Lodges and Glamping

Hotel Review: Yellowstone’s Old Faithful Inn with Kids

Old Faithful Geyser with a Rainbow. Old Faithful Inn with kids.
Spend an unforgettable vacation with your family at Yellowstone’s Old Faithful Inn. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

After seeing all 50 states and staying in countless hotel rooms, it’s one of my favorite places to stay in my favorite park in the world. Old Faithful Inn seems like a nearly indestructible log building that survived the historic Yellowstone Fire of 1988, a 7.8-magnitude earthquake and harsh winters that blow snow high up the sides. It’s an iconic piece of architecture in the U.S., and the Old Faithful Inn is the most requested lodge in Yellowstone National Park. When walking into its interior, there’s an organic feeling to the building that feels like it grew out of the ground beneath it. The walls of the Old Faithful Inn are made with knotty pine logs and hand-crafted details that have to be seen to be appreciated. Here is what to expect when staying at Old Faithful Inn with kids.

Why Stay at the Old Faithful Inn with Kids

See the towering timbers in Old Faithful Inn. Old Faithful Inn with kids.
To see the wonder on a child’s face as they walk into the largest log cabin in the world is a memory to cherish. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Since it is a log cabin hotel, it is a must for those who enjoy unique lodging rich in authentic details. However, for families who want to spend some time together, this property doesn’t offer reliable, strong Wi-Fi or televisions.

During my first visit to Yellowstone National Park twenty years ago, I fell in love with Old Faithful Inn when I walked into the space for dinner. So, onto the bucket list, it went.  I vowed to spend the night one day, and luckily for me, I got to share the experience with my kids.

During a family trip to Yellowstone National Park,  I reserved the Old Faithful Inn first. Then, I planned the rest of my itinerary around that reservation.

Just a heads up, it is also one of the hardest reservations to secure for the summer season. Its reservations open 13 months in advance. I don’t plan that far in advance so I got my reservations after a cancellation. So I recommend checking the Xanterra website frequently to secure an Old Faithful Inn room.

Old Faithful Area Planning Guide 

My Stay at the Old Faithful Inn

The interior of a room at Old Faithful Inn. Old Faithful Inn with kids.
My room featured a pair of queen beds in the Old House portion of Old Faithful Inn. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

After arriving at the original front desk, Old Faithful Inn staff greeted me with the epitome of Western hospitality. It was such a treat to call the Old Faithful Inn home for two nights. Since the day was young, I left our luggage with the bellhop, and we headed out to explore the area around Old Faithful Inn.

My Room at Old Faithful Inn

With Yellowstone at your doorstep, who spends a ton of time in a hotel room? We didn’t, so the sparse amenities in our room didn’t bother us. It’s a great place to sleep and change clothes.

Features of the Old House Rooms

I found our room charming, with its use of antiques and original wood paneling. However, it was a bit dark, with just a few candlestick light fixtures mounted on the walls.

  • Pair of antique queen beds made with updated white linens and a rustic-inspired coverlet
  • Pair of chairs
  • Vanity outfitted a vessel sink and hot and cold water along with a mirror.
  • Chest of drawers with a mirror
  • Wall hooks
  • Towels
  • Bathrobes
  • Ice bucket with two artisan glasses
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The sink in Old Faithful Inn rooms. Old Faithful Inn with kids.
My room without a bath featured a vanity with a vessel sink along with a mirror. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Missing Conveniences in the Old House Rooms

I lived without these, but maybe your family can’t.

  • Toilet
  • Shower and Tub
  • Wi-Fi
  • Coffee maker
  • Air Conditioning
  • TV
  • Telephone
  • Clock radio

Since our room didn’t feature entertainment, we officially unplugged for our trip through Yellowstone. Data is hard to find and slow, Wi-Fi is scare and overloaded. Take your pictures and forget about posting. Tell the office you can’t be reached.

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The shared bathrooms at Old Faithful Inn. Old Faithful Inn with Kids.
The shared bathrooms in the Old Faithful Inn feature marble vanities, subway tile and chrome accents. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

The Bathrooms at Old Faithful Inn

For my trip, I reserved an Old House Room with a shared bath. My room featured a vessel sink on a vanity with a mirror, which was convenient for brushing teeth and washing faces. I also found bathrobes, towels and slippers to use during the stay.

Since my room lacked a private bathroom, we used the shared bathroom down the hall. With several toilet stalls and a few shower stalls, I thought it would be crowded. During my visit, I never saw anyone in the bathroom, though I got up early to dress and shower.

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The shared shower in the Old Faithful Inn. Old Faithful Inn with kids.
The showers in the shared bathrooms of the Old Faithful Inn feature designer tile accents. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

The design features set this shared bathroom apart. With marble vanities and period chrome pedestal sinks, it felt deluxe. I loved the subway tile and the herringbone accent tiles. Add hex tile on the floor, and the shared bathrooms at the Old Faithful Inn were better than most private bathrooms in modern hotels.

Missing a Tub Bath on Vacation?

The Old Faithful Inn's clawfoot tubs. Old Faithful Inn with kids.
I found a clawfoot tub in a tub room at the Old Faithful Inn. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

As I walked down a tiny, dark hall that seemed to be still sleeping, I found the sign I wanted. As I turned the doorknob, the door opened to a room as dark as a starless night.

I fumbled around and felt for the light switch. With a flick, I illuminated a hidden treasure of the Old Faithful Inn–a clawfoot tub!

It’s not advertised, and I found it by accident. Old Faithful Inn features tub rooms. Tiled with subway tile and stocked with signature Old Faithful Inn toiletries. It’s a little slice of heaven.

Note: I had to bring my towel from my room. And I was the first user of the day. The door locks for privacy.

Types of Rooms at Old Faithful Inn 

I stayed in the Old House Room without a bath because it was available for my dates at the time of my reservation, though Old Faithful Inn offers several other options for travelers.

Suite with a Geyer View—These rooms offer many amenities, such as a stocked mini fridge, coffee maker, hair dryer, telephone, and alarm clock with a fan. The suites feature two queen beds, a separate sitting room, and a full bathroom.

Junior Suite–The junior suites feature two queen beds, a small sitting area, along with a full bathroom. Also, find a coffee maker, hair dryer, telephone, and alarm clock, along with a fan and a stocked mini fridge.

Deluxe Hotel Room–One or two queen beds with a full bathroom and a coffee maker, hair dryer, telephone, alarm clock and a fan.

Standard Hotel Room–One or two queen beds with a full bathroom (or a shower-only bathroom) and a coffee maker, hair dryer, telephone, alarm clock, along with a fan.

Old House Room with Bath–One or two queen beds with a full bathroom along with a hairdryer, alarm clock and fan.

Old House Room without a Bath—This room has one, two or three queen beds, a sink in the room and a communal bath down the hall. It also has a hairdryer, alarm clock and fan.

All rooms offer heat though no air-conditioning. Fans are available.

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Dining at Old Faithful Inn

The Old Faithful Dining Room. Old Faithful Inn with kids.
Enjoy dinner in a log cabin dining room with original furnishings. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

During my stay at Old Faithful Inn, I made reservations for dinner in the Dining Room. Don’t let the reservations throw you; all the dining at Yellowstone National Park is hiking boot-friendly, even at dinner.

With a seasonal menu, I found local flavors to satisfy a hungry post-hiking appetite. The dining room at Old Faithful Inn features a kid’s menu along with everyone’s favorite, huckleberry ice cream.

The dinner plate at Old Faithful Inn. Old Faithful Inn with kids.
On signature china, the dining room features seasonal menus with sustainable ingredients. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Breakfast and lunch feature open seating. My family was too busy exploring to eat lunch in the dining room. However, breakfast featured traditional and Western-inspired entrees a-la-carte along with a large breakfast buffet. Kids got the cereal they liked, too.

Old Faithful Inn features the Bear Paw Café, perfect for families. It offers deli-style offerings and ice cream. Grab a drink and head to the second-floor outside balcony to see Old Faithful Geyser blow from the bench seating.

During the day, we stopped by the Old Faithful General Store for lunch. This original log structure serves typical family-friendly food, along with restrooms and souvenirs. A gas station is next door, and it has ice and groceries, too.

Nightly entertainment at Old Faithful Inn. Old Faithful Inn with kids.
The evening musical entertainment at Old Faithful Inn. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Evenings at Old Faithful Inn

During the day, the Old Faithful Inn is like Grand Central Station, with hotel guests and park visitors constantly walking through the lobby. However, after dark, the Inn returns to its guests.

Most nights, diners warm their hands next to the fireplace before heading to dinner. Others sit on the sofas and read books. Some sit at the antique double-sided desks outfitted with stained glass lamps to write out postcards.

The vintage writing desk at the Old Faithful Inn. Old Faithful Inn with kids.
Imagine yourself writing postcards at the same desk the first visitors used, I did just that. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

The music starts in the evening from the second-floor mezzanine. Depending on the day, musicians play classics to fill the cavernous space with sound, and most guests spend time in the lobby areas after dinner.

Families gather at gaming tables, shuffling cards or huddling around board games, located on-site. Adults looking to unwind can grab a cocktail at the Bear Pit Lounge. The Mezzanine Bar on the second floor serves coffee and cocktails as well.

Some guests compare notes on animal sightings or best hikes in the park. The sense of community at national park lodges is one of its delights. It’s why I prefer to stay in the park instead of outside in a featureless hotel.

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Take a vintage bus tour in Yellowstone National Park. Old Faithful Inn with kids.
Take a vintage yellow bus to tour Firehole Lake Drive on the Geyser Gazer Tour. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Free Activities around Old Faithful Inn

As one of the draws in Yellowstone National Park, the Old Faithful Area offers lots of activities and tours.

Old Faithful Geyser—Check in to see when it’s erupting, usually every 90 minutes.

Old Faithful Visitor Education Area—The Old Faithful Visitor Center offers a theater with frequent movies and a full-size geyser model in the Young Scientists Exhibit Room. Ranger programs originate outside.

Daily Tours of the Inn—Take a free tour of Old Faithful Inn to see the hand-crafted details.

Junior Ranger Program—The kids can earn a Yellowstone Junior Ranger patch or Young Scientist Patch. The booklet is $3 at the bookstore but kids who complete the booklet get a souvenir badge.

The bench of Old Faithful Inn. Old Faithful Inn with kids.
On the second floor of the Old Faithful Inn I found rows of benches for watching the geyser. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Hiking around Old Faithful

Old Faithful offers many trails perfect for families. Most trails originate from the Visitor Center and feature level grades.

Old Faithful Geyser Loop–.7-mile roundtrip

Geyser Hill Loop—1.3-mile roundtrip

Observation Point Loop—2.1-mile roundtrip

Morning Glory Pool—2.8-mile roundtrip

Black Sand Basin—4.0-mile roundtrip

Biscuit Basin Loop—5.2-mile roundtrip

Bike Rental

Rent a bike and explore on two wheels instead of hiking. Bikes are available at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge and can be rented by the hour or by the day.

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Guided Tours from Old Faithful Inn

Take a guided tour during your Yellowstone Trip. Here are some of the offerings at Old Faithful Inn. Reservations are required through Xanterra, a NPS concessionaire and each is an additional charge.

Firehole Basin Adventure–In a three-hour tour, take one of the vintage buses through Firehole basin

Geyer Gazer—During our stay, we took a guided tour along Firehole Lake Drive. Our tour guide, Steve, drove us in one of the remaining eight vintage buses to all the geyser hotspots in a shorter 1 1/2-hour tour.

Picture Perfect Photo Safari—Take a guided morning tour with a photographer to get the best shots.

Yellowstone in One Day—If you have limited time, a guided all-day tour is the way to go.

Circle of Fire Tour–All-day tour of the top features, especially the geothermal ones. It is the oldest tour offered.

Junior Ranger Guide 
Visit Old Faithful Geyser in Yellowstone. Old Faithful Inn with kids.
Old Faithful is tops in Yellowstone National Park. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Old Faithful Geyser

Hike through the Upper Geyser Basin to see some of the world’s largest concentration of geysers in the world. The Yellowstone’s hydrothermal features demonstrate its volcanic energy with three powerful eruptions over the last two million years.

With Magna close to the surface, see the water bubble and boil away in the Upper Geyser Basin. Geysers are the star of the geothermal show when they blow water and steam over a hundred feet into the air.

Old Faithful Geyser erupts on average every 90 minutes, though the range can be 50 to 127 minutes. With an eruption lasting 1.5 minutes to over 5 minutes, each eruption spews at least 3,700 gallons of water over a hundred feet into the air.

Check out other interesting geothermal features in the Upper Geyser Basin.

  • Hot Springs—Pools of hot water in an array of colors
  • Fumaroles—A steam vent without a lot of water
  • Mudpots—Hot sulfuric acid breaks down the rock into a smelly clay that bubbles on the surface.
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Old Faithful Inn with kids.
Built in 1903 and 1904, the Old Faithful Inn is the most requested lodge in Yellowstone National Park. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

History of Old Faithful Inn

Walking through the pair of red doors and into the towering lobby, I experience all the wonder with my kids. The largest log cabin hotel in the world was conceived and built by a relatively unknown 29-year-old architect, Robert Reamer.

With building materials harvested within a few miles of the construction site, Reamer recreated a forest indoors. Anchored by a towering fireplace made of local rhyolite rock, Old Faithful Inn opens up like an old-world cathedral.

Using twisted supports made of lodgepole pine and stacked logs, Old Faithful Inn rises up seven stories. Punctuated with dormer windows to cast dappled light across the lobby floor, much like the light filters through the forest.

The hand-forged hardware was made on-site, and the clock attached to the fireplace is a work of metal art. Over the years, Old Faithful Inn has still used much of the original Old Hickory furniture, especially in the lobby and the dining room.

See the twisted wood supports in Old Faithful Inn. Old Faithful Inn with kids.
The organic details of Old Faithful Inn came from the surrounding forest in Yellowstone. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

The original section, Old House, took just 13 months to construct and opened on June 1, 1904. Using woodland details and on-site craftsmanship, Reamer created a new architectural style: National Park Service Rustic, which would dominate the park lodges of the West.

The American Institute of Architects named it one of the 150 favorite buildings in the U.S. Old Faithful Inn is also a National Landmark.

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Getting an Old Faithful Inn Reservation

It is a seasonal property and opens in early May and closes in early October.

Is a reservation to stay at Old Faithful Inn hard to secure? YES. Since guests can reserve a room 13 months in advance, rooms go fast. I don’t plan my summer trips until January. So when I checked for available rooms, I didn’t find any.

I stalked the reservation system several times a week for months, looking for a cancellation. Perseverance prevailed, and I booked two consecutive days in the original section of the Old Faithful Inn called Old House.

Was that a lot of trouble? Yes. Is it worth it? Absolutely.

When we drove up, I saw Old Faithful Inn standing tall and proud with her flags waving. After earthquakes and epic wildfires, I knew my effort was not in vain. I had to share this experience with my kids.

National Park Passes Guide 

Where’s Yellowstone National Park

It’s 320 miles northeast of Salt Lake City. Unless you arrange a tour, you will need a car to explore.

Three airports serve Yellowstone National Park.

  • Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport (BZN)—Bozeman, Montana, offers everything you need to outfit your family for a national park adventure, from food to equipment.
  • Jackson Hole Airport (JAC)—The busiest airport in Wyoming is a regional airport. Jackson is a quaint town with an Old West flavor.
  • Yellowstone Regional Airport (COD) in Cody, Wyoming, is a regional airport located east of Yellowstone.

Yellowstone National Park offers cafes, general stores and restaurants. Though, be prepared to picnic for lunch and grab some snacks and sandwich ingredients in Bozeman or Jackson.

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Getting Around Yellowstone

Yellowstone National Park is open 365 days a year and 24 hours a day. You can use an America the Beautiful annual pass ($80) or purchase a 7-day pass for $35 per vehicle.

Yellowstone National Park offers five entrances.

  • West Entrance—For families that are trying to add to their state count. Enter or exit through the west entrance to add Idaho.
  • North Entrance—Closest entrance for Bozeman, Montana
  • Northeast Entrance—Scenic highway to Billings, Montana
  • East Entrance—Scenic highway to Cody, Wyoming
  • South Entrance—The busiest entrance and gateway to Grand Teton National Park and Jackson, Wyoming.

Seasonal closures affect Yellowstone National Park. Only July and August are the months when all roads and facilities are open.

It's the most requested lodge in Yellowstone National Park and kids love it. See all the original details, learn what's included in the rooms and what's missing. The Old Faithful Inn in Wyoming offers an excellent base while visiting Yellowstone National Park with lots of activities in the area. #NPS #Yellowstone Where to stay in Yellowstone National Park | Where to eat in Yellowstone National Park | Places to go in Yellowstone National Park



Catherine Parker has a passion for travel and seen all 50 U.S. States. As a former flight attendant with one of the largest airlines, there isn't a North American airport that she hasn't landed in at least once. Since clipping her professional wings after 9/11, she combines her love of the open road with visiting architectural and cultural icons. She is based out of Central Texas dividing her time between writing and restoring a pair of 100-year-old houses. She shares her life with her three kids and her husband.

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