GRANITE PEAK PUBLICATIONS: Accompanying travelers to the national park since 2002

Places to stay in the park in 2021

Old Faithful Inn interior

Old Faithful Inn interior, showing the great fireplace and balconies

Are you planning a trip to Yellowstone this spring or summer? The National Park Service and the park concessionaire Xanterra have made a few announcements lately. Changes afoot this spring and summer include delays in the opening dates for the hotel rooms and cabins, campgrounds that will be closed the entire season, and newly reservable campsites. Of course, the roads have not been plowed for wheeled vehicles yet. The first ones are due to open April 16, weather permitting. Always be sure to check the Park Roads page before you go.

Various lodges and cabins will open during May, but Old Faithful Inn rooms do not open until June 4, Grant Village lodge rooms not until June 18. Most of the restaurants and cafeterias in the park will still be limited to take-out rather than dining in. The gift shops will open on the same schedule as the lodging. See Xanterra’s update page on YellowstoneNationalParkLodges.com for more.

Camping

Due to construction, three campgrounds will remain closed for all of 2021: Norris, Tower Fall, and Fishing Bridge RV Park. Here are the opening dates for the four campgrounds you can reserve through Xanterra:

  • Madison Campground – May 14
  • Canyon Campground – May 21
  • Bridge Bay Campground – June 11
  • Grant Village Campground – June 18

bighorn sheep

Bighorn rams at Slough Creek (click to enlarge)

In addition, at three of the seven campgrounds that NPS operates you will be able to make reservations up to six months in advance via Recreation.gov. These three are Mammoth, Slough Creek in the wildlife-rich Lamar Valley, and Pebble Creek Campground (sites 1-16) near the Northeast Entrance. Sites can be reserved starting on March 24, 2021. So our guidebook is wrong in saying the sites are nonreservable. This idea is not popular, since many working people do not have the luxury to plan that far in advance. But the advantage from the park service’s perspective is that perhaps fewer people will arrive unprepared with a place to spend the night.


Photo credits: Old Faithful Inn fireplace from Bat’s Alley, NPS photo; Bighorn rams at Slough Creek, NPS photo taken by Peggy Olliff in February 2015, which you can find on page 204 of Yellowstone Treasures, updated sixth edition.

 
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