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Because Yellowstone National Park is spread out over such a large area, there’s simply no way to see it all with just one visit. So, it’s up to you to decide which landmarks that are really worth experiencing when you’re vacationing there. This will also help you determine which entrance into the National Park is best for you!
Yellowstone has multiple gateway cities or nearby towns that will get you close to everything you’re determined to see and do during your visit. Each town is unique, with so much to offer. If you’re determined to find history, breath-taking views, wildlife, shopping, or local great restaurants, I can almost guarantee more than one of these towns will work for you.
There’s also plenty of cozy lodgings in each town that I’d like to share with you. These are a few of the best places to stay when you’re visiting Yellowstone National Park. I have included some from various entrances, so no matter where you are coming from, you can find somewhere that you will enjoy.
Each town has something unique to offer, so if one doesn’t have anything that interests you, another one most likely will.
The town of Cody would arguably have to be one of the most dramatic of entrances into the park. The surrounding views heading towards Yellowstone are nothing short of breath-taking. The town has a little bit of both the old and the new west. While you’re there, be sure to check out the Buffalo Bill Dam, the Cody Nite Rodeo (world’s longest-running rodeo), and stop in at the Meeteetse Chocolatier to try some of their fine chocolates.
Where to Stay in Cody
Cody Legacy Inn
When first walking into the lobby of Cody Legacy Inn, you’ll notice that they celebrate the area’s history with stories and old photographs. You will experience not only a comfortable stay but will also find all the modern amenities that you would expect when staying there.
The Cody Hotel
The Cody Hotel boasts about being the only hotel in the area that offers a luxury western-style hospitality. They offer free breakfast and wifi, a pool, and best yet, kids stay free!
The Irma Hotel
The historic Irma Hotel was built back in 1902 and named after Buffalo Bill Cody’s younger daughter. The hotel offers tours and dining options even for those who are not planning on staying overnight there. It’s also located in a very convenient location, close to Buffalo Bill Historic Center of the West.
2. Cooke City
Nestled between the Beartooth Mountains and the Northeast Entrance into Yellowstone, Cooke City may be a small mountain town, but it has a lot to offer. It’s a beautiful and scenic Montana town that has all kinds of outdoor recreational activities, including fly fishing, horseback riding, elk hunting(fall), and several amazing hiking trails.
Where to Stay in Cooke City
If you’re seeking simpler accommodations that are at a very reasonable price, the Alpine Hotel first comes to mind. The hotel has a knowledgeable staff that can point you in the right direction, as far as things to do in the area. They also have pet-friendly rooms that are available for those of you wishing to bring your pets with you.
Inn on the Beartooth
Mountain views, cozy beds, and lodging space, an outdoor hot tub, plus free breakfast, who could ask for anything more out of a hotel? The Inn on the Beartooth has a log lodge-style character to it that will keep you feeling close to nature.
Two Bears Inn Bed & Breakfast
It’s easy to see that Two Bears Inn Bed & Breakfast prides themselves in everything that they provide for their visitors. The views there are incredible, along with free breakfast and wifi. There are also nearby hiking trails that you’ll have access to when staying there, and they do allow pets.
Conveniently for its many visitors, Gardiner just so happens to be located next to the only year-round entrance into Yellowstone. The town has an old west-style feel to it, and at certain times of the year, you’ll witness bison, elk, antelope, and deer grazing right in the middle of town. Gardiner is located only about 5 miles from the hot spring terraces of Mammoth Hot Springs inside the park.
Where to Stay in Gardiner
If you’re willing to splurge a bit for a home away from home, Cowboy’s Lodge is a great find when visiting Gardiner. Their western-style suites come with a fully-equipped kitchen, a patio area, along with a BBQ grill. The lodge has its own grille where you can enjoy some mouth-watering eats, but there are several other restaurants and shopping areas nearby as well.
Yellowstone Gateway Inn
Going on vacation doesn’t sound like a whole lot of fun when your entire family has to be crammed up in a one-bedroom hotel. At Yellowstone Gateway Inn you won’t have to! Rooms are clean and spacious, but the inn also provides a kitchen and living area, and all the amenities you can think of.
Yellowstone Village Inn
Another hotel experience that comes very highly rated and conveniently located to the National Park goes to Yellowstone Village Inn. It’s a fantastic hotel stay that comes with beautiful views, comfortable bedding, a pool area, and free breakfast and internet.
4. Island Park
There are several reasons why you should make Island Park, Idaho your stomping grounds for the week when visiting Yellowstone National Park. For starters, the town holds the record for the longest main street in the world, stretching for 36.8 miles! You’ll also find one of the world’s largest calderas there (remains of an ancient volcano).
My sister has lived here for years, so we often stay with her, but there are also ample camping and vacation rental options available. They also have a newly opened Marriott!
A few other activities to try that my family has enjoyed is ATVing on the many ATV trails, floating Big Springs stretch of Henry’s Fork (a very easy gentle float) and Box Canyon (still easy but a little more exciting).
If you are staying in Island Park for your Yellowstone Vacation, and are looking for lodging, are a few places you might consider staying.
Where to Stay in Island Park when visiting yellowstone
At Angler’s Lodge, you’ll be perfectly situated around several outdoor activities that you can enjoy in the area, including fly-fishing, horseback riding, hiking, biking, and ATV riding trails. The lodge has an outdoor pool, patio area, free internet, and cozy beds.
Eagle Ridge Adventures
Choose to stay at one of Eagle Ridge Adventures’ cabin rentals while you’re in Island Park. It’s about a 40-minute drive to West Yellowstone, but you will have beautiful scenery, comfortable bedding, a kitchenette fully furnished, a relaxing hot tub, and an outdoor bbq facility. Be sure to take your family horseback riding, something else that they offer on the property.
Sawtelle Mountain Resort
Sawtelle Mountain Resort does an outstanding job offering all types of accommodations depending upon your party’s situation. The resort has single rooms, family suites, luxury family cabins, and lodging that can host up to 40 people. An outdoor pool, private hot tubs, free internet, and breakfast are a few others that you can expect.
The Grand Teton National park is only a 15-minute drive from Jackson and about 57 miles from Yellowstone’s South Entrance. So if you’re planning on visiting both of these National Parks while you’re there, this is a great town to stay in.
It has a Western heritage to it, and you’ll discover many great places to eat and also to shop at. Don’t forget to take a walk downtown by their town square where the world-famous elk antler arches can be seen.
Where to Stay in Jackson
Cowboy Village Resort
Families love staying at the cabins of Cowboy Village Resort in Jackson. The cabins are adorable and beautiful by design. Amenities include a pool, snack bar, workout gym, a kitchenette, and free wifi internet. You’re also within walking distance of everything, including the Antler Arches and the beautiful Our Lady of the Mountains.
Snow King Resort Hotel and Condos
It’s no wonder why this next one is so popular. The Snow King Resort Hotel and Condos is the perfect place for your family to set up base camp in Jackson. The property itself has beautiful panoramic scenery, and also has many outdoor activities that your whole family will enjoy, no matter what time of year you are visiting.
Though you’ll quickly discover that skiing and snowboarding are incredibly popular. Your room features a private balcony, comfy bedding, pool access, and free high-speed internet. There’s even a bar/lounge area. A must-stay!
The Lodge at Jackson Hole
Come relax yourselves at The Lodge at Jackson Hole, a luxurious experience featuring rustic decor, a gas-lit fireplace, and all the amenities that you would hope for. Comfortable fine linen sheets and spacious rooms are something else to look forward to.
The lodge provides room service, wifi, a fitness center, pool area, free shuttle services, and several skiing opportunities. There’s also a bar/lounge area that serves breakfast and dinner, and several nearby restaurants and attractions in the area. Great location.
6. West Yellowstone
Just like its name suggests, West Yellowstone sits by the West Entrance of the park just inside the state of Montana. Though it’s a town with a very small population, West Yellowstone receives over 4 million visitors each year!
That’s because the entrance is situated relatively close to the lower loop of the park, where you’ll find famous sightings like Old Faithful, the Mud Pots, Yellowstone Lake, Yellowstone Canyon, and the Lower and Upper Falls. Here’s more on what you should consider doing and seeing while you’re there. Be sure to stop and get a bite at the Three Bear Restaurant.
Where to Stay in West Yellowstone
Gray Wolf Inn and Suites
Gray Wolf Inn and Suites is located within walking distance of several key attractions, while only 2 blocks from the West Yellowstone National Park Entrance. Their single room and suite options are clean, spacious, and at an affordable price, along with a beautiful indoor pool area,
Only 3 blocks away from the West Entrance, the Evergreen Motel also has nearby restaurants, shops, and plenty of other things to do within walking distance. You’ll also find excellent service, clean and comfortable rooms that come with wifi.
Yellowstone West Gate Hotel
Enjoy a clean and comfortable stay, along with the convenience of being only 6 blocks away from the park when you book a room at the Yellowstone West Gate Hotel. Amenities include spacious rooms with free internet, an indoor pool, hot tub, free hot breakfast, and nearby hiking trails.
These are amongst the best places to stay when visiting any one of these gateway towns that are located just outside of Yellowstone. Which one are you considering, and why?
There are also many other National Parks in the country worth visiting besides Yellowstone, especially for those of you with younger kids. That way you have more than one adventure to plan for in the near future.