Wednesday, October 16, 2019

The Old Faithful Inn--a National Historic Landmark

by Andrea Downing

Yellowstone National Park is world-famous for its geology, beauty, and wildlife, but it often seems that the one place visitors wish to go see is Old Faithful.  If one has only a day,  it may make sense to go there and walk the surrounding basin as well as wait for the next eruption.  But with so much to see, viewing Old Faithful has become almost Disneyish with the benches surrounding it and the postings of its next spurt.  Luckily, there is something else of fascination to see there…and it happens to be manmade.

The Old Faithful Inn is on the National Register of Historic Places and is designated a National Landmark.  The over-300 rooms enjoy full occupancy for the months the hotel is open, from the first weekend in May through the first weekend in October—many rooms being booked a year in advance. The hotel has survived a 7.5 magnitude earthquake in 1959 (which shook it loose from its foundations), 1988 forest fires (saved by, among other things, a sprinkler system just installed the previous year), as well as the notorious winters the Rockies offer. 
There had been a previous hotel on the site, The Upper Geyser Basin Hotel, which burned down.  The Yellowstone Park Company had originally approved a turreted  Queen Anne hotel, but Harry Child, President of the company, had met a young architect, Robert Reamer, whom he admired.  He instructed Reamer to design a hotel with the feel of the ‘camps’ in the Adirondacks.  The lobby and the original guest rooms, now known as
hallway of The Old House

The Old House (rooms without baths but with plenty of atmosphere) were built over 1903-1904 and the Old Faithful Inn welcomed its first guests on June 1, 1904.  The East Wing addition was completed in 1913—these are the rooms you would want in order to have a view of the geyser—and the West Wing

Landings of the half-stories of the West Wing
was finished in 1927, forming a hotel that is now 700 ft. long.  Local materials have always been used:  lodgepole pine, rhyolite rock for the lobby chimney, and local artisans were employed for the clock and sandblasted glass windows of the dining hall and lounges.

It is really an honor to be able to sit in the lobby, glass of wine and book in hand, live music drifting down from one of the upper galleries.  Every so often there is a blast of icy air as the front door is opened, people come and go, chatting in about every language of the world, as a fire blazes beneath the chimney clock.  And outside Old Faithful shoots up night and day on its fairly dependable schedule.
  I hope you enjoy the photos. 


Renaissance Women said...

A great place! Doris

Kristy McCaffrey said...

I was there once, a long time ago, and I remember how wonderful it was. I love those old hotels (there's one at the Grand Canyon too). It would be fun to stay overnight. But if reservations are like the Grand Canyon, as soon as the season opens up, the rooms go quickly. It's a madhouse lol. And you have to plan a year out. Sounds like you had a lovely time in WY.

Andrea Downing said...

Yes, it is a great place, Doris. And a good location from which to visit Yellowstone.

Kristy, it's true that most of these hotels are booked way out but there are sometimes cancellations. Also, if you go in the shoulder season there are often plenty of rooms, particularly at Yellowstone as the autumn is quite chilly and can be snowy and icy. I had a 4th night booked at Lake Hotel and was up at Mammoth and had to cancel that night because all the roads from Mammoth to get to Lake were closed.
El Tovar and Bright Angel Lodge are also special, down at Grand Canyon.

Alicia Haney said...

It looks like a very Beautiful Hotel, Thank you for sharing the information and the beautiful photos.

Patti Sherry-Crews said...

Thanks for posting these pictures. I love these old lodges. They're such a treasure. I have poked my head inside the Old Faithful Inn when we were there and it was a joy.

Andrea Downing said...

Alicia ,it is a beautiful hotel. The rooms are a bit stark but we don’t go there for a luxury vacation. It’s incredibly atmospheric

Patti, it is a joy to be there and, as I said, an absolute honor to stay there. You just feel the history.

Julie said...

We have stayed there several times. Love the atmosphere and your description of being in the lobby is exactly right. Our most memorable stay was in 1988. We had reservations at the Yellowstone Hotel which were cancelled because of the fire. We were able to stay at Old Faithful but were admonished to have our bags packed and by the door, just in the case. Next day, the Old Faithful Inn was evacuated and we had to leave. We saw the flames coming up over the ridges that night before. We did not sleep well!

Nice article, Andie. A great place!

GiniRifkin said...

Dear Andrea:

Wonderful photos, just finished reading "Free Fire" by C.J. Box and the story takes place in Yellowstone. He had great descriptions of the hotels etc. but these pictures were amazing.
Would love to go there someday.

Andrea Downing said...

Julie, what a great memory--sort of. I imagine you did have to evacuate if the sprinkler system went on, as I mentioned. It must all have been terrifying. Thanks for sharing.

Hi Gini, hope you make it there to visit. None of the other hotels really matches the Inn for atmosphere; I've now stayed in all except Roosevelt/Tower, which is only open high summer when I never go, and really is booked as soon as available.