The second oldest lodging structure in the Old Faithful area, the Old Faithful Lodge exhibits a very different character than either the Old Faithful Inn or the Old Faithful Snow Lodge.
Indeed, where Old Faithful impresses visitors with its largeness and the majesty of its construction, and the Old Faithful Snow Lodge entices visitors with promises of snug furnishings, the Old Faithful Lodge invites visitors in to experience its coziness.
That isn’t to say the Lodge isn’t impressive from an architectural standpoint. In fact, in terms of visitor experience, it’s the most effective. The entire building is oriented around Old Faithful Geyser, which can be seen not only from the lobby but also from the extensive porch and dining area. Sure, it’s fun to catch an eruption from the deck at the Old Faithful Inn—but on a cool morning, sitting with a coffee and muffin, or enjoying a respite from the July heat, you can’t beat the view from the Old Faithful Lodge lobby.
Although it’s not far behind the Old Faithful Inn in terms of age and popularity over the years, the Lodge hasn’t received as much attention from travel writers. Indeed, it scarcely registers more than a paragraph or two in the old Haynes Guides, even with changing times. Part of the issue, perhaps, is that it catered to a different audience; whereas the Old Faithful Inn was built in the time of stagecoaches and railway travel, the Old Faithful Lodge came shortly after the popularization of the automobile.
Indeed, the Old Faithful Lodge site originally hosted a sort of tent village, run by the Shaw & Powell Camping Company, which operated between 1898 and 1916. The company built its first “permanent camp” in 1913. Later, when S&P was consolidated with fellow outfit Wylie Camping Co. into the Yellowstone Park Camping Company. In 1923, Chief Landscape Engineer Daniel Hull and architect Gilbert Stanley Underwood designed a core building, comprising a kitchen and dining hall to serve the tent camp, which had begun to give way to permanent cabins.
The Old Faithful Lodge didn’t really come together until 1927-28, when Hall and Underwood combined the main lodge building, shown above, which brought together dining and relaxation under one roof, along with a lobby, office, and curio shop. Indeed, NPS Director Stephen Mather commended the two and called for more collaborative projects, saying in a letter to Hall, “… it strikes me that the only two fellows in the world that could design something that would tie into that dining room and kitchen would be Underwood and yourself.”
For a long while, the Lodge also functioned as a museum, exhibiting stagecoaches and other early Park vehicles. These were removed in 1991, when parts of the building were renovated.
Other than that, the experience at the Old Faithful Lodge hasn’t changed much. As mentioned, you can get baked goods and ice cream in the lobby area. And for people looking for a quick bite, the cafeteria is great, with readymade meals available à la carte from a variety of food stations. It’s great for kids too.
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