Courtesy of Xanterra Parks and Resort
In 1903, it was considered pretty crazy to start construction of the Old Faithful Inn during the harsh winter. It was so cold that nails would sometimes freeze shatter as carpenters pounded them in (workers learned to heat the nails first). But a masterpiece in wood and stone arose in Yellowstone's National Park, one famed for its six-story gabled roof, soaring great hall, and monumental stone fireplace. Each spring, as bears emerge from hibernation, the inn reawakens too. From here, every 90 minutes or so, you'll get a thrilling view of Old Faithful geyser erupting.
Yellowstone Park entrances
North gate. From Mammoth and Gardiner, MT
Northeast gate. From Silver Gate and Cooke City, MT
South gate. From Jackson Hole, WY
East gate. From Cody, WY
West gate. From West Yellowstone, MT
In summer, lodging inside Yellowstone can book up fast―make your reservations as early as you can. Luckily, the park’s gateway cities have more lodging options, and they are also good places to visit.
$ inexpensive under $100
$$ moderate $100-$175
$$$ expensive $175-$250
$$$$ splurge--$250 and up
IN THE PARK
All in-park lodging is handled by park concessionaire Xanterra Parks and Resorts; www.travelyellowstone.com; (307/344-7311).
Canyon Lodge & Cabins. Big and busy but convenient to the heart of the park; lodge rooms have more amenities than the cabins. 83 rooms ($$$) and 469 cabins ($)
Grant Village. Pleasant motel units alongside Yellowstone Lake. 300 rooms; $$.
Lake Lodge Cabins. Modern "western" units and 1920s-vintage "pioneer" cabins. 100 western cabins ($$) and 86 pioneer cabins ($).
Lake Yellowstone Hotel & Cabins. For sheer beauty, the classically elegant, butter yellow hotel rivals Old Faithful, and the lake views are stupendous. 194 rooms ($$-$$$) and 102 cabins ($$).
Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel & Cabins. On the northern edge of the park, small, cute cabins and a sprawling, old-fashioned hotel. 95 hotel rooms with bath ($$-$$$), $76 without ($), and 117 cabins ($).
Old Faithful Inn. The brown-shingled 102-year-old hotel is a testimony to the power of architecture. And it's next to the most famous of the park geysers. Stay here if you can; if you can't, be sure to visit. 329 rooms with bath ($$-$$$) and without ($).Nearby are 96 Old Faithful Lodge Cabins ($).
Old Faithful Snow Lodge & Cabins. Newest of the park's hotels, and nearly as handsome in summer as it is covered in snow. 100 lodge rooms ($$$)and 34 cabins ($).
Roosevelt Lodge Cabins. Wonderfully rough-hewn lodge and cabins (some with shared baths) date from 1919, and lie near great wildlife watching in Lamar Valley. Also the site of Old West cookouts and horseback and stagecoach rides. 80 cabins with bath ($$)and without ($).
OUTSIDE THE PARK
The Olive Branch Inn at the Lindley House. Near downtown, an elegant, cozy Victorian. 6 rooms; $$. 202 Lindley Place; 866/587-8403.
Cooke City, MT
Elk Horn Lodge. Smallish motel; 8 rooms and cabins; $-$$. 103 Main St.; 406-838-2332.
Best Western by Mammoth Hot Springs. Attractive motel at the north entrance to the park. 86 rooms; $$-$$$. S. Highway 89; 406-848-7311.
Headwaters of the Yellowstone B&B. On the banks of the Yellowstone River just outside Gardiner, this friendly B&B has a view of Electric Peak and the Gallatin Range. The proprietor is actually a Yellowstone ranger so you can elicit great input on what to see and do during your stay. Cabins are available. 9 Olson Lane; 406/848-7073 or headwatersbandb.com.
Red Lodge, MT
The Pollard Hotel. Built in 1893 and handsomely restored, this is one of the prettiest small hotels in the West. Comfortable (if not overlarge) rooms, plus notably good restaurant. 39 rooms; $$$. 2 N. Broadway; 800/765-5273.
West Yellowstone, MT
Best Western Desert Inn. Large, pleasant motel. 76 rooms; $-$$$. 133 Canyon Ave.; 406-646-7376.
Holiday Inn Sunspree Resort. Large motel complex. 123 rooms; $-$$$. 315 Yellowstone Ave.; 800-646-7365.
Irma Hotel. Built by Bill Cody, who named it for his daughter. The hotel porch offers a good perch to watch Cody's nearly nightly mock gunfights. 20 historic rooms ($$-$$$) and 20 modern rooms ($$). 1192 Sheridan; 307/587-4221.
Best Western Sunset Motor Inn. Tidy chain motel very near the Buffalo Bill Historical Center. 120 rooms; $$-$$$. 1601 Eighth St.; , 800/624-2727, 307/587-4265.
Mayor's Inn. Restored 1905 home was moved to a new location in 1997 and turned into an attractive four-room inn plus a cottage. 4 rooms and cottage; $$-$$$. 1413 Rumsey Ave.; 307/587-0887.
Jackson Hole, WY
Cowboy Village Resort. Rustic cabins a few blocks from the town square. townsquareinns.com; $$-$$$.
The Wort Hotel. Historic hotel right in the center of town. 59 rooms from $169. $$-$$$$. worthotel.com; 307-733-2190.