For those who wanted a more rustic, humble place to stay (i.e. they couldn’t afford the Lake Hotel) there were tent camps set up around the area. These tents begat wood cabins with tent tops, which begat actual cabins, which begat places such as Lake Lodge.
Contrasting Lake Hotel, Lake Lodge is a humongous log cabin that caters to tourists from all around the world. Featuring a spacious lobby, cafeteria, gift shop, restrooms, and a laundry facility, Lake Lodge is a hub of activity for tourists seeking a place to relax and book cabins to stay in.
Before Lake Lodge was built, the area was a large camp that catered to the less affluent tourists who journeyed out to Yellowstone National Park. The camp, among others scattered through the park, was the brainchild of William Wallace Wylie, a Bozeman schoolteacher who was also a guide towards tourists wishing to set up camp. In 1893, he had a license to run various camps around the park, which featured wooden bases with a candy-striped design as well as a large dining tent. His business, the Wylie Permanent Camping Company was successful in its endeavor of giving less affluent tourists a place to stay.
The place where Lake Lodge stands today was originally Wylie’s Lake Camp, but when all the camping companies merged into one, the Yellowstone Park Camping Company, it was decided that the Lake area camping ground would be updated. So Bozeman architect Fred Wilson was brought in to design a log-cabin building to serve as a lobby and dining room, the Lake Lodge. Originally, only the eastern part was completed, but increased traffic through the Lake area prompted the rest to be built to accommodate the new visitors.
Today, not much has changed. All the tent cabins were converted to permanent structures, and there are more modern additions to the Lodge such as vending machines, washing machines, and electric lights, but the Lodge still maintains a rustic, down home feeling. There is nothing more relaxing than sitting on the porch, watching the lake and mountains while the sun sets. For a good lunch, stop by the cafeteria for fast food items like chicken tender sandwiches, burgers, or more exotic foods such as bison chili (they also have vegetarian chili).
So while Lake Lodge lacks the vintage elegancy of the Lake Hotel, it is not lacking in the sort of down to nature, humble atmosphere someone would associate with Yellowstone National Park, neigh with any national park in the United States.
Cabins are the order of the day at Lake Lodge. They come in two different types: Western Cabins ($145), which feature two beds with a shower and bathroom; modernized Western Cabins ($156), which are a little nicer than the stock Western Cabins; and Pioneer Cabins ($69), dating from the 1920s and featuring a double bed and a bathroom.
GPS coordinates: 44° 55.555000 N 110° 39.54 W 44.555000, -110.395483
2009 season: June 10 – September 20