Where to Stay in Yellowstone National Park: A Complete Guide

Yellowstone National Park: a sprawling wonderland where geysers erupt towards cerulean skies, vast meadows play host to wandering bison, and the primal call of nature echoes through pine-scented forests. This iconic national park, with its mesmerizing landscapes and thriving wildlife, captivates the hearts of millions every year.

But, with over 2.2 million acres of wilderness to explore, the quintessential question arises: Where does one rest after a day of untamed adventures? From rustic lodges with history whispered through their logs to campgrounds under starlit skies, our guide will unravel the best spots to recharge, ensuring that your Yellowstone experience is not just about the journey, but also about the cozy retreat that awaits you each evening.

Welcome to Yellowstone, where your dream stay amid nature’s grandeur begins now.

1. Best Lodging Options in Yellowstone National Park

Forest Cabin

When it comes to lodging options in Yellowstone National Park, visitors are spoiled for choice. From comfortable hotels to cozy cabins and spacious campgrounds, there is something to suit every traveler’s needs and preferences. One of the best lodging options in the park is the Old Faithful Inn. This iconic hotel offers stunning views of the famous Old Faithful geyser and is known for its rustic charm and historic architecture.

With a variety of rooms available, including suites and even shared dormitory-style accommodations, the Old Faithful Inn can accommodate a range of budgets. Another great option is the Lake Yellowstone Hotel and Cabins. Situated on the shores of Yellowstone Lake, this elegant hotel offers breathtaking views and a tranquil atmosphere.

The Lake Yellowstone Hotel features a grand dining room where visitors can enjoy delicious meals while taking in the stunning scenery. For those who prefer a more rustic experience, there are also cabins available near the hotel. Another popular choice is the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and Cabins.

Located near the park’s North Entrance, this hotel is known for its historic charm and convenient location. The hotel’s guest rooms are comfortable and well-appointed, and the surrounding cabins offer a more rustic experience. Additionally, there are several campgrounds located throughout the park for those who prefer to sleep under the stars. With so many lodging options available, there is something for everyone in Yellowstone National Park.

Whether you prefer the comforts of a hotel room or the adventure of camping, there are accommodations to suit every traveler’s needs. 

2. Pros and Cons of Staying Inside the Park vs. Outside the Park

Staying inside the park or outside the park is a decision that many travelers have to make when planning their visit to a national park. Both options have their pros and cons, and it ultimately depends on what the individual’s preferences and priorities are. Staying inside the park usually offers the advantage of convenience.

Visitors can wake up and be right in the heart of the wilderness, ready to explore the park’s attractions without having to drive long distances. This also allows for more flexibility in terms of timing, as visitors can easily catch the sunrise or sunset without having to worry about getting back to their accommodation.

Additionally, staying inside the park often allows for a deeper immersion in nature and a more authentic experience. However, staying inside the park can be more expensive, as accommodations inside the park tend to be pricier than those outside. There may also be limited availability, especially during peak seasons.

On the other hand, staying outside the park offers the advantage of lower costs. There are usually more options for accommodations, ranging from budget-friendly motels to luxury resorts, and they can often be more affordable than their counterparts inside the park. 

Staying outside the park also allows visitors to explore the surrounding areas and experience the local culture and attractions. However, staying outside the park means having to commute to reach the park’s attractions, which can take up valuable time and add extra expenses for transportation.

Ultimately, the choice between staying inside or outside the park depends on the individual’s budget, preferences, and priorities. 

3. Planning Your Stay: Recommended Booking Time and Availability

When planning your stay, it is recommended to book your accommodation well in advance to ensure availability. The ideal booking time may vary depending on the location and season of your visit. For popular tourist destinations or peak seasons, it is advisable to book at least three to six months in advance.

This allows you to have a wider range of options and secure your preferred dates and room types. However, if you are more flexible with your travel dates or visiting during off-peak times, you may be able to book closer to your desired arrival date. It is important to consider the availability and cost of flights as well, as this can greatly impact your overall travel plans.

Keep in mind that last-minute bookings may be more expensive and limit your choices. It is also worth checking for any special promotions or discounts that hotels may be offering during your intended travel period. Additionally, be aware of any holiday periods, festivals, or major events taking place in your chosen destination, as these can significantly affect availability and prices.

By planning and booking in advance, you can ensure a smoother travel experience and have peace of mind knowing that your accommodation is secured. 

4. Accommodation Types: Campgrounds, Cabins, and Hotels

Forest Hotel

When it comes to choosing accommodation, there are several options to consider, each with its own unique advantages. Three popular accommodation types are campgrounds, cabins, and hotels.

Campgrounds offer travelers the opportunity to connect with nature and enjoy the outdoors.  When it comes to luxury accommodations in Yellowstone National Park, the possibilities are endless. There are a number of exclusive lodges that offer both exclusivity and top-notch amenities. These lodges cater to travelers who want to experience the park in style and comfort. One such luxury lodge is the Old Faithful Inn, which is known for its historic charm and breathtaking views of the park. With its rustic yet sophisticated interior, the Inn offers a unique and memorable lodging experience.

Another option is the Lake Yellowstone Hotel, which is located on the shores of Yellowstone Lake. This elegant and refined lodge, with its stunning lake views and upscale amenities, is the perfect retreat for those seeking a luxurious escape. For those who want a more private and secluded experience, there are also luxury lodges such as the Canyon Lodge and the Grant Village Lodge.

These lodges offer spacious accommodations and a range of amenities, including fine dining options and spa facilities. Whether it’s a romantic getaway or a family vacation, these luxury lodges provide the perfect base for exploring the wonders of Yellowstone National Park. From wildlife watching to hiking the park’s famous trails, guests can immerse themselves in the park’s natural beauty while enjoying the comforts of a luxury lodge. 

With their prime locations, exclusive offerings, and top-notch amenities, these luxury lodges in Yellowstone are truly a cut above the rest. With spacious sites for tents or RVs, campgrounds provide a sense of adventure and freedom. They often include amenities such as picnic areas, fire pits, and hiking trails. For those who want a more rustic experience, cabins are a great choice. 

Cabins provide a cozy and private setting, allowing guests to relax and unwind in nature. They often feature comfortable beds, kitchenettes, and indoor bathrooms. Cabins are perfect for romantic getaways or family vacations, offering a home away from home.

On the other hand, hotels provide a higher level of comfort and convenience. With a range of amenities such as swimming pools, fitness centers, and room service, hotels ensure a luxurious stay for guests. They often have on-site restaurants and 24-hour reception, making them a convenient choice for travelers.

 Hotels come in a variety of styles and price ranges, catering to different budgets and preferences. Whether it’s the simplicity of a campground, the charm of a cabin, or the comfort of a hotel, each accommodation type offers a unique experience for travelers.

It’s important to consider the desired level of comfort, location, and amenities when choosing the perfect accommodation for a trip. Ultimately, the choice between campgrounds, cabins, and hotels depends on personal preferences and the kind of experience one seeks. 

5. Luxury Lodges in Yellowstone: Exclusivity and Amenities

When it comes to luxury lodges in Yellowstone, exclusivity and amenities are of utmost importance. These lodges offer a unique and extravagant experience for visitors who seek a luxurious stay amidst the breathtaking beauty of the national park. Each lodge is carefully designed to provide guests with a sense of exclusivity and privacy, ensuring a serene and intimate environment.

The limited number of accommodations available in these lodges guarantees that guests will have personalized attention and top-notch service throughout their stay. 

Furthermore, these lodges offer a myriad of amenities that cater to every indulgence. From world-class spas and wellness centers to gourmet dining options, guests can relax and unwind in style. The lodges also provide a range of recreational activities, including guided tours, hiking, and wildlife experiences, ensuring that guests can immerse themselves in the natural wonders of the park. Inside the lodges, guests can expect luxurious furnishings, plush bedding, and spacious living areas, creating a comfortable sanctuary to retreat to after a day of exploration.

In addition, the lodges often feature private terraces or balconies that offer stunning views of the surrounding landscapes, allowing guests to fully appreciate the serenity and beauty of their surroundings. Overall, luxury lodges in Yellowstone provide an unparalleled experience, blending exclusivity, top-notch amenities, and breathtaking natural beauty, making them the perfect choice for discerning travelers who seek both comfort and adventure. 

6. Family-Friendly Accommodations: Activities and Facilities

Yosemite National Park is known for its stunning natural beauty and offers a variety of family-friendly accommodations with activities and facilities that cater to all age groups. One popular option is the Yosemite Valley Lodge, which offers spacious rooms and easy access to hiking trails and outdoor activities. Families can take advantage of the lodge’s large swimming pool, perfect for a refreshing dip after a long day of exploring.

The lodge also has a bike rental service, allowing families to explore the park’s picturesque scenery at their own pace. Another great option is the Curry Village, which offers a unique camping experience with comfortable tent cabins that can accommodate the whole family. Kids will love the outdoor ice-skating rink, perfect for some winter fun. For those looking for a more luxurious stay, the Ahwahnee Hotel offers elegant rooms and breathtaking views of the park.

Families can enjoy a variety of activities here, including guided nature walks, horseback riding, and stargazing sessions. The hotel also has a children’s program, where kids can learn about the park’s wildlife and participate in fun activities. Additionally, all of these accommodations have on-site dining options, ensuring that families can enjoy delicious meals without having to leave the park. With its wide range of family-friendly accommodations, activities, and facilities, Yosemite National Park provides the perfect opportunity for families to create lasting memories and bond with nature.  

7. Budget-Friendly Options: Affordable Places to Stay

 If you’re planning a trip to Yosemite National Park on a budget, there are plenty of affordable options for places to stay. One budget-friendly option is to camp in the park itself. Yosemite offers several campgrounds with a range of amenities, from basic sites with only pit toilets and no running water to more developed campgrounds with flush toilets and drinking water.

Camping is not only a more affordable option but also a great way to immerse yourself in nature and experience the park up close. Another budget-friendly option is to stay in one of the nearby towns outside of the park. Places like Mariposa and Groveland offer a range of accommodations, from budget motels to cozy bed and breakfasts.

While you won’t be right at the doorstep of Yosemite, you’ll still be within a short drive of the park’s main attractions. Plus, staying outside the park can often save you money, as prices tend to be lower in these smaller towns. If you’re willing to spend a bit more, but still want to keep costs down, consider staying in one of the park’s rustic cabins or tent cabins.

These accommodations offer a more comfortable and private experience than camping, but at a fraction of the cost of the park’s luxury lodges. They often come equipped with beds, heaters, and access to shared restroom facilities. With a little planning and research, you’ll find affordable options that allow you to enjoy the beauty of Yosemite without breaking the bank. Budget-Friendly Options: Affordable Places to Stay

8. Choosing a Location: Which Area of the Park to Stay in

When choosing a location to stay in Yosemite National Park, it is important to consider the various areas of the park and their individual characteristics. One popular area to stay is Yosemite Valley, which offers stunning views of iconic landmarks such as Half Dome and El Capitan.

The valley is also home to many of the park’s accommodations, including lodges, campsites, and rental cabins. Staying in Yosemite Valley provides convenient access to hiking trails and ranger-led activities, making it a great choice for those looking to explore the park’s natural beauty.

However, keep in mind that Yosemite Valley can be crowded, especially during peak tourist season, so if you prefer a quieter and more secluded experience, you may want to consider staying in other areas of the park. Another option is the Wawona area, located to the south of Yosemite Valley. 

This area offers a more rustic and laid-back atmosphere, with historic lodging options and easy access to the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. Alternatively, you can choose to stay in the Tuolumne Meadows area, which is located at a higher elevation and provides a different perspective of the park.

Here, you can enjoy alpine meadows, pristine lakes, and scenic hiking trails. Finally, for those seeking a backcountry experience, there are several wilderness areas within Yosemite National Park that offer remote camping options. Whatever area you choose, it is important to plan ahead and make reservations well in advance, as accommodations can fill up quickly, particularly during the summer months. 

9. Wildlife Viewing: Lodges with Prime Wildlife Watch Spots

If you’re a wildlife enthusiast, then Yosemite National Park is definitely a place you want to visit. And to make your experience even better, there are lodges in Yosemite that offer prime wildlife watch spots. These lodges provide you with the perfect opportunity to observe and photograph the incredible wildlife that inhabits the park.

One such lodge is the Yosemite Valley Lodge. Situated in the heart of the park, this lodge offers stunning views of the surrounding meadows and mountains, making it an ideal location for wildlife viewing. From the lodge, you can easily spot animals like mule deer, black bears, coyotes, and even bobcats.

Another great lodge for wildlife viewing is the Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite. Located just outside the park’s south entrance, this lodge provides guests with access to the Mariposa Grove, home to giant sequoias and a variety of wildlife. You can take guided tours and hikes to explore the grove and have a chance to see animals like mule deer, wild turkeys, and maybe even a mountain lion. The Evergreen Lodge is another popular choice for wildlife enthusiasts.

Situated near the Hetch Hetchy Valley, this lodge offers breathtaking views and is surrounded by forests and meadows where you can spot wildlife like black bears, otters, and foxes. Lastly, the White Wolf Lodge is a secluded and rustic lodge that provides guests with a peaceful and serene atmosphere.

From the lodge, you can hike to nearby meadows and streams to see animals like deer, marmots, and even the elusive Sierra Nevada red fox. With lodges like these, your wildlife viewing experience in Yosemite will be unforgettable. 

10. Lodging Near Geothermal Features: Hot Springs and Geysers

Yosemite National Park has long been known for its breathtaking natural beauty and diverse range of geothermal features, including hot springs and geysers. These unique attractions draw in visitors from all around the world who are looking to experience the power and beauty of these natural wonders up close. Luckily, there are several lodging options available near these geothermal features, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the serenity of nature while enjoying the comfort and convenience of modern accommodations.

One popular lodging option near the geothermal features in Yosemite is the Ahwahnee Hotel. This iconic hotel, known for its rustic charm and luxurious amenities, is the perfect place to relax and unwind after a long day of exploring the hot springs and geysers. With its proximity to the park’s famous geothermal features, guests at the Ahwahnee Hotel can easily access these attractions and spend their days soaking in the soothing hot springs or marveling at the erupting geysers.

The hotel also offers a variety of other amenities, including a restaurant that serves delicious meals made from locally sourced ingredients, a spa where guests can indulge in a massage or other treatments, and comfortable rooms with stunning views of the surrounding mountains.For those looking for a more budget-friendly option, there are also several campgrounds available near the geothermal features in Yosemite.

These campgrounds provide a more rustic experience, allowing visitors to truly connect with nature while still being able to take advantage of the nearby geothermal attractions. Campers can set up their tent or RV in one of the designated campsites and enjoy a memorable camping experience under the starry night sky. Some campgrounds even have their own natural hot springs, providing visitors with a truly immersive geothermal experience.

Overall, whether you prefer a luxurious hotel or a rustic campground, there are plenty of lodging options available near the geothermal features in Yosemite. No matter where you choose to stay, you are guaranteed to have an unforgettable experience immersed in the beauty of nature and the power of geothermal wonders. 

11. Accessibility and Special Needs: ADA-Compliant Accommodations

Yosemite National Park, is known for its stunning natural beauty and diverse wildlife. However, it is also committed to providing accessible facilities and accommodations for visitors with special needs. Yosemite is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), ensuring that all visitors, regardless of their abilities, can experience and enjoy the park.

ADA-compliant accommodations can be found throughout the park, including accessible parking spaces, ramps, and restrooms. This allows individuals with mobility impairments to navigate the park with ease. Additionally, Yosemite offers accessible lodging options, such as wheelchair-accessible rooms, TTY phones, and visual alarms, ensuring that all visitors can find suitable accommodations.

The park also provides assistance for visitors with visual impairments, including audio-described tram tours and accessible exhibits. Furthermore, Yosemite offers interpretive programs and guided hikes specifically designed for visitors with special needs, allowing them to engage with the park’s natural wonders in a meaningful way.

The park’s dedication to accessibility extends to its outdoor activities as well. Several trails within Yosemite are wheelchair accessible, allowing individuals with mobility impairments to experience the park’s breathtaking scenery. The park also offers accessible shuttle transportation, making it easier for visitors with special needs to explore various areas of the park.

Overall, Yosemite National Park strives to ensure that everyone, regardless of their abilities, can fully enjoy and appreciate all that the park has to offer. Its commitment to ADA-compliant accommodations and accessibility initiatives allows visitors with special needs to experience the natural wonders of Yosemite in an inclusive and welcoming environment. 

12. Pet-Friendly Places: Lodges that Welcome Four-Legged Friends

If you’re planning a trip to Yosemite National Park and don’t want to leave your furry friend behind, there are several pet-friendly lodges in the area that will welcome your four-legged companions with open arms.

One such lodge is the Yosemite Valley Lodge, which offers pet-friendly rooms for an additional fee. These rooms come equipped with all the necessary amenities for both you and your pet, such as food and water bowls, a pet bed, and a welcome treat. The lodge also has designated pet-friendly areas, including a grassy dog-walking area and pet waste stations conveniently located around the property.

Another pet-friendly option is the Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite, which offers pet-friendly rooms as well as an array of pet-friendly activities. The lodge has its own dog park, where your furry friend can run and play off-leash. They also offer dog-friendly hiking trails nearby, allowing you and your pet to explore the beautiful wilderness together.

In addition to the Yosemite Valley Lodge and Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite, there are several other lodging options in the area that welcome pets. These include the Evergreen Lodge, which offers pet-friendly cabins nestled among the trees, and the Yosemite Bug Rustic Mountain Resort, which offers pet-friendly rooms and even has a dog wash area on-site.

With so many pet-friendly lodging options in Yosemite, there’s no need to leave your four-legged friend behind when visiting this stunning national park. 

13. Off-Season Stays: Winter and Spring Accommodations

Winter and spring in Yosemite National Park bring a unique and serene beauty that is worth experiencing. The park, known for its breathtaking waterfalls and majestic granite cliffs, becomes a winter wonderland during these off-season months. Although the park is less crowded, it still offers a variety of accommodations for visitors to enjoy their stay.

Whether you are looking for a cozy cabin nestled in the snow-covered trees or a luxurious hotel with stunning views of the snowy landscape, there are plenty of options available. Many lodges and hotels in Yosemite are open year-round, offering comfortable rooms and amenities to make your stay enjoyable. Yosemite Valley Lodge is a popular choice, with its central location and proximity to attractions such as Yosemite Falls and Half Dome.

Another option is The Ahwahnee, a historic hotel that provides a truly luxurious experience. For those who prefer a more rustic stay, there are several campgrounds in the park that offer winter camping. The Upper Pines Campground is open year-round and provides a unique opportunity to experience the beauty of Yosemite in the winter.

Additionally, vacation rentals and cabins are available for those who want a private and secluded getaway. Whether you want to explore the park’s snowy landscapes through hiking, snowshoeing, or skiing, or simply relax and take in the tranquility of nature, Yosemite provides the perfect off-season accommodations for a memorable winter or spring stay. 

14. Camping in Yellowstone: Campgrounds and RV Parks

When it comes to camping in Yellowstone National Park, there are numerous campgrounds to choose from, each offering unique experiences and breathtaking views. One of the best places to stay within the park is the Bridge Bay Campground. Located near Yellowstone Lake, this campground offers stunning lake views and is conveniently situated near many popular hiking trails and fishing spots.

Another great option is the Madison Campground, which is located at the junction of the Firehole and Gibbon Rivers. This campground provides easy access to the park’s famous geothermal features, such as the colorful hot springs and erupting geysers. Furthermore, the Grant Village Campground offers a peaceful and serene setting, surrounded by beautiful pine forests and close to the West Thumb Geyser Basin. For those interested in a more rustic experience, there are also several primitive campgrounds available throughout the park.

These campgrounds provide a more secluded and backcountry feel, allowing visitors to truly immerse themselves in the wilderness of Yellowstone. However, it is important to note that reservations are required for all campgrounds within Yellowstone National Park, and they often fill up quickly during the peak summer months.

To ensure the best chance of securing a campsite, it is recommended to make reservations well in advance. With its diverse range of campgrounds and stunning natural beauty, Yellowstone National Park offers a truly unforgettable camping experience for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike. 

15. Staying in West Yellowstone: Outside the Park with Convenience

If you’re planning to visit Yellowstone National Park, staying in West Yellowstone is a great choice. This charming town is located just outside the park, providing convenience and easy access to all the wonders that Yellowstone has to offer.

With a variety of accommodations available, from cozy cabins to modern hotels, West Yellowstone is the best. This makes it a great place to stay for families, couples, or solo travelers. Not only is the town in close proximity to the park, but it also offers its own attractions and activities. 

Visitors can explore the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center, which provides an opportunity to see these magnificent animals up close and learn about their habitats. West Yellowstone also has a number of delicious dining options, ranging from casual cafes to fine dining establishments.

After a day of adventure in the park, you can relax and enjoy a hearty meal before retiring to your comfortable lodging. Whether you’re interested in hiking, wildlife spotting, or simply taking in the breathtaking natural scenery, staying in West Yellowstone provides the perfect home base for your Yellowstone National Park adventure. 

16. Hotels and Resorts Near Yellowstone National Park

If you are planning a trip to Yellowstone National Park, there are several hotels and resorts that offer convenient accommodation options near the park.

One of the most popular attractions in the park is the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, known for its stunning waterfalls and scenic views. Staying at a hotel or resort near this iconic landmark allows you to witness its beauty at different times of the day without having to travel long distances. 

Many park hotels provide a range of amenities and services to ensure a comfortable stay for visitors. From cozy rooms with breathtaking views to relaxing spas and fine dining options, these hotels offer a luxurious experience for guests. Additionally, these accommodations are strategically located, allowing visitors the opportunity to easily explore the park’s diverse ecosystem.

Whether you want to embark on a wildlife safari, take a hike to observe the geysers and hot springs, or simply enjoy the tranquility of nature, staying at a hotel or resort near Yellowstone National Park ensures a convenient and enjoyable experience. 

Overall, with numerous options available, finding the perfect hotel or resort near Yellowstone National Park allows visitors to immerse themselves in the park’s natural beauty and make the most of their trip. 


In conclusion, when deciding where to stay in Yellowstone National Park, there are a few factors to consider. For those seeking convenience and a wide range of amenities, the gateway towns of West Yellowstone and Gardiner offer numerous lodging options, restaurants, and easy access to the park’s main attractions. However, these areas can be crowded during peak seasons. For a more remote and peaceful experience, the lodges and cabins within the park itself provide an immersive nature experience and are conveniently located near popular sites.

Old Faithful Inn, with its iconic architecture and close proximity to the famous Old Faithful geyser, is a popular choice. The canyon area offers stunning views and the opportunity to explore the famous Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, making Canyon Village a great option for nature enthusiasts. Additionally, those interested in wildlife and fishing may prefer the Lake area, which offers a variety of accommodation options near the largest lake in the park.

Overall, the choice of where to stay in Yellowstone National Park depends on individual preferences, priorities, and desired experiences. Whether it’s convenience, solitude, or a combination of both, there are accommodations available to suit every traveler. 

David Kingston

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