August 17, 2010
When you think of Yellowstone National Park, you may imagine a day at Old Faithful, watching that geyser burst into the air, or walking along the boardwalk and viewing the many different geyser formations and hot pools. Or you might like the idea of a relaxed day of fishing at Lake Yellowstone, an invigorating hike at Canyon, or a visit to historic Mammoth Hot Springs and park headquarters with its buildings dating back to the time when the military oversaw the park.
One place far fewer visitors to Yellowstone experience is Roosevelt Lodge, located in the northeastern part of Yellowstone National Park. This log lodge with its 80 cabins has much less hustle and bustle than most other areas of the park, and will celebrate its 90th anniversary in September.
Roosevelt has nightly cookouts in addition to a more rustic lodging experience. The valley where it is located once attracted mountain men, fur trappers, Indians, and prospectors, who were en route to the Lamar Valley, with its abundance of wildlife, or to Lamar River or Soda Butte Creek in search of gold. Explorers on expeditions to discover the wonders of the area long before it was a national park traveled through the area as they mapped, photographed, painted and wrote about the remarkable region in northwest Wyoming and parts of Montana and Idaho that today comprise Yellowstone, according to a release.
The area, bounded by the Yellowstone River to the east and Lamar River to the northeast, has abundant wildlife, including wolves, bears, bison, elk, bighorn sheep, eagles, fox, coyotes, beavers, river otters and many species of birds.
There is much history in this area. For example, there is the story of John R. Yancey, who became known as “Uncle” John Yancey. A release about the Roosevelt area said Yancy first squatted in the area, but in 1882 he was granted a concession to operate a mail station at his Pleasant Valley ranch. The site of his ranch is now used for the Roosevelt Lodge cookout.
After settling the ranch, Yancy built the Pleasant Valley Hotel, a two-story, log structure, that attracted trappers, explorers and early park visitors. Those folks couldn’t afford – or didn’t want to spend time at the park’s finer hotels. The hotel Yancy operated, catered to those people who preferred a more simple type of accommodations. He said he could handle up to 20 guest – in his five guest rooms, and there were reports that although the bedsheets were changed, that was not a regular occurrence any more than washing glassware in the saloon happened routinely.
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The release, citing Leslie J. Quinn, an interpretive specialist with Xanterra Parks and Resorts, said clean sheets were placed on the beds every “few days” and that Uncle John claimed had “never been profaned by contact with water.”
After Uncle John Yancy died in 1903, the operation of the hotel fell to his nephew, Dan Yancey. The structure burned in 1906 and was not replaced. About that same time, the Wylie Permanent Camping Company, a concessioner working in Yellowstone, established permanent tent camps throughout Yellowstone, including Camp Roosevelt, which stood near the site of today’s Roosevelt Lodge. Like Yancy’s hotel, these accommodations appealed to people who had more limited budgets, or who liked a facility that was a bit more rustic than the lodging at other park sites.
In 1920 construction was completed on Roosevelt Lodge, which had a dining room, lobby and registration area, and a long porch that included rocking chairs constructed by the Old Hickory furniture company. In look and feel, the place has not changed all that much over the decades; you will still find rocking chairs on the porch.
Named for Theodore Roosevelt, the lodge was never visited by him as it was not constructed until 17 years after his two-week trip to Yellowstone National Park. He was not here, but he did camp nearby and he dedicated the Roosevelt Arch, which was completed in 1903 during his vacation to the park.
Today the area has the lodge, cabins, a horse corral where trail rides originate, and there is the nightly chuckwagon event.
Roosevelt Lodge has a short season; it opens in early June and this year closes for the season on Sept. 6, (although there is a lodging and learning activity in the area later in September), but it also continues to offer great value to visitors in Yellowstone with cabin prices ranging from $65 to $109 per night. Just know these are still somewhat rustic and many have shared bathrooms. This is a good place to get away from the fast-paced lives we all seem to lead as at Roosevelt your cell phone won’t work, and your computer will have no Internet connection. You can’t watch television (none of the park lodging have TVs in the rooms), but you can take a horseback or stagecoach ride, or ride a wagon to the nightly cookout.
Roosevelt Lodge is also home base for an award-winning Lodging and Learning program called the Roosevelt Rendezvous. A partnership between Xanterra Parks and Resorts and the non-profit Yellowstone Association Institute, the four-night program includes accommodations at the lodge, all meals, a welcome gift, and in-park transportation for daily field trips that explore Yellowstone topics such as geology, wildlife and human history. Roosevelt Lodge is offered for the exclusive use of Roosevelt Rendezvous participants. This year the program starts on Sept. 10 and 14. The program is priced at $709 per person for two adults per cabin and $845 for one adult per cabin.
For more information about accommodations, restaurants and activities in Yellowstone, please visit http://www.YellowstoneNationalParkLodges.com or call toll-free 866-GEYSERLAND (866-439-7375) or (307) 344-7311.