Friday, June 10, 2011

The Old Faithful Inn

When we realized that our travels would include a visit to Yellowstone National Park, I made reservations to stay at the Old Faithful Inn.  When booking a stay at the park reservations are hard to get (sometimes nearly impossible) and can be made 12 months in advance.  While we were staying in Washington, our plans changed and we had to cancel our reservations.  With less than one month before arrival I began trying again to get a room for at least one night at the historic Inn.  The reservationists were very helpful and encouraged me to call daily - they said around 12 or 1pm would be the best time see if anything were available.  Be prepared to wait on hold for 15-20 minutes....but it paid off.  We were able to get a room for one night, and then over the next week of calling add 2 more nights!  Another item on the bucket list checked off!  Our room was in the historic original part of the hotel and had a 'shared bath' down the hall.  This is the least expensive room at the rate of $96.  Joining the Yellowstone Society gave us a 15% discount on the room - plus 10% off in the stores and other perks.

Old Faithful Inn
The rooms are furnished as they were in 1904 with a few updates.  Each room has a sink now instead of a bowl & pitcher.  There are a few electric outlets and fire detectors/sprinklers.  There are NO phones, clocks or televisions.  Robes are provided for use to/from the bathrooms. 

You can purchase the bison toy on the bed - proceeds support the park association
The fan would be good in the summer, no air conditioning
The windows are your 'thermostat' to adjust the room temperature!
View of Beehive Geyser erupting from our room window

The hotel was designed by Robert Reamer, a 29 year old architect from Ohio.  He utilized local materials to recreate a forest feeling indoors.  The lobby measures over 75' tall and has a 'treehouse' at the top.  Visitors aren't allowed above the 3rd floor balconies due to fire codes.  The lodge pole pine, including the twisted supports, were cut 4 miles from the site.  500 tons of rhyolite rock were quarried 5 miles away to build the huge lobby fireplace.  Construction of the original 140 rooms took place in just 13 months time.
View of the 'treehouse'
Interesting twisted wood is used throughout the lobby
The massive fireplace
Common areas have couches, rockers, small game tables and writing desks.  When the Inn opened in 1904 guests all dined at one seating with long tables in the large dining room.  Now anyone can eat in the restaurant (and have a drink at one of the bars) without staying at the Inn.  We found the food and service to be very good and reasonably priced for being in a national park.  The dining room has a buffet available that we enjoyed.  Breakfast was $12.99 including coffee and lunch $14.99.
View of dining area from second floor balcony
Fireplace in the dining room - all the iron work was done by blacksmith George Colpitts.  He also forged all the door hardware, fireplace tools and the clock frame on the lobby chimney.
The desks were a perfect place to write postcards 
The Bearpit Lounge
The Inn is located right next to the Old Faithful Geyser which makes it easy to catch a few of the eruptions during your visit.  All of the area lodgings have a sign at the desk which shows the next predicted eruption.  They happen at about 90 minute intervals.  There is a second floor deck that offers a view of the geyser without leaving the hotel! 

The benches face the geyser basin

View from the hikable overlook.  The Old Faithful Inn is on the right.  The visitor center and Snow Lodge are also visible.

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