Looking for the best places to stay in Yellowstone? Yellowstone is a behemoth of a National Park and there is so much to explore within the park boundaries, so choosing where you will stay during your visit is an important consideration. Luckily, Yellowstone has more hotels and lodging options than any other park and campgrounds are plentiful as well.
Behind Yosemite National Park, Yellowstone is routinely the second-most popular national park for camping. Now you are probably thinking, “plan ahead…” And yes, while planning ahead is important in helping you maximize your vacation, if you are planning a last-minute getaway you might still be able to snag a first-come, first-serve camping spot or hotel room. A few years back, I did just that. Using Yellowstone’s online tools, which we’ll talk about in this blog post, I was able to get a last-minute campsite in my Sprinter Van with zero ahead planning.
In this blog post, we’ve put together a guide to help you find the best Yellowstone National Park campsites as well as other Yellowstone lodging options. If you can’t get a spot in the park, you’ll also find some helpful tips for where to stay outside the park.
Looking for the best places to stay in Yellowstone? In this post, we cover the best Yellowstone camping, hotels, and other tips for snagging lodging for your Yellowstone getaway
Best Places To Stay In Yellowstone – Mapped
Camping in Yellowstone
Campgrounds offer some of the best places to stay in Yellowstone with great views and easy access to some of the park’s best trails and sights. The National Park offers 12 campgrounds with over 2,000 campsites. Five of these campgrounds are managed by Yellowstone National Park Lodges while the other 7 are managed by the National Park Service.
Yellowstone National Park Lodges Campgrounds
- Bridge Bay Campground
- Canyon Campground
- Fishing Bridge RV Park (Closed for 2021)
- Grant Village Campground
- Madison Campground
These 5 campgrounds can be reserved online at the Yellowstone National Park Lodges website.
Yellowstone National Park Service Campgrounds
- Mammoth Campground (Reservable)
- Norris Campground (Closed for 2021)
- Slough Creek Campground (Reservable)
- Pebble Creek Campground (Sites 1-16 are reservable, sites 17-27 are first-come, first-served)
- Tower Fall Campground (Closed for 2021)
- Indian Creek Campground (First-come, first-served)
- Lewis Lake Campground (First-come, first-served)
National Park Service Campgrounds can be reserved online at recreation.gov
For more info on each Yellowstone National Park campground, their availability, and nightly fees head to the Yellowstone National Park Camping website.
Important Factors to Consider About Yellowstone Campgrounds
- The only tent campgrounds with showers/laundry on site are Canyon & Grant Village (showers are not available for 2021)
- Note that the following campgrounds only have vault toilets, not flush toilets: Indian Creek, Lewis Lake, Pebble Creek, Slough Creek, and Tower Fall.
- The following campgrounds allow generators from 8am-8pm: Norris, Mammoth, Bridge Bay, Canyon, Grant Village and Madison.
- Fishing Bridge RV campground is only for hard-sided RV’s; there is no tent camping there.
- Mammoth Campground is the ONLY campground open year-round.
- Tower Fall, Fishing Bridge, and Norris campgrounds are closed for the 2021 season.
Tips For Choosing a Yellowstone Campsite
1. Plan campsites around your itinerary
When choosing your Yellowstone campsites, start by figuring out what Yellowstone sights you want to check out. I would recommend planning to stay at 2-3 campgrounds for 1-2 nights each depending on how long you want to be in the park and how much you want to see. The park is huge and spreading your stay out at 2 different campsites will minimize your back and forth driving.
2. Have a first-come, first-served campsite stategy
If you want to snag a first-come, first-served campsite, plan on arriving early because many of the first-come, first-served campsites are full by 8am.
The first website you need to go to if you are trying to find a first-come, first-serve campsite in Yellowstone is their live-time website that provides updates on campground availability. It tells you:
- Which campgrounds are open or closed.
- The time that the campground was filled to 100% capacity the day before.
- If the campground still has availability currently or what time it was filled that day.
Keep in mind that while within Yellowstone National Park you won’t always pick up cell service or find wifi readily available to check campsites updates. In fact, we didn’t have service anywhere between the West Yellowstone entrance and Mammoth Hot Springs. It was also sparse on the east and south ends of the park. So I suggest checking this website before you enter the park and make a plan of action for where you want to head. All of the visitor centers also post this information.
3. Book campsites as soon as possible
Yellowstone camping reservations open for the season on May 1st and can sell out months in advance, so if you want peace of mind and to have a guaranteed spot, plan accordingly. The largest Yellowstone Campgrounds are Grant Village (430 sites) and Bridge Bay (432 sites), both of which can be reserved online. Canyon, Madison, and Fishing Bridge RV Park all have over 200+ sites and can also be reserved online.
4. Know Yellowstone’s camping rules and regulations
Camping in Yellowstone is limited to 14 days from July 1st to the first weekend in September, so don’t get too crazy in your itinerary length.
Camping or overnight vehicle parking is also prohibited in pullouts, parking areas, picnic grounds, or any place other than a designated campground. If you don’t have a campsite reservation and you can’t get a first-come, first-served site, the nearest campsite or hotel room may be hours away.
Yellowstone backcountry camping
If you’re looking for some backcountry adventure, there are hundreds of miles of trails in Yellowstone’s backcountry and 293 designated backcountry campsites. All overnight stays in the backcountry require a permit and you can find more information on permits and where to stay in Yosemite National Park backcountry here.
Best Yellowstone Lodging
Yellowstone Lodges & Cabins
Not into camping? Some of the best places to stay in Yellowstone National Park include rustic lodges and cabins. You will pay a pretty penny for staying at one of the 9 indoor lodges within the park, but if you’re an early morning person, it is worth it just to get outside and beat the morning Yellowstone crowds. Yellowstone lodging prices range from roughly $100-$500+; there are numerous options to fit all types of budgets and needs.
If you do want to spend a night indoors, it’s a good idea to book early, but sometimes you can find last-minute cancellations just like with the campgrounds. Also, consider booking dinner reservations when booking your lodging as the restaurants also can fill up.
Speaking of reservations and availability—the National Park also hosts a live-time website to showcase the availability of indoor lodging options at these 9 Yellowstone lodges and cabins:
- Canyon Lodge
- Grant Village Lodge
- Lake Hotel
- Lake Lodge
- Mammoth Hotel and Cabins
- Old Faithful Inn
- Old Failthful Lodge
- Old Faithful Snow Lodge
- Roosevelt Lodge
Important Notes to Consider About Yellowstone Lodging
- Old Faithful Snow Lodge & Cabins and Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel are the only two indoor lodging options open year-round.
- Roosevelt Lodge & Cabins are the earliest to close at the end of the summer season. They are only open early June to early September.
- None of the lodging options in Yellowstone have televisions. We only say this to remind you that you are staying in a lodge in a National Park. Expect it to be a little rustic!
- And don’t get too caught about trying to figure out which lodge/cabins are the best. They are all run by the same park concessionaire, Xanterra. The amenities from one lodge to another only differ slightly. Again, same advice as selecting campgrounds–focus on the area of the park you want to stay for the night.
It is worth checking out a few of the lodges during your Yellowstone adventure if just for a pit-stop, as some of them are National Historic Landmarks. Here are our favorites for scoping out:
- Lake Yellowstone Hotel has a beautiful sun room that overlooks Yellowstone Lake with numerous comfy couches and chairs available to take in the view. Outside you’ll often find vintage Yellowstone touring cars. The hotel is among the nicest in the park and features a large bar, which makes for a great place to grab a cocktail and take a little break from touring.
- Don’t miss the famous map room at the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel. It features a map of the United States built from various types of wood.
- Old Faithful Inn is a must-visit and one of the best places to stay in Yellowstone. It is one of the most historic and famous hotels in the entire National Park system. You can’t miss its grand presence behind Old Faithful. The Inn is the largest log hotel in the entire world. They offer FREE tours daily when the hotel is open, call or check online for tour times. Insider Tip: There is a great little coffee stand tucked away upstairs and there is also a bake shop in the hotel if you are craving a sweet treat.
Pet-friendly Lodging in Yellowstone National Park
Traveling with a pet in Yellowstone may severely limit your experience in the park since pets are not allowed more than 100 feet from roads, parking areas, or campgrounds. This means you won’t be able to take Fido with you out on the trails. Pets also must be kept on a 6-foot leash or in a crate when outside your car. Many visitors opt to board their pets for a few days so that they have more flexibility to enjoy the park.
If you have no other option but to bring your pets with you, there are several pet-friendly lodging options in Yellowstone including:
- Lake Hotel and Cabins
- Lake Lodge Cabins
- Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and Cabins
- Canyon Lodge Cabins
- Old Faithful Lodge Cabins
- Old Faithful Snow Lodge Cabins
- Roosevelt Lodge Cabins
Even if you book a pet-friendly cabin, though, dogs or other pets are not allowed to be left alone inside the cabin and a $25 pet fee is required for each booking. These strict rules are in place to help protect Yellowstone’s wildlife and pristine landscapes and also protect your pooch from dangerous geothermic areas.
Where To Stay Outside Of Yellowstone
There are a few unique towns just outside some of the Yellowstone entrances that offer a broad range of competitive lodging options, both campgrounds and hotels. Just keep in mind, you might encounter long lines every day going into and out of the park.
West Yellowstone is probably the most famous town for staying outside the park. And yes, based on its name, it is just outside the West entrance.
Gardiner is just outside the North entrance and is an option if you are visiting the Lamar Valley area and Mammoth Hot Springs. Rates are competitive and hotels can book up early.
Insider tip: The farther you travel from the park, the cheaper lodging will get.
If you are looking for dispersed camping options outside of Yellowstone, check out the tools I use in my Ultimate Guide to Finding Free Camping.
We hope this guide on the best places to stay in Yellowstone helps you get ready for an epic road trip to one of our nation’s most unique and beautiful National Parks.
Do you have a favorite Yellowstone campsite or lodge? Let us know in the comments below!