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travelinandgolfin Dec 12th, 2008 03:21 PM

Yellowstone lodgings OUTSIDE the park
Hi all.

We were planning a trip here, possibly in the fall. From other threads though, it sounds like it may be difficult to get rooms WITHIN the park that have baths (that is a must for my wife).

I'll try, but if that can't happen and I have to stay in towns surrounding the park, what's the best way to do it?

Do I pick maybe four towns (one on each side of the park) and plan on spending a couple of days at each?

Is that how one would do it?

We have about 8 days to spend there.

Much thanks.

spirobulldog Dec 12th, 2008 03:32 PM

what week and month are you looking at? You can always make reservations outside the park and keep trying for the inside then cancel (make sure about cancellation policies).

The best spots to stay at are near Old Faithful and Canyon/Roosevelt area. Lake area and Mammoth are nice but we enjoyed Canyon and Geysers near old faithful.

We stayed in Roosevelt Cabins, Old Faithful Inn, and Lake Hotel. Keep in mind that the bathrooms are just down the hall, and it is somewhat like spending the night with relatives. It is not the best scenario and I certainly understand wanting your own bath.

You could certainly stay in Gardiner, West Yellowstone, Cooke City.

Are you going to spend 2 or 3 days in the Tetons?

travelinandgolfin Dec 12th, 2008 04:04 PM

Hi Spiro.

We are probably looking at the first or second week of September, and in doing just a quick search, things are already filling up.

I'll check out what's available in Gardiner, West Yellowstone, Cooke City.

For the GT, we were thinking of making that the last part of the trip (flying into and out of Salt Lake). So we were looking at something in Jackson Hole (by the way, is Jackson Hole and Jackson the same town)?

Thanks for the help.

sylvia3 Dec 12th, 2008 04:33 PM

Gardiner is right outside the park boundary, near a lot of things, a good spot from which to explore the park. SEveral chain motels there.

BayouGal Dec 12th, 2008 04:43 PM

We loved Dunraven Lodge at Canyon inside the park.

I'd choose Gardiner lodging outside the park over Mammoth inside the park.

West Yellowstone has a lot of choices.

Jackson is the city, Jackson Hole really refers to the valley. The airport is out of town, close to the entrance to GTNP. If you rent a car, keep in mind you will go into Jackson to get your rental, then you will drive back past the airport to go on to YNP. Make time allowances accordingly.

Check lodge closing dates in YNP. For instance, Roosevelt may not still be open while you are there.

spirobulldog Dec 12th, 2008 05:25 PM

Jackson Hole is a Valley. Jackson the city is just part of Jackson Hole. The Jackson Airport is in between Jackson the city and The Entrance to Grand Teton.

You might consider flying into Billings and out of Jackson. This way you could drive the Beartooh Hwy. Of course, with 8 or 9 days you could take part of one day and drive it when you are near Cooke City.

gail Dec 12th, 2008 09:19 PM

This is what worked for us a few years ago. Fly into Jackson and stayed there a few days to explore Grand Teton.

Then a few nights in West Yellowstone (stayed at one of the many chain hotels). Were only a few minutes from Park entrance. One advantage is that there was far more variety of places to eat and we went to local rodeo.

Then a few nights in Gardiner. Stayed at Abarosota Motel - right on Gardner River and minutes from entrance to YNP.

While staying in the Park is a different experience and something we have done on our other trips to National Parks for this trip, with our 2 teenagers, this worked better. We spent all day in the Park and then they could have their TV, electronic gadgets, internet and decent restaurants in the evening - a compromise that was best for our family at that time.

spirobulldog Dec 13th, 2008 03:07 AM

I found a ton of stuff available the first week of Sept. All with a bathroom. Are you looking on if you want to stay "in the park", make reservations now. It is a super experience in my opinion. We thoroughly enjoyed all of our meals at the lodges. I would probably go for 3 nights @ Old Faithful Inn, 2 nights in Canyon, 1 night in Lake Hotel. I would try for Roosevelt over Canyon, but it is currently full, but you should keep trying until your arrival day to switch from Canyon to Roosevelt.

I would still spend a night or two in Grand Tetons and then a final night or two in Jackson. It will be a distance to get there. Check out the Cabins at
These are the colter village cabins

I was typing in for 4 people, when searching for lodging. Looking at you post now, I guess it is just the two of you.

Reserve now, you can always cancel "in the park" if you change your mind. They don't charge anything for cancellations(outside 48 hrs, i think).

swisshiker Dec 13th, 2008 04:16 AM

You do not need to drive into the town of Jackson to pick up a rental car. Alamo Car Rental has a counter right inside the terminal. Then you just walk outside and pick up your car.

September is a wonderful time to visit the area. We were there this past fall for two whole weeks, and we still could have stayed longer.

I'm certainly an advocate for staying inside the park. Definitely follow the recommendations to check out Rooms come and go all the time.

As far as reserations OUTSIDE the park, we have enjoyed staying at the Holiday Inn Sunspree in West Yellowstone. Nice, modern hotel, very large rooms with microwaves and mini-refrigerators, good restaurant.

We've also stayed in Gardiner at the Best Western right on the river. Be sure to ask for a room facing the river (great sunset views from the windows).

In the town of Jackson, you'll find lots of hotels, some in better shape than others.

RedRock Dec 13th, 2008 05:59 AM

Check out Cooke City. We always stay there when not camping.

The only other places close by outside the park are Gardiner and West Yellowstone.

cd Dec 13th, 2008 06:40 AM

We stayed at Old Faithful Inn and had our own bathroom and then at Dunraven Lodge at Canyon and had our own bathroom. Just keep calling a couple times a week for cancellations because there are always cancellations.

travelinandgolfin Dec 13th, 2008 09:24 AM

Much thanks everyone.

Spiro, swiss, I will check out that website. I was going by a couple other threads which seemed to indicate that the rooms in the park may already be full, but I'll check it out.

As a general question about the park though...

I had always thought of the park as in maybe hundreds of miles of roads to drive, but now I see it's just about maybe 50 miles N to S and those circular routes.

Also, could you just have ONE base camp (so to speak) and just use that, or should you book a couple on different sides of the park perhaps.

RedRock Dec 13th, 2008 11:17 AM

As far as 'base camps' are concerned its really up to you. We always stay in one place and drive to the various parts of the park. That way you don't waste time moving.. Its not uncommon to go thru several tanks of gas in one visit to the Park.. YS is bigger than you may think. If you just drive all the major roads inside the Park you will have driven 150-200 miles or so. Its slow going and there is always the chance for a bear, elk or bison jam. Few people are in a hurry, the ones that are normally don't get to their destination any sooner than those that are not... I see where you will be in the park the first or second week of Sept, expect cool weather with a good possibility of frost or even the chance of some snow. We have had water from melted ice in the cooler re-freeze overnight during the month of Sept.

travelinandgolfin Dec 13th, 2008 11:57 AM


If you had to pick one of the areas of the park as that one central base, which would it be?

I'm thinking more of convenience, not necessarily the most scenic area, since we're going to be driving through all of the park anyway.

Snow and frost in early September? Any issues with driving? Assuming it's not a snow storm or anything of that nature.

What would you say is the best time to visit (weatherwise)?

Beaucoup Dec 13th, 2008 12:36 PM

We used the Old Faithful Inn as a base for a week in the Park early this past September. The "new" wing has rooms with baths, request one of these. While you will duplicate some drives in the Park coming and going from OFI, it is the most centrally-located lodging in the Park.

I agree with the others about the "in the Park experience"; there's nothing like it.

As for the weather that time of the year, the mornings were cool (40-50ish), but the afternoons and evenings were lovely.

gail Dec 13th, 2008 12:42 PM

Miles within the Park mean almost nothing - there are always "animal jams" and we found it impossible to drive without stopping to see something, even along a road we had been on before.

Frost in September? Certainly. We were there in July and one AM when I went for early AM coffee I had to improvise to find something to scrape off the window.

maj Dec 13th, 2008 12:54 PM

I agree with most everything that has been said -- and they are all different opinions. I don't feel that there is a "right" way to see these parks. It depends on what works for you.

I think the best place inside the park for central location is Canyon, especially in the fall if you are only staying in one place.

If there is a problem with driving on the roads it has been my experience that they will close that section. Usually Dunraven Pass and/or Beartooth Highway. Although I heard last winter was so bad, people had trouble driving in the Lamar Valley. Someone else may have had different experiences, but you really can't plan on the weather out there at any time. We did have to buy an ice scrapper in mid september one year. Two days before that we were in short sleeves. Beautiful time to be there though -- and it was neat to be able to see the park with snow.

Jackson Hole airport has a few rental companies there -- people have gotten cheaper rates in the town, which is probably why they went there to rent them. Jackson is only about 15 minutes or so from the airport.

A private bath is a must for me also and there are plenty of them in the park. People make reservations for the next year as soon as they can. There are cancellations all the time -- probably more so closer to the time they are booked for (since as said above you can cancel them without charge).

travelinandgolfin Dec 13th, 2008 01:46 PM

Thanks again all.


What is OFI?


You mention you like Canyon as a central location, but you also say if there is weather trouble, they will close the roads usually in that area? You still like Canyon though?

Thanks again.

RedRock Dec 13th, 2008 02:15 PM

travelinandgolfin, We have alternated camping and moteling thru the years. We always try to pick a spot in the NE part of the park as our base, fewer people. That allows us access to the Lamar Valley in the early morning or late evening. Better chance to see wildlife. Wolves, bear and bison all call the Valley home...... Our fav CG in the Park is Pebble Creek(NP) and out of the Park the Soda Butte CG(NF) just east of Cooke City. We have stayed many times at the Hoosier Motel in Cooke, clean but spartan, inexpensive. In fact we were there four nights last August.. Any where in town is in walking distance. I doubt you would have trouble driving due to bad weather in September but if you plan to drive the Beartooth highway there is the possibility that it could be closed. Ya never know in that part of the country.

Downtown Cooke City(daytime)

spirobulldog Dec 13th, 2008 06:06 PM

OFI is Old Faithful Inn. If I had 8 days for the Tetons and Yellowstone. I would stay 2 places in Yellowstone and then 1 other in the Tetons. You will spend a lot of time driving back to your lodge each night. Maybe not miles, but time. I normally plan everything out when at a National Park. This one is different as you just never know when you will get caught up in watching wildlife for a couple of hours. This will happen several times each day. Even while we waited 2 hours for castle geyser to go off, we had a coyotte agitating two buffalo with calves. it was very entertaining. If you see a bear with a cub near the road, you will take the time to stop and kill 30 minutes. The highlights of Yellowstone to me is the Canyon and Falls, and then the Geysers near Old Faithful area. Now there is a ton of other spectacular things, but those were our two favorites. Definately try to get a feel of the park. Basically you can do it in 4 or 5 sections. I really love staying at the lodges, so that is why I am so partial to staying in the park, plus it is convenient. Comfort wise, you would probably be better off outside the park.

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