Yellowstone lodging alternative: Harriman State Park

I almost hate to let readers in on this golden secret, which we learned through on-the-road experience, but if you’re looking for a peaceful, non-crowded lodging experience near the west entrance of Yellowstone National Park, you’ll want to book a yurt or ranch dorm room at Harriman State Park just over the border in Idaho.

harriman state park

Located 30 miles from Yellowstone, this state park is different than most for two distinct reasons: 1. it is a Greater Yellowstone Region wildlife and bird sanctuary and 2. there are no campgrounds (tent or RV). Instead, two lodging options near Yellowstone are offered at the park: two yurts and multiple historic dorm rooms in the historic Railroad Ranch.

We reserved a yurt, and loved both its location and amenities. In fact, Harriman State Park yurts are the best we’ve seen. How so? They are larger than standard state park yurts in Oregon and Washington (our other yurt experience), and include a cozy wood-burning stove, box of cut wood ready to use, propane cook stove and propane lantern. Outside, families get a fire pit and table, and indoors, another full-sized table is set in the center of the yurt. These yurts do not have electric light, so families will need to bring propane to use the lantern and stove. We didn’t know this in advance, but made due just fine with flashlights and cooking over the fire pit.

silver lake

The yurts sleep six comfortably, and are set away from each other and everything else on the end of Silver Lake and its bird sanctuary. Families are within easy walking distance of the lake, hiking trails, and the historic ranch site. If you don’t spend the night, a stop is still warranted to see the historical sites, picnic (areas are located past the lake), and hike.

If you do want to RV or tent camp, or want to be on a lake where you can fish, boat, and swim, multiple options exist along Highway 20 in and around the community of Island Park, Idaho.

Date last visited:

June 2013

Distance from the interstate:

Right off Highway 20, 30 minutes from Yellowstone.

Yurt rates:

$60 (plus taxes and fees)

Dining:

Buy food before arriving. There is a small store located at the far end of the park on Highway 20, but it’s limited. If you do want to dine out, you’ll need to drive into Island Park, where there are a number of casual bars, pubs, and the like.

Directions:

Harriman is located at 3489 Green Canyon Rd in Island Park, Idaho. From I-15, connect with Highway 20 and head north toward Yellowstone. From the national park, exit at the West Entrance and connect with Highway 20.
Island Park, ID

About the author

Amy Whitley AUTHOR: Amy Whitley is the founding editor of Pit Stops for Kids and content editor of Trekaroo. She writes on staff monthly as a family travel expert at Go Green Travel Green and Practical Travel Gear, and contributes to Outdoors NW as an outdoor adventure traveler. Find Amy at Google.

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