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Where to Lodge The Park is vast so consider (but not necessary) two lodging locations, especially if here 3 nights or more. This will minimize driving and could be safer because you don’t want to drive in the dark as wildlife is very difficult to see. Some don’t mind the driving to/from one location, you get to see more in backtracking.
Here are suggested lodging location combinations to minimize your driving. Use the park’s interactive map at http://tinyurl.com/6tp6kvh to understand these combinations.
Xanterra is the YNP contracted lodging resource. Other agencies might charge a nonrefundable fee and they have to contact Xanterra themselves which you can do for free.
To get reservations in the park - (1) Monitor the Xanterra website continuously, and if possible, (2) call frequently, as cancellations often occur.
If park lodging unavailable, reserve lodging outside the park (see below) but know the cancellation policies. If you later get Xanterra lodging, cancel those reservations.
Lodging OUTSIDE the Park - Use the gateway towns of West Yellowstone and Gardiner, both in Montana. Cooke City and Silvergate at the NE entrance are quite distant from major park sights, except for the Lamar Valley. By far the most hotels are in Jackson or Cody, both in Wyoming. It may be best to stay in one or the other at the beginning of the trip, a stay at Lake or Old Faithful during the trip and exit and spend the third nigh in Cody or Jackson. Ideal trip would be Cody-Lake-Old Faithful-Jackson Lake Lodge- Jackson or Teton Village.
See the hotel reviews on the TA Forum for each city (Wyoming has the best selection) left hand column, “Hotels”.
Ensure that your lodging is quite close to the park entrances; you’ll have plenty of driving in this vast park, you won’t want to add to it, nor drive in the dark.