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Canyon vs. Lake

Syracuse, New York
Level Contributor
66 posts
3 reviews
Canyon vs. Lake

My husband and I are planning our trip for June 2016. We currently have first 3 nights at Roosevelt (plan to fly into Billings and go via Beartooth), then next night Lake (pioneer) then over to Old Faithful (frontier) then last 2 nights back at Lake (Pioneer). I know we are jumping back and forth from Lake and Old Faithful but I intend to keep trying to catch a cancellation so we don't have to do that. My question is, we are more interested in wildlife and small hikes than we are the thermals, (did spend one day on lower loop years ago and spent a lot of time at thermals),and was wondering if we should spend two nights at Canyon, then only one night at Lake and OF. We are then going on to Jackson for 3 nights. Any suggestions on how to plan some of these accommodations would be great!

Cinnaminson, New...
Level Contributor
591 posts
2 reviews
1. Re: Canyon vs. Lake

If wildlife has more priority, then I would definitely spend more time at Canyon for easier access to Hayden Valley, and also to head back north up over Dunraven and to Lamar Valley. In June, the hotspots for wildlife are usually north and in Hayden. Black bears are abundant from Tower to Blacktail and of course Lamar Valley is abundant.

San Antonio, Texas
Level Contributor
173 posts
13 reviews
2. Re: Canyon vs. Lake

We stayed in a Lake Yellowstone Hotel cabin ($149/nite) for a week and found it very nice, affordable and quiet.....no crowds (Would have stayed a couple of nights @ Roosevelt but no rooms w/bath... no desire to run into a bear on midnight potty run) Buffalo and other wildlife abound in the area (watch out going to/from car @ cabins) and we think we heard a bear huffing several times in the middle of the night outside but DID NOT CHECK AS WAS VERY DARK. Only 16 miles from Canyon passing through Hayden valley so very easy drive as well. We would shop or partake of facilities at Canyon after wildlife watching in Hayden or heading to/from Lamar Valley almost daily but it always seemed much noisier/busier than Lake.

Didn't care for the food much at Lake (especially the Lodge Cafeteria where we had the worst chef salad ever.......how do you totally ruin that??) Also have heard Canyon cafeteria/restaurant food is not great. We instead ate fresh made to order breakfast everyday and half our dinners at the General Store lunch counters (Fishing Bridge only a mile mile away or Canyon). Can also eat dinner at Roosevelt which was very good and got food to go there too one night. Picnic lunch daily was from our cooler. We are on vacation to view the scenery and wildlife so just need good basic reasonably quick meals.

Edited: 7:11 pm, October 12, 2015
New York City, New...
Level Contributor
1,228 posts
32 reviews
3. Re: Canyon vs. Lake

If wildlife is your priority, I would choose Lake over Canyon for it's proximity to Hayden Valley. However, you might also want to spend at least one overnight at Mammoth (or the town of Gardiner roughly 15 minutes away right outside the North Entrance/Roosevelt Arch) for almost guaranteed excellent Elk viewing especially at dusk and dawn. The road between Mammoth and Gardiner is also a Pronghorn hotspot, with chances of Bighorn on the cliffs.

4. Re: Canyon vs. Lake

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Apopka, Florida
Level Contributor
259 posts
18 reviews
5. Re: Canyon vs. Lake

So...you guys recommend 2 nights in Lake rather than Canyon. Last time we stayed in Canyon. Since nothing is open I am contemplating Lake as an option. We will be coming from Jackson...spend 2 nights in either then head to the Beartooth then Red Lodge overnight.

Not planning to stay in the high prices rooms.

Adding to it..we will be spending 2 nights in Gardiner at the beginning of our trip.

Edited: 12:43 pm, October 13, 2015
Spery, Iowa
Level Contributor
11,216 posts
181 reviews
6. Re: Canyon vs. Lake

Lake certainly works, especially if you are already staying in Gardiner for the north end, and you will be going out the NE gate to the Beartooth Highway. We like Lake Lodge Pioneer Cabins, older but OK, nothing special, especially when spending very little time in the room, and more affordable. A bit nicer are the Frontier cabins, or the Lake Hotel Cabins. The Lake Hotel annex rooms are in the hotel-like building in the back, not in the big hotel itself.

We always see bison in the immediate area at Lake Lodge.

Apopka, Florida
Level Contributor
259 posts
18 reviews
7. Re: Canyon vs. Lake

Thanks thebergs, which ones are the ones that have been recently renovated? Space inside is not an issue but they have to look clean and in good shape inside for my spouse to be happy. Any tips on which unites locations to request? Thanks again.

Ennis MT
Destination Expert
for Yellowstone National Park, Ennis
Level Contributor
3,247 posts
32 reviews
8. Re: Canyon vs. Lake

I know that the Western cabins at Lake Lodge have been renovated and are quite nice inside - not sure about the others. Don't judge any of them by how the outside looks:-) I always ask for a cabin in the back row - you have more trees around you there, and less traffic.

Golden, Colorado
Destination Expert
for Yellowstone National Park
Level Contributor
2,512 posts
19 reviews
9. Re: Canyon vs. Lake

As Ystoner points out, Hayden Valley is between Lake and Canyon, while Canyon is closer to Lamar Valley than Lake is. Lamar and Hayden Valleys are typically the wildlife viewing hot spots. Canyon is also closer than Lake to the black bear viewing around Tower/Roosevelt, and to the bighorn viewing between Mammoth and Gardiner, and to the elk viewing in Mammoth or along the Madison River.

Therefore, from the perspective of wildlife viewing I would choose Canyon over Lake.


Edited: 6:22 pm, October 13, 2015
Apopka, Florida
Level Contributor
259 posts
18 reviews
10. Re: Canyon vs. Lake

Thanks everyone. A lot to think about. I guess all depends on what is available reservation wise. Canyon has new rooms for low prices i the new lodges I heard. What about food...Canyon food was real bad last time and Roosevelt was a big disappointment in 2013. What places to eat a decent lunch/dinner are in that area ( Lake )?. Some veggie options for my picky spouse to consider.

Thanks in advance


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