Arguably the most famous national park in the United States, Yellowstone National Park is certainly the oldest. Under the presidency of former Union commander Ulysses S. Grant, Yellowstone became designated as a national park in 1872; There’s certainly a good reason for that.
Early reports of the Yellowstone area – which included tales of vast, super-deep chasms of canyons, glorious waterfalls, and even rocky holes in the earth which erupted boiling water – were seen as fanciful, mystical, and ultimately untrue. Those who had seen it had their accounts dismissed as delirium or tall tales.
It wasn’t until the 1869 Cook–Folsom–Peterson Expedition that people took the fantastic scenery of Yellowstone seriously. In some ways, you can see how people might have taken the stories of steaming rivers, bright lakes surrounded by rainbow colors and even petrified trees as something more from the imagination than from reality. Thankfully, it is reality – and you can go see it.
Map of the best places to stay in Yellowstone
Best visited in the summer months when all the access roads to the park are open, there is a range of places to base yourself when you’re visiting the world-renowned Yellowstone region. Choose the valleys and mountains of the south, the vast plains of Montana to the north, or even one of the towns that sit directly on the park’s borders. Or you could choose to stay within Yellowstone itself.
With scenic road trips to be had and convenient airports that take you from thousands of miles away to within a couple hours’ drive, getting to this natural wonderland is easy. Plus there is a range of places to stay – from fresh campsites amid nature and homely, rustic ranches along lonely roads, to friendly budget motels and even high-end hotels.
Inside the park
Staying inside the enormous confines of Yellowstone National Park means being able to roll out of bed and into the beauty of this scenic area. You could choose to stay around the tranquil Yellowstone Lake, in lodges and hotels overlooking the water. Or you could opt for a lodge located by the side of the 140-mile long Grand Loop Road Historic District that allows for the most scenic road trip imaginable.
This possibly won’t be the cheapest way to stay in the vicinity of Yellowstone, but the more ‘rustic’ the accommodation, the more budget-friendly it’s likely to be.
Being in Yellowstone National Park itself allows you the convenience of checking out its canyons, boating on the lake, and watching water erupting from the geysers without having to make long journeys by car.
Where to Stay inside the park
- Old Faithful Inn – The building that this charming hotel is situated in dates back all the way to 1903; made of log and stone, it oozes the history of the area. The rustic dining room at the Old Faithful Inn is clad with logs and is the perfect place to eat with other guests by the large fireplace. There’s a cozy bar area, too. The rooms at this picturesque lodging range from cabin-like quarters with carpets and double beds to modern rooms with whitewashed walls and neutral color palettes. The famous Old Faithful geyser is just a five-minute stroll away.
- Old Faithful Snow Lodge and Cabins – A laid-back log cabin lodge, this is a charming place to stay, as it reflects the natural history of Yellowstone itself. The rooms at Old Faithful Snow Lodge and Cabins consist of small cabins decorated in mountain-style decor, while rooms inside the main lodge are more high-end offerings. With a gorgeous wood ceilinged guest lounge – boasting a massive stone fireplace – this homely hotel is very close to the Old Faithful Visitor Center and a mere three miles from Mystic Pools.
- Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and Cabins – This large hotel is set inside a historic building complete with large windows, high ceilings, and peaked rooves. Guests can enjoy rooms decorated with tartan bed covers, wood-paneled walls, and neutral tones for a relaxing place to spend the night. There are also small cabins with outdoor seating areas where you can admire the stars at night. Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and Cabins boasts a restaurant and café, as well as a lounge with an open fire. Set at the north end of Yellowstone, you’ll be a 10-minute walk away from the Mammoth Hot Springs themselves.
- Roosevelt Lodge Cabins – True to its name, the Roosevelt Lodge Cabins occupies an area close to the campsite that was once used by President Roosevelt on his visit to the park. The cabins here are low-key and relaxing places to stay surrounded by nature; they come with outdoor porches and wood burning stoves to keep you warm and cozy. There’s a guest lounge and restaurant where you can unwind after a day exploring the park. It’s the ideal place to take in views of the mountains thanks to the shared porch of the main building.
- Canyon Lodge and Cabins – Canyon Lodge and Cabins boasts more modern interiors mixed with traditional touches; rooms here have white, brick-tiled bathrooms and are stylishly decorated with large headboards, plentiful pillows, and mood lighting. However, those wishing for a more rustic experience can opt for a cabin. The rest of the hotel follows suit and provides a restful place to enjoy natural vistas from the windows. With a restaurant, bar, shop, this hotel is less than two miles from the iconic Grand Canyon.
Located at Yellowstone National Park North Entrance, Gardiner has – since its founding in 1872 – long been considered the ‘main’ gateway to this most famous of American national parks.
Staying here means being able to relax along the banks of the Yellowstone River, making it a scenic spot to rest your head. Ranch style lodges and hotels take up the mid-range to high-end offerings, while motels provide more simple – and more affordable – accommodation.
Keen fly fishing enthusiasts should head to Parks’ Fly Shop – one of the oldest fly shops in the Yellowstone area, created in 1953.
Getting into the national park is a simple expedition from Gardiner, with the North Entrance Road leading to the center of Yellowstone via the incredible Mammoth Hot Springs, which you can admire on the way.
Back in town, you can learn more about the area at the Yellowstone National Park Heritage and Research Center.
Where to Stay in Gardiner
- Travelodge Gardiner – This branch of Travelodge is just a mile away from the North Entrance to the park, where you’ll find Roosevelt Gate, and is a minute’s 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 night’s sleep. Some rooms even come with their own kitchens, which is great for families. There’s 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. There’s a children’s 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
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 you’re planning your trip.
Staying at this satellite of Yellowstone is a great option for those visiting in winter or summer; head east, away from Yellowstone, for a trip on the incredible Beartooth Highway. Or simply stay in town for skiing and snowboarding opportunities at the nearby Beartooth or Absaroka Mountains.
Accommodation in Cooke City-Silver Gate is limited, and even what you might deem to be rustic or budget options are more like mid-range in terms of price. There are, however, a few campgrounds located out of town.
Where to Stay in Cooke City-Silver Gate
- Soda Butte Lodge – Sat at the foot of mountainous scenery, this rustic, cozy hotel is just over four miles away from the North Entrance to Yellowstone National Park. The affordable Soda Butte Lodge provides traditional-style rooms with wooden bed frames, deep red fabrics, and colorful artworks. There is a guest restaurant and bar as well as an outdoor shared porch for everybody to enjoy the great outdoors from the comfort of a chair. Alternatively, sit by the fireplace and soak up the ambiance of the lodge.
As you might be able to tell from the name, West Yellowstone lies at the West Entrance to Yellowstone National Park. Interestingly, receiving more than half of its annual tourists from China, West Yellowstone boasts some signage in Mandarin, as well as six Chinese restaurants.
There are obviously Western restaurants too (including a McDonald’s), and plenty of places to stay, ranging from affordable and unfussy hotels to more upscale offerings – including cabins – but generally, these aren’t too expensive.
Getting into Yellowstone itself is easy since it’s quite literally the western gateway to the park. But staying in the town of West Yellowstone is rewarding in its own way. Here, you’ll find the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center, where you can learn all about these big, fearsome animals that still inhabit the national park – and even get up close and personal with them!
There’s also the Yellowstone Historic Center, an informative heritage museum housed in a former train depot.
Where to Stay in West Yellowstone
- Stage Coach Inn – Set inside a charming brick building with peaked rooves and large windows, Stage Coach Inn is a romantic lodge for those who want to have a getaway from it all in nature. The interiors feature wood-paneled walls, wooden staircases, and brick fireplaces. This traditional inn also boasts a restaurant, where you can enjoy hearty evening meals and drinks, as well as breakfast. There’s even a swimming pool! This hotel is just under a mile from the West Entrance of the park, close to the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Centre.
- Crosswinds Inn – This is a modern, contemporary hotel with clean yet cozy rooms boasting leather armchairs, wooden beds, and soft carpets. There is an indoor swimming pool, which is excellent for children (and adults!), as well as self-service laundry facilities. Crosswinds Inn features a breakfast dining room where you can enjoy a daily buffet breakfast. It’s just a short walk from here to the Yellowstone Historic Airport – and a mere two miles to the nearby Yellowstone Airport, which makes it easy to get in and out of the area.
Livingston is relatively far out from Yellowstone but still serves as an excellent place to stay if you’re thinking of visiting the famous national park. North of the park’s northern entrance in the form of Gardiner, and connected directly via Route 89, there are quite a few affordable options for accommodation in Livingston.
Budget hotels along the road make up the bulk of that, but further in the center of town, there are a couple of more mid-range choices.
In Livingston, there are quite a few things to do that don’t actually involve driving to Yellowstone National Park. For example, you could learn about the park at the Yellowstone Gateway Museum, or you could head to the restored 1902 railway depot, now called the Livingston Depot Center; it functions as a museum, but on the Fourth of July weekend it hosts arts events.
Where to Stay in Livingston
- Econo Lodge Livingston – Econo Lodge Livingston is a large hotel with spacious rooms that provides a lot of value for money for visitors to the Yellowstone Area. The rooms here feature wooden bed heads and white, crisp linen for a comfortable night’s sleep. There’s even an indoor swimming pool for a refreshing swim, and a gym so you can keep up with those workouts. A buffet breakfast each morning means you can fill up before you head out to explore the park. Location-wise, it’s just off Interstate 90 for easy road trip access.
Just north of Bozeman is the Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport. Accepting flights from all over the world, this is a convenient option for visitors.
The convenience of Bozeman goes beyond just being situated near a comprehensive airport, however. Not only is it connected by road to both Livingston to the east and West Yellowstone to the south, but there is also a wide range of accommodation to suit just about every visitor.
You could stay in an upscale, antiques-laden B&B set in a historic building, go for something modern and mid-range, or opt for something budget friendly. There’s a lot of choice.
On its backdrop of the Rocky Mountains, Bozeman offers not just Yellowstone on your doorstep, but these famous peaks as well. You could even head to the Museum of the Rockies, complete with a fantastic collection of dinosaur fossils.
Where to Stay in Bozeman
- Element Bozeman – A mid-range hotel with contemporary interiors, Element Bozeman boasts rooms decorated in a monochrome color-scheme that feels clean and high-end. Some of these come with kitchens and seating areas with desks, but you can also spend time relaxing on the patio area soaking up the sunset or swimming at the indoor pool. Surrounded by stunning mountain scenery, Element Bozeman is just three miles from the intrepid Bozeman Trail for the hikers amongst you, but is also close to the interesting Museum of the Rockies.
- MountainView Lodge and Suites – This is a friendly hotel that is a good option to stay at if you are traveling with children: the rooms are spacious with plenty of room for you to spread out. Some even come with jacuzzi baths in the rooms! This 3-star offering even has an indoor pool to splash around in. There’s a shared lounge, where you can spend evenings in front of the opening fire. Pets are allowed, so dog-lovers and their pals are welcome here. Three miles from Downtown, this hotel is also near a golf course.
Sharing its name with a ski resort further south, Jackson Hole is a valley flanked by the incredible jagged Teton Range of mountains to the northwest, and the Wind River range to the southeast.
Those into rugged, outdoorsy experiences would definitely be interested in staying in the area around Jackson Hole. That’s because of the campgrounds, ranches and historic, rustic cabins you can find along the Gros Ventre River, around the tiny hamlet of Kelly.
There’s added convenience in the mix too; this area is home to its own domestic airport – Jackson Hole Airport. The town of Moose, just north of the airport, has a few accommodation options too and acts as the gateway to Jackson Hole Valley.
Follow this valley north, through Grand Teton National Park with sporadic places to stay along the way, and you’ll eventually reach Yellowstone itself. And that’s all on Route 191.
Where to Stay in Jackson Hole
- Rustic Inn Creekside – Set in ten acres of beautifully maintained private grounds, this stylish resort is located within easy walking distance of the National Elk Refuge, where you can learn about the majestic creatures. The rooms here are high-end but still feel cozy and rustic, with plenty of sultry reds and browns and wood-clad ceilings; you can even stay in private lodges, some of which come with their own private firepits and lounges. Indulge in a spa treatment and then have dinner at the onsite restaurant – it’s all here.
- Teton Mountain Lodge – There is a lot going on at this ski resort; from the sizeable 22-person hot tub on the roof – as well as many other tubs and pools – to the spa and gym. The large resort also features a romantic restaurant and bar, or you could simply relax under the stars on the outdoor terrace. Rooms at Teton Mountain Lodge reflect the natural area, complete with wood furnishings and touches of tartan. Close by, guests will find the incredibly scenic Grand Teton Park.
- Parkway Inn – This low-key inn is located a short distance from the George Washington Memorial Park and boasts a countryside aesthetic, with furnishings of dark wood and deep reds throughout. Rooms continue the theme and boast granite bathrooms. There are snacks on offer at Parkway Inn, as well as a continental breakfast served each morning, but the local area is filled with a fair few eateries to explore. Onsite, guests will find saunas, a swimming pool, and two hot tubs. There’s a shared lounge with an open fireplace, too.
- The Lexington at Jackson Hole – The Lexington at Jackson Hole features rooms that are simple and stylish, decorated in blues and whites, allowing the views of the mountains through the large windows to take the limelight. Some rooms come with kitchenettes, and others have outdoor seating areas. There’s a shared lounge at this 3-star offering, complete with a stone-clad fireplace, while in the dining room, the hotel provides a hot breakfast. As a bonus, there’s a free airport shuttle on offer, but it’s close to public transport and within walking distance of the town square.
Home to a domestic airport – Yellowstone Regional Airport – the town of Cody acts somewhat as the eastern gateway to Yellowstone National Park.
The Buffalo Bill Center of The West (dedicated to the ‘Wild West’) and Cody Dug Up Gun Museum, with firearms uncovered from several conflicts over the years, showcase the frontier times, its famous characters, and the hardships that came with living in this area back in the day.
Today, of course, it’s easy to stay here. Choose from budget hotels in historic buildings or modern hotels for more mid-range options. There are also some higher-end offerings as you inch closer to Yellowstone National Park itself. This is a scenic drive, past Cedar Mountain, Buffalo Bill Reservoir, and eventually into the national park.
Where to Stay in Cody
- Cody Cowboy Village – Located less than 10 minutes’ walk away from the Old Trail Town – a collection of historic buildings – Cody Cowboy Village provides cozy cabins for a real authentic cowboy feel. Rustic and comfortable, these come with quirky touches like cowboy-hat-printed wallpaper and lampshades. They also boast their own porches. But best of all, this hotel features an outdoor pool with its own waterfall for something a little different! This is a real slice of Rockies Americana that’s run by a local couple for a truly friendly atmosphere.
- Kings Inn Cody – This hotel is, bizarrely, themed around African animals, and features rooms with bed sheets printed with elephants and a shared guest lounge with stuffed animals straight from the Savannah. Some rooms come with heart-shaped jacuzzi baths! It’s an affordable and very quirky motel-type stay, but there’s an outdoor pool and breakfast is served up daily, too. Kings Inn Cody is a mile away from the Buffalo Bill Center, where you can learn all about the outlaw himself. It’s close to the Cody Night Rodeo, too.