How to Score Last-Minute Lodging in Yellowstone National Park

Want to see Yellowstone this summer but haven’t booked a place to stay yet? Don’t sweat it. Last-minute lodging in Yellowstone is possible thanks to the park’s lenient cancellation policy. So, latecomers still have a shot at snagging a coveted room or campsite.

Yellowstone’s accommodations fill up fast, usually 9 months to a year in advance. But you can still get lucky by calling regularly to ask about recent cancellations. Park lodges, cabins, and campgrounds all allow penalty-free cancellations up to 48 hours in advance. Which means a last-minute trip to Yellowstone could be easier than you think.

So, what’s it like to stay in Yellowstone?

The Grand Prismatic in Yellowstone National Park
The Grand Prismatic in Yellowstone National Park (Photo: Unsplash)

Inside the park, you can choose between rustic cabins, large hotel-style lodges, or camping in a tent or RV. For a comfortable bed, book one of the lodges like the Old Faithful Inn or Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel. Go more back-to-nature with a cabin or campsite.

No matter where you stay, amenities will be pretty basic. Prepare for limited cell service and Wi-Fi. But you can find tasty meals and drinks at lodge restaurants like Lake Yellowstone Hotel Dining Room. Despite the remote location, dining is surprisingly sophisticated.

Yellowstone is huge, so staying inside the park cuts down on drive times to attractions. You’ll be steps away from sites like Old Faithful and Mammoth Hot Springs. Plus, you’ll have easy access to sunrise and sunset wildlife viewing opportunities.

So don’t stress if your Yellowstone plans come together last-minute. Call the park regularly to check for cancellations. Then, pack your sense of adventure, and get ready to sleep under the stars in one of America’s most spectacular wilderness settings.

But where to look for cancellations? Here are the best lodges and campsites in the park.

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The best last-minute lodging in Yellowstone

Lake Yellowstone Hotel and Cottages
Lake Yellowstone Hotel and Cottages (Photo: Unsplash)

When choosing where to stay in Yellowstone, consider proximity to key sites and amenities like dining Though simple, these lodges let you experience Yellowstone National Park in style and comfort.

Though amenities are basic, the lodges are comfortable and offer prime access to Yellowstone’s top sites. Here are the best lodges for your Yellowstone vacation:

Old Faithful Inn – This iconic lodge near Old Faithful Geyser is the most requested in the park. Traditional log design and huge stone fireplaces capture the essence of “parkitecture.” It has the most central location in the park and provides easy access to the main geysers, hot springs, and wildlife.

Lake Yellowstone Hotel – You’ll wake up in rustic rooms to unbeatable views of Yellowstone Lake from this Colonial Revival-style hotel, the oldest in the park. Set in the Hayden Valley you’ll also find some of the best wildlife viewing in the park. Enjoy lakefront lounging and upscale dining options like the Lake Yellowstone Dining Room.

Canyon Lodge and Cabins – The most modern lodge in Yellowstone, this large, modern lodge with LEED-certified sustainable design is close to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. Plus, it has has the only ice cream parlor in the park.

Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel – If you want to vibe with travelers of yore, this place is perfect for you. It’s an historic 1920s lodge location by the North Entrance and Mammoth Hot Springs. It has a cozy lounge and dining room, but nothing too fancy.

Roosevelt Lodge – If you’d like to avoid the crowds and don’t mind roughing it, put the Roosevelt Lodge on your radar. It’s the more remote of the Park’s hotels, a community of cabins, a few of which come with wood burning stoves. Stay here and you’ll wake up in the middle of the Lamar Valley–known as the top spot to view the park’s mysterious wolves.

The top campgrounds in Yellowstone for cancellations

Camping in Yellowstone National Park
Camping  (Photo: Unsplash)

It’s quite a thrill to camp under the stars after a day of driving through herds of bison, pronghorn, and…bears? Yup. Camping out in Yellowstone takes the experience to a new level.

But it’s not as scary as it sounds. Since 1872 when Yellowstone was founded, Grizzlies have only killed 8 people. And most campsites are busy enough to ward off any threats. But you are in bear country, so you’ll want to pack some bear spray if you stay at one of these sits. Also: consider location to the sights you’d like to see, facilities like showers and toilets, and that larger campgrounds have more amenities but tend to be busier.

Madison Campground – A large riverside campground perfectly situated between the Norris and Lower geyser basins. Fish for trout or stargaze along the banks.

Slough Creek Campground – This small, secluded campground ideal for solitude-seekers. Close to hiking trails and fishing access in the Lamar Valley region.

Canyon Village Campground – Steps from the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, enjoy major day hikes and proximity to Canyon Village amenities at this large campsite.

Bridge Bay Campground – Bask in the lakeside views at this campground near Yellowstone Lake where you can enjoy activities like boat tours.

Tower Fall Campground – This quiet campground near Lamar Valley is best reserved by the most daring of campers. You’re pretty set back in the remote Lamar Valley, near scenic hikes and potential wolf sightings.

Keep Last-Minute Lodging in Yellowstone in your back pocket

Yellowstone is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. It’s a good idea to book well in advance, but if you didn’t, that doesn’t mean you can’t get in. A little persistence and some flexibility can pay off like Old Faithful geyser.

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