Yellowstone National Park was America’s first National Park and is one of the country’s most beloved vacation destinations. If you’re planning a trip there, figuring out where to stay will be one of the most important parts. Here are the top 5 places you’ll want to stay – both inside and outside of the park – as well as some specific tips for each.
1. Old Faithful Historic District
This is a great option if you’re looking to stay in the park itself. Located in the Upper Geyser Basin, staying here has several perks. To start with you’ll be within a short walk of one of the park’s most notable features – Old Faithful Geyser. You’ll also be able to check out a variety of other interesting hot springs and geysers nearby, and wildlife such as bison are common in the area as well. Finally, you’ll have a couple of options of where to stay, depending on what kind of accommodations you’re looking for. During the summer season, Old Faithful Inn is a gorgeous, historic hotel with no shortage of amenities including on-site dining. The Old Faithful Lodge cabins, meanwhile, offer a little more solitude and space than the Inn. Finally, if you’re staying during the winter, Old Faithful Snow Lodge is one of the few in-park lodges that is open during the colder months.
2. Mammoth Hot Springs Historic District
Another great option if you’re looking to stay inside the park is Mammoth Hot Springs Historic District. Mammoth Hot Springs Historic District is perfect for those looking to be a little closer to civilization while still in a great location for exploring the park. It’s also one of the few areas in the park with more consistent cell reception. Thanks to its location between many of the geyser basins and Lamar Valley (a prime spot for viewing wildlife), it’s ideal for those looking to get a taste of all of the features the park offers. Finally, it’s a great year-round option – Mammoth Campground is the only campground open during the winter as well as summer.
3. Canyon Village
For a final suggestion for notable places to stay within the park, if you’re looking for a mix of easy access to stunning natural wonders as well as wildlife viewing opportunities, you’ll want to consider staying at Canyon Village. There are two options for accommodations in this area – Canyon Lodge and Canyon Campground. The downside to this option is that it is closed in the winter, however, during the summer season, its close proximity to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, a variety of hiking trails, and areas to view wildlife such as Hayden Valley make it a great option.
4. West Yellowstone, Montana
Staying inside the park does give you easy access to explore the area, however, accommodations can be limited. Additionally, amenities can be pretty limited. Because of this, many people choose to stay in a nearby town. If you’re looking to stay outside of the park, West Yellowstone, Montana is a great option for those looking for big-city amenities in a small town. This town is a mere few minutes from the West Entrance of the park. Home to several hotels, the town also offers some unique attractions such as an IMAX theatre as well as a variety of gift shops and boutique stores. It does have a more urban feel than some of the other suggestions on this list. This can make it more ideal for those looking for a home base with more established infrastructure to return to after exploring the great outdoors. It may also be a turn-off for travelers looking for a more outdoorsy experience, however. Finally, the town remains a great destination to visit year-round, with several snowmobile and snow coach tours being offered out of it during the winter season.
5. Gardiner, Montana
A second option for those looking to stay nearby the park is Gardiner, Montana. Like West Yellowstone, this town is a popular choice for visitors exploring the park. Located near the north entrance, it is a bit further away – about 20 minutes by car – to the park than West Yellowstone is. However, it's also generally less commercialized and has a more outdoorsy feel to it. This alone can make it a more desirable option for those looking for a simple, straightforward home base for their vacation. It also has a variety of lodging options for those visiting during the winter season.