Lodging near Yellowstone National Park
September 6, 2013 9:31 AM   Subscribe

We going to be visiting Yellowstone sometime in the next two weeks (our dates are flexible). Lodging inside the park is sold out. Can anyone recommend some good places to stay near the park? We'd like to spend less than $200/night but we might be willing to pay more for a great place or location. We also want to stay at a good dude ranch near Yellowstone or Grand Teton NP for a few days.
posted by 14580 to Travel & Transportation around Yellowstone National Park, WY (12 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
There are some dive hotels in Jackson (at the south end of Grand Teton NP) that go for around $130/night. However, Jackson is not really "close" to Yellowstone, it's a good 60 miles or more to the park from there... and Jackson is a traffic nightmare this time of year.
posted by dwbrant at 9:38 AM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

I've cut & pasted the strongly-worded review I wrote on TripAdvisor after our trip to Yellowstone...(back in 2007- but I've just checked, the Lodge I recommended is still going strong!)
"We heartily disliked the cabins experience at Mammoth Springs Hotel [inside Yellowstone Park]- but not because we expected something more upmarket! Truly, generally we love rustic 'n basic but these cabins are depressing - like being trapped in mean suburban dog kennels with dreary views of the kennel opposite and the distinct whiff of long unlaundered bedspreads. After one grotty night (though I thoroughly enjoyed the musical/park wildlife talk given by a sweetiepie called Randy Ingersoll in the hotel's main map room), we canceled our 2nd night and shot off to the comparative paradise of the nearby Absaroka Lodge motel in Gardiner, Montana. It was $4 cheaper - and we would have paid twice the price! Here, you get basic, beautifully clean rooms overlooking a gorgeous river vista, free coffee all day (the "espresso wagon" coffee prices at Mammoth Springs are outrageous!), far better brilliant & cheaper food at the Gardiner restaurants (divine steaks at the Two Bit Saloon over the road from the Absaroka Lodge), same handy access to the park and the Boiling River (the hot springs bathing river) and you won't feel like a tourist sucker - which we all did at Mammoth Springs. FYI, my husband and I were with our two genial, hulking, teenage sons - who generally adore roughing it but they just felt claustrophobic in the cabins. I was so disappointed by the cabins - and so relieved to find the Gardiner Lodge had rooms available, I actually kept the lodge brochure so I could post this on TripAdvisor the minute we got home!"
posted by Jody Tresidder at 10:12 AM on September 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

Last time I visited Yellowstone NP we stayed at one of the motels in West Yellowstone, MT. Its a simple little town with hotels, motels, coffee shops and diners, that caters almost exclusively to NP tourists. Nothing special, but not expensive, and good access to the park. Also, the airport is right nearby if you're flying rather than driving in.
posted by Joh at 11:20 AM on September 6, 2013

I have stayed in Silver Gate, MT which is just outside the northeast entrance to Yellowstone NP before during the winter (when the only access to Silver Gate is from the park since the pass to the east is snowed over). It is a tiny little town, but very close to the park.

I am pretty sure we stayed in one of the Silver Gate Cabins, availability seems to be pretty limited for the next couple weeks on their web site, but you might be able to find something that works for you.
posted by noonewilleverloveyou at 11:52 AM on September 6, 2013

It depends how you want to enter the Park. We just got back from Yellowstone and Teton. (Teton is SOOO much better than Yellowstone; we're already planning a trip back.)

We stayed in Red Lodge, Mt and one day entered the park through the North East entrance by driving over the Beartooth Mountains. The next day we entered through the East entrance by driving the Chief Joseph and on through Buffalo Bill State Park. Both of those drives were over an hour, but flat out awesome. The third night we stayed in West Yellowstone, which is dumpy but close to the West entrance. The West entrance has quick access to the geyser basin.

The remainder of the time we stayed in Jackson, Wy and drove into Teton. If you're a cyclist, there's a 20 mile bike path from Jackson to the Jenny Lake in Teton. That path is largely flat, mostly on a separate path from the road and AWESOME.

Yellowstone is big and ideally you don't want to backtrack. For us, it was worth it to move from one B&B to the next so that we could hit different parts of the park.
posted by 26.2 at 1:20 PM on September 6, 2013

We just returned from a trip to Grand Teton and Yellowstone. First, make sure you actually go to Grand Teton as well as Yellowstone since they are right next to each other and GT is absolutely spectacular. If you memail me, I'll share the custom itin I created- we had a blast. Second for a hotel outside of the park, we stayed at the Three Bears Lodge in West Yellowstone. It has a pool, hot tub, comfy rooms, and the town is right outside the northwest entrance.
posted by TestamentToGrace at 1:37 PM on September 6, 2013

I'm guessing camping isn't an option? Many (all?) of the front country camp sites are first come first serve.

Assuming that's off the table then you're limited to the following perimeter locations:

West Yellowstone
Gardiner (Bozeman, MT is another option but much farther away)
Cooke City
Jackson Hole (or lodging outside of YNP's south entrance en route to Jackson Hole)

Honestly, I'd look hard at camping since anything else is going to put you outside the wonderfulness that is YNP. That said, if I couldn't do that I'd crisscross the park and stay at different spots each night to minimize backtracking (as someone said above).

Beyond that I'm not much help but, as I've offered here before in previous comments/answers, I'm a veritable plethora of knowledge of the park itself from spending 2 summers as an employee there, feel free to ping me or stalk my previous activity for more information or other tidbits I've dropped regarding what is pretty much my favorite place in the world.
posted by RolandOfEld at 1:42 PM on September 6, 2013

Oh and I guess I could add these bits:

West Yellowstone would be my pick for casual, cost effective entry into the park, for a few years there was a bald eagle nest along the road on the way in, if it's still there *don't stop for photos* just drive past and enjoy it as you go. West would also offer a decent food/entertainment scene, although I am no fan of the caged wolf/bear show thing for moral reasons.

Gardiner would be second because the gateway arch and the boiling river swim are amazing and in close proximity! Also decently affordable and with places to get grub and do a few things outside the park (although don't expect much).

Cooke City would be last, as it's really small and I recall it being more expensive due to limited options for staying, but I could be wrong/mistaken here. It is close to Lamar Valley (read: one of the best places for wolves to be sighted) but that's about it.

Jackson Hole and/or the Tetons, well that's a whole 'nother thing... I mean you asked about YNP. Despite the fact that the tetons are awesome to see I'm still sticking to YNP as the better of the two, just because most people's time is limited and both of them are huge and, admittedly, amazing in their own ways. Jackson Hole itself is the most touristy of the bunch and also the most expensive outside of the dive motels, which are safe/clean but still ratty as I recall them. Jenny Lake is a nice vista however with the Tetons as a backdrop, ditto for the hike by the same name.
posted by RolandOfEld at 1:51 PM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

An affordable, somewhat quirky option is the Lewis & Clark Motel in Bozeman -- which is about 90 minutes from the entrance to the park, but the drive is so lovely that it won't bother you at all.
posted by Dr. Wu at 2:21 PM on September 6, 2013

I've had a very pleasant and fairly affordable stay at the Cody Cowboy Village (which is more tasteful than the name might suggest).
posted by unsub at 5:09 PM on September 6, 2013

I'll second the Absaroka Lodge - stayed there a while ago and it was decently priced, accessible, and nice.
posted by one_bean at 5:16 PM on September 6, 2013

Chico Hot Springs seems to have a few rooms available in the next few weeks for a variety of prices (ranging from $70 to $220). I've stayed in the main lodge, which was rustic (bathroom was shared and down the hall), but comfortable. They have an excellent restaurant, and a hot springs-warmed pool with a walk-up window to the bar. It's not a slick place (aside from the restaurant), but has a good atmosphere in a beautiful setting.
posted by brambory at 6:08 PM on September 6, 2013

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