Watching the geyser eruption at Old Faithful Inn, one of the best places to stay in Yellowstone National Park

A First-Hand Review of What It’s Like to Stay at Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone National Park

See the flags on top of the Old Faithful Inn.
View of Old Faithful Inn

I knew my daughters and I were in for a treat staying at the historic Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone National Park as soon as we got there. We hadn’t even entered the hotel yet to check in when we saw the famous geyser erupt right before stepping through the doors. 

Old Faithful erupting in the background of Old Faithful Inn's reception area in Yellowstone National Park.
Old Faithful erupting right before we checked into Old Faithful Inn

It was great getting to see the Old Faithful geyser without feeling like we were scrambling to watch it or having that “oh shoot we just missed it and now will have to wait for the next one to get a proper view” annoyance. 

The gorgeous fireplace is one of the many beautiful sights to see at the Old Faithful Inn.
Old Faithful Inn lobby fireplace

Instead, we appreciated the unexpected show, checked in, dropped off our bags in our room and freshened up, and then had a leisurely exploration of the hotel. All this before taking a seat on the Inn’s second-floor terrace to watch Old Faithful erupt again. 

More on that viewing spot in a minute. First, let’s cover some history of Old Faithful Inn.

Old Faithful Inn’s Epic History and Architecture

The multiple-story tall stone fireplace at Old Faithful Inn, with wooden staircases in the background.
Old Faithful Inn Fireplace

Old Faithful Inn was built in 1904 with a stunning architectural plan that features a large central foyer area that stretches up for several stories. 

Old Faithful Inn is a National Historic Site and considered to be the largest log structure in the world. Most of its original structure was made from locally sourced materials.

In the middle of that foyer is a massive stone fireplace. It is adorned with a large clock made of copper, wrought iron, and wood.

It may be the biggest one you’ve ever seen. I think it very well might be the biggest fireplace I’ve ever seen!

Kids standing in front of the Old Faithful Inn Fireplace
My daughters in front of the fireplace’s large protective grate
Large wrought iron and cooper clock hung on the fireplace in Old Faithful Inn.
Old Faithful Inn Fireplace

The original design for the lodge called for a staircase to zigzag around the central open area and extend to all the levels. This was called the Crow’s Nest.

The amazing architecture of the Crow's Nest in Old Faithful Inn.
Crow’s Nest

You can still see the Crow’s Nest, but unfortunately after the 1959 earthquake this central staircase has been deemed not sturdy and safe to use. So you can’t go all the way up the inner staircase anymore, but it’s still quite a sight to see.

Spreading out from the lobby to the east and west are the accommodations for the hotel. 

When Old Faithful Inn was built it included a number of rooms right next to the lobby that are now referred to as the “Old House” rooms.

A rustic staircase going between the levels of the Old House area of the lodge.
Old Faithful Inn Winding Staircase in the Old House

In 1919 and 1927, two large additions were added to Old Faithful Inn: the east wing and the west wing respectively. Today, these sections of the hotel have what most would think of as standard hotel rooms.

You can get to the east and west wings from the lobby by walking through the Old House sections. The west wing even has a foyer that adjoins the two sections with a seating area. You can also enter this foyer from the parking lot without having to go through the main lobby and Old House.  

View of a log-walled hallway in the Old House leading to the west wing in Old Faithful Inn, one of the best places to say in Yellowstone National Park.
Hallway to east/west wings

The east and west wings also have elevators so that is where you’ll want to head if you want to avoid stairs to get to your room. (With the exception of the first floor of the west wing, which still requires some stairs to get to.)

Entrance and common area with seating at the start of the West Wing in Old Faithful Inn.
West wing common area

What are the differences between the Old House and the West and East Wings? 

Well, for starters, just the look of them is different. The Old House has hallways and rooms with log walls that give you the feeling of staying in a rustic cabin. 

A bed in an Old House room in Old Faithful Inn. A side table, robe, and log wall in the background gives it a cabin vibe.
Old House room
Hallway in the Old House with room entrances on the sides.
Old House hallway

The newer wing is more of your standard hotel room with drywall and not too much character. It has some newer amenities and is more expensive than the Old House.

The bed in one of the west wing rooms at Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone National Park
West Wing Room

This might make it seem like you would of course want to stay in the Old House since it’s more historic and affordable, right? Well, not so fast. 

The Old House mostly only has rooms with a shared bath. That means you’ll have your own private room to sleep or hang out in, but when it comes time to use the toilet or take a shower and brush your teeth you’ll be using that shared bathroom down the hallway. 

Now, knowing I would be writing this article I did poke my head into the bathrooms and I can attest that they are beautifully updated and much larger than I was expecting. 

Old House Shower in the Shared Bath at Old Faithful Inn
Old House Shower in the Shared Bath

Upon entering the bathroom there’s a long row of sinks in front of a row of toilet stalls. Behind that are the shower stalls, which have private seating and changing areas right next to the shower. The bathroom seemed very clean and had an ornate turn of the century vibe.

Now, there are a small number of Old House rooms with an ensuite bath, but they only have one queen bed and — as you might guess — book up quickly. (Side note: The Old House rooms with shared bath have 1,2, or 3 queen beds in them. The 3 queen bed ones book up super fast as well sine they’re especially popular with families.)

But luckily, if you’d like to have your own bathroom space and the Old House ensuites are all booked up, then you can book one of the west or east wing rooms, all of which have an ensuite bath whether you’re staying in the east wing or west wing.

I stayed in one of the newer wings with my two young kiddos and so appreciated the easy bathroom access!

The sink area and entrance for a west wing room in Yellowstone's Old Faithful Inn.
West Wing room sink and entrance. A separate room with a toilet and shower was to the right.

How Much Does It Cost to Stay at Old Faithful Inn?

Our room cost $409 + tax at the end of June. This was A LOT for a hotel room that is, honestly, fairly basic. But I wasn’t paying for luxurious amenities; I was paying for the luxury of staying in one of the most famous hotels in the world and having easy, convenient access to the wonders of the Old Faithful area after most day trippers left.

If you book early, those Old House rooms with shared bath are more affordable, costing between $200-$350 depending on the room.

Can You See Old Faithful Erupt From Your Room at Old Faithful Inn?

Mostly, no. BUT there are a few suites with a partial view of Old Faithful. These will cost you around $1,000 a night.

Read More: Comparison of All the Lodges in Yellowstone National Park

My Favorite Viewing Spot for Old Faithful

I got this hot tip from my mom who has visited the lodge numerous times: watch from the second floor terrace on the front of the inn.

When you visit Old Faithful Inn, be sure to watch the geyser erupt.
Old Faithful erupting

The terrace is right next to a bar area. I got a glass of wine to enjoy while we waited for the geyser to erupt, which was quite appreciated after the long day of driving and exploring Yellowstone!

The bar next to the mezzanine terrace at Old Faithful Inn.
Bar next to mezzanine

The terrace has some tables under a covered area and rows of viewing benches in the uncovered area facing the geyser. We got a spot at a table and my kids enjoyed some snacks and chocolate milk that we got from the cafe on the first floor before heading up to the terrace.

Then we relaxed and read a book about Yellowstone National Park that we got in Old Faithful Inn’s gift shop.

Old Faithful took longer to erupt than the time said (the predictions are not always 100% accurate) so I was glad we had a relaxing place to wait instead of on the crowded seating platform right by Old Faithful. I saw others passing the time playing cards and board games.

When it started to erupt we moved to the uncovered area to watch and it was a spectacular view!

You can watch Old Faithful erupt from the terrace of the Old Faithful Inn.
Watching Old Faithful eruption from the terrace

Best of all for this mom, when it was done, it took two minutes to walk back to our room where my exhausted kids fell immediately asleep.

Watching the end of the Old Faithful geyser eruption in Yellowstone National Park.
The end of the eruption

I will say I think it’s still worth it to see it up erupt up close from the viewing platform at least once so you can watch it erupt literally right in front of you. But I’ve been there, done that and the terrace was so, so much more relaxing for this trip.

Plus, staying at Old Faithful Inn means you can watch while enjoying a cocktail int he evening from the terrace and then easily get up to watch the sunrise eruption, which is also breathtaking (another hot tip from my mom!).

10 Other Things to Know Before You Book Your Room at Old Faithful Inn

  1. There is no air conditioning. The elevation is high enough that this isn’t a big deal at night since you can usually get a cool breeze through the window after the sun goes down. But we found the room to be pretty stuffy in the early evening. We just went out and explored anyway though so it wasn’t that big of a deal. 
  1. There is an in-room coffee machine in the east and west wing rooms! In-room coffee makers can be hard to find in national park lodges so I was quite happy about it. Gotta have my coffee before a day of hiking and sightseeing!
Enjoy a hot cup of coffee or tea from the coffee maker in your east wing or west wing room at the Old Faithful Inn.
Coffee bar in a west wing room
  1. The common areas get really crowded, especially when the tour buses arrive. It was crazy how much longer the lines for food and even the gift shop got when a new bus first arrived. Eventually, the crowds would disperse, but it was still a busy place.  
A line of people waiting to order from the grab and go food counter at the Bear Paw Deli.
Bear Paw Deli
  1. Most of the day trippers disperse in the evening and early morning. It was so much more peaceful in the inn during these times. This is yet another reason I loved staying here.
Peaceful sitting area on an upper floor of the inn.
Peaceful sitting area on an upper floor of the inn.
  1. Indoor Viewing Tip: There are window benches on the upper floor from which you can see the geyser. This isn’t a perfect view, but it’s a good place to watch if the weather isn’t so great. 
Check out the amazing view you can have even if the weather is bad when you visit the Old Faithful Inn.
View from Old Faithful Inn room
  1. Old Faithful Inn books up pretty much the second the rooms become available, which is on the 5th of each month for the same entire month of the following year. So, if you’re planning to travel in July 2024 you should be ready to book on July 5, 2023 at 12am MST online or at 7am MST to book by phone. If you miss out, don’t lose hope. Cancellations are constantly occurring, especially in the weeks leading up to your travel date. I recommend booking somewhere else in West Yellowstone that has a 72-hour or shorter cancellation policy. Then check the reservation system multiple times a day for Old Faithful Inn to see if anything comes up — and be prepared to book immediately. Cancellations are usually snapped up within minutes of being released.
  1. The dining room is only open for dinner reservations to guests staying at the inn. The Old Faithful Dining Room is famous for its history and rustic beauty and evening menu, so if dining there is important to you, then you’ll want to spend a night or two at Old Faithful Inn. The Dining Room is also open for breakfast and lunch and is first-come, first-serve. Expect a wait unless you’re there early. 
An elevated view of the Old Faithful Inn Dining Room.
Old Faithful Inn Dining Room
The log architecture of the historic Dining Room in Old Faithful Inn.
Old Faithful Inn dining room
  1. Old Faithful Inn is not the same thing as the Old Faithful Snow Lodge. So be aware if you’re booking in the winter that you’re not going to be staying in this Inn.
  1. There is no dedicated parking for Old Faithful Inn guests. However, if you arrive around check-in time, you should be able to park fairly close since most day visitors have left. Though it’s still a walk up some stairs or hill. If you’re there and it’s busy, you can park along the reception drive to drop off your bags and your travel buddy before parking. It’s a large parking lot with stairs or a fairly steep hill to climb, so you don’t want to have to lug your suitcases too far. Arriving right at check-in time may result in more people in line to check in so maybe get there a bit after.
  1.  Old Faithful Inn has more to offer than just seeing Old Faithful erupt. While seeing the famous geyser is of course a big allure of staying here, there are more natural wonders to behold. Behind the parking lot are trails leading to even more geysers and mud pots. You’ll also likely see bison just lounging around the property (remember to keep your distance!).
Visit geysers when you stay at Old Faithful Inn.
Geysers by Old Faithful Inn
A bison lying down in front of a large shed by Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone National Park.
Bison near Old Faithful

So Is It Worth Staying at Old Faithful Inn?

Bottom line: Yes! As long as you manage your expectations and understand you’re paying for the experience and not the room amenities, then I think it’s hard to have any regrets about staying at Old Faithful Inn. I thought it was well worth it. Now I want to stay there again someday — but in one of the Old House rooms!

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