travel

Where To Stay, Go and Eat In Yellowstone National Park

August 4, 2014

I’ve reached the final recap of my trip Out West last month! In case you missed the first two, the first was all about Park City, Utah and the second covered everything to do in Jackson, Wyoming and Grand Teton National Park.

I’m actually having withdrawal right now but have found a way to cope with it. Thanks to my bff Netflix, I have been enjoying Ken Burn’s mini-series on “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea”. It’s actually a great series and you will learn SO much about America and the history of it’s National Parks #historynerd.

Yellowstone National Park 2014In some ways I saved the best for last, and in other ways I didn’t. As much as I loved Yellowstone, The Grand Tetons stole my heart. I’m told if I love it there that I NEED to visit Banff, so I guess it’s time I start tackling Canada’s National Parks! But back to Yellowstone.

The South entrance to Yellowstone is only 1.5 hours from where we stayed in Grand Teton National Park (the parks are actually attached) so that was the last stop on our adventure and where we spent the next 4 days. We had A LOT of ground to cover in a short period of time, so bare with me!

where to stay in yellowstoneOld Faithful Inn. Since we drove in through the South entrance to the park, it made the most sense to stay and explore that area. There are very few places to stay inside the park. The Old Faithful Inn is one of the most historic and coveted because it’s backyard is literally Old Faithful. My thoughts: Really interesting place with lots of history. Even if you aren’t staying there, take the free tour they offer. If you are staying there, you must book AT LEAST a year in advance but don’t expect the fanciest accommodations. You will have everything you need, but no more than that. Keep in mind, I’m a diva.

OFITravelodge Gardiner, Montana. Because most of the activities we wanted to do were on the North end of the park, we opted to stay directly outside the North entrance in Gardiner, Montana for the next two nights. The town is adorable and the hotel had everything we needed. Plus it’s 5 mins from the famous gate through the North entrance of the park.

where to go in yellowstoneWe managed to cover most of the park in 4 days. Don’t ask me how. Navigating Yellowstone is fairly simple, but expect extreme road delays. It’s normal to come across 300 bison trying to cross the road and you will end up stuck there for an hour. At least bison are awesome so it makes up for it. Also Yellowstone is B-U-S-Y. At times it felt like I was at what DisneyWorld would look like on Mars. Crazy natural features + hoards of people. You just gotta roll with it.

Old Faithful. You must see Old Faithful and the Lower Geyser Basin so you can AT LEAST say you’ve been there. There are hundreds of geysers around the park and Old Faithful is not the most spectacular of them, but it’s famous so just do it. Then walk around the thermal hot springs and other geysers along the boardwalk. I had no idea that this is what Yellowstone was like. Crazy cool.

Old FaithfulMidway Geyser Basin and Norris Geyser Basin. These are the other two I recommend exploring. The Grand Prismatic Hot Spring in the Midway Geyser Basin was incredible. Midway is the biggest hot spring in the US and the third biggest in the world. Plus it’s super fun and colourful!

Midway geyserMammoth Hot Springs. It’s like a hot spring waterfall. I’ve never seen anything like this and don’t expect I ever will again.

MammothLamar Valley + Hayden Valley: The two places where you are likely to see the most wildlife. We drove through the Hayden Valley after the craziest hail storm and I wish I could bottle up the amazing smell. Along with the smell, the setting is absolutely spectacular. Gorgeous mountains, wildlife running around and wildflowers everywhere. The Lamar Valley was also very pretty but the coolest part was having our car surrounded by bison as they tried to cross the road. I want a pet bison.

Lamar ValleyThe Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. This was my favourite part of Yellowstone and it’s completely different from all of the geyser basin areas. We hiked the Clear Lake Trail, on which random hot springs appear all along it and then suddenly you walk out onto an absolutely gorgeous canyon. We continued the trail up to Artist Point for a view of the waterfall and then down to the bottom of the waterfall where you can see a double rainbow. Word to the wise, walking down and up those stairs is like doing crossfit. I was dying.

Grand CanyonYellowstone Lake. Beautiful. We thought about doing some kayaking on it, per Lee’s suggestion but we didn’t have enough time. Instead we ate ice cream and stared out onto the Lake. So like basically the same thing…right?

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where to eat in yellowstoneIf you can get a cooler and bring food into the park with you, do it. You are limited in where you can eat and buy food in Yellowstone. I lived exclusively off peanut butter, rice crackers, trail mix and peanut m&ms. It wasn’t pretty. We did have a few good meals in there, so I’ll highlight those.

The Old Faithful Inn Dining Room. If you’re staying at the hotel you can make reservations here and if not you have to wait until the day of to make a reservation. If you can make a reservation, do it. The meals were fantastic and they had all sorts of gluten-free and vegan options (which were labelled!). I split the bison bolognese on gluten-free pasta and the trout hash with my Mom. The Alexander Valley Organic Cab was just icing on the cake. Sorry, forgot to take a pic!

Iron Horse Bar & Grill (Gardiner, Montana). I should have ordered the steak. I had the bison burger. It was okay, but the steak is their speciality. The best part was definitely the bottle of wine and chips and salsa I shared with my Mom and Bro beforehand. This became a nightly tradition. I can get down with that.

wine in montanaLighthouse Restaurant (Corwin Springs, Montana). Go here. What a gem to stumble upon. The chef whipped up some amazing and unexpected meals to find in middle-of-nowhere Montana. I got the Thai Chicken and it was awesome. Plus it’s BYO with no corkage free. Win!

Lighthouse RestoThis was seriously a trip of a lifetime. From Park City to Jackson to Yellowstone and everything in between, I am feeling so grateful to have been able to explore such beautiful places with my family by my side. Already looking forward to the next adventure!

Have you ever been to Yellowstone National Park? What’s next on your travel bucket list?

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  • Reply
    Arman @ thebigmansworld
    August 4, 2014 at 5:25 am

    Dude those geysers look incredible!!!!!! Seriously, amazing. You clearly forget to mention these amazing details in our interaction and leave me with shitake like #hatesnap #hatebison #eatkangaroo.

    Next on my travel bucket list…. 😉

    (looked up flights today- is Air Canada any good?)
    Arman @ thebigmansworld recently posted…No Bake S’mores Protein Cookies

  • Reply
    Kim @ BusyBod
    August 4, 2014 at 6:05 am

    I can’t wait to get all the way through my feed to check out your other two posts from this trip. I am feeling SO outdoor deprived after being holed up for so long, plus I have been dyyying to do a national parks trip for what feels like ages. John and I were supposed to go last summer but had to cancel. I’m definitely pumping this back up our priorities list.
    Kim @ BusyBod recently posted…Let’s catch up

  • Reply
    Kelly @ Kelly Runs for Food
    August 4, 2014 at 6:22 am

    All your pics are awesome! I think I would like visiting Yellowstone, especially to see those geysers!
    Kelly @ Kelly Runs for Food recently posted…Weekend recap: just call me Miss Fix-it

  • Reply
    Cheryl
    August 4, 2014 at 7:00 am

    Great pics! Everyone should try to see Yellowstone, Niagara Falls, Grand Canyon, and the Redwoods at least once in their lifetime

  • Reply
    erin @ The Almond Eater
    August 4, 2014 at 7:03 am

    1. You look just like a bison and 2. Eating ice cream is just as good if not better than kayaking for sure. Now I really want to go hiking to test my (not so great) hiking abilities.
    erin @ The Almond Eater recently posted…20 Minute Leg Burner

  • Reply
    Liz @ I Heart Vegetables
    August 4, 2014 at 7:45 am

    Wow that sounds like so much fun!!! I’ve never been to Yellowstone but it’s on my list of places I want to visit!
    Liz @ I Heart Vegetables recently posted…Birthday Wish List (+ Giveaway)

  • Reply
    Katie
    August 4, 2014 at 8:37 am

    I haven’t been to yellowstone since I was a kid, but now I really want to go again!!!
    Katie recently posted…Peace Perspective XXX: Stitched Together

  • Reply
    Megan (The Lyons' Share)
    August 4, 2014 at 9:07 am

    So jealous of these beautiful pics! I think I have a similar style to you – I love the outdoors and spending alllll day out there, but then my definition of “camping” is a rustic hotel, not a tent :).
    Megan (The Lyons’ Share) recently posted…Take Care of Your Body

  • Reply
    Ang @ Nutty for Life
    August 4, 2014 at 9:20 am

    AMAZING. Ugh I need to go out west like right now. That’s next on my bucket list. Specifically Yellowstone & the Grand Canyons. Kinda far from each other though right…? Oh well. I’ll convince my family to go sometime. I love that you said “it has everything you need but nothing more.” #divastatus 😉 just kidding. Love you. And your fam looks like a blasty blast.
    Ang @ Nutty for Life recently posted…Another Knee Update

  • Reply
    Amy @ Long Drive Journey
    August 4, 2014 at 9:22 am

    Um are those pictures REAL?!? So beautiful! I always knew Yellowstone existed (duh) but I didn’t know it was that amazing. I never even really wanted to go, but that has changed! My best friend got engaged there last month and WOW were her pictures stunning as well!
    Amy @ Long Drive Journey recently posted…In Which My Mind is Racing and I Can’t Catch Up

  • Reply
    Samantha @ The Faithful Runner
    August 4, 2014 at 10:01 am

    Oh my GOSH! We are going to Yellowstone this weekend. I can’t WAIT to try some of the places you’ve mentioned here! 🙂
    Samantha @ The Faithful Runner recently posted…Thursday Thoughts #3

  • Reply
    Sam @ Better With Sprinkles
    August 4, 2014 at 10:13 am

    Umm, can I pretend to be your long-lost sister so I can come on your next family vacation? It looks like you guys had so much fun! I’d love to see Yellowstone sometime.
    Sam @ Better With Sprinkles recently posted…Scenes From the Weekend 08/04/14.

  • Reply
    Megan @ Skinny Fitalicious
    August 4, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    I’ve always wanted to see Yellowstone. Your pictures make me want to go right now!
    Megan @ Skinny Fitalicious recently posted…Blueberry Hemp Flaxseed Muffins

  • Reply
    Tiff @ Love, Sweat, & Beers
    August 4, 2014 at 2:05 pm

    Love this! I went to Yellowstone yeaaaars ago, but this brings back fond memories. I’d love to go back!
    Tiff @ Love, Sweat, & Beers recently posted…Food of the Weekend

  • Reply
    Lucie@FitSwissChick
    August 4, 2014 at 3:06 pm

    OMG it looks UNREAL there!! What breathtaking views (especially you as a bison)!

    Next travel destination is Mallorca or Sydney. Let’s see which one comes first!
    Lucie@FitSwissChick recently posted…WOD&BBQ – Celebrating Switzerland

  • Reply
    Britt@MyOwnBalance
    August 4, 2014 at 4:54 pm

    I’ve never been but would love to go! Yellowstone lake looks amazing! I can’t believe their are bison crossing the road. How cool!
    Britt@MyOwnBalance recently posted…Yoga with Tara Stiles at Reebok FitHub Union Square

  • Reply
    Diana
    August 4, 2014 at 9:39 pm

    Great review and tips. Never been but on my bucket list!!! Moved up now 🙂

  • Reply
    Kim
    August 4, 2014 at 9:46 pm

    First – I’m so happy that we could travel together and get along perfectly – I’m a bit of a diva when it comes to travel and amenities – more is always better!!!
    And, the fact that your mom share pre-dinner wine with you is awesome!!! One day that will be my boys and their significant others and me (if they enjoy wine – if not, more for me!!!).
    Kim recently posted…Some Tough Decisions

  • Reply
    Meghan@CleanEatsFastFeets
    August 4, 2014 at 10:58 pm

    I’m happy you had a wonderful trip. You deserved it, especially after you worked so hard on your ebook. Plus being surrounded by bison pretty much rocks. Guess you can cross that off your bucket list. Wait, what do you mean that wasn’t on there. That’s weird.
    Meghan@CleanEatsFastFeets recently posted…Currently: August 2014

  • Reply
    GiGi Eats
    August 5, 2014 at 2:00 am

    Thank goodness no Bison was behind you when you were imitating because they definitely would have RAMMED YOU! 😉
    GiGi Eats recently posted…Sharing The SamePlate

  • Reply
    Jen @ Chase the Red Grape
    August 5, 2014 at 5:39 am

    Wow loved reading your recaps and seeing the photos! Looks amazing and what memories!

    I have to start hiking some of the mountains we have here in Scotland – we have some stunners! 🙂
    Jen @ Chase the Red Grape recently posted…I’m Going Back to School!

  • Reply
    Cassie
    August 5, 2014 at 8:43 am

    I’ve wanted to do Montana for a while, I had no idea Yellowstone was partly in Montana, I’m so ignorant. Def want to do Banff, and all of BC really. I basically want to travel everywhere, but at the top of the list is Morocco… then probably Montana, honestly, Japan… I’ve been craving Mexico recently… ugh, need to be a travel writer!
    Cassie recently posted…My Make-Up Free Skincare Routine

  • Reply
    Now Trending - Best Links Week of 8.20 - Almost Getting it TogetherAlmost Getting it Together
    August 22, 2014 at 7:03 am

    […] Um, I can’t believe I didn’t share this sooner, but my obsession with the American West was intensified with Davida’s travel diary of Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. […]

  • Reply
    Marcher Blog
    August 17, 2016 at 10:01 am

    Limited Offer Yellowstone National Park Has Been

    […] the steak is their speciality. The best part was definitely the bottle of wine a […]

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