Over the past few years, Charles and I have started taking advantage of having a ‘central’ location, and then taking our time exploring what is around that location each day. We generally find our places to stay using the Vacation Rental By Owner services that you can find online (vrbo.com).
For this trip to West Yellowstone, we found a wonderful place called the Arrowhead Lodge as our central location. The lodge itself is a smallish building of 5 apartment units, and while I can’t speak for the other units, ours was very comfortable and well appointed. It had everything we really needed, wasn’t too big, wasn’t too small – so for these bears, it was just right! (One bed room, one living room/kitchen common area, and a bathroom). It was comfortable, well lit, and was just a nice place to come home to, cook dinner each night, and then hang out and relax before we headed to bed.
For larger family groups – there are other options and sizes – depending on what you need. You’ll want to make sure that you look at where the place is, and what it offers. The VRBO site is very helpful in detailing what is what and what is included. For Arrowhead Lodge, the owners were very helpful and touched base with us a few times throughout our stay to make sure we were doing okay.
Remember, a VRBO stay isn’t a hotel. You won’t get a chocolate on your pillow and you’ll have to make your bed every morning, but it’s a home away from home, and is a good way to have a low stress trip. (Well, for us it is)
There are some hotels in West Yellowstone, and more than a few interesting ‘motels’ as well (They looked clean and well taken care of – but they had some funny names!).
Within the Park itself, there were lodges that are managed by Xanterra. (The property management company that is contracted by the National Park Service). The locations are Old Faithful Lodge (Near Old Faithful naturally), Yellowstone Lake Lodge, Mammoth, and Roosevelt. Each offers something different in their style and amenities – and are very popular with people. They tend to book up quickly when they open reservations for the season. From what I’ve seen, this year’s reservations booked up when the window opened for them last year – so you really need to be on the ball to get them. (And very lucky!). On my first trip to Yellowstone, we stayed in one of the cabins near the Old Faithful Lodge. It was comfortable, and warm. But wasn’t anything spectacular. Granted, I was dealing with kidney stones on that trip – and don’t remember a whole lot about it – but for me, it was a comfy bed and a clean shower, and that was pretty much it. Charles and his family had stayed in the Old Faithful lodge previously, in the older section – and it was a bit of an unusual situation – the bathrooms and showers were not in the room – they were a common room – down the hall. Definitely adds some extra flavor to your vacation!
One thing I can’t really speak to, are the accommodations for camping. We are not campers. I haven’t camped in forever, and really don’t think I ever will. (I Iike my creature comforts too much) However, there are a number of campgrounds within the park – both for campers (large and small) and tent campers. So, if that’s your thing, there are options for you as well. I know when we were there, we saw that some of the campgrounds were already full. I’m not sure if they’re a first come/first served kind of situation – or you can make reservations for them – but they were a very busy place.
So, my recommendation is to make sure you have a list of what you want in your place to stay. If you want to be in the Park, start looking early and book well in advance. If you’re more flexible and want a low stress kind of vacation – take a look at VRBO and check out those rentals. It’s a flexible place – and you’re able to make your vacation what you want it to be with a little research and an open mind.