Roosevelt Lodge is our all time favorite location while visiting Yellowstone. The proximity to the Lamar Valley is worth the effort it takes to stay in such a rustic location. The staff is very nice, friendly, helpful, sweet, and wonderful. ALL of them!
My first tip would be to plan your Yellowstone visit at least a year in advance if you want to stay at Roosevelt. We made our reservations well in advance (about 14 months prior) and still could not reserve a room with a bathroom. The shared bath is very clean, but it was a pain to schlep everything to another building. You're basically camping with a hard shell cabin. I was lucky - I talked my body into only having to get up once in the middle of the night! :D
The Frontier cabin is very small but we think it's cozy and perfect. It has just enough room for two beds, a small desk and the 'wood' burning stove. I say 'wood' because you don't use wood to heat the room, you use these compressed spiral things instead that the lodge provides. Make sure you stock up on the spiral things; they're located in the middle of the cabins. Also, the lodge will provide you with a starter log. You don't need the whole log to start the fire...break off a piece so you have some for the middle of the night. I had our two kids go separately to the lodge and ask for a starter because they only allow one per day. (I like to be prepared) Our trip was at the end of June and it was very VERY cold at night so bring thermals! Start your stove, get it really going to heat up your cabin but be aware you'll probably have to restart it in the middle of the night. We never did keep it going successfully the whole night through, and at one point I slept in thermals, pj's, and my fleece jacket and was still pretty cold. Totally not a complaint, just trying to have you prepared! The cabins with bathrooms are hard to come by; I think there are only a handful available so more than likely you'll have the Frontier cabin. I have to say they are dirt cheap so if we could only reserve this type again we would even though it was a challenge.
They have a little store on site where you can buy snacks, drinks, beer, candy, etc. The lodge itself is also a restaurant. It was excellent. We only had dinner one night, and I wish we had eaten there more, but the dinner we did have was SO GOOD! We were too busy taking in the sights to make it back for formal eating....we tended to heat up soup and make sandwiches on our tailgate while we were watching for wolves. The lodge also has a small bar area which was nice; my husband and I could get a cocktail and sit on the porch on rocking chairs and enjoy the scenery.
Across the street is the beginning of Lamary Valley where beautiful, huge, Bison roam. Amazing animals. There is also a Ranger Station a few feet down the road. Go visit the Ranger! They are so informative; they can tell you if there's been bear sightings, etc. There is also a WONDERFUL Junior Ranger Program that my daughter absolutely loved! She earned six patches on our trip from different National Parks we visited on this trip. Totally cool! I can't say enough how awesome the Rangers are at Yellowstone!
Lamar Valley....the Serengeti of Northern America. Unfortunately, a road washed out while we were there so we did not have access to the entire valley until our last day, but even though we only had 8 miles, we took full advantage of it! Get up at 4:30-5:00 and get out there to see the amazing animals! We saw herds of Bison running down a hill only to strut straight through another herd. The grunting and snorting was unbelievable. We were SO LUCKY to meet a very nice couple from Idaho who was SO KIND and let us look through their scopes. We saw grizzly, coyotes, a bald eagle, osprey, and a GIANT Bison who decided to scratch his head on the parking posts right in front of us. We were smart enough to keep our distance and stayed behind the car until he was done scratching. Oh, what a sight. He was brown and beautiful. I wish I could have scratched his itch for him! The coyotes were talkative and we saw one run down the hill to meet his two buddies.
Once the road opened up, we were at that point staying lower in the loop, but we made the trip back up and it was totally worth it. We saw badgers! That was so unexpected and exciting! The only animal that eluded us was the Mountain Goat. I forgot to mention my husband and son hiked and ran right into a family of Mountain Sheep. They had a baby with them so they smartly and rightfully just watched them from afar and then turned around instead of trying to go through. I wish I had been on that hike!
The hiking is just crazy good there. Trout Lake is a pretty easy family hike; we saw a bear, osprey eating a fish, and trout. Slough Creek was a great hike - look for the Slough Creek wolves. The Mountain Sheep hike was at the Yellowstone picnic area. The wolves we saw were down near Hayden Valley, but Lamar Valley has a few packs. Ask the Rangers where the best place is to scope them out. We saw three adults on a hunt and three pups. VERY LUCKY!
Yellowstone is a park unlike any other. I would NOT recommend taking small children. It truly isn't safe for them. Two adult men were killed by grizzlies this past year; make SURE you take bear spray and NEVER hike alone! Our children were 10 and 11 when we went and they loved it BUT my kids travel very well and enjoy this type of trip.
We plan on going back. It's a major trip so I don't know when, but when we do we will stay at the Roosevelt Lodge for the entire duration. Best location in the park hands down. What would I do differently? I would have invested in a high quality scope and binoculars. Everyone we met was kind enough to let us see through their scopes but I wish I had my own!
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