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Yellowstone lodging options?


Hyacinth
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Help! We're finally making serious plans for a real family vacation. Destination: Yellowstone!

 

Ideally, dh would like to rent a house. Something private and cabin-y. Overlooking a lake. With mountains in the background. And maybe an elk or a bear wandering in the yard :)

 

Because Yellowstone is so big, I'm not really sure where to start searching for such a place. I realize we're setting ourselves up for a drive every day to get into and out of the park, and we're okay with this.

 

In my preliminary research I stumbled on Lake Henry, which looked ideal in many ways. Any other suggestions for names of towns or lakes that might have something for us?

 

If it matters, we're a family of four (two teen boys) and we're considering the first week in June. I have no interest in camping.

 

Thanks!

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That would be a really far drive into the park and back each day.  I know you said you're fine with it, but even from West Yellowstone in Montana, you're still driving quite a bit to get to the park loop, and if you're going during peak season there's going to be a ton of traffic, maybe a bison jam, and then you're going to be driving from feature to feature to see stuff, and then you could end up 3+ hours from your cabin at the end of the day if you're on the other side of the park when you finish.

 

Anyway, sorry that is a lot of naysaying about where you're looking, but just giving a warning.  Yellowstone is a lot of driving even if you're staying closer in.

 

Have you looked at any of the in-park lodging? It may already be full, and it is not cheap, but I think there are cabins at Lake Yellowstone and other lodges.  If I was going to do just Yellowstone for a week, I'd spend the extra $$ to try to stay in-park.

 

What we did was stay in Jackson Hole for two nights to do Grand Tetons NP, then drove through the park seeing stuff a long the way and stayed in West Yellowstone for two nights.  Even staying in West Yellowstone, we were exhausted by the end of the day and the drive home seemed unreasonable to everyone involved in the moment.

 

It is so amazing, though. Have fun planning!

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When we went at the start of June years ago, we stayed just outside the park in West Yellowstone. That was the closest we could get. The drive in was scenic...but those bison seem to think they own the place ;-) and would amble onto the road, forcing everyone to stop for as long as the bison wanted to stand there. So instead of planning for traffic jams, plan for bison jams and allow more time, far more time, than you need to get anywhere. Oh, and if a grizzly appears off in the distance, but just visible from the road, everyone will stop to watch it. You have to go with the flow in Yellowstone. I think we spent as much time in our car the five days we were there as we did actually out walking around.

 

Before getting to West Yellowstone, we spend a night or two in Jackson Hole. Oh my! Walking around there and hiking near the Tetons was beautiful! Plan time to do that, too. And if you are driving in from anywhere to the east, plan a night or two in Cody, WY. Trust me.

Edited by JFSinIL
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I agree with PPs as far as trying to stay inside the park.We were there for four days and moved hotels halfway through just because the driving was so much. We stayed at the main lodge right by Old Faithful, which is gorgeous, and then moved up to Mammouth Hot Springs, which is more like dorm lodging.

 

Also agree with planning some time in Cody, WY. We spent three days there. There is so much to see and do!

 

Have fun :)

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The distances are deceiving as traffic often moves very very slowly, if at all, at times. We live rural and are used to the 20 mile drive taking us 25 minutes, not a one mile drive taking 30 minutes. We stayed in Cody and drove in, then stayed in West Yellowstone the next night, etc so that we entered the park in one part and exited near our list ng at the end of the day.

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I recently moved to CA from being about 2 hours from Yellowstone.  We always stay in-park, but when I called to get reservations for next June at Old Faithful, it was already full.  You will be lucky to find anything in the park at this point (previously I always made next year's reservations immediately after we got back from that year's trip).  There are probably some campgrounds still available, but I'm guessing that most of the lodging is booked, or very close.  West Yellowstone is your closest bet outside the park, but it is a very touristy type town and may not be what your dh is wanting.  I'm not sure what is outside the north entrance (Gardiner MT) since we lived on the west side, but there may be options there.  But anywhere you stay out of the park, it will be a bit of a drive to get to wherever you're going for the day - I'd suggest leaving as early as possible and trying to get into the park by 7am.  You'll avoid a lot more of the vehicle traffic and probably see more animals out earlier.  The later in the day it gets, the more vehicles (including tour buses) , the more traffic jams, and more time spent sitting in your car.  One year, we spent over 2 hours in a traffic jam due to a motorcycle accident where they had to life flight 2 helicopters in.  There's nothing you can do when the traffic is stopped - and if you don't plan for the potential extra time, it could really ruin your trip.

 

 

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I would advise you to get on The Adventures by Disney website. You could create some of the highlights of their Grand Teton/Yellowstone/ dude ranch tour.

 

IF you want secluded bliss in a neat private home, Grand Tetons would have more options I believe. Then, you could eat and wander around Jackson Hole when you needed civilization. We did the Disney tour, but stayed extra in the Grand Tetons because there were so many cool places to explore and bike.

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Just be aware that there are going to be a lot of people around that time of year. Everywhere you eat or visit will have tourists eating and looking at stuff.

 

Have you looked on airbnb for houses? Or VRBO? A lot of times those listings will give you more of an idea about drive times and such.

Edited by JodiSue
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we rented a condo in west yellowstone.  it's RIGHT outside the west gate.  I would take distance to the park itself into mind when considering where you want to stay.

 

the park is huge.  the road inside is basically a figure 8 with roads going off to the corners and middle - expect to spend time just driving.  and that doesn't include when people stop in the middle of the road to look at wildlife on the side of the road . . . .those backups can easily add an hour or more. (if you want to watch the wildlife - pull over.)

 

think about where you want to spend the bulk of your time and look for somewhere closer to that.

 

I'd love to go back.  (we're tentatively planning on going back  to yosemite next year.)

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