Un-Campground Guide: How to stay at Old Faithful Inn without breaking the bank

old faithful geyser erupts at yellowstone national park

Like I said in my Yellowstone campground guide, lodging at the park is super expensive. Our trip was for our first wedding anniversary, so we were willing to splurge, but wanted to do so within reason. Fortunately, you have great options at the Old Faithful Inn to make lodging less horrifically expensive (I won’t say affordable…it’s just not as bad).

The Old Faithful lodging area can be confusing – this blog is referring to the historic Old Faithful Inn not the Old Faithful Lodge or the Old Faithful Snow Lodge (seriously, who picked these names?!). The trickiest part of staying here was just getting to the right building.

The Old Faithful Inn is basically a giant log cabin, and was one of the first lodges of its kind in a national park. For the history alone, it’s worth staying there.

interior of the old faithful inn at yellowstone national park log cabin
Basically a treehouse on steroids.

Opt for the “Old House Room without Bath” option to save yourself some money. This got our nightly rate to under $200, which is a steal for Yellowstone (yes, I realize that’s not a steal in real life).

As unappealing as the name sounds, our room was great. You obviously don’t have your own bathroom, but you do have a sink with a vanity. The shared bathrooms were nicer than my own home and you get a nice bathrobe in your room, so you’re not sneaking around the hall in your towel. The rooms don’t have TV or air conditioning, but we weren’t worried about either of those since we wanted to unplug and it was mid-September.

To save yourself a little bit more money, opt out of housekeeping services. This saved us an additional $15 per night, which isn’t a ton, but is better than nothing! By the time all was said and done, we were paying about the same as a Holiday Inn for our stay in an incredibly cool historic building.

The inn is itself a tourist destination, so it’s pretty crowded during the day. Walking around the lobby/reception area was a little frustrating since it’s totally packed, but the upper floors are much more manageable. We were on the side of the building where the viewing deck for Old Faithful is, but we were still able to take a nap with the windows open without much disturbance (even with everyone day drinking!).

old faithful inn exterior yellowstone national park beginner's guide to saving money
Our room was in the middle row of windows, second from the left. This is the view of the inn when Old Faithful is to your left.

The dining options at Old Faithful are in my opinion, average (to below-average) food for way above-average prices. But you’re staying at a major tourist destination that is the only thing for miles, so that shouldn’t be a huge surprise.

The Old Faithful Inn dining room is the most expensive option, and you’ll need to make dinner reservation way in advance. We wanted to eat there one night just for fun, but didn’t make our reservations until a few weeks before our trip. We had dinner at 9 p.m.

For less expensive options, the Bear Pit Lounge is right next to the dining room and offers a yummy, but more limited, menu. You don’t need reservations, but you do need to get the Huckleberry Lemonade (non-alcoholic) or a Huckleberry Mule if you’re in the mood for a cocktail. They were both delicious. Huckleberries are apparently a big thing at Yellowstone, and we didn’t really lean into that until our last night when we ate at the Bear Pit. There is huckleberry everything at Old Faithful, and if the cocktails were any indication, embrace your touristy side and get something huckleberry-ed.

The most affordable option and best food at Old Faithful is the Old Faithful Basin Store, also known as Hamilton’s, just a few minutes’ walk from Old Faithful Inn. We had breakfast and lunch there both days of our stay. Most importantly, the inn has a cafe inside of it that serves generously portioned and very yummy ice cream!

There is a ton to do around the inn, even if you aren’t a big hiker. We had originally planned a more ambitious hiking itinerary, but I ended up getting altitude sickness. The super comfy chairs on the second and third floor were a godsend while we were waiting to check in and I felt like death. I curled up in one and read for a few hours, plus enjoyed some really terrific people watching. If you also aren’t feeling well, you’re across one large parking lot from the medical clinic, which operates as an urgent care. All of the staff was super friendly and helpful – huge shoutout to the PA Andrew who gave me anti-nausea medicine that was SO clutch.

There’s a lot more to explore than Old Faithful, and you don’t have to do any intense hiking to see it! 

Fortunately, there is a nice, flat boardwalk you can easily cruise around to see lots of really beautiful geysers, springs, and pools.  The boardwalk in the immediate area of Old Faithful takes about 30-60 minutes to walk around and has a TON of cool geothermal features. Thanks to our 9 p.m. dinner time, we had some time to kill around 5 p.m., when the boardwalk was way less crowded and the wildlife was out! We saw this elk family on the way back to the inn, which was pretty spectacular.

old faithful inn hiking wildlife watching elk fall
Dinner entertainment before our 9 p.m. reservations.

Overall, staying at the Old Faithful Inn was a bucket list experience. Fortunately, having altitude sickness the first day didn’t ruin it, particularly because there is so much beginner-friendly hiking around the inn. Sharing a bathroom and opting out of housekeeping was 100% worth it to save some money and be able to stay in such a cool historic building walking distance to incredibly beautiful geothermal features (not to mention the ultimate bucket list item, Old Faithful itself). If you’re planning a trip to Yellowstone, the Old Faithful area is a must-do.

Published by Laura Cardon

Laura Cardon moved to Colorado as an adult and quickly realized how difficult it was to get started exploring the outdoors in a state full of experts. She founded Outdoor Beginner in 2014 to fill the gap in beginner-friendly content for camping, hiking, skiing, and other outdoor activities. In addition to Outdoor Beginner, she coaches beginner trail runners and works at Runners Roost in Golden, Colorado, where she lives with her spouse and toddler.

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