Ask me my favorite place to stay and I will beam, Old Faithful Inn. Beating out ultra-luxury nights at the world’s best resorts. In a venerable, nearly indestructible building, the spirit of the West can be found breathing within the walls of the Old Faithful Inn. Surviving a 7.8 magnitude earthquake, the historic Yellowstone Fire of 1988 and numerous harsh winters, Old Faithful Inn has opened its doors every spring since 1904. And see why it’s the most requested lodge in Yellowstone and why families love Old Faithful Inn with kids.
Why Stay at Old Faithful Inn
During my first visit to Yellowstone National Park twenty years ago, I fell in love withOld Faithful Inn the moment I saw it. So onto the bucket list it wentand I vowed to spend the night one day.
For my family trip to Yellowstone National Park, it was the first property I reserved. Then I planned the rest of my itinerary around my reservation.
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 with 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 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. Through the years, Old Faithful Inn still uses much of the original Old Hickory furniture, especially in the lobby and the dining room.
The original section, Old House, took just 13 months to construct and opened on June 1, 1904. By using woodland details and on-site craftsmanship, Reamer created a new architectural style, National Park Service Rustic. A style that 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.
My Stay at the Old Faithful Inn
After arriving at the original front desk, Old Faithful Inn staff greeted me with the epitome of western hospitality. Such a treat, calling the Old Faithful Inn home for two nights. Since the day was young, I left our luggage with the bell hop, we headed out to explore Yellowstone.
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 spartan 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 the use of antiques and original wood paneling. Though the room 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
- Ice bucket with two artisan glasses
Missing Conveniences in the Old House Rooms
I lived without these but maybe your family can’t.
- Shower and Tub
- Coffee maker
- Air Conditioning
- Clock radio
Since our room didn’t feature entertainment, my carful of kids 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.
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. 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 along with a few showers 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.
Though it was the design features that set this shared bathroom apart. With featured marble vanities and period chrome pedestal sinks, it felt deluxe. I loved the subway tile along with the herringbone accent tiles. Add hex tile on the floor and the shared bathroom at the Old Faithful Inn was better than most private bathrooms in modern hotels.
Missing a Tub Bath on Vacation?
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.
Dining at Old Faithful Inn
During my stay at Old Faithful Inn, I made reservations for dinner in the Old Faithful Inn’s Dining Room. Don’t let the reservations throw you, all the dining at Yellowstone National Park, is hiking boot friendly, even 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 kids menu along with everyone’s favorite, huckleberry ice cream.
Breakfast and Lunch feature open-seating. My family was too busy exploring to eat lunch in the dining room. Though 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 with deli-style offerings along with 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 with ice and groceries too.
Evenings at Old Faithful Inn
During the day, the Old Faithful Inn is like Grand Central Station with hotel guests and park visitors talking a look. Though after dark Old Faithful Inn belongs to its guests.
Most nights diners warm their hands next to the fireplace before heading to dinner. As others sit on the sofas and read a book. Some sit at the antique double-sided desks outfitted with stained glass lamps to write out postcards.
From the second-floor mezzanine, the music starts up. Depending on the day, musicians play classics to fill the cavernous space with sound. Families gather at gaming tables, shuffling cards or huddling around board games.
Adults looking to unwind for unplugging can find a cocktail at the Bear Pit Lounge after dinner. Or the Mezzanine Bar on the second floor serves coffee and cocktails.
Most guests actually gather in the common areas before retiring to bed. Some quietly, others in groups comparing notes on animal sightings or best hikes. The sense of community at national park lodges is one its delights. And why I prefer to stay in the park instead of outside in a featureless hotel.
Activities around Old Faithful Inn
As one of the draws in Yellowstone National Park, lots of activities and tours originate out of the Old Faithful Area.
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.
Bike Rentals—Rent some bike and explore on two wheels instead of hiking.
Guided Vintage Bus Tours—During our stay we took the Geyser Gazer Tour to drive along Firehole Lake Drive. Our tour guide, Steve, drove us in one of the remaining eight vintage buses.
Photo Safari—Take a guided morning tour with a photographer to get the best shots.
Junior Ranger Program—The kids can earn a Yellowstone Junior Ranger patch or Young Scientist Patch.
Hiking around Old Faithful
Old Faithful offers many trails perfect for families. Most trails originate from the Visitor Center. And most 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
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 about every 90 minutes, though the range can be 50 to 127 minutes. With an eruption that lasts for 1.5 minutes to over 5 minutes, each eruption spews at least 3,700 gallons of water over a hundred feet into the air.
Though 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 water
- Mudpots—Hot sulfuric acid breaks down the rock into a smelly clay that bubbles on the surface.
Getting an Old Faithful Inn Reservation
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 picked up two consecutive days in the original section of the Old Faithful Inn calledOld House.
Was that a lot of trouble? Yes. Is it worth it? Absolutely.
When we drove up and 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 vane. I had to share this experience with my kids.
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.
Two major airports serve Yellowstone National Park. I’ve flown into both and I prefer Bozeman for convenience, schedule and lower fares.
- Jackson Hole Airport (JAC)—The busiest airport in Wyoming is a regional airport. Jackson is a quaint town with an Old West flavor.
- Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport (BZN)—Bozeman, Montana, offers everything you need to outfit your family for a national park adventure, from food to equipment.
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.
Getting Around Yellowstone
Yellowstone National Park is open 365-days a year and 24-hours a day. Use an America the Beautiful annual pass ($80) or purchase a 7-day pass for $30 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. July and August are the only months that all roads and facilities are open.
I recommend the following guides and books for more information.
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