7 Best Historic Hotels in Yellowstone Country

While Yellowstone National Park’s natural wonders are awe-inspiring, don’t forget to explore the Old West’s rich frontier history while you are in the area.

Beginning in the 1880s, a number of hotels sprouted alongside the railroad in anticipation of serving tourists riding the rails to Yellowstone. The hotels succeeded in attracting all sorts of infamous and famous people from president Teddy Roosevelt to author Owen Wister. Queen Victoria actually gave the Irma Hotel in Cody, Wyo., the cherry wood bar that still exists today.

Today, you can catch glimpses of the Old West and learn more about early legends like Buffalo Bill Cody and Butch Cassidy at the historic hotels. Here are some of our favorite historic hotels.

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Irma Hotel in Cody, Wyoming

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The historic Irma Hotel in Cody, Wyoming

The historic Irma Hotel in Cody, Wyoming

The Irma's Original Cherrywood Bar from 1902. Photo by Rob Wood

The Irma’s Original Cherrywood Bar from 1902. Photo by Rob Wood

The historic Irma Hotel in Cody, Wyoming, is a phenomenal piece of Western history. Buffalo Bill built the Irma in 1902, planning an outstanding hotel, featuring dining room, a saloon, and other accommodations that would appeal to the type of worldly visitors he foresaw. He kept two suites and an office for himself there.

When the Burlington Railroad completed a spur line to Cody, his plan was to have travelers stay and dine at the hotel while en route to Yellowstone. His vision continues today.

The Irma Hotel, designed by Alfred Wilderman Woods, is on the National Register of Historic Places. The cherry wood bar dates to the period of construction and is one of the most photographed features in Cody. The lounge’s fireplace is made of rock, minerals and fossils from the Big Horn Basin.

While traveling to or from Yellowstone Park, plan to dine and spend at least one night at this historic hotel.

For More Information:
(800) 745-4762

Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone National Park

Historic Old Faithful Inn. Photo by Jeff Vanuga

Old Faithful Inn Dining Room. Photo by NPS Jim Peaco.

Perhaps no human contribution is more beloved, or more appreciated, than the Old Faithful Inn. Since its opening in 1904, the Inn has withstood 100 years of sweltering sunshine, snowstorms, earthquakes, and the largest forest fire in centuries.

Architect Robert C. Reamer was hired by Harry W. Child, the president of the Yellowstone Park Transportation Company, to design the hotel. Financial support from the Northern Pacific Railroad allowed the dream to come true.

Today, the historic hotel stands as an enduring monument to what is known as “parkitecture.” The gnarled logs woven into the lodgepole pine, stone, and lumber hostelry have awed visitors and architects alike. Even Disney demonstrated its admiration for the inn, modeling its Wilderness Lodge at Disney World after this landmark hotel.

For More Information:
(866) 439-7375

Occidental Hotel in Buffalo, Wyoming


Interior of the Occidental Hotel. Photo by Jeff Vanuga

In the rip-roaring days of early Wyoming, as far back as 1880, travelers along the Bozeman Trail found an oasis at the Occidental Hotel in Buffalo.

More than a few famous figures stayed here, including Buffalo Bill Cody, Calamity Jane, Butch Cassidy, The Sundance Kid, and Teddy Roosevelt.

Owen Wister took inspiration from his stays at the Occidental when he penned his famous Western novel, The Virginian. In fact, the Occidental is the place where “The Virginian Got His Man.”

The hotel was renovated in 2008, and remains true to its historic roots. The rooms are decorated with antiques, and the 1908 saloon looks exactly as it did on the hotel’s opening day.

The hotel also features two restaurants and a Living History Museum.

For More Information:
(307) 684-0451

Elephant Head Lodge, 12 miles from Yellowstone’s East Entrance

Elephant Head Lodge in Cody

The Elephant Head Lodge gets its name from a rock formation overlooking it. The Lodge, Restaurant, and the “Trapper” cabin were all built in 1910 by Buffalo Bill Cody’s niece, Josephine Thurston, and her husband Harry W. Thurston. Harry chose the site for its water. He was one of the first Rangers in the Shoshone Forest and knew about the spring that still serves the Lodge today. It was a dependable source of good water for early travelers to Yellowstone – and for trappers and Indians before them.

The Elephant Head Lodge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Now owned and operated by Wyoming natives with fourth generation ranch family background.

For More Information:
(307) 587-3980

Lake Hotel inside Yellowstone

Yellowstone's historic Lake Hotel

Yellowstone Lake with Hotel and Dot Island

The Lake Hotel, built in the late 1800s along Lake Yellowstone is the oldest hotel in operation in Yellowstone National Park.

The charming hotel, which is a member of Historic Hotels of America, takes guests back to a time before cell phones and televisions. Guests congregate in the common areas and often make new friends.

In the summer, a string quartet plays during the evenings in the lobby while people play board games or share the experience of putting a puzzle together.

It’s one of my favorite things about the hotel – it brings people together,” said Rick Hoeninghausen, Director of Sales and Marketing for Yellowstone Lodges. “People recount the day’s adventures and amazing experiences with the string quartet backing you up.”

For More Information:
(866) 439-7375

Related: Yellowstone Lake Hotel Opens After Renovation with internet connectivity and cell service.

The Pollard in Red Lodge, Montana

Located in Red Lodge, Montana’s historic downtown, The Pollard is the place to stay on your travels to or from Yellowstone National Park. As an aside, your drive on the Beartooth Highway from Yellowstone’s northeast entrance at Cooke City to Red Lodge is one of the most spectacular routes you will ever take Built in 1893, this charming hotel hosted Buffalo Bill Cody and Calamity Jane long before it was restored in 1994. Harry Longabaugh, nicknamed The Sundance Kid, also visited the hotel back in the day, but he was there to rob the bank located on the corner of the building.

Don’t miss local acts like The High Country Cowboys who plays on the weekends in The Pollard Pub. Even with all the lively music, you will still get a good night’s rest. Shows start between 6 and 6:30 p.m. and end at 9:30 p.m

More Information
(406) 446-0001

Sheridan Inn in Sheridan, Wyoming

The historic Sheridan Inn in Sheridan, Wyoming. Courtesy photo

The historic Sheridan Inn in Sheridan, Wyoming. Courtesy photo

Constructed in 1892, the Historic Sheridan Inn gave adventurous travelers a taste of Eastern luxury in the West. Through the years, the Inn has remained a hub of activity, offering elegant New Year’s Eve balls and the town’s first electric lights. Buffalo Bill Cody sat on the front porch of the Inn auditioning acts to join the “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West” show.

For More Information:
(307) 674-2178