McCartney’s Hotel didn’t last, but a larger hotel rose in the area in 1883. The National Hotel was a very large hotel given the remoteness of Yellowstone National Park: it featured 150 rooms, a large lobby and electric lights. However, it wasn’t enough, and by 1908 Robert C Reamer — architect of Old Faithful Inn and designer of Lake Hotel enhancements — had drawn up plans for an even more opulent replacement. Though the optimism was warranted — the Mammoth area was destined to be a tourist mecca thanks to its location, as Fort Yellowstone was the center of civilization in the area, and the relatively mild climate made Mammoth ideal for year-round habitation — money was tight, and the end result was a 1913 renovation that saw the addition of an annex.
That annex eventually became the basis of the modern Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel. By 1936 the National Hotel building was in such bad shape it was torn down at the end of the season, with the 1913 annex still standing. During the 30-year interval Yellowstone travel had changed: while in 1913 travelers came via the railroad and stagecoach, but by 1936 the auto was a prime method of travel, and the replacement hotel reflected that shift. Reamer — still designing buildings in Yellowstone — took the 1913 annex and added a grander lobby, recreation hall, restaurant building and cabins in the rear.
Even if you’re not staying in the hotel, the lobby is worth a visit for the adjoining Map Room, designed by Reamer and an associate, W.H. Fey. The Map Room features a large wall-mounted map comprised of 2,544 inlaid pieces of wood, displaying the 48 states (remember, this was 1937) and features one error when it comes to state capitols. (No, we’re not going to publish a spoiler. You’ll need to check it out yourself!) The Map Room is one of the more pleasant public places in Yellowstone hotels: besides being a quiet haven during the day, it also features musical performances and lectures throughout much of the summer.
Today the rooms in Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel are functional, but nothing fancy. In the main building there are Mid-Range Rooms in two flavors (two double beds or a double/single combo) going for $121, while a Room Without Bath (with two double beds) goes for $89. Cabins — or, rather, rooms in the motel-style annex — come in three flavors: a Budget Cabin (two beds, no bath; $79), a Frontier Cabin (two double beds, bathroom/shower; $112), and a Hot Tub Cabin ($222). All are decorated in basically the same decor — 1960s institutional brown — but the rooms are fairly spacious in the The Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel is open May 1-October 5, 2009.
Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel is one of two Yellowstone hotels open during the winter season; the other is the Old Faithful Snow Lodge. The road between Gardiner, Montana, and Cooke City, Montana, remains open year-round.
GPS coordinates: 44° 58.572 N 110° 42.098 W
2009 summer season: May 1 – October 5
2008-2009 winter season: December 21 – March 7