Julie United States 33 Comments

When planning a trip to Yellowstone, one of the biggest questions you might have is “where should I stay?” Yellowstone National Park is massive, with multiple park entrances and thousands of acres of land to explore. Choosing where to stay in Yellowstone might feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be.

In this guide, we hope to simplify things for you. Learn about the top locations to stay in and around Yellowstone, with specific hotel and lodge recommendations depending on your itinerary and length of stay.

This guide works well with our Yellowstone itinerary post, which lists itinerary ideas from one to five days, with recommended hotel locations for each day (it will open in a new browser tab so you can easily refer back to this post).

Record Floods in Yellowstone

On June 12, 2022, Yellowstone and northern Montana had record floods. These floods washed aways portions of the roads between Gardiner, Montana and the north entrance of Yellowstone and roads near the northeast entrance of the park. 

These floods altered the landscapes of Yellowstone and some roads are expected to be closed for an extended period of time.

At the time that I am updating this, the north and south loops of Yellowstone are open. The road between Gardiner and Mammoth is closed, as is the Northeast Entrance of the park. 

As of July 2, the park cancelled the Alternating License Plate System. Visitors can enter the park on any day they like, regardless of license plate number. Currently, there is no timed entry reservation system in effect, but I recommend getting updates on the official website, just in case this changes.

Stay Updated about Park Conditions

Conditions are constantly changing in the park and will continue to do so throughout the summer. I plan to keep this article updated but the best place to go for current conditions is the official National Park Service website.

Where to Stay in Yellowstone: Our Top Tips

Before I start listing hotels and lodges in and around Yellowstone, there are a few important things to know.

Choosing where to stay in Yellowstone depends on several factors: how many days you plan to visit Yellowstone, how far in advance you are making your reservations, and where you plan to go, both before and after your visit.

If you plan to visit Yellowstone National Park for at least three days, consider staying in two different locations. It can be a hassle packing and unpacking, but Yellowstone is so large that switching accommodations can minimize travel time in the park.

The best location to stay within the park is Canyon Village. It is relatively centrally located. From here, it is a short drive Hayden Valley, Tower Falls, and Norris Geyser Basin. With a little more time, you can get to Lamar Valley, Old Faithful, and Grand Prismatic Spring. And Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone will be right on your doorstep.

The lodges inside of Yellowstone National Park sell out ridiculously far in advance. We are talking 12 months in advance! If you plan to visit Yellowstone in the summer of 2023, you need to make your reservations in May of 2022.

So, what happens if you can’t reserve a lodge within the park? Not to worry. There are plenty of options just outside of Yellowstone. Both times we visited Yellowstone we stayed outside of the park and still had an amazing experience.

The best location to stay outside of the park is West Yellowstone. There are many hotel and restaurant options in this small town. 

The recommendations in this post are for the summer season, May through October. From November through mid-April, many roads and close in the park. While it is still possible to visit the park in the winter, it is a much different experience. Many lodges will be closed during this time and you will get around by snowmobile or snow coach.

Yellowstone Entrance

Roosevelt Arch at the north entrance 

An Overview of Yellowstone National Park

With 2 million acres of land and five park entrances, Yellowstone National Park is enormous. In terms of area, this is the second largest national park in the United States, outside of Alaska. Yellowstone sits in three states: Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana, with most of its land located in Wyoming.

If you look at Yellowstone on a map, there are two main loops in the park. Many of the best things to do in the park can be found along these two loops.

On the map below, I labeled the five park entrances, the lodge locations in Yellowstone National Park (in blue), and recommend places to stay outside of the park (in black).

Where to Stay in Yellowstone Map

Where to Stay Inside Yellowstone National Park

Lodges in Yellowstone National Park

There are nine lodges inside of Yellowstone National Park, all scattered throughout the park.

Canyon Village. Canyon Lodge and Cabins. This is the largest and one of the nicest accommodations within the park. Since it is relatively centrally located, this is the best place to stay in the park.

Yellowstone Lake. There are two properties here. Lake Lodge Cabins features a main lodge and 186 cabins, some with views of the lake. The Lake Yellowstone Hotel is a National Historic Landmark and it underwent a full renovation in 2014. You can also stay in a Lake Cottage.

Grant Village. Grant Village is located near the West Thumb area of Yellowstone Lake and has two lodges with 50 rooms.

Old Faithful. There are three lodges at Old Faithful. The Old Faithful Inn is a National Historic Landmark and one of the last remaining log hotels in the United States. If you want to stay in a historic property and have the chance to watch an eruption of Old Faithful from your room, this is a great place to stay. The Old Faithful Lodge Cabins and the Old Faithful Snow Lodge are also located near Old Faithful.

Where to Stay in Yellowstone

Old Faithful Inn

 

Best Hotels in Yellowstone

Overlooking Old Faithful and the lodges in Old Faithful Village from Observation Point

Mammoth Hot Springs. In northern Yellowstone is the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and Cabins. This hotel recently underwent renovations. Elk graze near the hotel and you can grab a drink at the bar in the Map Room.

Tower Falls. Stay in a rustic cabin at the Roosevelt Lodge Cabins. They serve an Old West Dinner Cookout and there is a nearby corral where you can go on horseback rides.

Each lodge or village also has at least one restaurant. Several of the bigger villages (for example, Old Faithful) have multiple restaurants, a convenience store, and/or a gift shop.

To learn more about each lodge and to make your reservations, visit the official website. 

Campgrounds and RV Parks in Yellowstone

There are several campgrounds in Yellowstone, with locations at Canyon Village, near Yellowstone Lake, near Old Faithful (Madison Campground), and at Grant Village. The Fishing Bridge Recreational Vehicle Park is located near Yellowstone Lake. Learn more here. 

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

How Far in Advance Should You Make Your Reservations for Yellowstone?

Reservations open May 1 the prior year for summer (Summer 2023 reservations open May 1, 2022) 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 can’t reserve the lodge you want.

So, if you are planning a trip for 2023, you should make your reservations in May 2022. If you can’t 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!

Where to Stay Outside of Yellowstone

Just outside of the park entrances sit several towns that make a great home base for exploring Yellowstone.

Ideally, it is best to stay inside the park, to minimize driving time, but there are several advantages to staying outside of the park. Accommodations are typically cheaper, in some towns you will have a wide range of restaurant options and a grocery store, and it is generally easier to make a reservation, even if you are planning things at the last minute.

Here are lodging options outside of Yellowstone, located near each park entrance.

PRO TRAVEL TIP: The entrances to Yellowstone National Park are open 24 hours a day. If you stay outside of the park, you can enter before sunrise or exit after sunset. 

West Yellowstone, Montana

Outside of Yellowstone National Park, West Yellowstone is the best place to stay, since the driving times to the main sights will be the shortest. The exception is Lamar Valley, which is located near the northeast corner of the park.

Driving Distances and Times to the Top Sights:

Grand Prismatic Spring: 25 miles, 45 minutes
Old Faithful: 32 miles, 1 hour
Hayden Valley: 47 miles, 1 hour 15 minutes
Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone: 42 miles, 1 hour 10 minutes
Lamar Valley: 72 miles, 2 hours

Under Canvas Yellowstone. This is not your typical hotel…it’s more of a luxury camping or glamping experience. Take your pick from several styles of safari-style tents. All tents have their own, private bathrooms and some can accommodate up to four people.

Hotel Under Canvas Yellowstone

Under Canvas

Kelly Inn. This is where we stayed in 2019 and had a nice experience. Rooms are large, clean, and quiet and the Wi-Fi works well. You can walk or drive to many of the restaurants in Gardiner.

1872 Inn – Adults Exclusive. This boutique hotel looks amazing. If you are traveling as a couple and looking for an upscale hotel, look no farther. The hotel also has a sauna and fitness center.

Faithful Street Inn. This is one of the top picks in West Yellowstone. If you are traveling as a large group, Faithful Street Inn might be perfect for you. These houses come with multiple bedrooms. If you are a very large group, check out the house with 8 bedrooms that can accommodate up to 18 people!

Explorer Cabins at Yellowstone. This is another great pick for families. These cottages have one or two bedrooms, a separate seating area, a kitchenette, and a fireplace. There is an indoor pool onsite.

Gardiner, Montana

This is a cool town that is located near Mammoth Hot Springs and the north entrance into Yellowstone. This is a great place to stay to explore the northern area of Yellowstone. From Gardiner, it is a 20-minute drive on winding roads to get to Mammoth Hot Springs. Expect long drives to and from Old Faithful and Yellowstone Lake.

Note: The flood washed out the road that connects Gardiner to the north entrance, so currently you cannot drive directly from Gardiner to Mammoth (it took 30 minutes to do this drive before the flood…now it takes 4 and a half hours). There are proposed plans to reconnect Gardiner and Mammoth as quickly as possible, but it seems unlikely that this will be done for summer 2022. 

So, I recommend staying in West Yellowstone in 2022, rather than Gardiner.

Gardiner Montana

Gardiner, Montana

If you arriving from the north or planning to drive to Glacier National Park next, this is a great place to stay, for at least one night.

Driving Distances and Times to the Top Sights (these times are before the flood, for 2022, add on 2.5 hours additional travel time):

Grand Prismatic Spring: 50 miles, 1 hour 20 minutes
Old Faithful: 57 miles, 1 hour 45 minutes
Hayden Valley: 46 miles, 1 hour 15 minutes
Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone: 40 miles, 1 hour 10 minutes
Lamar Valley: 38 miles, 1 hour

Yellowstone Gateway Inn. We stayed here in 2019 and we highly recommend it. We had a one-bedroom suite with a full kitchen. The rooms are clean and quiet. Kara and I frequently saw elk on the property and we could walk to the grocery store. I would stay here again on a repeat visit to Yellowstone.

Elk in Gardiner

Elk on the property at Yellowstone Gateway Inn

Yellowstone Park Riverfront Cabins. Located on bank of the Yellowstone River, stay in a secluded cabin. Prior guests report seeing elk, deer, and bison from the cabins. These cabins are located west of Gardiner, so you will have a slightly longer drive to get into the park, but if you like the idea of staying in a quiet, secluded place with views of the wildlife, this is a nice place to consider.

Yellowstone’s Treasure Cabins. These small houses come with a kitchen and one to two bedrooms. This property is located in central Gardiner.

Hotel Yellowstone's Treasure Cabins

Yellowstone’s Treasure Cabins

 

Cooke City-Silver Gate, Montana

With just a few hotels to choose from and a somewhat inconvenient location near the northeast corner of Yellowstone, it is only worth staying here if you are struggling to find accommodation elsewhere or have plans to continue your road trip through central Montana.

The road between the northeast entrance and Tower is currently closed. I do not recommend staying in Cooke City-Silver Gate until the roads reopen.

Driving Distances and Times to the Top Sights (before the 2022 flood):

Grand Prismatic Spring: 87 miles, 2 hours 20 minutes
Old Faithful: 93 miles, 2 hours, 30 minutes
Hayden Valley: 60 miles, 1 hour 40 minutes
Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone: 54 miles, 1 hour 30 minutes
Lamar Valley: 19 miles, 30 minutes

Cooke City Montana

Cooke City, Montana

Silver Gate Lodging. This is the closest property to the park entrance. Just one mile from the northeast entrance, prior guests says it feels like you are still in the park. Take your pick from a wide range of cottages, bungalows, and houses that can accommodate from two to ten people. On Booking.com it gets decent reviews.

Hotel Silver Gate Lodging

Silver Gate Lodging

 

Elk Horn Lodge. Located in Cooke City, this lodge gets good reviews. Rooms are basic but clean and can accommodate up to four people.

High Country Motel and Cabins. Also located in Cooke City, stay in a double room that can accommodate four people. Or, take a look at the one-bedroom chalets that can accommodate up to five people.

If you stay in Cooke City or Silver Gate, don’t miss the spectacular Beartooth Highway. It is one of the most scenic drives in the USA and it starts in Cooke City.

Beartooth Highway

Beartooth Highway

Cody, Wyoming

Cody, Wyoming is a western-themed town that is located east of Yellowstone National Park. From Cody, it takes an hour to drive to the east entrance. But from the east entrance, it can easily take another hour to drive to Yellowstone’s main attractions (from Cody to Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, it is a 2 hour drive). 

Cody Wyoming

Cody, Wyoming

Due to the longer distance and driving times, Cody does not make a good base to explore Yellowstone, but it is great for a one night stay. The drive from the east entrance to Cody, called the Wild Bill Cody Scenic Byway, is a beautiful drive. If you will be road tripping through Wyoming (for example, combining Yellowstone with a trip to Devils Tower or South Dakota), it’s worth it to spend one night in Cody.

We stayed here on our most recent visit and the drive on Wild Bill Cody Scenic Byway was the highlight.

Cody to Yellowstone

Wild Bill Cody Scenic Byway

Driving Distances and Times to the Top Sights:

Grand Prismatic Spring: 122 miles, 3 hours
Old Faithful: 118 miles, 2 hours 45 minutes
Hayden Valley: 86 miles, 2 hours
Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone: 93 miles, 2 hours 10 minutes
Lamar Valley:94 miles, 2 hours

The Cody. Located in Cody, this property gets some of the best reviews in town. Rooms can accommodate up to four people and there is a gym and indoor pool onsite. We stayed here on our most recent visit to Yellowstone and had a great experience. Rooms are large, clean, and quiet and decorated with a western theme. It was the nicest hotel that we stayed in during our South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, and Wyoming road trip.

The Cody

The Cody

Best Western Premier Ivy Inn & Suites. If you are traveling as a family and want to stay in one of the top rated hotels in town, this is one to consider. Stay in a suite or a standard room, some of which can accommodate up to 7 people. Some rooms have patios and some room have balconies. 

Hotel Best Western Premier Ivy Inn Suites

Best Western Premier Ivy Inn

Robins Nest Bed & Breakfast. This bed and breakfast ticks all of the boxes. Rooms are clean and tastefully decorated. The breakfast gets rave reviews. And with the gardens and interior decor, this property is beautiful. 

Hotel Robins Nest Bed Breakfast

Robins Nest Bed & Breakfast

Cody Cowboy Village. Located in Cody, rooms are rustic and can accommodate from two to six people. There is an onsite pool and hot tub and this is one of the highest rated properties in Cody.

The Chamberlin Inn. If you are looking for a bit of luxury, this is a highly-rated historic hotel in Cody. Each room comes with a flat-screen TV, organic silk linens, and fresh flowers. There is a garden, library, and on-site bar.

Eycat Lodging Company. Located in Wapiti, this highly-rated property provides camping and RV sites as well as cabins, cottages, and tee-pees. All bathrooms are shared. There are goats and llamas on the property.

If you want to stay between Cody and the east entrance of Yellowstone, take a look at Blackwater Creek Ranch and the Bill Cody Ranch.

South of Yellowstone

There are very limited options south of Yellowstone National Park. Grand Teton National Park is located south of Yellowstone, but because of its distance, it does not make a good option for exploring Yellowstone.

Driving Distances and Times to the Top Sights (from Colter Bay, Grand Teton NP):

Grand Prismatic Spring: 74 miles, 1 hour 50 minutes
Old Faithful: 47 miles, 1 hour 10 minutes
Hayden Valley: 56 miles, 1 hour 15 minutes
Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone: 64 miles, 1 hour 30 minutes
Lamar Valley: 98 miles, 2 hour 30 minutes

What We Did

We have visited Yellowstone four times. Our first two visits were day trips through several national parks and we had a very similar itinerary both times. Our third visit to Yellowstone was on a day trip from Grand Teton National Park. On our most recent visit, we spent one day in Yellowstone and stayed in Cody.

On our 2019 road trip from Grand Teton to Yellowstone to Glacier, this is what we did:

Starting in Grand Teton National Park, we got an early start, visited the sights in southern Yellowstone, and then spent one night in West Yellowstone (at the Kelly Inn). We spent three more days in Yellowstone, staying in Gardiner, Montana for the last three nights (at the Yellowstone Gateway Inn). It worked well, but 2 nights in West Yellowstone and 2 nights in Gardiner would have been better. I really like Gardiner, but it is a long drive in and out of the park from here.

We stayed outside of the park since we made our travel plans almost at the last minute (we planned this trip in early June of 2019 and visited Yellowstone in early August 2019).

Grand Prismatic Spring

Grand Prismatic Spring

Recommendations on Where to Stay in Yellowstone

So, now that you know the locations and the best hotels in Yellowstone, how do you choose where to stay?

The biggest factors are budget and your itinerary.

In general, in-park lodging will be more expensive than staying outside of the park. So, if price is a factor, consider camping or staying in West Yellowstone or Gardiner.

With just one to two days in the park, I recommend picking one central location, ideally Canyon Village. I do not think it is worth packing and unpacking if you are here for a short stay. But for three days or longer, staying in two different locations can save you some time (especially if you can’t get lodging inside the park).

You should also take into account your route through the park. Most people visit Yellowstone on a road trip, which means you will be entering through one park entrance and exiting through another. For example, your trip might start in Grand Teton and end in Glacier, with a visit to Yellowstone in the middle. In this case, stay in a lodge in south or west Yellowstone first (Old Faithful or West Yellowstone) and north Yellowstone second (Mammoth or Gardiner).

For itinerary ideas and recommendations on where to stay for each itinerary, read our Yellowstone Itinerary.

Bison in Hayden Valley

Bison in Hayden Valley

Here are our recommended hotels, based on your itinerary.

With 1 to 2 days in Yellowstone, the Canyon Lodge and Cabins in Canyon Village is our top pick, because of its convenient location. Inside of Yellowstone, the Old Faithful Inn is another great option, since it is a unique and memorable place to stay (but you will have a long drive to north Yellowstone). Outside of Yellowstone, I recommend staying in West Yellowstone.

Click here to visit the Yellowstone Lodging website. 

With 3 or more days, I recommend staying in two different locations (unless you are lucky enough to get a reservation at Canyon Village). For part of your stay, base yourself in West Yellowstone, in Old Faithful Village, or near Yellowstone Lake. For the second half of your trip, stay in Mammoth or West Yellowstone.

More Information about Yellowstone

Yellowstone National Park Guide

If your trip to Yellowstone is part of a bigger road trip, we recommend these articles:

Lamar Valley Sunset

Lamar Valley Sunset


If you have any questions about where to stay in Yellowstone or how to plan your time, let us know in the comment section below.

You Might Also Like:

 

Where to Stay in Yellowstone

 

Note: This post contains affiliate links. When you make a purchase using one of these affiliate links, we get paid a small commission at no extra cost to you.

All rights reserved © Earth Trekkers. Republishing this article and/or any of its contents (text, photography, etc.), in whole or in part, is strictly prohibited.

Comments 33

  1. Avatar for Paulo
    1. Avatar for Julie Post
      Author
  2. Avatar for Jennifer
    Jennifer

    Hi!! This site is awesome!!
    This so so much information to process and we are just trying to plan the best trip. We got invited to a close friend’s wedding in Sheridian WY on July 2. We are trying to work out an itinerary that includes that date. r Flying into the local airports ($$$) and car rental availability are not options. We have about a week to play with…just don’t know if we should end in Sheridian, or make it part of our trip. We are coming from the East, and have a long 5-6 hour flight, probably into SLC. From there maybe Jackson Hole? Grand Teton? Then West Yellowstone, and then make our way to Cody and Sheridian? Then try to fly back from Denver?
    I didn’t expect it to be this stressful to find flights and accommodations. Your thoughts? We will have an 11 year old and 10 year old, and an almost 2 year old (but thinking she might just have to stay home).

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
      Author
      Julie

      Hello Jennifer. I know, it’s a lot to process, planning a trip to this part of the country. Your route sounds great. SLC -> Jackson/Grand Teton (1 full day here is great) -> West Yellowstone for 1 to 2 nights, maybe even 1 or 2 nights in Gardiner -> Cody/Sheridan. There is an airport near Cody but flights from here are probably very limited. Rather than driving to Denver, you could also look into flying out of Bozeman, Montana or Rapid City, South Dakota. Plus, the drive from Cody to Rapid City is beautiful. It would take a full day but you could also add on Devils Tower. It’s a lot of driving, so maybe best to leave the 2 year old at home, if that works out. With all of these stops, you probably have 2.5 to 3 days in Yellowstone, which is just enough time to see the highlights. But the entire road trip should be a lot of fun and very memorable. If you have more questions or need more details, feel free to write in again. Cheers, Julie

  3. Avatar for Leslie Tyler
    Leslie Tyler

    I am wanting to visit Yellowstone this summer. I will be coming in from South Dakota. I was wanting to stay in West Yellowstone. I think we will have 2 to 3 days there. What I want to know is can I just drive across Wyoming to get to West Yellowstone? Or will I have to go up and around thru Montana? We should be arriving in mid July. I will have three small kids with me, so trying to figure out the best way to get thru the whole thing in a short amount of time.
    Any insight would be great
    Thank you

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
      Author
  4. Avatar for Viv
    Viv

    Hello, we only have a day for Yellowstone and a day for GTNP, we arrive on a Wednesday and by Saturday one person in our group has a work event in Bozeman, from there our main interest is Glacier, but while we’re in the area we’d like to visit Yellowstone and GTNP, do you have any recommendations as to where to fly into, where to start and where to stay? l don’t think staying in the park is an option budget wise, but we’d like to maximize the little time we have. Thanks in advance!

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
      Author
      Julie

      I recently published a post about how to visit Yellowstone and Grand Teton. It’s mainly written as an 8-day itinerary but it has lots of info about where to fly into and how to rent a car.
       
      The best place to fly into is Jackson Hole Airport, which is in GTNP. Spend a day here (Thursday), staying in Jackson, Teton Village, or in lodging in GTNP. Then drive to Yellowstone and visit YNP on Friday. Stay in Gardiner. Then go to Bozeman/Glacier.
       
      The trick is the best airport to rent a car. Jackson is the most convenient airport for you, but you might find that it is expensive (or impossible) to rent a car here and drop it at Glacier. If so, your next best options are Bozeman or Salt Lake City. If so, your first day will be spent arriving at one of these 2 airports and getting to Jackson. I think your itinerary will work best if you go GTNP -> YNP -> Bozeman/Glacier.
       
      If you have any other questions, let me know. Cheers, Julie

  5. Avatar for Vish
    1. Avatar for Julie Post
      Author
Load More Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *