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Can You Do A Last Minute Trip to Yellowstone National Park?

Can You Do A Last Minute Trip to Yellowstone National Park?

Can you do a last minute trip to Yellowstone? We are living proof that it is possible as we booked our trip to Moab (Arches and Canyonlands), South Dakota and Yellowstone itinerary with less than two weeks notice! However it is not how I would advise doing it if possible! We recommend start planning your Yellowstone trip 18 months in advance as accommodations, especially in park accommodation books up a year in advance! However, not everyone has the luxury! In this guide we give you our top tips and recommendations on how to book a last minute Yellowstone trip based on our personal experience of organising our Yellowstone holiday at the last minute! 

Is it Worth Doing A Last Minute Yellowstone Trip?

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In our opinion the answer is undoubtedly yes! Yes it was stressful looking for accommodation on the exact dates that we wanted and it was undoubtedly more expensive that if we had had the chance to book our accommodation at least a year in advance. However, we don’t know when we will next get a chance to go Yellowstone National Park so I am really glad that we bite the bullet and took the chance we had! The biggest disappointment about not booking far in advance for us was that we were unable to get accommodation in the National Park itself. If you have time, my number one tip about visiting Yellowstone National Park would be to stay on site to maximise your time in the park every day. West Yellowstone being the closest town to a park entrance is still a 4o minute drive to it’s closest well known site, so by staying in a park lodge would have saved us this time. However we have absolutely no regrets about organising a last minute trip to Yellowstone!7

How to Book a Last Minute Trip to Yellowstone Tips

How To Book Last Minute Yellowstone Accommodation

The accommodation inside of Yellowstone opens for booking a year in advance from May and will be booked at this time. You use the online Park Reservation system to do this. But can you stay onsite last minute? Well the truth is it is the luck of the draw! It is worth checking online 48hours prior to going as there is free cancellation up to 48 hours so this is a good window to check for last minute cancellations! But you can always try on the day just in case. We tried doing this and had no joy for staying in the park but we did manage to get good accommodation near Yellowstone.

The details for the online park reservation system Xanterra can be found here.

How To Book Accommodation Near Yellowstone Last Minute

Where to Stay Near Yellowstone

There are a few different options for staying outside of Yellowstone – check out our post on the best places here! However if you like us are booking last minute, the best place near Yellowstone to book accommodation is likely to be West Yellowstone. Of all the towns near Yellowstone entrances, West Yellowstone definitely has the most accommodation options! If looking to book I would definitely advise booking here. Even if you are going to try and get last minute park options be sure to book outside park options as the towns near Yellowstone often can get fully booked too!

We found the most reasonable priced hotel in West Yellowstone that had a decent online rating was at the Days Inn West Yellowstone. It wasn’t fancy but the rooms were perfectly serviceable.

Warning: Be Prepared to Pay. Last minute accommodation near Yellowstone does not come cheap!

Top Tip: I would recommend using Hotels Combined to make your Yellowstone Accommodation as they have a variety of options for booking! My tip would be to look for a provider and online travel agent who offer cancellation up to 24 hours before check in to ensure that you can cancel if you got a last minute offer for in park lodging.

Be Flexible

If you can have a couple of dates either way to try for bookings, this will help save money and give you more options as to the amount of hotels available and also will give you options to get better rates as booking last minute accommodation near Yellowstone is an expensive business.

Don’t Go in High Season

Yellowstone during high season is EXTREMELY busy. There can be traffic jams, car parking problems and just vast numbers of tourists at the main tourist spots! I wouldn’t advise going in high season even  if you have a long lead in time as I don’t think you will see the park at its’ best but I certainly don’t recommend booking a last minute trip during high season as you may not even find accommodations outside of the park!

Click here for the ULTIMATE US National Park Packing List for every park no matter what time of year you visit!

Have you booked a last minute trip to Yellowstone National Park? What are your top tips for securing accommodations and making the most out of your last minute trip to Yellowstone? 

Further Yellowstone National Park Reading

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Can you do a last minute trip to Yellowstone?