Photos courtesy Yellowstone National Park Lodges
It’s no secret that fall is a great time to visit Yellowstone. Bears are preparing for their slumber, the elk and bison rut is in full swing and hawk-watching is excellent from late August through early October as these majestic birds pass through the park. It’s a great opportunity for photography, and, as the crowds disperse, the quietness is—quite literally—a breath of fresh air.
It’s a real treat to stay within the park boundaries. The dark skies make for some serious stargazing and waking up to cool mornings with a hot cup of coffee could be a scene right out of a movie. Most of the lodges stay open through late September or early October then take a break before the winter season. The accommodations are varied, whether you prefer the elegance of the Lake Yellowstone Hotel and Cabins, or the traditional log structure of the Old Faithful Inn, you can be assured your experience will be authentic and unique.
Lake Yellowstone Hotel and Cabins
Designated a National Historic Landmark in 2015, a stay here is an elegant escape. Situated on the edge of the lake, the bar and lounge areas offer spectacular views for lounging with a cocktail in hand. Extensive renovations in 2014 have restored the hotel to its original Colonial Revival design. Try one of the guided sunset tours around the lake, followed by an exquisite dinner in their dining room.
Old Faithful Inn
A national historic landmark built in 1903 – 1904, this beautiful inn was constructed with local logs and stones, and is considered the largest log structure in the world. The massive stone fireplace makes for the perfect backdrop to sit and truly unplug during cool fall evenings.
Canyon Lodge and Cabins
The largest of all the lodges, Canyon Lodge and cabins provide 500 rooms in the heart of the park. You’ll be close to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, and there are a number of different trails offering amazing views of the upper and lower falls. Guided tours are a highlight, with horseback riding, wildlife watching and Yellowstone’s longest running tour, “Circle of Fire,” which takes you through 70% of the park’s famous features.
Mammoth Hot Springs Hotels and Cabins
Surrounded by grazing elk, this stately hotel just inside the north entrance is home to the Map Room, featuring a large wooden map of the United States made with 15 different woods from nine countries. The full bar with live piano music is nothing but relaxing. The adjacent Lamar Valley is exceptional for wildlife watching, particularly in the early morning and evening hours, and the hotel is perfectly situated to get out early without a long drive.
Old Faithful Snow Lodge and Cabins
The newest in Yellowstone, this lodge has a more relaxed vibe with casual dining. Located in what is called the Firehole, you’ll be in the heart of the greatest geyser region on earth, and the fly-fishing is amazing! Don’t forget to stop in the Old Faithful Visitor Education Center—the interactive exhibits are loved by kids and adults alike.
Located near the West Thumb of Yellowstone Lake, you get the views of the lake with a laid-back feel. The Grant Village Lake House Restaurant is a must, built on the water with large windows and delicious food! It’s the perfect start or end to your day.
For more fall trip planning ideas, check out Fall in Yellowstone Country.