You’re embarrassed to admit that you’ve never been to Yellowstone. It was the United States’—make that the world’s—first national park. It’s filled with gorgeous canyons and mountain ranges, lakes and rivers. Yellowstone Caldera, an active volcano, fuels ongoing geothermal activity. While Old Faithful is one of the most predictable geysers in the world. It’s about time you travel to Wyoming.
But you don’t plan on roughing it in Yellowstone. Camping has never been your thing, so you’re not about to start in a park known for its grizzly bears, wolves, and forest fires. Instead you check in at Lake Yellowstone Hotel & Cabins on the northern shore of Lake Yellowstone, the largest body of water in the park.
The national historic landmark, built in 1891, is the oldest lodge in Yellowstone National Park. The clapboard, Colonial Revival building has three porticos with large white columns. Gnarled wood beams and hand-carved water fountains decorate the lobby. Huge bay windows overlook the lake. Plus a tiled fireplace and lots of oversized furniture give the sun room a casual but elegant vibe. Don’t worry, though. A recent renovation guarantees that the yellow-walled rooms aren’t too rustic. Just don’t expect air conditioning and televisions. You’re here to focus on nature.
After a long day of traveling, you decide to eat an early dinner at the hotel. The dining room is neither intimate nor romantic, but the menu is full of local, organic food. You start with a duck and wild mushroom risotto that’s earthy and drizzled with a little bit of truffle oil. Despite driving by herds of grazing bison earlier, you move on to a bison tenderloin with a sage-and-rosemary sauce. Then you cap off the evening with a glass of small-batch Wyoming Whiskey.
In the morning, you’ll be up with the sunrise to head to Old Faithful. The geyser, about 40 miles away, is the most popular spot in the park. You want to see an eruption—which can spray up to 8,000 gallons of water in the air in five minutes—before the crowds arrive. Then you’ll swim in the Boiling River, follow the boardwalk to the Grand Prismatic Spring, hike along the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone’s North Rim Trail, and watch spawning cutthroat trout from Fishing Bridge.
At the end of each day, you’ll return for sunset and another glass of small-batch whiskey along the shore of Yellowstone Lake. You’re definitely not roughing it.