Every year, millions descend upon Yellowstone for its bubbling hot pots, sweeping mountains and canyons, and lush forests full of wildlife. Whether you come for the outdoorsy biking and kayaking options or to sightsee at Old Faithful, this guide will direct you to just the right type of Yellowstone National Park lodging, and exactly where to find it.
The style of Yellowstone park lodging
A Yellowstone vacation is all about the great outdoors – and it should be. But that doesn't mean you ought to pick just any old hotel accommodations. Yellowstone National Park lodging in vacation rental homes and cabins can add a little something extra to the vacay. Here's why…
Connecting with nature
Newsflash – you don't have to leave the big sky and sweeping vistas behind when you exit the park each day. Yellowstone National Park lodging can keep those outdoorsy vibes going until you drift off under the stars. Start with a setting just outside of town on a big plot of land, where you're more likely to catch the sound of a wolf howling under the moon than a car whizzing by, and then add panoramic vistas of the surroundings mountains and rivers. Be it a lake lodge in Yellowstone or a more forested setting, these vacation rentals often boast picture windows overlooking the landscape and large decks for cooking and dining outdoors.
With everything from log cabins tucked away in the pine forests to timbered lodges with vaulted beams, Yellowstone park lodging is all about organic elements. Even the interiors often forgo traditional painted rooms and sleek surfaces in favor of paneled walls, hand-carved furnishings, cedar cabinets, wood-burning fireplaces, antler chandeliers – you get the picture.
Selecting a Yellowstone vacation rental – even one scented by pine – doesn't mean giving up all the modern comforts of home. Some of these options can even be downright luxurious. If an oversized deck doesn't peak the interest enough, imagine one with a bubbling hot tub attached for warm soaks under the stars. Kitchens are a common element, but some add in granite countertops, sleek appliances, double ovens, and large dining tables to fit extended family.
Where to find Yellowstone National Park lodging
Though most of it huddles in the northwestern corner of Wyoming, Yellowstone National Park actually touches ground in Montana and Idaho, too. That means there's plenty of cowboy towns and remote roads to find vacation rentals on. Here are just a few of the most sought-after locales.
Cody on the east side
This Wyoming town caters to tourists with its steak house saloons and themed museums, including the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, dedicated to the cowboy showman the town is named after. The east entrance to Yellowstone is about an hour's drive from the central part of Cody, but many vacation rentals are scattered between the two and surrounded by the lush Shoshone National Forest.
West Yellowstone to the…west
One of the most popular little hubs for Yellowstone vacationers, West Yellowstone borders the park and the state line of Montana-Wyoming on the Big Sky side. First-timers like this cowboy-vibe town for its homey grill restaurants, Western-style saloons, and tons of kitschy souvenir shops. Not to mention its prime access to one of Yellowstone's most famous sites – Old Faithful. It's less than a mile to the western park entrance from West Yellowstone, but you won't even have to venture that far to spot bears and grey wolves at the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center, a refuge facility. Rentals options here run the gamut from woodsy cabins to condos and townhomes steps from the dining scene.
Another Montana option, this time on the north side, Gardiner sits on the Yellowstone River, so tons of waterfront options are available here. It's also got a wealth of park history nearby – the landmark Roosevelt Arch entryway from 1903, the Yellowstone Heritage and Research Center's huge collection of literature and artifacts. It's also just a 15-minute drive down to the sizzling Mammoth Hot Springs zone, where boardwalks weave through sulfur-scented hydrothermal pools and white terraces of cooled calcium carbonate deposited over centuries.