Admittedly, part of the reason for the popularity of the Roosevelt Lodge Cabins lies in the cost of staying in a Roughrider Cabin: $64 for a single-bed Roughrider Cabin. That’s the least you’ll pay for a roof over your head in Yellowstone National Park. But the bigger appeal — especially for those in the know — is the fact these are among the most rustic accommodations in the Park.
And we mean rustic in a good way. These are the only units in the Park equipped with wood-burning stoves, though you won’t need to actually build a fire from scratch — two convenient Presto logs are provided to keep you warm on a cool June night. (You won’t be building a fire in August; fans are provided because the cabins can get a little toasty at the end of July and throughout August.) The cabins have electricity and towels, but that’s it in terms of amenities. Yes, the cabins are incredibly small; there’s room for one or two beds, night stands, a little table and a single chair, and the wood-burning stove. That’s it. Communal showers and bathrooms are located down the way. (Bring your shower shoes.) They’re old and not exactly built for privacy, so be prepared to hear your neighbors throughout the night.
The cabins come equipped with one or two double beds. In Yellowstone, a double bed isn’t meant for two people unless you’re incredibly young or incredibly skinny. Realistically, two people will want a cabin with two double beds.
If you desire a private bathroom, opt for the Frontier Cabins ($107). Pets are allowed in both. Ask for Cabin 89: it has three double beds and a remote location close to a small creek and a bathroom.
You’ll find many of foreigners — Germans, mainly — staying in the Roosevelt Lodge cabins. For them, a stay at an inexpensive cabin isn’t an economic decision, but rather an aesthetic one: the Roosevelt Lodge area has the strongest Wild West vibe in the Park. Now, strictly speaking, Yellowstone National Park itself didn’t every have too many cowboys herding cattle; the geography doesn’t lend itself to the activities most associated with the Wild West. But marketing the Park as part of the Old West has been a successful tactic since the days when railroads and stagecoaches transported tourists to the area, and the Roosevelt Lodge area is where activities like stagecoach rides, horseback riding, and the popular Old West Dinner Cookout are headquartered. A small General Store has all the food items you’ll need (a microwave is available for use).
Roosevelt Lodge is worth a visit if only to take in a meal at its Dining Room: the menu features hearty Wild West cuisine like steaks, ribs, bison sirloin and, of course, Roosevelt beans. And, of course, knocking back a Montana micro brew while rocking on the front porch while waiting for your dinner table is one of the best things about a Yellowstone visit; too bad the view is of the parking lot and not anything more scenic.
The Roosevelt Lodge and Cabins were named for former President Theodore Roosevelt, an enthusiastic supporter of Yellowstone National Park and a frequent visitors. Contrary to popular myth, Roosevelt never stayed at the Roosevelt Lodge Cabins.
All prices are for 2009.
GPS coordinates: 44° 54.760 N 110° 24.99 W
2009 season: June 5 – September 7