A Quick Guide to Dining in Yellowstone National Park

A Quick Guide to Dining in Yellowstone National Park

Written by on October 1, 2022

When planning your days in Yellowstone National Park, it’s easy to overlook the most obvious of necessities: food. Sure, maybe you’ve planned to bring along some granola bars and cheese sticks for when the snacking bug hits throughout your day, but there will undoubtedly come a moment where you want something NOT made by your own hands. That’s why dining in Yellowstone is such a popular option. Plus, there’s no way the kids aren’t going to complain about wanting chicken strips or pizza at least once.

More often than not, visitors stumble across the nearest dining hall and grab what they can. It never hurts to have an idea of what’s out there, however, especially if you have a long day and don’t want to be stuck with a growling stomach and children just as the closest restaurant closes.

If you’re new to the park, it’s even better to know what’s out there in advance.

The Old Faithful Lodge has a bakery open for the early birds drifting through, from 6:30 AM – 11:00 AM. The cafeteria runs from 11:00 AM – 7:00 PM, while the General Store is declared a must-stop by many tourists and features reasonably priced, quick meals (largely outdoor seating, be prepared), souvenirs a-plenty, and idyllic hand-dipped ice cream. The Store is open from 7:30 AM – 9:00 PM. The Obsidian Dining Room is a first-come, first-served basis, and while the food is good, be prepared (as in most areas of the park) for a limited menu – and try not to stop in for a bite immediately after an eruption, or your wait may be longer than you’re willing to handle.

Lake Village/Fishing Bridge offers coffee and pastries from 6:30 AM – 1:30 PM, however dinner in the dining room from 5:00 PM – 10:00 PM does require reservations.

Canyon Village hosts breakfast in the Eatery from 6:30 AM – 11:00 AM, and dinner from 5:00 PM – 9:30 PM, while the Falls Cafe offers coffee and breakfast or small lunches from 6:30 AM – 4:30 PM (ideal if you’re on the move). Then there’s the Canyon Lodge Gift Shop, which, although naturally as crowded as you may expect, is decently stocked with quick foods and drink including ice creams, snacks, charcuterie boards, and even beer, wine, and spirits.

Then there’s Grant Village, where the Dining Room is open for a breakfast buffet only from 6:30 AM – 10:00, a limited burger-based menu for lunch from 11:30 AM – 2:30 PM, while dinner is by reservation only, from 5:00 PM – 10:00 PM (but don’t miss out on that bison meatloaf). The Cafeteria, however, offers coffee, tea, snacks, ice cream, and quick sandwiches from 7:00 AM all the way to 10:00 PM and is lauded for its efficient food service.

Dining at Mammoth Hot Springs and Roosevelt Lodge are both closed for the 2022 season.

Many general stores and quick-stops are not listed but can be found at most Yellowstone attractions and visitor sites. These areas have longer hours than the cafes and dining halls, and offer an assortment of drinks, snacks, and grab-and-go meals.

To take away: the majority of dining areas in Yellowstone have breakfast available until 10:00 AM, lunch until 2:30 PM, and it’s always wise to call ahead for any dinner plans as the waits can be long, and reservations are required in more than one establishment. The most common eats to find are quick-grills that serve burgers, sandwiches, and fast foods. But don’t let the ease of convenience dissuade you, as Yellowstone is full of exceptional homemade ice creams, original locally sourced dishes, and even more than a dozen local beers and spirits. It’s all about looking in the right places.

When you visit Yellowstone, make a point of stopping in Cody, Wyoming. The unique history and western flavor of Cody offer an experience that no traveler will forget. Your stay in Cody could very well become the highlight of your trip.

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