A Stay at the Old Faithful Inn
While we’re partial to Flat Creek Inn and Grand Teton National Park, there’s another famous national park in the area you may have heard of named Yellowstone National Park. Much can (and probably will) be said on all there is to do and see in Yellowstone, but today we’re going to take a field trip to my personal favorite park landmark: the Old Faithful Inn.
Built between 1903 and 1904 and costing $140,000 (about $4.7 million in today’s dollars), the Old Faithful Inn is still considered one of the largest log structures in the world. Built at a time when a trip to Yellowstone required a train journey and a multi-day stagecoach tour (count me out), the inn offered travelers a cozy retreat and a warm meal at the end of a long day. The inn, built of local stones and logs, was designed with an asymmetry to mimic the chaos of nature. This design spawned a new style known as “National Park Service Rustic,” or for a catchier and shorter name, “parkitecture.” The classic hallmarks of parkitecture are the use of local materials, natural whole logs, and a hand-hewn look (bonus points if it actually was). This design was used in several turn-of-the-century park lodges and is still mimicked in luxury hotels today. If you’ve ever seen Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel or Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, you’ve seen modern parkitecture.
The inn was added onto as time and travel evolved and has been remodeled on three separate occasions, the latest being completed in 2012. These involved adding and upgrading fire equipment (that would eventually save the inn from fire in 1988), re-roofing, earthquake stabilization, oh, and adding bathrooms to guest rooms. Not all the guest rooms though. If you’re lucky enough to snag a room in the original Old House, you’ll get to share a bathroom like you did in your old college dorm.
And now, for some fun facts about the Old Faithful Inn:
- There used to be a printing press in the basement that printed daily menus for each meal through the 1950s.
Meals were served family-style on long tables in the inn’s dining room and could be purchased for $0.75 per meal in the early years. That’s a price that even my dad couldn’t turn his nose up at. A dinner bell on top of the inn let visitors know when it was time to dig in. Evening meals were accompanied by a string quartet and dancing was customary six nights a week.
- The original inn, now called the “Old House” housed 140 guest rooms at a rate of $4 per night.
Each room had its own character and accents. The first-floor rooms had peeled wood logs and some even had cushioned window seats. Shared bathrooms were down the hall. After all the expansions, the inn now has over 300 rooms, but the remaining 87 in the “Old House” are still in demand today.
- Many of the original fixtures and furnishings are still in use today.
The inn has been remarkably well kept, and after being added to the National Historic Landmark registry in 1987, it underwent renovations to meet code and restore the lobby to the architect’s original design. Despite all the additions and renovations over the years, much of what you see today is original. The red front door with its giant lock, the fireplace and the massive clock mounted above it, the mission-style furniture and wall-mounted candelabra lights in the lobby, and the hickory chairs and candelabras in the dining room are all original.
Thanks for spending some time with me exploring the great Old Faithful Inn. (Hurry, it closes October 10! It will open again in the spring.) After you’ve enjoyed your stay at Flat Creek Inn, you might consider heading over to Yellowstone National Park and exploring it for yourself. To make reservations at Flat Creek Inn, call us at (307) 733-5276.
Also, thanks to the following for some excellent information on Old Faithful Inn:
Fitzgerald, E. (2019, May 3). Old Faithful Inn history: Ten fascinating facts. Yellowstone Forever. Retrieved September 22, 2022, from https://www.yellowstone.org/old-faithful-inn-history-ten-interesting-facts