. Not to mention Artists’ Point, a beautiful spot overlooking it all!
A day is simply too short for this place, so you need to know where to stay in Yellowstone National Park. There are lots of accommodations in Yellowstone: inns, hotels, Airbnbs, tent camping, RV camping, and log cabins.
In this article, Bill Widmer discusses all the options of places to stay in Yellowstone National Park and gives us a few tips on how to have the best stay possible. Bill and his fiance Kayla run The Wandering RV, a site about RV travel and lifestyle. Follow them on Pinterest to learn more about camper traveling!
And now, let’s dive in!
Where to stay in Yellowstone National Park: 5 accommodation options
Before we discuss the five places to stay in Yellowstone Park, you have to decide if you want to stay inside Yellowstone or outside the park. If you’re staying outside, you have four options:
- The West Entrance, which is near Geyser Basins
- The North Entrance or Northeast Entrance, which is near Wildlife Watching
- The East Entrance, which is near Yellowstone Lake, the Giant Waterfalls and the Buffalo Bill History exhibit
- The South Entrance, which is next door to Grand Teton and Jackson Hole
If you’re having trouble deciding, check out Yellowstone’s official trip planning guide. They have loads of tips on what attractions to see and where to stay.
1. Inns and Hotels
If you want to see the incredible outdoors while still having all the comforts of home, there are plenty of beautiful inns and hotels in Yellowstone.
There are nine hotels inside Yellowstone alone, plus dozens more in the surrounding area. So rather than recommending a specific few, we’ll provide some resources and the pros and cons of this method of staying in the park.
However, here are some of your options:
- Old Faithful Inn – From this Inn, you can see the Old Faithful geyser right from the deck and some of the rooms. The building itself is a work of art dating back to 1914.
- Lake Yellowstone Hotel & Cabins – One of the best lodging options in Yellowstone, this historic landmark has recently undergone a full interior multi-million dollar renovation!
- Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel & Cabins – Technically this falls under “cabins” as well, but we put it here. Accommodations range from one-bedroom suites to budget cabins.
Pros of hotels & inns:
- lots of comfort
- often in great locations
Cons of hotels & inns:
- Can be pricey
- They book fast (you usually need to book at least 3-4 months in advance, but some places have bookings up to a year early!)
- Many of the hotels don’t have the best lodgings (be sure to read reviews thoroughly before booking)
- You lose time driving if you need to return to the same hotel every night
2. Yellowstone cabins
Staying in a log cabin, you still get a shower and a kitchen but are usually closer to the hiking and scenery. Plus, the cool thing about log cabins is that you can either stay in a very basic one or stay in a luxury cabin. Some options include:
- Lake Lodge Cabins – Located in a nice area on the lake with three room types (Western Cabins, Frontier Cabins, and Pioneer Cabins).
- Canyon Lodge & Cabins – Located near the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, the Canyon Lodge & Cabins are budget-friendly and clean, but only have the bare minimum.
- Roosevelt Lodge Cabins – Choose from Frontier Cabins and Roughrider Cabins. These were named after Theodore Roosevelt
Pros of lodge cabins:
- Closer to nature and scenery
- Beautiful views right outside your front door
- More of a “camping” feel than hotels or inns
Cons of lodge cabins:
- Can be pricey
- They book up pretty fast
- You lose time driving if you need to return to the same cabin every night
3. RV camping
Our personal favorite way to stay in Yellowstone is in an RV! Motorhomes, travel trailers, campervans — you name it, they’re all great choices. With an RV you can stay in multiple campsites all across the park throughout your vacation – there are 12 campgrounds in Yellowstone. That way, you can see more of everything without spending as much time driving back to your cabin or hotel!
Don’t own an RV? No problem! Many people rent an RV to stay in RV parks. It’s much cheaper than purchasing your own, and you can even have the RV owner drop it off and set it up right at your campsite.
If you’ve never traveled with an RV before, read Sofie’s article about her first RV trip. She loved it!
Pros of RV parks:
- Typically cheaper than any other method besides tent camping
- You can stay at multiple sites to see the whole park without lots of driving back and forth
- You still get your own shower, toilet, and kitchen
Cons to RV Parks:
- Unless you get a small RV, driving your rig around the park can be stressful
- Campgrounds book up fast during peak season
Pro Tip: If you’re going to stay in a camper, be sure to either tow/drive a separate car if you’re in a motorhome, or have a vehicle you can unhook from your trailer to travel the park. The roads are very hilly, and driving a big RV on them is not a good idea.
4. Tent camping
Tent camping (or glamping) is another excellent option for the more adventurous types! It’s my second choice next to RVing (but I also love being outdoors and don’t mind public restrooms for a short while). The same 12 campgrounds in Yellowstone that I mentioned before all accommodate tent camping in addition to RVs.
Pros of tent camping:
- It’s the closest you can get to sleeping in nature
- It’s the cheapest option to stay in the park
- You can rent sites at multiple campgrounds to stay around the whole park rather than traveling back to your hotel or inn
Cons of tent camping:
- You’re sleeping on the ground
- You have to use public restrooms and showers
- No kitchen or normal comforts of home
Pro Tip: To have a more enjoyable Yellowstone camping experience, be sure to bring bug spray, an air mattress to sleep on, and the usual camping supplies.
5. Rental homes
The fifth and final option for where to stay in Yellowstone is peer-to-peer rentals like Airbnb. By staying at someone’s home, you can get some very unique experiences and stay at locations where you won’t always find other types of lodging.
If you don’t have an Airbnb account yet, I can give you a discount on your first stay if you sign up through my link.
Pros of peer-to-peer rentals:
- A very wide variety of options
- Some places are much less expensive than hotels
- Can find truly unique experiences (beautiful homes with fireplaces, indoor pools, etc.)
Cons of peer-to-peer rentals:
- There’s no real quality standard (be sure to read reviews thoroughly before booking!)
- Some rentals aren’t conveniently located
Pro Tip: I recommend passing on any Airbnb’s that allow smoking! Check out Sofie’s step-by-step guide on how to use Airbnb for more tips.
How to have the best Yellowstone experience (6 travel tips)
Planning your trip to Yellowstone National Park is no small matter. You’ve got four quadrants: North Yellowstone, West Yellowstone, East Yellowstone, and South Yellowstone. Within those sections of Yellowstone Park, you’ve got activities and sights including:
- Hot springs
- Yellowstone’s Old Faithful geyser
- The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone Park
- Hiking in the rocky mountains
- Animal watching (birds, moose, buffalo, deer, bear, and more)
- Grand Tetons
And that’s just scratching the surface. So to help you get the most out of your trip to Yellowstone National Park, here are six travel tips:
1. Stay in at least two places (one in North Yellowstone, one in South Yellowstone)
There are two loops in Yellowstone Park: North and South. (You also have the East Yellowstone and West Yellowstone entrances, but you can hit them within the north and south loops.)
Yellowstone is massive. And the traffic can be brutal, especially during peak seasons and whenever animals are near the road (people love to stop and get pictures of them). So to avoid some of that driving and have more time to actually enjoy the experience, try to book lodging options so you spend one half of your trip near the north loop inside the park and one half of your trip near the south loop.
2. Stay inside the park, if possible
Speaking of traffic: while there are plenty of accommodation options outside the park and it may be cheaper, Yellowstone is nearly 3,500 square miles (and larger than Rhode Island and Delaware combined!). In other words, you won’t want to drive outside the park after spending al day sight-seeing, hiking, and doing everything else people do there. Staying inside the park is preferred. But it’s ultimately up to you.
3. Book your trip very far in advance
Like I said before, Yellowstone can be booked up to a year in advance. If you wait until the last minute, you might not get in. That you can now also stay at Airbnbs helps a lot, but I still recommend you book something sooner rather than later.
4. Consider going in off-season
Peak seasons are crazy busy at any national park, but even more so at Yellowstone. The best time to visit is late-May/early-June for great views and weather without quite as much traffic. If you’re really adventurous, they also offer snow lodge and cabins for winter excursions.
5. Make dinner reservations when you book your accommodation
This is often overlooked but restaurants fill up just as fast and have just as much demand as the hotels in Yellowstone so make sure you book them at the same time.
6. Realize that the available technology there is limited
Yellowstone’s accommodation options usually do not have TVs. The cell service is 3G and not all lodgings have wi-fi. In other words, bring some good books and be prepared for some digital detoxing.
That’s it! I hope this post gave you a better idea of where to stay in Yellowstone National Park.
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