You are here

First Phase Of Lake Yellowstone Hotel Restoration Completed In Yellowstone National Park

An expansive renovation project, being completed in two phases during the off-season, is being carried out at Lake Yellowstone Hotel. Photo by David and Kay Scott.

One of the most elegant hotels in the National Park System, the Lake Yellowstone Hotel, has received a $10 million+ facelift, one that has addressed structural needs, room renovations, and added some suites.

Set on the north shore of Yellowstone Lake in Yellowstone National Park, the hotel is 122 years old, and last received substantial renovations in the late 1980s. Xanterra Parks & Resorts’ Yellowstone National Park Lodges, operator of the hotels, campgrounds, restaurants, tours and activities in the park, has been working since the day the hotel closed for the summer season in 2012 to complete the significant enhancements. The work is being done in two phases, and ultimately will affect every room in the 154-room hotel.

The first order of renovation business was to literally give the hotel a lift.

“Workers in hard hats were removing flooring and ceilings even as the last of the staff was putting things into storage for the winter,” said Jim McCaleb, general manager of Yellowstone National Park Lodges.

The structural project will protect the building from seismic activities, which are a frequent event in the park, although most visitors never see or feel anything. What they will see, however, is an expansive lobby with a fresh new look reminiscent of the Colonial Revival period. The heavy furniture sourced from U.S. companies in North Carolina, Ohio, and Colorado is finished in light cherry.

The workers went through 1,149 gallons of paint, transforming the walls to a light Colonial Revival look with white trim and a soft yellow wall paint from Cleveland-based Sherwin Williams. Although the crew of some 30 workers was removing wood trim and windows that were more than a century old, they were keeping careful track of each piece.

Alternate Text
The Sun Room in Lake Yellowstone Hotel offers expansive views of its namesake lake. Xanterra Parks & Resorts photo.

“Great care went into reassembling the hotel’s historic construction materials in the proper place, and the workers were committed to salvaging as much of it as possible,” said Mr. McCaleb. “And throughout the process, the National Park Service supported the project by sharing their expertise and offering ideas to ensure the hotel’s historical integrity.”

With an emphasis on retaining the historic character of the hotel, the project included authentic touches, such as reinstallation the original bellhop call box behind the new bell porter desk and restoration of the original windows.

The 250-seat Lake Hotel Dining Room, centerpiece lobby bar, and elegant Sun Room also received a makeover. The Dining Room has long been a favorite park restaurant known for its focus on local, sustainable cuisine as well as its views of the lake. Visitors relaxing in the lounge and Sun Room are treated to nightly live music performed by a pianist or string quartet.

On the second floor, directly above the restaurant and lounge are four newly created suites and the already existing but renovated Presidential Suite, featuring a king bed and sofa sleeper. Each of the new suites boasts king or queen beds and a living room with a sofa sleeper and wet bar. Most also have a deep soaking tub in addition to a shower.

Additionally, Xanterra renovated the remaining 38 rooms in the west wing, including eight new mobility and/or communication-accessible rooms with a variety of bed configurations.

Alternate Text
The Lake Yellowstone Hotel dining room. Xanterra Parks & Resorts photo.

All of the renovated rooms also feature wired Internet connectivity. By August, a new west wing elevator will provide access to all rooms in that section of the hotel, which meets all ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) regulations to provide access to guests of all physical abilities.

Xanterra will launch the second phase of the project after the hotel closes for the summer season on September 29. That project will include renovation of the remaining guest rooms in the east wing of the hotel, expansion of the popular delicatessen, renovation of an existing detached building – once used to house boilers – for administration offices and other non-public space enhancements.

Additional information about Phase 1 of the Lake Hotel renovation and other hotel information:

* Reflecting Xanterra’s long-time commitment to sustainability, most of the furniture was made in the United States. The solid wood furniture in the rooms and public spaces was made by Northland Furniture in Bend, Ore. The upholstered pieces were created by Pearson and Lee in North Carolina. Draperies were made by Liberty Textile in Cleveland. Dining room chairs were created by Shafer Commercial Seating in Denver. The corridor carpeting developed by Durkin in Dalton, Ga. is CRI Green Label, and the area rugs are hand woven wool.

* Kohler donated all of the bathroom fixtures for the five suites including the fixtures for the low-flow toilets and shower heads.

* A total of 1,063 pieces of solid-wood furniture were ordered for the 43 guest rooms and public space at a price tag of nearly $1 million.

Alternate Text
Four additional suites were created during the renovations. Xanterra Parks & Resorts photo.

* The business center is available to guests of Lake Yellowstone Hotel & Cabins, and it includes four work stations and a copy/fax/scanner machine.

Because that region of Yellowstone is subject to extreme winter conditions, workers stayed there throughout their work weeks at a make-shift work camp facility specifically constructed to allow for occupancy during the severe winter months. The workers – along with much of the building materials – were transported into the park on snowcoaches.

In keeping with the tradition of retaining selected design elements from previous renovations whenever a major enhancement is completed in a historic hotel, Xanterra kept 150 numbered prints of classic Yellowstone landscapes by Livingston, Montana, artist Robert Spannering that were installed during the last major renovation in late 1980s. These prints were installed in guest rooms and other parts of the hotel.

A member of Historic Hotels of America, Lake Yellowstone Hotel is the oldest operating hotel and the second-oldest building in use in the park today. Construction began in 1889 and took nearly two years to complete.

The hotel will be celebrating its 125th anniversary in 2016. Through its Yellowstone National Park Lodges operations, Xanterra Parks & Resorts operates nine lodging facilities, four campgrounds and an RV park inside the park along with restaurants, activities and gift shops.


Drove by it today. Wish I would have seen this story sooner. Would have stopped in to see the changes.

Did, Xanterra fund the renovation?

Add comment


This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

National Parks Traveler's Essential Park Guide